Re: [civilwarwest] Re:Diary of Sgt E. Hart and Missionary Ridge Part 2
- This is a continuation from Part 1 from the diary of Sgt E. Hart, Co. E., 40th Illinois Volunteers.
Eary the 11th, we started again, and after several hours' constant marching we reached Winchester, Tenn. There we drew commissary supplies, as this camp was only two miles from the railroad leading from Nashville to Chattanooga. The stores were drawn at Dechard station, on the road.
Having received a very short allowance of rations we again resumed our journey on the morning of the 12th, a very pleasant day. Marched four miles, passed a station by name Corwin, two miles beyond which place we came to the foot of Raccoon Mountain. This we commenced ascending at once, which proved to be a very laborious and slippery task, and was truly one of "tugs of war" but the scene was entirely new to the jolly boys and they surmounted every obstacle, passing many good jokes relative to their new adventure. We succeeded in crossing, and descended on the south side into a narrow valley, through which the railroad passed, were we camped for the night. The 13th we continued our march, keeping down the same valley, known as Crow Creek Valley, through which flowed a bright stream, bearing the same name. We followed this valley until we came to Stevenson, Ala., where we stopped over night and where we remained until the afternoon of the next day, when the "assembly horn" gave notice that we were to immediately march again. Accordingly, at 1 p.m., we set out along the line of railroad toward Chattanooga, and camped at Bolivar Station the night of the 14th. We pressed forward on the 15th, and reached Bridgeport, Ala., where we pitched our tents, but were soon ordered to draw and prepare three day's rations, and be in readiness to march at a moment's warning. Under such orders we knew that there was but little use to home of resting there long. Here the mounted detachment of our regiment left us. It consisted of companies B,D,F, and K. It went in the direction of Huntsville, where they were permanently located, and enjoyed some good times. Company H was also on detached duty, leaving only five companies in the regiment.
November, 17th. With three days' rations, and a scant supply of clothing, we marched, crossing the pontoon bridge, at Bridgeport, and went up the railroad to Shell Mound, where we turned to the right , and followed up a valley for some distance, when we began climbing Sand Mountain, which, at that place, was very high, steep, and slippery, making our ascent extremely laborious. We gained the summit, which we found perfectly level. Continued our march until dark, when we stopped by the roadside for the night. Early on the morning of the 18th we moved forward a few miles and joined the front of our division. We then laid in a good supply of ammunition preparatory to th advancing against the enemy, who was thought no be far distant.
The colum marched at 10 o'clock, A.M., passed down the mountain, and came into Lookout Valley, where there were a few Rebels, but the troops in advance dispersed them easily. The Fortieth descended also, but there being nothing there to do as anticipated, they went into camp, where they remained quietly waiting further orders.
November 19th. Some appearance of bad weather, and as we had nothing to protect us from a storrm, the boys were busily engaged in building "shanties". But all such improvements were immediately abandoned and preparations for another movement were commendced. At noon we took our line of march up the Lookout valley, proceded about fifteen miles and found a small body of the enemy, who soon retired, falling back on the mountain. We enetered Johns Gap and camped for the night. Men were sent along the mountain to build fires, and soon hundreds of pleasant camp fires were bvurning , making sufficient show for a very large army, which completely deceived the enemy, making him think there were thousands of hated "Yankees" holding that gap.
November 20th. Notwithstanding our dangerous position, a detail was sent out for forage, which succeeded in bringing in some hogs, that were soon slaughtered and appropriated to satisfy the hunger of the "Yankee sikduery." We remained here quietly all day. The Sixth Iowa regiment (a sister regiment to the 40th Illinois), had a small skirmish, doing them some injury.
November 21st. Without any warning, or time to prepare our breakfasts, we were called to march back, after spending the night quite uncomfortably in a heavy rain. In this unpleasant condition we traveled all day over wet and slippery roads, often times wading streams greatly swollen by the rain. Traveled the same road we did going our , and reached Trenton about 1 o'clock P.M., where we stopped and took dinner, then marched eight miles farther, and camped greatly fatigued.
In this segment, Sgt Hart describes some of the trials and tribulations in the marches. Also, I want you to remember, that it was the Fortieth Illinois that led the charge up Tunnel Hill in the face of Swet's Mississippi Battery. For close to a month previous to that charge, the Fortieth were constantly marching with little rest inbetween, yet they were always ready to do their duty when called upon. How many of us today could march those distances, over such terrain, wet, slippery, muddy, little rest, etc. and still be ready to do our duty. God Bless them - they were able to do it.