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´╗┐Title: The Battle of Allatoona, October 5th, 1864
Author: Ludlow, William
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Battle of Allatoona, October 5th, 1864" ***

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  OCTOBER 5th, 1864.


  _Major Corps of Engineers; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel U. S. A._

  DETROIT, APRIL, 2D, 1891.



_Companions and Gentlemen:_

It appears strange to me that an action which all who mention it--and they
are many--agree in characterizing as one of the most brilliant exploits of
a war as thickset with deeds of gallantry as a rose bush with its
blossoms, should not long since have had its adequate historian and

The contest was so famous, the issue so glorious, the recollection of the
day still must be so vivid in the minds of the survivors, that I could not
anticipate any lack of material wherefrom to procure data to formulate a
reasonably satisfactory narrative of such a gallant feat of arms, and in
such detail as to give it life and color. But of all the war papers that
have been written on affairs great and small, none that I know has had
Allatoona for its special subject, and from the sources of information at
my command, I have found it quite impracticable to construct an account
that is not in some respect at variance with others made by authority. The
official reports, while giving the general features, of necessity exclude
most of the minor but equally interesting details, and the omissions,
inaccuracies and discrepancies, not important in some particulars and
material in others, for the purposes, at least, of a fully detailed and
authenticated narrative, cannot at this time be corrected. And even the
numbers engaged on each side, and of those who fell as victims, are not
known with certainty.

This paper, therefore, can pretend to be no more than an outline sketch,
which an abler hand must put itself to filling out and completing. When
the war records shall have been made fully public, as they will be
presently, and at least all the official material be available, the
historian of Allatoona, by extended research and correspondence with
survivors, should address himself to the task of preparing an
authoritative narration in order to preserve to posterity the record of a
memorable and typically American event.

For an event it was; a vital one, as it would appear, to the full success
of Sherman's campaign, and with the "March to the Sea" hung in the balance
and awaiting the issue.

       *       *       *       *       *

The importance of a given moment in the world's history is not of
necessity to be estimated by the numbers occupying the stage at the time,
nor even with the degree of activity or turmoil with which their parts are

Much labor is wasted in the lives of men, and mountains of effort result
often in mere noise or discomfiture, making no real history. The center of
gravity of two worlds may be an immaterial point, and the earth itself
revolves upon a slender axis. So a turning point of history may be
concentrated upon a comparatively narrow field, while the reverberation of
its potency shall resound forever, as the silent nod of Jove lets loose
the thunders of Olympus to shake the earth and change the fate of nations.

Some preliminary remarks are in order, explanatory of the general
situation and its relation to the Battle of Allatoona.


It was the fall of '64. The fiery comet of secession that, blazing out in
'61, for three long years had scorched the firmament, spreading death and
pestilence over all the land, was waning in its course; doomed presently
to disappear forever in Chaos, but emitting malignant emanations to its
latest spark. The structure of the Confederate Government, practically a
military despotism, founded on the enforced servitude and sale of human
beings, reared and upheld by the lives, the fortunes, and the constrained
or misguided energies of a deluded and chivalrous people, to feed the vain
ambition of an oligarchy, was toppling to the ruin that six months later
overwhelmed it. Great was to be the fall thereof, and not even to-day is
the atmosphere fully cleared of the dust of its destruction.

Two famous, and as the outcome proved, morally conclusive campaigns had
been fought and closed.

In the East, Grant, moving against Richmond through the wilderness and
swamps of Virginia, all the long summer had been dealing trip-hammer
blows, as deadly and sickening to his foe as the stroke of the axe in the
shambles, and at length resting from the slaughter, lay before Petersburg
and astride the James; feeling out with his left to cut Lee's lines of
communication to the South and West, and pressing him close that he should
not detach any of his force to act against Sherman.

In the West, Sherman, starting from Chattanooga, with an antagonist the
wariest, wisest and most skillful captain of the rebel host to oppose him,
had overreached his foe at every point, and stretching out his sinewy arm,
had seized in a relentless grasp the "Gate City" of the South; and
electrified the country with the exultant shout, "Atlanta is ours and
fairly won;" opening wide the door into the hollow trunk of the
Confederacy and exposing its emptiness.

Of this campaign Halleck wrote: "I do not hesitate to say that it has been
the most brilliant of the war," and Grant himself, with that mutual
magnanimity that characterized the two great friends and competitors for
fame, declared to Sherman, "You have accomplished the most gigantic
undertaking given to any general in this war, and with a skill and ability
that will be acknowledged in history as unsurpassed, if not unequalled."

But much remained.

The dragon of rebellion, though sorely smitten, still lay writhing and
would not die until his time was fully come.

Lee, sullen and desperate, lay within the still invincible intrenchments
of Richmond, nursing his wounds, but with power able yet to strike a heavy
blow, and gathering his remaining strength for the final effort.

Sherman's antagonists, though demoralized and bewildered, were still
unconquered; and forced out from Atlanta, filled the open country with an
angry buzzing, as of an overturned hive. To add to their discomfiture, the
astute Johnston, the most intellectual soldier of the Confederacy, whose
stubborn dispute of every inch of territory, perfect skill in defending
his successive positions, and marvelous success in withdrawing without
loss at the latest moment, displayed a capacity second only to that of his
opponent, and whose patient policy of drawing Sherman after him, to a
constantly increasing distance from his base, without himself risking the
disaster of a defeat, was, as history has proved, the last crutch of the
Rebellion,--had been plucked from his command by the narrow-minded
Confederate President and replaced by Hood, whose fighting qualities had
been proved on many a field of battle, but who otherwise lacked every
requisite for leadership in such a contest.

But a thousand long miles still separated Atlanta from Richmond; and these
must be traversed before that proximate conjunction of forces could take
place that was needed to give rebellion its _coup de grace_, and to tear
forever from the free sky of America the fluttering and ragged emblem of a
maleficent and arrogant domination.

Sherman, in Atlanta, was resting, granting well-earned furloughs to his
veterans, recruiting his ranks, guarding from the cavalry, who swarmed in
his rear and sought to break it, the extended line--over 250 miles--of
railroad from Nashville to Chattanooga, and thence to Atlanta, upon which
he depended for his supplies, and incessantly planning his next move,
which he had already determined would be to the Sea, with Savannah as an
intermediate base for the farther march to the rear of Lee's Army, and a
conjunction with Grant;--upon whom, in his correspondence, he repeatedly
urged assent to his proposal, and suggested the capture of Savannah by the
Eastern forces in advance of his own arrival there.

The Washington authorities, always timorous and vacillating, were not yet
brought to assent to this superb strategic project, based upon the
military theorem, "An Army operating offensively must maintain the
offensive," and constructed with Sherman's solid judgment that he must go
onward, since to withdraw would be to lose all the _morale_ of his success
up to that point.

Even Grant, with all his confidence in and reliance upon Sherman,
expressed unwillingness that he should embark upon it while Hood's Army
was still undestroyed.

Meanwhile, Sherman, in full conviction that the necessity would presently
be demonstrated, was watching Hood, who lay some thirty miles to the
Southeast of Atlanta, and whose intentions he could not even guess
at,--and with tremendous energy was endeavoring to accumulate supplies in
excess of daily needs, in order that when the time was ripe he should be
ready to start.


On his zigzag way South, early in June, with Atlanta as his then objective
point, Sherman, with that wonderful mental vision of the whole horizon
that characterized him, seeking for a depot where supplies could safely be
accumulated, near enough at hand to be of ready access, but sufficiently
removed from the scene of actual conflict to be secure from casual attack,
had selected the famous Allatoona Pass, and directed that it be "prepared
for defense as a secondary base."

The place was well chosen.

The diminishing extension of the Great Smoky Mountains stretches across
the Northern end of Georgia, from Northeast to Southwest.

The Range is traversed at Allatoona Pass by the Etowah River, flowing West
and North to unite at Rome, thirty miles distant, with the Oostenaula and
form the Coosa. The railway, coming down from Kingston,--whence a branch
ran Westward to Rome,--and crossing the Etowah, winds Southeasterly among
the hills, and at Allatoona station, about four miles from the river,
penetrates a minor ridge and emerges from a cut some sixty-five feet in
depth. It was at this point--referred to by Sherman as a "Natural
Fortress"--that the "secondary base" was established, and the surplus
supplies were accumulated.

The advantages for defence were admirable. The entire region is hilly and
heavily timbered, rolling off to the Southward to a less rugged country,
and from the Heights of Allatoona looking Southeasterly, down the line of
railway towards Atlanta, are visible ten to fifteen miles away, the noble,
isolated masses of Kenesaw, Lost Mountain and Pine Mountain, which,
raising their wooded crests high above the neighboring forest, command a
wide prospect towards every quarter. The narrow ridge cut by the railway
is abruptly terminated to the Northeast by the valley of Allatoona Creek,
crooking among the hills to join the Etowah, and its slopes facing
Northwest and Southeast are steep and difficult. Towards the West and
Southwest the descent is more gradual, and a country road follows the
rolling crest of the ridge along which from the Westward the main attack
was ultimately to be made.

The storehouses for the supplies stood near the railway station and were
fully commanded from the dominant elevations rising immediately behind
them. Upon these elevations the defensive works were located by Colonel
Poe, the Chief Engineer of Sherman's army. Their plan was in conformity
with the requirements of the ground and of the service to be expected of
them, and while the actual construction by the troops left somewhat to be
desired, and could have been bettered had Poe been able to supervise the
completion of his work, when it came to the test, well did they serve
their purpose. The main features were two Redoubts, about 1000 feet apart
at easy supporting distance, one on each side of the railway cut, with
ditches and outlying intrenchments near at hand covering the approaches,
and overlooking the storehouses for the defence of which they were built.

       *       *       *       *       *

Near the close of September, Sherman, in Atlanta, was roused by
indications of activity on the part of Hood, who had sent his cavalry
North across the Chattahooche and into Tennessee, and had moved his
infantry to a more Westerly camp; thus leaving the Savannah road open to
Sherman, had he seen fit to take it.

Habitually sensitive as to his railway base, Sherman surmised that Hood's
intention was to move round him to threaten his rear. September 24th he
telegraphed Howard, "I have no doubt Hood has resolved to throw himself on
our flanks to prevent our accumulating stores, etc.," and September 25th
to Halleck, "Hood seems to be moving as it were to the Alabama line,
leaving open to me the road to Macon as also to Augusta, but his cavalry
is busy on our roads."

He therefore reinforced the detachments guarding the numerous railway
stations and bridges, sent a division of the 4th corps and one of the 14th
Northward to strengthen Chattanooga, and put Thomas in command there, and
thence back to Nashville to guard against Forrest, the noted rebel cavalry
leader, who was ravaging Tennessee and capturing gunboats with horsemen.

Corse's division of the 15th corps was sent to occupy Rome on the extreme
Western flank, with instructions to complete the defensive works and hold
it against all comers; meanwhile observing closely any movement of the
enemy in his vicinity.

A glance at the map is desirable for the better understanding of the
immediately ensuing events.

From Atlanta to Allatoona, near the railway crossing of the Etowah, is, as
the crow flies, 32 miles Northwest by West. From Allatoona to Rome is 30
miles W. N. W. Thirteen miles from Allatoona towards Atlanta is Kenesaw,
the railway sweeping round its North and East flanks. Fifteen miles West
by South from Kenesaw, and the same distance Southwest from Allatoona,
is Dallas, in the vicinity of New Hope Church, where had been three days
of heavy fighting late in May. Rome again is equi-distant from Dallas and
from Allatoona 30 miles. The central position of Allatoona is evident; and
it will also be seen that a force at Dallas occupied, in a sense, a
strategic point, whence a rapid movement could be made either upon
Allatoona or Rome, with the West and Southwest to fall back upon in case
of need.


By October 1st, the ambiguity as to Hood's plans was in part relieved. It
was at least certain that he had crossed from the South to the North bank
of the Chattahooche, although it was impossible to surmise whether he
intended to make a direct attack on the railroad or to undertake an
invasion of Tennessee from the Westward. In any case it behooved Sherman
to bestir himself, and promptly, too. It was absolutely necessary to keep
Hood's army off the railroad, so long as the question of cutting loose for
Savannah remained undecided, and at Allatoona was stored an accumulation
of nearly three millions of rations of bread, the loss of which, with the
railway endangered, would be a serious blow, and one possibly fatal to
Sherman's cherished project. Leaving, therefore, the 20th corps in
Atlanta, to hold it and to guard the bridges across the Chattahooche above
and below the railway bridge, Sherman put the rest of his forces in rapid
motion Northward towards Kenesaw, 20 miles distant, and October 1st
telegraphed Corse at Rome that Hood was across the river and might attack
the road at Allatoona or near Cassville, on the North side of the Etowah,
about midway between Rome and Allatoona. If Hood went to Cassville, Corse
was to remain at Rome and hold it fast; if to Allatoona, Corse was to move
down at once and occupy Allatoona, joining forces with troops in the
vicinity for its defence, while Sherman co-operated from the South.
Repeated dispatches were sent to Allatoona, directing the commanding
officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tourtellotte, to hold the place at all
hazards, and that relief would be speedy. These have been paraphrased into
"Hold the Fort, for I am coming," which, set to an inspiring air, caught
the ear of the country, and is still in active service.

Sherman crossed the Chattahooche October 3rd and 4th, and finding his
wires cut North of Marietta, signaled to the station on Kenesaw and thence
to Allatoona, over the heads of the enemy, a dispatch to be telegraphed to
Corse at Rome to move at once with all speed and with his entire command
to the relief of Allatoona. Sherman himself reached Kenesaw early on the
morning of the 5th, and from the summit, to use his own language, "had a
superb view of the vast panorama to the North and West. To the Southwest,
about Dallas and Lost Mountain, could be seen the smoke of camp fires
indicating the presence of a large force of the enemy, and the whole line
of railroad from Big Shanty up to Allatoona (full fifteen miles), was
plainly marked by the fires of the burning railroad. We could plainly see
the smoke of battle about Allatoona and hear the faint reverberation of
the cannon."

The fact was disclosed that Hood lay in force near Dallas, 15 miles to the
West and South of Kenesaw, and had detached a heavy column Eastward to
destroy the railroad and capture the scattered garrisons including the
all-important post of Allatoona.

About 8:30 a. m. Allatoona signalled Kenesaw, "Corse is here with one
brigade; where is Sherman?" As received at Kenesaw this message read,
"Corse is here with ----." My recollection is that while the signal
officer was working his flag it was cut from his hands by a fragment of
shell, interrupting the message, the latter part of which was not
received, or at least not recognized. I find, however, no official
confirmation of this. The mutilated report gave Sherman immense relief,
but left him to suppose that Corse had arrived with his entire division.
Had he known that the reinforcement was only a portion of one brigade, his
satisfaction would have been less. As he says himself, "I watched with
painful suspense the indications of the battle raging there, * * * but
about 2 p. m. I noticed with satisfaction that the smoke of battle about
Allatoona grew less and less, and ceased altogether about 4 p. m. * * *
Later in the afternoon the signal flag announced the welcome tidings that
the attack had been fairly repulsed."

The signal officer at Kenesaw reports that Sherman at the time, pronounced
these signal messages "Worth a million dollars."


Leaving now this bird's eye view of what was happening, let us go back a
little and follow Corse's movements. He had arrived at Rome from Atlanta
September 27th, with two of his brigades, the third being already
there,--and thereafter had been busy, in accordance with his general
instructions and frequent communications from Sherman, in organizing and
equipping his command for the special work entrusted to him, which was in
effect to reconstruct and perfect the earthworks and defences, so as to
make Rome impregnable to assault, and at the same time to act as a corps
of observation, constantly feeling out for and spying after the enemy, and
ready, should occasion offer, to strike a heavy blow in any direction
where he should be discovered.

It was isolated, difficult and responsible service, and a dangerous one,
since the first contact might be with Hood's whole strength, but of the
very first importance to Sherman, whose ignorance of Hood's schemes and
inability to anticipate his movements, perplexed and harassed him, and
upon Corse he mainly relied to discover, by any or all means, the
movements and presence of the enemy.

Corse was well equipped for such service. He had acted as inspector on
Sherman's staff, and stood high with his chief, both in personal regard
and professional estimation. Of medium height, erect, active and alert,
ambitious, combative, decided, of sound judgment and indomitable courage,
the task of holding Allatoona could have fallen into no better hands. As
Grant, giving over a page of his memoirs to mention of the battle, says of
him, "Corse was a man who would never surrender."

On the third of October Sherman sent him a warning to be wary, that Hood
was meditating some plan on a large scale, and at noon of the 4th Corse
received the message already mentioned, by signal from Vining's to
Kenesaw, thence to Allatoona, and thence by wire to Rome, summoning him
instantly to the rescue of the threatened garrison. Corse had fortunately
already telegraphed to Kingston that cars be sent him. The train in moving
to Rome was partly derailed, but the single engine and about twenty cars
were ready by dark.

On these was loaded a portion of one of his brigades under command of
Colonel Rowett, viz; Eight companies, 39th Iowa, 280 men, Lieut.-Colonel
Redfield, commanding; 9 companies, 7th Illinois, 291 men, Lieut.-Colonel
Perrin, commanding; 8 companies, 50th Illinois, 267 men. Lieut.-Colonel
Hanna commanding; 2 companies, 57th Illinois, 61 men, Captain Van
Stienberg, commanding; detachment of the 12th Illinois, 155 men, Captain
Koehler, commanding, making a total of 1,054 men, which, with the
ammunition for the division, was all that the available transportation
could accommodate. The train left Rome at 8:30 p. m., and reached
Allatoona a little after midnight. The troops were debarked, the
ammunition unloaded with all speed, and the train immediately started back
to Rome for another cargo of troops. As it happened, in returning,
possibly with undue haste, considering the rough and insecure condition of
the track and roadbed, the train was again derailed, and in consequence no
further reinforcements reached Allatoona until about 8 p. m. of the
5th,--four hours after the battle was over.


Corse immediately took command, and after a rapid survey of the field with
Tourtellotte, in the quiet of the starlit night, proceeded to make his
dispositions for defence.


Allatoona was garrisoned as follows: Ten companies, 4th Minnesota, 450 men
(of whom 185 were recent recruits), Major Edson, commanding; 10 companies,
93rd Illinois, 290 men, Major Fisher, commanding; 7 companies, 18th
Wisconsin, 150 men, Lieut.-Colonel Jackson, commanding, a total of 890
men, organized as a brigade, with six guns of the 12th Wisconsin Battery,
under Lieutenant Amsden (number of men not given), and all under the
command of Lieut.-Colonel Tourtellotte of the 4th Minnesota, as earnest,
brave and steadfast a man in the discharge of duty as ever drew a sword.

Prior to Corse's arrival, the little garrison, with a full consciousness
of its responsibility for the defence of the Post and of the safety of the
huge accumulation of rations stored in the neighboring warehouses, warned
of danger, and later stimulated to the utmost endeavor by messages from
Sherman, and inspired by the calm and fearless determination of its
commander, had been busily preparing for the attack.

The two small redoubts, one on each side of the railway cut, have been
mentioned. The Eastern one, perhaps 75 feet in diameter, stood at the
extreme Eastern end of the ridge, looking into the valley of Allatoona
Creek, and distant about 280 yards from the railroad and 340 yards from
the Western redoubt, towards which it had an open view. Guarding the
crooked crest between the railroad and redoubt were three detached lines
of entrenchments, one looking Southward towards the storehouse 200 yards
distant, and two guarding the Northern aspect, with flanks refused on each
side of a ravine that lay between them and down which went a road to the

On the West side of the railway cut, and almost on its verge, stood the
other redoubt, about 90 feet in diameter, occupying an elevation from
which the ground fell in all directions. Westwardly, after a moderate dip,
the ground rose again to a second elevation or spur, on which stood a
house, distant from the redoubt about 170 yards. Beyond this the ground
again fell, and the road ran West and Southwest, undulating with the roll
of the ground. The exterior defences of the West side, in addition to the
ditches surrounding the redoubt, were a short line of entrenchments near
the crest Southwest of the redoubt, and a longer line of rifle-pits lying
completely across the ridge, beyond the house and about 260 yards distant
from the redoubt. These rifle-pits, held by the 39th Iowa and the 7th
Illinois, were later the scene of one of the most savage encounters in the
history of war.

About three-quarters of a mile out on the road, occupying an open
elevation, were still other small works and rifle-pits, not, however, any
portion of the regular defences. They had low parapets and were supposed
to have been constructed by Johnston's army when it occupied the locality
in June previous. It was from these outer works, which there was, of
course, no serious attempt to hold, that our outposts were driven in by
the arrival of French's troops on the morning of the 5th.

Tourtellotte was made aware on the 3rd that the enemy was operating on the
railroad South of him, and on the 4th was signalled by Sherman through
Kenesaw that the enemy was moving upon him, and that he must hold out, but
not till the evening of the 4th was any direct demonstration made on

Feeling the paucity of his isolated force, he had worked night and day to
construct and strengthen his defences and mature his plans.

The two redoubts were well located for mutual support, each being able to
take in flank an enemy assaulting the other from the North or South. The
relative disadvantage of the West redoubt, irrespective of its exposure to
the probable brunt of an attack, was the fact that higher elevations to
the West and Southwest partly commanded it. Tourtellotte therefore built
the rifle-pits across the crest of the ridge to the Westward with the
object of holding off the enemy as long as possible, and if the crest were
taken, of retiring to the redoubt, to reach which the enemy must cover a
distance of some 220 yards without shelter. In addition, he partly
enclosed the West redoubt with a stockade, at the junction of the outer
slope and the surrounding ditch, to prevent escalade if the enemy should
reach it, slashed such timber as remained for abattis, and collected some
cotton bales with which to close the entrance.

His gunners in the East redoubt, and the infantry as well on the East side
of the cut, were charged to watch the flanks of the West redoubt, and
direct their fire so as to cover the slopes to the North and South of it.

His garrison was depleted by his orders to maintain a force to guard the
block house at the bridge across Allatoona Creek, about two miles South of
the post, where three companies of the 18th Wisconsin were stationed.

They were summoned by French on his way to Allatoona to surrender, but
refused, and held the block house, but as French was sullenly withdrawing
after the battle, the post was heavily shelled and set on fire, and when
the roof was blazing and the men suffocating with the heat and smoke, they
surrendered; 4 officers and 80 men being taken prisoners. These men,
though included in the return of casualties of the 18th Wisconsin, were
not concerned in the Battle of Allatoona.

Tourtellotte, on the evening of the 4th, apprehending a night attack,
which would impair the advantages of his position, strengthened his grand
guard, barricaded as well as he might the roads to the South and West, and
made arrangements to fire a house or two so as to illuminate the site of
the little village and the storehouses; but about midnight was immensely
relieved by the arrival of Corse, which more than doubled the strength of
the garrison and made it possible to man the defences with some measure of


There was but little delay in getting down to work. By 2 in the morning a
rapid fire was opened on the skirmish lines South of the post, as though
the enemy were pushing up the railroad straight at the stores.
Tourtellotte immediately dispatched the 18th Wisconsin to reinforce the
outposts in that direction, and an hour later Corse threw out a battalion
of the 7th Illinois in further support. Five companies of the 93rd
Illinois were also sent out to the Westward near the outlying works
already referred to.

At daybreak, under cover of a strong skirmish line, Corse withdrew the
troops from the open ground in the vicinity of the village to the summit
of the ridge, placing the 4th Minnesota and the 12th and 50th Illinois in
the redoubt, and intrenchments on the East side of the railway cut, under
the immediate command of Tourtellotte, and himself occupying with the rest
of his force, under the immediate command of Rowett, the Western side,
upon which it was evident the weight of the attack must fall. The 7th
Illinois and the 39th Iowa, on the left and right respectively, facing
West, were ordered to occupy the line of rifle-pits crossing the ridge
about 250 yards in advance of the redoubt. As no defences intervened
between this line and the ditch encompassing the redoubt itself, it was of
vital importance to hold it and keep the enemy in check to the last
moment, and the two regiments were instructed to maintain their position
at all hazards. The event proved with what fidelity and devotion the trust
was discharged.

Three companies of the 93rd Illinois were stationed in the rifle-pits
adjacent to the West redoubt, and the remainder of the troops were
distributed forward on skirmish and outpost duty. The six guns of the
battery were equally divided, two being stationed in each redoubt, with
the third outside behind a low parapet.

The day broke calm and clear, with the crisp air and bright warm sun of
that superb mountain region. Sherman, on Kenesaw, takes occasion to record
it as a "beautiful day" with some vague consciousness in his mind,
perhaps, of the contrast between the shining peace that reigned above and
the devil's work that in smoke and fury waged below. At half-past six a
rebel battery of 12 pieces opened from an elevation three-quarters of a
mile South and East of Allatoona, and for two hours maintained a furious
cannonade, that, concentrated upon the two redoubts, filled the air with
smoke and fragments of shell, and deafened the ear with almost incessant
detonations. Meanwhile French's skirmish lines were vigorously pushed
round to the West and North until, with the exception of the steep and
timbered valley of Allatoona Creek on the extreme East, the garrison was
completely invested.

At 8:30, amid a temporary lull of the uproar that had prevailed, a flag of
truce was sent in bearing the following message: It was dated

     Around Allatoona, Oct. 5, 1864, 7 A. M.

     Commanding Officer, U. S. Forces, Allatoona.


     I have placed the forces under my command in such position that you
     are surrounded, and to avoid a needless effusion of blood, I call on
     you to surrender your forces at once and unconditionally. Five
     minutes will be allowed you to decide. Should you accede to this, you
     will be treated in the most honorable manner as prisoners of war. I
     have the honor to be

     Very respectfully yours,

     S. G. FRENCH, Maj.-Gen'l C. S. A.

In making his report subsequently, French endorses on a copy of this
summons, the following:

     Maj. Sanders, the bearer of this communication, was attacked while
     bearing the flag of truce. He delivered the communication to an
     officer and told him he would wait outside the works fifteen minutes
     for an answer. None came; none was sent, and so the attack was made.

     S. G. F., Maj.-Gen'l, Commanding.

Whatever may have been the external conditions that led to this view of
the matter on the part of General French, there is no question that Corse
did reply, and promptly and to the point. He wrote his answer on the top
of a neighboring stump, and a splinter or two may have gotten in it:

     Maj.-General French, C. S. A., etc.:

     Your communication demanding surrender of my command, I acknowledge
     receipt of, and respectfully reply that we are prepared for the
     'needless effusion of blood' whenever it is agreeable to you.

     I am very respectfully your obedient servant,
                      JOHN M. CORSE,
              Brigadier-General, Commanding U. S. Forces.

When this reply had been dispatched, Corse remarked, "They will now be
upon us," and nothing remained but to notify the several commands of the
purport of the correspondence, and to prepare for the bloody work that lay
before them.

       *       *       *       *       *

French commanded a division in the corps of Lieutenant-General Stewart,
which had been dispatched by Hood Eastward from Dallas to destroy the
railroad, as witnessed by Sherman from the summit of Kenesaw, and his
report, dated Nov. 5, from which the following particulars of his
movements are derived, is of great interest.

Stewart had struck the railroad at Big Shanty, four miles North of Kenesaw
on the evening of October 3rd, and his three divisions labored all night
at their task, completing it as far as Acworth. This work accomplished,
French's division was sent Northward under direct orders from Hood, which
are given in French's report, and have some peculiar features. Both orders
are dated October 4th, and were handed to French at Big Shanty by Stewart
at noon. The earlier one said that French "Shall move up the railroad and
fill up the deep cut at Allatoona with logs, brush, dirt etc." Also that
when at Allatoona, French was, if possible, to move to the Etowah Bridge,
the destruction of which would "be of great advantage to the army and the
country." The second order again urged the importance of destroying the
Etowah Bridge, if such were possible, and that as the enemy (Sherman),
could not disturb him before the next day, he was to "get his artillery in
position and then call for volunteers with 'lightwood' to go to the bridge
and burn it."

The curious points about these instructions are, in the first place, the
absurdity of a wearied body of troops undertaking such a task as that of
filling up a railway cut 65 feet deep and some 300 or 400 yards long, in
the way described, with "logs and dirt" and the futility of doing it, if
it were possible. It would have taken French several days to fill up that
cut, even assuming him to be uninterfered with, and one day's labor would
open it again.

The second point is the absence of any reference to a garrison at
Allatoona, or to the accumulation of stores there. French was a good
soldier, and after stating in his report that as both he and Stewart knew
the facts in the case and were aware of the large amount of stores, they
considered it important that the place be captured, contents himself with
saying, dryly, "It would appear, however, from these orders, that the
General-in-Chief was not aware that the Pass I was sent to have filled up
was fortified and garrisoned." The fact is that it requires something more
than mere courage to command an army, and it seems likely that a few such
specimens of leadership cost Hood the confidence of his subordinates, and
thoroughly justified Sherman in a disparaging remark he made respecting
him a day or two later.

Stewart gave French 12 pieces of artillery under Major Myrick and at 3:30
P. M. of the 4th he marched away to Acworth, but was detained there until
11 at night by lack of rations. The night was dark, the roads bad, and he
didn't know the country. From Acworth he reports seeing night signalling
between Kenesaw and Allatoona, and fearing that reinforcements might be
sent from the Northward, he dispatched a small cavalry force to reach the
railroad as close to the Etowah as possible and take up the rails. It was
a wise precaution, but undertaken too late, as Corse was at Allatoona by
midnight. French arrived there about 3 in the morning, and, as he writes,
"Nothing could be seen but one or two twinkling lights on the opposite
heights and nothing was heard except the occasional interchange of shots
between our advance guards and the pickets of the garrison in the valley
below." He placed his artillery in position at Moore's, 1300 yards south
and east of the Post, an admirable location for the purpose intended,
having an open view of the defences across the intervening hollow, left
with it the 39th North Carolina and the 32nd Texas, of Young's brigade, as
supports, and sought to gain the ridge west of the fortifications,
intending to attack at daybreak, but after floundering in the Egyptian
darkness of the forest, with no roads and over a rugged country, and
unavailingly seeking, notwithstanding the aid of a guide, to get upon the
ridge westward of the works, was compelled to wait for daylight. Finally
at 7:30 the head of the column arrived about 600 yards distant from the
West Redoubt, and here French got his first view of the works, which
impressed him at once as much more formidable than he had anticipated.
Instead of one small redoubt on each side of the railroad cut, as he had
been led to believe, he declares he saw no less than three on the west
side and a "Star Fort" on the east, with outworks and approaches, defended
to a great distance by abattis, and nearer the forts by stockades and
other obstructions. It may have been the weariness of a long night march,
or perhaps the too early morning air, that conjured these formidable
defences to French's eyes, or possibly, it is the exterior aspect of these
works that to a covetous and hostile apprehension enlarges their numbers
and proportions.

It must be admitted that from the interior standpoint they shrunk
mightily from French's description, and the defenders at least would have
been hugely gratified could they have had the privilege of occupying what
French thought he saw.

He rapidly made his dispositions for assault, sending Sear's Mississippi
Brigade round by the left to gain the north flank of the works, while
Cockerell's Missouri Brigade formed line across the ridge, with Young's
Texas Brigade behind it to support and follow up the attack. Myrick had
been ordered to open up with his guns and continue his fire until the
attacking troops were so close up to the works as to prevent it. Sears,
having the longer distance to traverse, was to begin the assault when
Cockerell would immediately move forward. Sears was delayed by the
ruggedness of his route to the north side of the works, and in fact for a
time lost his bearings among the wooded hills, and was not in position
until 9 a. m. by French's time. French says that when he sent his summons
to surrender, the Federal officer entrusted with the missive was allowed
17 minutes within which to bring the answer, and this time expiring, Maj.
Sanders returned without any. Nothing is said in the report as to the
firing upon him, noted in the endorsement on the copy of the summons
already mentioned.


Cockerell was at length ordered forward and the attack began. According to
French's account, everything went as successfully as possible. He
represents the triple lines of intrenchments and Redoubts on the west side
as being captured one, after another, his troops resting but briefly at
each to gather strength and survey the work before them, and again rushing
forward in murderous hand-to-hand conflict that left the ditches filled
with dead, until they were masters of the "Second Redoubt," and the "Third
or Main Redoubt" was filled with those driven from the captured works and
further crowded by the refugees from the eastern fort and its defences,
who had been driven out by the attack of Sears. He represents the Federal
forces, their fire almost silenced, as being herded into the one Redoubt
on the west, of which French's troops occupied the ditch and were
preparing for the final attack.

At this critical moment, with the garrison and the precious stores, as it
were, in the hollow of his hand, French received word that General
Sherman, who had been "repeatedly signalled during the battle," was close
behind him with his whole army, and within two miles of the road he would
have to take to rejoin his corps.

On this point of Sherman's proximity to French as his reason for leaving,
we have not only full knowledge of the exact position and movement of our
troops to show that such was really not the case, but a brief piece of
testimony from the other side in the shape of a dispatch from Major Mason,
Hood's adjudant-general, from which it is evident that French, becoming
hopeless of success, had sought in advance to justify at headquarters the
failure of his enterprise. The date and hour of this dispatch, which reads
as follows, are of interest:

     "CARLEY'S HOUSE, Oct. 5, 1864. 8:15 p. m.

     _Lt. Gen'l Stewart,
             Com'd'g Corps._

     General French's dispatch, forwarded by yourself, is just received.
     Gen. Hood directs me to say that he does not know where a division
     could march at this time to give any assistance to Gen. French, but
     that you will endeavor to send some scouts to him, and direct him to
     leave the railroad and march to the West, to New Hope Church.

     Gen. Hood does not understand how Gen. French could be _cut off_ at
     the point he designates in his dispatch, as he should have moved
     directly away from the railroad to the West, if he deemed his
     position precarious.

     A. P. M."

It is of course obvious from the map that if French found Sherman
approaching from the South, he had only to follow westward the road up
which he had been charging at Allatoona all day and free himself from
danger in an hour. It would be of interest to see this dispatch of
French's and observe the hour when sent, but it is not forthcoming. The
hour of the reply is significant. It need not have taken a mounted man
three hours to get word to Stewart, then near a junction with Hood and to
Hood himself, less than 15 miles away. The reply, made at once, is written
at 8:15 p. m., and French's message must certainly have been sent later
than 4 p. m. French had probably been gone from Allatoona an hour or more
when he bethought him to send the request for a division to extricate him.

The facts are, that it was not until the night of Oct. 5th that the
nearest troops of Sherman's went into camp at Brushy Mountain, 11 miles
distant in an air line, and none reached Allatoona until the 7th.

But to return to French. It was really an immense pity that he should feel
obliged to leave just when he had but to put forth his hand to snatch the
prize; but then it would not do to have his division cut off from the
army, and on the whole it might be well to start, and if so, why not at

So about 1:30 he says an order was sent to Sears and Cockerell to
withdraw. The ground was too rough to carry badly wounded men over it, so
that those who could not get away on their own feet had to be left.

The artillery, unable to operate effectively with the assaulting column
close up on the works, had already been in part ordered to take the road,
and after the assaulting troops had left, French went to the two regiments
who had supported it, and sent a battery to the block house at the railway
crossing of Allatoona Creek, fired fifty shots at it, knocked it about
the ears of the garrison, and setting fire to it, smoked them out and
marched them off as prisoners.

French's report of this affair, written a month later, from which the
above is condensed, is very interesting and dramatic, and regarded as a
literary composition, of no mean merit. He has certainly made the best of
a bad business, and if his facts do not quite tally with those of his
opponents, at least the discrepancies were not officially noticed at
headquarters, nor probably would a gloomier account of the affair have
been considered more inspiriting. Those rations would have been extremely
convenient, could they, or even a part of them, have been hauled away for
distribution among the hungry Confederates, and if that were
impracticable, it would have been at least a noble stroke to have
destroyed them. On this head French's report is silent; nor does he
endeavor to explain how it happened that so vital a part of his own
program was omitted. In effect, the play had been badly broken up by the
attentions of the gallery, and Hamlet had slipped out of it.

French is without excuse for his fear of Sherman's approach, baseless as
we know it to have been. Armstrong is responsible for despatches to him
suggesting it. All the same, the evidence is conclusive that French was
beaten, that he knew it, and that he had to withdraw quite independently
of Sherman's movements.

A Confederate historian, K. S. Bevier, writes as follows on this point:
"The men of French's Division had now become so much scattered that it was
impossible to gather a sufficient number to give any hope of successful
assault on the Fort."

What can wholly be pardoned to French is the unstinted commendation he
bestows on the gallantry of his men.

These poor fellows, ragged and hungry, with but a handful or two of
parched corn in their haversacks, had marched all day on the 3rd; had
worked all that night destroying the railroad; had worked and marched all
day on the 4th; had marched to Allatoona during that night, and had fought
nearly all day on the 5th. Nor is it forbidden to those who felt the vigor
of their dashing onset and the undaunted determination with which they
rallied again and again to the assault of the intrenchments, or who
witnessed the hand-to-hand encounters with sword and bayonet, with butts
of guns, and even with loose pieces of rock, to appreciate the intrepidity
and resolution with which they hung to their bloody and fruitless task.

Brave men may honor bravery the world over. We can in all sympathy and
common brotherhood say: "They were of our blood and race. Peace to their
ashes. Give us the like to stand side by side with us, and we could fear
no quarrel, were it with the whole round world."


Having glanced at the situation from French's standpoint, let us step over
to the other side, as we may safely do at this lapse of time, and see how
it actually fared with the beleaguered garrison which we left in momentary
expectation of attack; and since General French has been heard, it is no
more than fair to quote from the graphic reports of the federal commander.

After narrating his preliminary movements, and the stations of the troops,
he proceeds:

     "I directed Col. Rowett to hold the spur on which the 39th Iowa and
     7th Illinois were formed, * * * and taking two companies of the 93rd
     Illinois down a spur parallel with the railroad and along the bank of
     the cut, so disposed them as to hold the north side as long as
     possible. Three companies of the 93rd, which had been driven from the
     west end of the ridge, were distributed in the ditch South of the
     Redoubt, with instructions to keep the town well covered by their
     fire, and to watch the depot where the rations were stored. The
     remaining battalion of the 93rd, under Major Fisher, lay between the
     Redoubt and Rowett's line, ready to reinforce wherever most needed.

     "I had barely issued the orders when the storm broke in all its fury
     on the 39th Iowa and 7th Illinois. Young's Brigade of Texans had
     gained the west end of the ridge and moved with great impetuosity
     along its crest till they struck Rowett's command, when they received
     a severe check, but undaunted came again and again. Rowett,
     reinforced by the gallant Redfield, encouraged me to hope we were
     safe here, when I observed General Sears' brigade moving from the
     North, its left extending across the railroad (opposite
     Tourtellotte). I rushed to the two companies of the 93rd Illinois,
     which were on the brink of the cut running north from the Redoubt,
     they having been reinforced by the retreating pickets, and urged them
     to hold on to the spur; but it was of no avail; the enemy's line of
     battle swept us back like so much chaff, and struck the 39th Iowa in
     flank, threatening to engulf our little band without further ado.
     Fortunately for us, Col. Tourtellotte's fire caught Sears in flank,
     and broke him so badly as to enable me to get a staff officer over
     the cut with orders to bring the 50th Illinois over to reinforce
     Rowett, who had lost very heavily. However, before the regiment sent
     for could arrive, Sears and Young both rallied, and made their
     assaults in front and on the flank with so much vigor and in such
     force as to break Rowett's line, and had not the 39th Iowa fought
     with the desperation it did, I never would have been able to get a
     man back inside the Redoubt; as it was, their hand-to-hand conflict
     and stubborn stand broke the enemy to that extent that he must stop
     and reform before undertaking the assault on the fort. Under cover of
     the blows they gave the enemy, the 7th and 93rd Illinois, and what
     remained of the 39th Iowa, fell back into the fort.

     "The fighting up to this time--about 11 a. m.--was of the most
     extraordinary character. Attacked from the north, from the west and
     from the south, these three regiments--39th Iowa and 7th and 93rd
     Illinois--held Young's and a portion of Sears' and Cockerell's
     brigades at bay for nearly two hours and a half. The gallant Col.
     Redfield, of the 39th Iowa, fell, shot in four places, and the
     extraordinary valor of the men and officers of this regiment, and of
     the 7th Illinois, saved to us Allatoona.

     "So completely disorganized were the enemy, that no regular assault
     could be made on the fort till I had the trenches all filled and the
     parapets lined with men. The 12th and 50th Illinois arriving from the
     east hill, enabled us to occupy every foot of trench, and keep up a
     line of fire that, as long as our ammunition lasted, would render our
     little fort impregnable. The broken pieces of the enemy enabled them
     to fill every hollow and take every advantage of the rough ground
     surrounding the fort, filling every hole and trench, seeking shelter
     behind every stump and log that lay within musket range of the fort.
     We received their fire from the north, south and west of the Redoubt,
     completely enfilading our ditches, and rendering it almost
     impracticable for a man to expose his person above the parapet. An
     effort was made to carry our works by assault, but the battery (12th
     Wisconsin) was so ably manned and so gallantly fought as to render it
     impossible for a column to live within one hundred yards of the work.
     Officers labored constantly to stimulate the men to exertions, and
     almost all that were killed or wounded in the fort met their fate
     while trying to get the men to expose themselves above the parapet
     and nobly setting them the example.

     "The enemy kept up a constant and intense fire, gradually closing
     around us and rapidly filling our little fort with the dead or dying.
     About 1 p. m. I was wounded by a rifle ball that rendered me
     insensible for some thirty or forty minutes, but managed to rally on
     hearing some persons cry, 'Cease firing,' which conveyed to me the
     impression that they were trying to surrender the fort.

     "Again I urged my staff, the few officers left unhurt, and the men
     around me, to renewed exertions, assuring them that Sherman would
     soon be there with reinforcements. The gallant fellows struggled to
     keep their heads above the ditch and parapet in face of the murderous
     fire of the enemy, now concentrated upon us. The artillery was
     silent, and a brave fellow, whose name I regret having forgotten,
     volunteered to cross the railway cut which was under fire of the
     enemy and go to the fort on the east hill to procure ammunition.
     Having executed his mission successfully, he returned in a short time
     with an arm load of canister and case shot. About 2:30 p. m. the
     enemy were observed massing a force behind a small house and the
     ridge on which the house was located distant northwest from the fort
     about 150 yards. The dead and wounded were moved aside so as to
     enable us to move a piece of artillery to an embrasure commanding the
     house and ridge. A few shots from the gun threw the enemy's column
     into great confusion, which being observed by our men, caused them to
     rush to the parapet and open such a heavy and continuous musketry
     fire that it was impossible for the enemy to rally. From this time
     until near 4 p. m. we had the advantage of the enemy, and maintained
     it with such success that they were driven from every position and
     finally fled in confusion, leaving their dead and wounded, and our
     little garrison in possession of the field.

     "The hill east of the cut was gallantly and successfully defended by
     Col. Tourtellotte, with the 4th Minnesota and a portion of the 18th
     Wisconsin (which was drawn from outpost duty towards the south about
     10:30). * * * Col. Tourtellotte, though wounded in the early part of
     the action, remained with his men until the close, and rendered
     valuable aid in protecting my north front from the repeated attacks
     by Sears' brigade."

A notable struggle truly and stirringly told, even though the limitations
of an official report forbid that amplification of incident that would
make as thrilling a tale as tongue could utter. From start to finish,
seven solid hours of as desperate fighting as ever was done under the sky
of heaven, and with multiplied acts of individual heroism that would tax
the pen of Homer to narrate.

With the exception of about 250 rounds, the supply of ammunition brought
from Rome for the entire Division, had been expended by a portion of a
single brigade.

Every one of the subordinate commanders' reports on both sides bears
testimony to the unparalleled fierceness and concentration of the
struggle, and the closeness and duration of the action, and the terrific
slaughter; and these reports, it may be noted, are made by the ruggedest
of Sherman's and French's veterans--men inured to war in every aspect, and
as familiar with bloody battle-fields as we of to-day with the street we
daily tread. In reading these scant records, one scarce knows whether to
admire the more the daring vigor and persistence of the attack, or the
spirit, valor and heroic determination of the defence. With both it was
"To do or die," and each can feel that none, save his rival, can challenge
supremacy in war-like exploit.

Corse's signal dispatch to Sherman after the fight can therefore well be
excused, "I am short a cheek-bone and an ear, but able to whip all h--l


It is a thousand pities that the many notable incidents of this fight are
not on record; but, so far as I am aware, no one has sought to gather them
in any complete and authentic form.

Corse caught his wound about 1 o'clock while scanning the movements and
position of the enemy from the Redoubt. It was a close call for his life,
the ball ploughing his cheek and splitting his ear, and, as might be
imagined, dazing him. A surgeon took him in charge and ministered as well
as the circumstances permitted. At intervals Corse was unconscious, but
rallied from time to time, as though the spirit within him crowded itself
up through the physical deadening of his senses. At one of these occasions
he caught the words "Cease firing," and as mentioned in his report, feared
some attempt to surrender. On this point, in a private letter, he speaks
as follows: "Do you remember our losing a large number of Springfield
rifled muskets that exploded near the muzzle after becoming foul from
over-shooting? I saw some that had exploded, say about the shank of the
bayonet. It was so phenomenal as to make a decided impression on my mind
at the time. I think a large number of these must have been lost, and when
the order was given to cease firing, it was under the impression that if
the men were not given a chance to clean their guns, we would lose them
all and be overwhelmed. My impression, you remember, at the time was that
the order to cease firing meant surrender, but Rowett removed that
impression in subsequent interviews, during and after the war."

Rowett's order to "Cease firing" had, of course, nothing to do with the
cry of "Surrender." It is true that there were men in that Redoubt ready
to surrender or to do anything else in order to get out of it alive.
Happily these were few, and most of them lay prone, close under the
parapet, "playing dead," with the combatants and wounded standing and
sitting upon them. If I mistake not, Corse himself, at least for a time,
was holding down of these "living corpses" who preferred to endure all the
pain and discomfort of his position rather than get up and face the
deadly music that filled the air with leaden notes. It came about this
way: The Redoubt was crowded, and as bloody as a slaughter pen. In its
actual construction the parapet encircled a higher elevation in the
center, which had not been sufficiently excavated, so that a man standing,
or in fact, lying, in the middle of the work was exposed to bullets coming
in close over the parapet. It was absolutely necessary to keep room for
the fighting force along the parapet, so the wounded were drawn back, and
in some cases were shot over and over again. The dead were disposed of in
the same way, except that as the ground became covered with them they were
let lie as they fell, and were stood or sat upon by the fighters. Several
of the "skulkers" lay among these, but a few were in the ranks. The
slaughter had been frightful. One of our guns was disabled from the
jamming of a shot, and we were out of ammunition for the other two,
thereby losing both the deterrent effect upon the enemy, and the moral
encouragement that the friendly roar of cannon always gives to infantry in
action. I recall distinctly the fact that a regimental flagstaff on the
parapet, which had been several times shot away, fell again at a critical
moment towards the end of the action. There was a mad yell from our
friends outside and a few cries of "Surrender" among our own people, but a
brave fellow leaped to the summit of the parapet, where it did not seem
possible to live for a single second, grasped the flagstaff, waved it,
drove the stump into the parapet, and dropped back again unhurt. Of course
nobody knows the name of that man, but his action restored confidence, and
a great Yankee cheer drowned the tumult, and no cry of "Surrender" was
afterwards heard.

What saved us that day--among forty other things--was the fact that we had
a number of Henry rifles (16-shooters), since improved and known as
"Winchesters." These were new guns in those days, and Rowett, as I
remember, had held in reserve a company of an Illinois Regiment that was
armed with them until a final assault should be made. When the artillery
reopened, after the incident related by Corse of the man crossing the cut
and coming back with an armful of case shot, this company of 16-shooters
sprang to the parapet and poured out such a multiplied, rapid, and deadly
fire that no men could stay in front of it, and no serious effort was
thereafter made to take the fort by assault.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not possible, within any reasonable limits, for a paper already too
long for your patience, to undertake the recital of the numerous thrilling
incidents. One may be mentioned:

An artillery sergeant, whose gun was at first stationed outside the fort
behind an exterior parapet, was driven in by the rush of the enemy, and
his men being all killed, he had to abandon it. Wounded himself in several
places, he came into the Redoubt, frothing with rage at the loss of his
piece, and demanded a crew of volunteers to go out with him and get it.
Notwithstanding the deadly fire, he got them, and in three minutes was
back with his recovered prize with more wounds to his account. A bloodier
man was never seen, but he kept at his work, loading and firing, until a
musket ball passed through his neck, and he dropped dead. The same ball
traversed the body of an Iowa officer, with whom I was standing further
back, and then struck me with force enough to take my breath. That ball
had killed two men, and I preserved it with the name and date of the
battle scratched on its but slightly distorted surface.

On Tourtellotte's side a grim war comedy was enacted. The remains of two
Mississippi Regiments--the 35th and 39th of Sears' brigade, that had
charged with desperation, found themselves as the surge of battle that
broke upon the hill went back, lodged in a sheltered depression of the
north front, whence they could move neither up nor down without
concentrating upon themselves the fire of Tourtellotte's whole front.
Unable to determine what course to take, they remained where they were to
think it over, and Tourtellotte, observing their embarrassment,
thoughtfully sent a portion of the 4th Minnesota to their rescue and
invited them to come in. One field and several line officers and 80 men
with the colors of the two regiments were the reward of the Yankee

After the fight was over we thankfully emerged from the shambles and went
out to survey the field. The dead, the dying and the wounded lay
everywhere. The ditches immediately outside the Redoubt were crammed with
corpses. There were dead rebels within 100 feet of the work, and they were
piled in stacks near the house where they had massed for the final assault
which was never made, against the reopened artillery, and the rattle of
the Henry rifles. But the appalling center of the tragedy was the pit in
which lay the heroes of the 39th Iowa and the 7th Illinois. Such a sight
probably was never before presented to the eye of heaven. There is no
language to describe it. With all the glad reaction of feeling after the
prolonged strain of that mortal day, and the exultant surge of victory
that swelled our hearts, it was difficult to stand on the verge of that
open grave without a rush of tears to the eye and a spasm of pity
clutching at the throat. The trench was crowded with the dead, blue and
homespun, Yank and Johnny, inextricably mingled in their last ditch. Our
heroes, ordered to hold the place to the last, with supreme fidelity, had
died at their posts. As the rebel line run over them, they struck up with
their bayonets as the foe struck down, and rolling together in the
embrace of death, we found them in some cases mutually transfixed. The
theme cannot be dwelt upon.

For relief, take another one, so unique in the circumstances that I doubt
at times my own recollection of it. It was in the morning when French
first gained the west end of the ridge. The 93rd Illinois was in the
vicinity of the outworks, a quarter of a mile or so from the Redoubt. I
had been reconnoitering the ground, and the rebel column charged us
sharply and without warning. We ran, of course, but in passing through or
rather over an old work of low relief, one of our men stooped, grabbed a
brick and turned. Curiosity overcame discretion, and I had to look. He
threw the brick straight as a bullet at a rebel running toward us, and if
I may be believed, the brick caught the man full in the face, and he went
down like a log.

One more incident, and I am done. After the battle the wounded of both
sides were collected, housed and cared for. One of the surgeons invited me
to come to the hospital with him, and on the way said he had a wounded
woman there. I expressed surprise, and he said: "See if you can pick her
out." We went through the hospital, and I saw no woman, but passing
through again on the way back, the doctor stopped at a bed where a tanned
and freckled young rebel, hands and face grimy with dirt and powder, lay
resting on an elbow, smoking a corn-cob pipe. The doctor inquired, "How do
you feel?" and the answer was, "Pretty well, but my leg hurts like the
devil." As we turned, the doctor said, "That is the woman," and told me
that she belonged to the Missouri Brigade, had had a husband and one or
two brothers in one of the regiments, and followed them to the war. When
they were all killed, having no home but the regiment, she took a musket
and served in the ranks. Like an actor of the old Greek dramas, war has
its two masks of tragedy and comedy, although it is difficult at times to
determine to which the antiphonal scene belongs--so of this case. It is
perhaps not proper in such a paper as this to expose or call attention to
the shifts to which the Confederates were forced to fill their ranks, but
the incident may be told nevertheless.


The stores which had cost such heroic endeavor and expenditure of life,
were saved; the stores, which, as Corse says in a private letter, "would
have been such a prize as Hood in all his long and bloody career as a
soldier had never secured." This fact is due, independently of the main
action, largely to the coolness and vigilance of Tourtellotte, who in
addition to fighting Sears on his north front and flanking the attacks on
the west Redoubt, kept his mind charged with the protection of the
warehouses, even while his wound forced him to physical inaction. As has
been stated, he pushed out the 18th Wisconsin to the southward to hold
back the two regiments which were in front of the rebel batteries, and
only withdrew them at 10:30 when the assaulting column had reached a point
in front of the west Redoubt, whence it had a fire upon the rear of the
outlying command. Thereafter Tourtellotte kept a wary eye out towards the
stores, with men in his southern rifle pit and its vicinity constantly on
guard, and cautioned to unceasing vigilance, and although several attempts
were made by individuals and small parties to reach the warehouses and
fire them, they died on the way and none of them ever attained their
destination. We found several bodies scattered about in the vicinity, and
one of them within 20 feet of the buildings, with the implements in his
hand for firing them.

As to the amount of these stores, General Sherman, in his Memoirs, says
there were "over a million rations of bread," probably with Corse's
report at hand, in which the number is incorrectly stated at that amount.
Cox, in his "Atlanta," gives it more accurately at "nearly three
millions." The actual figures (2,700,000) are given in a letter from
Sherman to Corse in acknowledging, on October 7th, Corse's preliminary
report of the same day.


Corse's losses in this battle, from the full official records, were 142
killed, 352 wounded, and omitting those captured at the block house two
miles away, 128 prisoners; a total loss of 622--nearly one-third his
entire command.

French in his report estimates that he had killed and wounded 750, and
captured 205--which, with the block house prisoners, would make a total
loss inflicted on Corse of over 1000, which is over 50 per cent. too much.

French's losses are not known. With his report he gives a tabulated list
of casualties by brigades, which shows footings of 122 killed, 443 wounded
and 243 missing--a total of 799. Sears, however, whose report of
casualties is the only one accessible to me, reports in his brigade alone
a total loss of 425--as against 351 attributed to him in French's
schedule, which is an increase of 21 per cent. Young and Cockerell must
have lost at least as heavily as Sears, and having charged our line
repeatedly and had several encounters at close quarters, probably more so.
Allowing for these facts, it is perhaps nearer correct to increase
French's statement of loss by 25 per cent., which would make it almost
exactly 1000 men. As Corse actually buried 231 rebel dead, captured 411
prisoners, well and wounded, and picked up 800 stand of arms, and as
French left behind him, according to his own account, only those of his
wounded who needed litters to move them, we must add to the 644 rebels
accounted for by Corse at least 400 or 500 wounded who got away when
French left, or previously. French's total loss could not have been much
less than 1100 or 1200.

The number of troops with him cannot be determined. He gives it as "but
little over 2000 men," in which case he lost more than half his entire
number, but he omits three regiments as forming no part of the assaulting
column. He refers to those supporting the artillery, but these men were in
the engagement, kept the 18th Wisconsin in their front, and French thanks
their leader, Col. Andrews, "who commanded on the south side," and Major
Myrick, who commanded the artillery. French's field report for Sept. 24th
showed "Present for Duty" 331 officers and 2945 men; an "Effective
Present" of 3626, and an "Aggregate Present" of 4347. He probably had not
less than 3000 with him at Allatoona engaged in action, in which case his
total loss was proportionally the same as ours, viz., about one-third.


On the morning of the 7th Corse sent me down to Kenesaw to take his report
to Sherman, and supplement the gaps in the information which his wound
forbade elaborating. As I reached the summit of the mountain, conscious of
bearing welcome and important tidings of great joy, and considering what
special form Sherman's delight might take, I found him surrounded by a
group of generals and staff scanning with binoculars the long clouds of
dust that, rising above the forest to the westward, betokened a great
movement of troops. It was Hood en route northward. As Sherman turned and
saw me, his greeting was, "Hello! How's Corse?" I answered that he was
doing very well, and Sherman glanced over the report which I handed him,
and inquired, "Pretty hot, wasn't it?" and without waiting for an answer,
said, "I knew it was all right when Corse got there; I'll write him
presently." As I stood, anxiously waiting an invitation to unbosom myself
of the accumulated information that it wearied me to carry, he turned back
to take another look at Hood, and some one asked, "General, what do you
think Hood is going to do?" Sherman replied, with an outburst of
irritation, "How the devil can I tell? If it were Joe Johnston
now--Johnston was a sensible man and did sensible things. Hood is a d--d
fool and is liable to do anything." This view of his antagonist is, it
will be observed, paraphrased in his letter to Corse, written immediately
after, into "Hood is eccentric," but his off-hand response was
substantially as I have given it.

My interview was over. Nor since that time, until this evening, have I had
a chance to "unload."


This practically closes the sketch of Allatoona. I can only hope that it
will avail to furnish some material for a proper history of that memorable

Sherman published his congratulatory Special Field Orders, No. 86, dated
Oct. 7th, proclaiming the vital military principle that fortified points
must always be defended to the last, regardless of numbers, declaring the
"effusion of blood" at Allatoona not "useless," as the position "was and
is very important to present and future operations," and thanking Corse
and Tourtellotte and their men for their determined and gallant defence.

Just how important to his future operations was the successful defence of
Allatoona may be judged from what followed.

October 9th Sherman telegraphed to Grant with renewed urgency that the
march to Savannah must be made, and stated, to show his preparation, "We
have on hand over 8000 head of cattle and three million rations of bread."

In other words, the Allatoona stores, 2,700,000 rations, were practically
all he had.

Sherman impatiently chased Hood northward, seeking to corner and devour
him. But Hood, living off the country and traveling light, could go two
miles to Sherman's one, and there was no catching him. Weary of the
harassing and fruitless hunt, Sherman insisted that his March to Savannah
be not delayed, and on Oct. 19th to be in readiness for it, telegraphed
his chief commissary at Atlanta, "Have on hand 30 days' food." Say,
1,800,000 rations, two-thirds of the Allatoona stores, which were supplies
for 60,000 men for 45 days.

November 2nd Grant for the first time authorized the March.

Sherman abandoned Hood to his own devices, and the unhappy rebel leader,
pressing northward, was heavily thrown in his encounter with Schofield at
Franklin, and finally dashed himself to pieces against the "Rock of
Chicamauga," the noble George H. Thomas, lying vigilant within the
defences of Nashville, and like an old lion, silently licking his chops as
he watched his prey draw nigh.

November 12th Sherman, having stripped his railroad, cut the telegraph
wires that no message of delay might reach him, loaded his teams, marched
his 60,000 men for Savannah, and, although he "lived off the country," got
there with empty wagons.

With Hood and Forrest in his rear and on his railroad, how was he to
accumulate a fresh store of provision, and what would have become of the
"March to the Sea" if Allatoona had been lost?



Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "Chatahooche" corrected to "Chattahooche" (page 10)
  "VINCINITY" corrected to "VICINITY" (illustration "Allatoona and Vicinity")
  "ocntrast" corrected to "contrast" (page 19)
  "The The" corrected to "The" (page 21)
  "succeesfully" corrected to "successfully" (page 24)
  "Tourtellottee" corrected to "Tourtellotte" (page 37)

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