Preparation for Active Service Again - Brigaded with Colored Troops - Embarking for New Orleans - Arrival at Barrancas, Fla. - Prison Veterans Rejoin from Furlough - Pensacola - Fort Blakely Invested - The Charge and Capture - Up the Alabama River - Selma - Return to Mobile - Explosion of Rebel Ammunition - Ordered to Texas - Arrival at Galveston - Mustered Out of the 83d Ohio - The Old 48th Ohio Itself Again - Ordered to Houston - Break-Bone Fever - Back to Galveston - Promotions - On Various Duties - Final Muster-Out - Arrival at Columbus - Home and a Quiet Life - Reid's History of the 48th Ohio - Testimonials of Brigade and Division Commanders.
THE incidents and adventures of the Regiment, from the consolidation until the close of the war and final muster-out, were furnished by Lieut. James Douglas, of Mt. Auburn, Cincinnati, who was a member of the Regiment, and served the entire term.
"Immediately after the consolidation, the Regiment was brigaded with the 77th and 58th U. S. Colored Troops, and went into camp on the Quitman farm, back of the city, under command of Brig. Gen. Davidson. On the 28th of January, orders came to break camp and embark on the steamer Grey Eagle. This was accomplished by midnight. The following day found us going down the Mississippi, en route for New Orleans. On the 30th we disembarked at the lower part of the city, near the Lake Pontchartrain depot. We boarded the train, which took us to Lakeport. There we embarked on the ocean steamer "Alabama," and midnight of the same day found our vessel steaming down Lake Pontchartrain. On the 31st, we passed through Lake Borgne, thence into Mississippi Sound, making a short stop at Pensacola, Fla. From there into the Gulf, finally landing at Barrancas, opposite Ft. Pickens, Fla., on the 1st day of February, at which place we disembarked and went into camp, forming a part of the 3d Brigade, 2d Division 13th A. C., which composed a part of the right wing of the army moving against the defenses of Mobile. The Brigade was commanded by Col. F. W. More, of the 83d Ohio, which left Lieut. Col. W. H. Baldwin in command of the Regiment. We remained at Barrancas, Fla., some time, organizing and preparing for an active campaign. While here, the Prison Veterans rejoined from their furlough, and were assigned to their respective companies, under the new organization.
"On the 10th of March, we broke camp and marched around a portion of Pensacola Bay, to Pensacola, where we arrived the same day and went into camp near the railroad. We remained in camp until the 20th of February, when we again took up the line of march, moving up the Montgomery railroad, through the pine swamp, in a northerly direction. The campaign will be remembered by those engaged in it, as it differed from any previous one, The route lay through almost impassable pine swamps, The men carried 80 rounds of ammunition, an ax to every fourth man, an extra pair of shoes, and ten days' rations each. The ground was of a quicksand nature, and we were frequently obliged to pull wagons and mules out with long ropes. We cut down trees, and built miles of corduroy roads at the worst places. It was slow marching, with constant fatigue duties, lasting far into the night. To make matters worse, the first night out from Pensacola, a violent rain-storm set in, damaging the provisions we carried, and after our ten days were up we were placed on one-fourth rations.
"On the 26th our advance met the enemy at Escambia river, defeating them, and capturing 120 rebels and the rebel Gen. Clayton, who was wounded. We captured Pollard also, a railroad junction, two trains of cars, a rebel paymaster, and some more prisoners. After this our route lay due west, but the roads were not much better. We arrived at Stockton on the 31st of March, and the 2d of April found us driving the rebel skirmishers into their works at Fort Blakely, Ala.
It was a beautiful day. The troops were all brought to the front, and preparations made for a charge. We formed en masse, one brigade directly in the rear of the other, thus forming a solid column. Extra ammunition was distributed, and the musicians were formed into a hospital corps, with stretchers. In this position we stacked arms, under a heavy artillery fire from the enemy.
"While thus waiting in suspense, an order came to change our position, and towards evening our Division moved to the left, in the woods, occupying the center of the army. The following day we began to invest Fort Blakely, driving the enemy closer to their works, our Regiment taking a position in a ravine, where we remained until the final charge, in the meantime performing constant fatigue and picket duty, resembling those duties at Vicksburg, only we were not so well protected.
"On the 9th of April we were formed in line of battle in our rifle-pits. One regiment from each brigade was selected to deploy as skirmishers; our Regiment being selected from our brigade. Owing to the formation of the ground, we marched left in front. It was a grand sight to see the vast army, prepared for a charge. Word was passed along the line for the skirmishers to advance at the bugle signal, and the main line to advance, if necessary, when the bugle sounded. We advanced in skirmish order, a distance of 500 yards, under a heavy fire of artillery, and a musketry cross-fire, over fallen timber, sunken torpedoes, and a double line of strong abattis works, going through and over the rebel forts, in the face of a deadly fire, without the assistance of the reserve, although they were ready to support us if we failed. The rebel gunners left some of their pieces partly loaded. Some of the rebels surrendered and others fled. The Regiment captured two forts, eight cannon, two mortars, a long line of breastworks, eight hundred prisoners, two flags, and a large quantity of small arms, ammunition and other stores. The colors were riddled, both staffs were shot in two, but the color-bearers gallantly carried the flags over the parapet of the fort. The Regiment lost 36 officers and men, in killed and wounded.
"This victory gave us possession of Mobile and its defenses, and cut the Confederacy in two. We remained at Fort Blakely until the 20th of April, when we embarked and moved across to Mobile, at which place we formed a part of a fleet moving up the Alabama river. The army was divided into three columns, the 16th Corps and Grierson's cavalry moving north from Fort Blakely to Montgomery, Ala., Gen. Benton's Division, 13th A. C., moving north up the railroad, and our Division, under Gen. Anderson, and Hawkins' Colored Division, moving up the river in a fleet of transports. Our Regiment embarked seven companies on the "Gov. Cowels," and the other three on the "St. Charles," the latter a rebel blockaderunner.
"We had a very pleasant time going up the river. We were allowed plenty of liberty, the country was rich in provisions, and we made use of it. We were fired into once, and retaliated. This was the last time the Regiment was fired at. On the 27th of April we reached Selma, Ala., and went into camp near the grave-yard, just inside the rebel works. The cavalry, under Gen. Wilson, had previously captured the place and destroyed a vast amount of ordnance stores and manufactories.
"We were in Selma until the 12th of May, when we embarked on the steamer "John H. Groesbeck," and proceeded to Mobile. We performed provost-duty at that place for some time. On the 2d of May, the Governor promoted Lieut. McCaffrey to Captain, and Second Lieut. J. M. Wilson to First Lieutenant. During our stay the rebel ammunition stored near the depot exploded, which caused much damage to property and the loss of many lives, some of our Regiment among the number.
"On the 13th of June, the Regiment embarked on the ocean steamer "J. T. Rice," with orders to proceed to Texas. We passed Forts Morgan and Gaines, thence into the Gulf of Mexico, encountering some storms, and arriving at Galveston, Texas, on the 18th. After disembarking, we camped in the public square, but shortly afterward broke camp. Each company was assigned to different parts of the city, occupying dwelling-houses for quarters. Soon after arriving at Galveston, an order was received, to muster out all troops whose term of service expired previous to October 1st, 1865. Under this order the original 83d 0. V. I. was mustered out July 2 6th, 1865, when they departed for home. Under this order also, quite a number of the 48th were discharged, and at the same time we received accessions from other regiments, of men whose term of service did not expire with their regiments.
"Under Special Orders No. 48, 13th A. C., dated July 19, 1865, the Regiment resumed its old name of 48th Ohio Vet. Vol. Infantry, and was placed under command of Capt. J. R. Lynch, afterward promoted to Lieut.-Col. Lieut. W. H. H. Rike was assigned as Adjutant, Lieut. W. J. Srofe as Quartermaster, Surgeon P. A. Willis as Surgeon, and H. Baird as Ass't Surgeon. The latter was from the 114th Ohio. Serg't James Douglas was appointed Serg't.-Major, and William C. Edwards was appointed Hospital Steward. Ass't. Surgeon C. H. Wiles and Lieut. Reed were discharged the latter part of July.
"On the 2d day of August, a portion of the Regiment embarked and proceeded to Houston, Texas, by way of Buffalo Bayou. The remaining companies followed soon after, by way of Trinity river. Arriving at Houston, we relieved the 34th Iowa, who were to be mustered out. Lieut.-Col. Lynch relieved Col. Clark as Commander of the Post. Lieut. McCaffrey was appointed Post-Adj't. and Lieut. Srofe, Post-Quartermaster.
"The Regiment was now sent by companies to various towns on the railroads running into Houston. Capt. Cochran, with Company C, was stationed at Columbia, on the Brazos river, 85 miles from Houston. While stationed there they buried the brother of President Johnson, who had been fatally injured while boating. The company also lost two of its men from malarial fever.
"During the summer the Regiment suffered from break-bone fever, causing many to be sick. At one time it was difficult to provide guards for duty. It was not, however, fatal to any of them.
"On the 28th of October, we were relieved from duty at Houston, and ordered to relieve the 24th Ind. Vet. Vols. from duty at Galveston, who were then being mustered out of service. In due time we reached Galveston, and took possession of their comfortable quarters.
"On the 4th of September, 1865, the Governor issued the following commissions: Lieut. Rike, promoted to Captain; Sergeants S. H. Stevenson, B. W. Ladd, and F. N. Sweny, promoted to 1st Lieutenants, and Sergeants Asa N. Ballard, Elihu Hiatt, Q. M. Sergt. Thos. H. Hansell and Serg't. Maj. James Douglas, promoted to 2d Lieutenants. Lieut. Stevenson was appointed Adjutant in place of Lieut. Rike, promoted. H. J. Rausman was appointed Q. M. Serg't. Oct- 5, 1865.
"From the time the Regiment returned to Galveston, in October, 1865, until our muster-out, we performed all kinds of garrison duty, and the officers were more or less on detached service, but we were not well satisfied with our situation or treatment, for we felt that we were detained in the service longer than was actually necessary. In fact, many expressed themselves in such a way as to leave no doubt of the feelings of the Regiment.
"On the 23d of April, we received orders for our final muster-out, which was completed, so that we were enabled to leave Galveston on the 11th day of May, 1866, arriving at Columbus, Ohio, May 21st, 1866."
Thus ended the existence of the 48th Ohio Vet. Vol. Infantry, after a service of nearly five years, having traveled during that time through eight Southern States, a distance by land and water of eleven thousand five hundred miles, and being next to the last Ohio Infantry Regiment discharged from the service.
The following is what Reid says of the 48th Ohio, in "Ohio in the War:"
"This Regiment was organized at Camp Dennison on the 17th of February, 1862, and soon after reported to Gen. W. T. Sherman, at Paducah, Kentucky. After a short rest at Paducah, it moved up the Tennessee River, on the steamer Empress, and on the 19th of March disembarked at Pittsburg Landing. On the 4th of April, while the regiment was on drill, firing was heard, and the 48th at once moved in the direction of the sound; but the enemy fell back, and at night-fall the regiment returned to its quarters. About 7 o'clock on the morning of the 6th, the regiment advanced upon the enemy, and was soon warmly engaged. Charge after charge was repulsed, and though the rebel fire was making fearful gaps in the line, the men stood firm. A battery was sent to the regiment's aid, but after firing four shots, it retired. The rebels then advanced, confidently expecting to capture the regiment, but were driven back, and the 48th withdrew to its supports, having been ordered three times by Gen. Sherman to fall back. It is claimed that Gen. Johnston, of the rebel army, was killed in this portion of the battle, by some member of the 48th. The regiment was actively engaged during the remainder of the day, and late in the afternoon, in connection with the 24th Ohio and 36th Indiana, it participated in a decisive attack on the rebel lines. It acted throughout in Buckland's Brigade of Sherman's Division - a Brigade which had no share in the early rout of a part of that Division.
"On the second day of the battle, about 10 o'clock A. M., the regiment went into action across an open field, under a galling fire, and continued constantly exposed until the close of the engagement. The 48th lost about one-third of its members in this battle. From this time until after the close of the Rebellion, the regiment was engaged continually in active duty. In the attack upon Corinth, the 48th was among the first organized troops to enter the rebel works. In Gen. Sherman's first expedition to Vicksburg, it occupied, with credit, a position on the right in the assault; and it was in Sherman's expedition up the Arkansas River, that it distinguished itself in the battle of Arkansas Post. It was with Grant during his Vicksburg campaign; fought at Magnolia Hills and Champion Hills, and participated in a general assault on the rebel works in the rear of Vicksburg, May 22d, 1863.
"On the 25th of June following, another assault was made upon the same works, and the 48th was ordered to cross an open field, exposed to two enfilading batteries, to take position in the advanced line of rifle-pits, and to pick off the enemy's gunners.. This order was successfully executed. It took a prominent part in the battle of Jackson, Mississippi, and soon after engaged in the fight at Bayou Teche. At Sabine Cross-Roads, the 48th, then a mere remnant of its former self, severely punished the "Crescent Regiment;" but in turn it was overpowered and captured. It was not exchanged until October, 1864.
"The majority of the men in the regiment reenlisted, but on account of the capture, they never received their veteran furlough. After its exchange, the regiment shared in the capture of Mobile.
"After the surrender of the rebel armies, the remaining one hundred and sixty-five men of this regiment were ordered to Texas. The regiment was at last mustered out of service in May, 1866."
The following testimonials were received from our Division and Brigade Commanders, in regard to the conduct of the 48th while under their immediate command:
"HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF THE UNITED
"STATES, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
"March 26th, 1880.
"Maj. J. A. Bering and Capt. Thomas Montgomery:
"DEAR SIRS: - I am really indebted to you for the pleasure of having the opportunity to read your beginning of the "History of the Forty-Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry," and wish to encourage you to go on in the same spirit to the end.
"I recognize in every page that the writer was one of us, that he saw with the eyes of a brave, intelligent soldier, who meant to do his full share of work, and who now only intends to record his observations for the use of his comrades, and to furnish authentic materials for the future historians of the great events in which the 48th Ohio bore an honorable part.
"I prefer not to be a critic, to alter or change a single paragraph, because I believe the great end at which we all aim, Truth, is best reached by each witness telling his own story in his own way.
"War consists not only in absolute facts, which ought to be absolutely correct, but in feelings and opinions at the moment of action, because these account for results. I advise you to go on to the conclusion in the same spirit you began, and I am sure your comrades will be grateful, and the cause for which we fought will be vindicated by future generations.
"With great respect, your friend,
"W. T. SHERMAN, General,"
"WASHINGTON, D. C., April 7, 1880.
"Maj. J. A. Bering and Capt. Thomas Montgomery:
"GENTLEMEN: - I have received your letter of the 1st inst., also the one hundred pages of your History of the 48th Ohio has come to hand, and been read with a great deal of interest, as far as it is continued. My old Brigade, consisting of the 48th, 53d, 70th and 72d Regiments Ohio Volunteer Infantry, I had always regarded as equal, in all respects, to any brigade I ever met with. It affords me great pleasure to say, that during the time the regiment was in my command, its conduct was excellent. Indeed it has afforded me a great pleasure, at all times, to speak in terms of high commendation of the officers and men of the 48th. The discipline and general conduct of the Regiment was good, and my personal relations with them, the officers and men, were of such a character that it has always been a sincere pleasure to me to meet one of them.
"I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
"Your obedient servant,
"J. W. DENVER,
"Brig. Gen, U. S. Vols."
"FREMONT, OHIO, April 5, 1880.
"Major J. A. Bering and Capt. Thomas Montgomery:
"GENTLEMEN: - I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your esteemed favor of the 24th ult., and also the first one hundred pages of your forthcoming "History of the 48th Ohio." I have read those pages with great interest and satisfaction, and I take great pleasure in bearing testimony to the uniform good conduct and unwavering valor of the 48th Ohio, both officers and privates, that composed a part of the Brigade which I had the honor of commanding. All the incidents and circumstances of the commencement and progress of the terrible battle of Shiloh, are still fresh in my memory. At the first alarm, our Brigade was ordered to form on the color-line, and I rode forward to the picket-line and found the enemy advancing in strong force, driving our pickets. I immediately rode back through our Brigade-line to Gen. Sherman's Headquarters, and informed him that I had been to the front and found the enemy advancing in great force and our pickets falling back, and asked him what orders he had to give me. He answered: "You must reinforce the pickets and keep the enemy back." On my return, I met Col. Sullivan and Lieut. Col. Parker, of the 48th Ohio, riding to meet me, and when I informed them what my orders were, they both asked permission to take the 48th to the front, which I readily assented to, and directed them to march their Regiment with as much speed as possible across the bridge immediately in front of the Regiment, which was done with the utmost promptness. But, as stated in your History, the enemy were already forming a line on our side of the creek, below the bridge, concealed from our view by the high bank. The whole Brigade was at once advanced, and the battle commenced in deadly earnest all along the line. No more courageous fighting was ever done than was done by the 48th, 70th and 72d Ohio regiments during the next two hours. We drove the enemy back repeatedly, and held our line until ordered back to the Purdy road. I do not think our Brigade has ever received from the public the credit it deserved for that first two hours' fight.
"Although our ranks were constantly being terribly cut to pieces, there was no flinching in the officers or privates. We were ordered by Gen. Sherman to hold our position, and were determined to do it, and did, until ordered back. I consider it the greatest honor of my life that I commanded the Fourth Brigade in Gen. Sherman's division, composed of the 48th, 70th and 72d Ohio regiments, at the great battle of Shiloh. No braver men ever defended their country on the battlefield. I am, with great respect,
"Your sincere friend,
"R. P. BUCKLAND,
"Brig. Gen. U. S. Vols."
"LANCASTER, KY., Feb, 6, 1880.
Maj. J. A. Bering and Capt. Thos. Montgomery:
"I regret that it is not in my power to furnish copies of my official reports of the engagements in which my brigade participated during the war. The 48th Ohio was assigned to my command at Memphis, Tenn., in December, 1862, and composed a part of my brigade until after the Red River campaign. It participated in the movement under Gen. W. T. Sherman against Chickasaw Bayou, in front of Vicksburg, at Arkansas Post, and under Gen. Grant at Port Gibson, Baker's Creek, Black River Bridge, the sieges of Vicksburg and Jackson, and under Gen. T. E. G. Ransom, at the battle of Sabine Cross-Roads. In all of the engagements named herein, no regiment of which I have any knowledge, during the late war, bore a more honorable or conspicuous part than the 48th Ohio. It was a regiment upon which I could depend at all times, and under all circumstances, for just what was needed. It was under excellent discipline, and always ready at a moment's warning, to drill, march, or fight. I had no trouble with either officers or men, and do not remember an unpleasant word that ever passed between myself and any of that command.
"At the siege of Vicksburg, on the 22d of May, they were
among the first to reach the intrenchments of the enemy, and planted
their flag by the side of the 77th and 130th Illinois, upon the
Confederate works; which portion they held until recalled late
at night, by order of the Corps Commander. I was always proud
of the Regiment, and thankful to Gen. A. J. Smith, for giving
me a command composed of such splendid material. Ohio, Illinois
and Kentucky stood side by side, and it was a noticeable fact,
that whenever the enemy got in our way, some of them were sure
to get hurt, unless they managed to get out of it very soon. I
always tried hard to take good care of the men, and have them
ready for any emergency; and I think the reports of the Division,
Corps, and Army commanders, will show that the old second brigade
of Gen. A. J. Smith's Division, made a very creditable record
in the grand old Army of the Tennessee.
"Very truly yours,
"W. J. LANDRUM,
"Brevet-Brig.-Gen. U. S. Vols."