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Reid's History of the 41st OVI

The following is an extract from Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Her Generals, and Soldiers Vol. II (pages 261-265) by Whitelaw Reid, published in 1868 by Moore, Wilstach and Baldwin of Cincinnati. Reid was a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, a Civil War correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette and later went on to become editor in chief of the New York Tribune and then ambassador to England. Reid's history is in the style of the time, and assumes the reader has a good general knowledge of the war, as those living at the time of its publication would. It is reproduced here as accurately as possible. Any errors or ommissions you may find are the fault of your humble transcriptionist, Dan McClory.

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Immediately after the battle of Bull Run a number of the citizens of Cleveland, Ohio set about raising a regiment, and the result of their labors was the Forty-First Ohio Volunteer Infantry, of which Captain William B. Hazen, Eighth United States Infantry, was appointed Colonel.

The camp of rendezvous was established near Cleveland, and the first companies that reported were from Trumbull and Geauga Counties. By the 1st of September a large number of men were in camp, and the work of instruction had commenced. Officers' school was instituted, and the strictest discipline enforced, and by the time the regiment was mustered as complete, on the 31st of October, 1861, the officers and men understood their duties well, and were quite proficient in drill. On the 6th of November the regiment moved by rail to Camp Dennison, where arms were supplied. Two hundred old muskets belonging to the State had sufficed for drill, but these were now exchanged for the "Greenwood Rifle", a weapon nearly useless, and soon discarded by the Government. After a week at Camp Dennison the regiment proceeded to Gallipolis, taking steamer at Cincinnati. A few raiding excursions from this point into Virginia was the only relief from daily drills, and in the latter part of the month the regiment was ordered to Louisville and reported to General Buell, then organizing the Army of the Ohio.

The regiment was encamped near the city limits, and by its neatness and precision attracted crowds of visitors at its guard-mountings and dress-parades. The Forty-First was a part of the Fifteenth Brigade, Nelson's division, and during the winter remained at Camp Wickliffe, Kentucky. Here the Forty-First was made the nucleus of a new brigade (the Nineteenth) to which was assigned the Forty-Sixth and Forty-Seventh Indiana, and the Sixth Kentucky, commanded by Colonel Hazen. On the 14th of February, 1862, Nelson's division marched for West Point, which was reached after a severe march of three days. Upon its arrival at West Point the command embarked on transports for the Tennessee River. Here the two Indiana regiments of Hazen's brigade were sent to Grant, but Nelson ascended the Ohio to the Cumberland and pass up that stream to Nashville, entering the city on the 27th of February, 1862. Here the Ninth Indiana was added to the brigade, and about the middle of March the regiment moved with the army to Savannah, on the Tennessee River, arriving within two miles of that point the Saturday preceding the battle of Pittsburg Landing. Heavy firing was heard on the morning of the 6th of April, and at one o'clock P.M., after being supplied with rations and ammunition, the regiment moved for Pittsburg Landing, one company (G) being left to guard the camp and garrison equipage. At five o'clock the troops arrived opposite the battle-field, and Hazen's brigade was the second to cross the river. The regiment lay that night on the field, in the driving rain, among the dead and wounded, and at daylight moved forward in its first engagement. The Forty-First was on the right of Nelson's division, and when the Rebels were discovered to be advancing Hazen's brigade was ordered to charge. The Forty-First was placed in the front line and advanced steadily through a dense thicket of undergrowth, and emerging in the more open ground was saluted with a murderous fire. The line still advanced, checked the approaching Rebels, drove them back beyond their fortifications, and captured their guns. The brigade, in turn, was driven back to its original line, where it re-formed without difficulty. Three officers and three men, who at different times carried the colors in the charge, were shot down, either killed or wounded, and of the three hundred and seventy-three who entered the engagement, one hundred and forty-one were either killed or wounded in half an hour. The night after the battle Hazen's brigade, as an outlying force, occupied the Tan Bark Road upon the left of the army. The regiment occupied a miserable camp on the field of battle, surrounded by the half buried bodies of men and horses, until the army moved on Corinth. The regiment suffered very much from exposure during the march and in the operations immediately following.

In the siege of Corinth the Forty-First was principally engaged in skirmishing, and after the evacuation marched about forty miles southward from Corinth, joined Pope's forces, then moved eastward to Iuka for supplies and clothing. These being obtained, the march was continued under the scorching summer suns, and over roads think with dust, to Tuscumbia, Florence, and Athens, Alabama. Here the regiment rested two weeks, and to a great extent recovered from the fatigues of the previous four months. In July the regiment was engaged in building a trestle-work on the railroad from Athens to Nashville, in the vicinity of Richland Creek, until it was ordered to Murfreesboro', and, with Hazen's brigade, constituted the garrison at that place. The Forty-First was with Buell's army on its march to Louisville, moving day after day over dusty roads, with short rations and water scarce, until nearly exhausted, ragged and dirty, it entered Louisville on the West Point Road, and sat down for a three days' rest. On the 2d of October the regiment, still in its old brigade and division, and in General Crittenden's corps, marched against Bragg. At the battle of Perryville the regiment was engaged in skirmishing. While Bragg was in position at Camp Dick Robinson, after the battle, Hazen's brigade drove the enemy from Danville, in a brisk running fight of an hour. Crittenden's corps pursued Bragg as far as Wild Cat Mountain, Hazen's brigade having the advance from Mount Vernon, and skirmishing daily with Wheeler's cavalry.

About the 20th of October the brigade commenced its return to Nashville, moving by way of Mount Vernon, Glasgow, Gallatin, and Silver Springs. On the 26th of December the army moved on Murfreesboro', the Forty-First marching on the Murfreesboro' and Nashville Turnpike. On the 27th Hazen's brigade was sent to Stewart's Creek to save a bridge on the Old Jefferson Road. The expedition was successful and returned to the Pike on the 29th, and moved to within two miles of Murfreesboro'. At midnight on the 30th the Forty-First took position in the first line, in an open cotton-field, and facing Cowan's House. A skirmish-line was advanced, and about an hour after daylight Hazen ordered his command forward. At the same time the sound of musketry on the right ceased, and the Rebels having driven back McCook, advanced to crush Crittenden. Hazen's brigade moved out of the cotton-field and received the Rebels with a steady fire, driving them back again and again. When all had fallen back upon the right and Hazen's brigade was attacked on the flank, and almost in the rear, the line slowly withdrew to the slight embankment of the railroad. This position was held during the day against the furious assaults of the Rebels. The Forty-First was afterward posted by General Rosecrans in person to guard a ford, and suffered severely from the enemy's batteries. On Friday the regiment was in reserve, but was moved across the river as the Rebels were sweeping over Van Cleve's division. They were met in their headlong pursuit and driven back almost without effort. A battery still maintained an annoying fire, and Colonel Hazen taking the Forty-First alone, advanced to within three hundred yards of the guns and delivered a volley by battalion. Not another shot was fired. The battery left the field, losing its Captain, several horses, and a caisson. Of the four hundred and ten officers and men of the Forty-First, the largest number it ever took into battle, one hundred and twelve were killed and wounded.

After encamping a day or two on the field the regiment moved to Readyville, about twelve miles from Murfreesboro', on the 10th of January, 1863. Here it enjoyed a season of comparative quiet, being engaged occasionally in excursions against Morgan's cavalry, and against Cluke's brigade, which occupied the town of Woodbury. The camp and Readyville was broken on the 24th of June, and the command moved for Tullahoma; but that place being evacuated before they reached it, the troops returned to Manchester and went into camp. On the 15th of August tents were struck and the regiment moved toward the Tennessee via Dunlap, against Chattanooga. After reaching the Valley of the Tennessee, twenty miles above Chattanooga, Hazen's command was employed until the 9th of September in watching the right bank of the river, making demonstrations against the enemy, and preparing means to cross. At the date mentioned, information of the evacuation of Chattanooga and orders to cross the Tennessee were received. On the 8th the regiment made a night march to the mouth of the West Chickamauga Creek, and on the 10th crossed early in the morning and moved on by Tyner's Station, joining the division next day at Graysville. Ringgold was reached the same day, and the next morning the division moved toward Gordon's Mills. The Forty-First was in the advance, and near Ringgold encountered the Rebel cavalry, driving them back. On the road from Gordon's Mills, toward Lafayette, the enemy's cavalry was again encountered and routed by the Forty-First.

The morning of the 19th of September found the regiment again on the bank of the Chickamauga, near Gordon's Mills. About nine o'clock A.M. the battle commenced, and at one o'clock P.M. Palmer's division (in which the Forty-First was) went into the fight, attacking in echelon by brigades, Hazen's brigade being the first echelon. The regiment advanced rapidly over an open field to a strip of woods. After holding the position two hours, and during the time losing a hundred men, the regiment was withdrawn. Scarcely had they replenished their cartridge-boxes when the brigade was moved to the assistance of General Van Cleve. The brigade formed the second line, and when the first gave way was vigorously assailed. The forty-First occupied the right of the line, and was rapidly becoming enveloped; and though it kept its front clear by well-directed volleys, it was compelled to retreat while loading to avoid being surrounded. It fell back a hundred yards at a time, until reaching a hill a stand was made, some artillery placed in position, and the Rebel advance checked. The next morning the regiment was lying behind a very slight but very useful barricade of logs and rails, and during the day several fierce assaults were repulsed with little or no loss. There was no communication with the right of the army under General Thomas, and the interval of about a mile which separated it from the left was filled with Rebel sharp-shooters. Ammunition was becoming so scarce that the cartridge-boxes of the killed and wounded were rifled greedily, and all the supplies not captured were with Thomas. General Hazen volunteered to take his brigade across the unexplored interval, which he did successfully, and joined General Thomas in time to participate in the last assault of the day. The Rebels were advancing on the left of Thomas's line, when Hazen formed his brigade in column by regiments, and each advanced, one after the other, and delivered its volley. The dense masses of the enemy reeled and fell back. This was the last fighting on Chickamauga. It was with much sadness that the Forty-First marched off just after dark to Rossville. The next day was spent on Mission Ridge, and the following night the regiment retired to Chattanooga.

In the reorganization of the army, Hazen's brigade was composed of the First, Forty-First, and Ninety-Third Ohio, Fifth Kentucky and Sixth Indiana, and was assigned to the Fourth Army Corps, Major-General Gordon Granger commanding. At three o'clock in the morning of October 27th, fifty-two pontoons, bearing Hazen's brigade, pushed out silently from Chattanooga and floated down the river. In half an hour the leading pontoons were passing in front of the enemy's pickets on the bank, a hundred feet above. The conversation of the Rebels could be distinctly heard, but the attention was not once directed to the twelve hundred silent enemies floating past within pistol-shot. Just as the first pontoon arrived opposite its landing it was discovered; but the landing was effected, the pickets driven in, and the hill gained. When the morning haze cleared away the Rebels on Lookout saw the hills beneath them, commanding two roads to Bridgeport, covered with blue-coats, in a position from which they could not be driven, with a pontoon bridge to connect them with Chattanooga almost completed. At noon on the 23d of November the brigade was ordered to fall in for a reconnaissance. The brigade advanced briskly, driving the enemy's skirmishers into a dense undergrowth on a small ridge between Chattanooga and Mission Ridge. The line followed and received a heavy fire. Nothing could be seen, but it was too hot a fire to bear quietly. Colonel Wiley ordered the regiment to charge, and orders from Hazen at the same time directed the taking of the line on the hill. The Forty-First delivered a volley, trusting to fortune for its effect, then dashed forward through the thicket, through the balls, up to the Rebel works, and into the Rebel works, capturing the colors of the Twenty-Eighth Alabama Regiment. In this, its severest engagement, the Forty-First was associated with the Ninety-Third Ohio, which shared fully the danger and honor of the fight. The position was held without trouble, and was known as Orchard Knob. Soon after the fight, Generals Grant, Thomas, and others passed along the new line, when Thomas, looking at the ground within fifty paces of the Rebel works, where the fight had been fiercest, and where lay the horses of Colonel Wiley and Lieutenant-Colonel Kimberly, called for the officers of the regiment, and said to Colonel Wiley: "Colonel, I want you to express to your men my thanks for their splendid conduct this afternoon. It was a gallant thing, Colonel - a very gallant thing." That from General Thomas was better than an hour's speech from any other man.

On the 25th Hazen's brigade moved across the valley from Orchard Knob to Mission Ridge, under a heavy artillery fire; and, at the foot of the ridge, a dash was made and the enemy's works captured. The troops were here exposed to canister and musketry, and to remain was impossible; so they again advanced up the steep hill, swept by an enfilading fire of artillery; up they went, and, when near the top, the fire of the Forty-First was directed upon the batteries on the right. The Rebels retired, and, with a cheer, the line occupied the works on the ridge. A squad of the Forty-First seized a battery almost before the Rebels were away from it, turned it to the right, and discharged it directly along the summit of the ridge, where the enemy in front of Newton's division still stubbornly held out; and, as the shells went skimming along in front of and among them, the Rebels turned and fled. Eighteen captured pieces of artillery graced General Hazen's head-quarters that night, of which the Forty-First and Ninety-Third could fairly claim six as their trophies, while the former also captured a battle-flag. The losses were severe. One hundred and fifteen of the Forty-First, most of them in the fight of the 23d, had fallen.

After resting scarcely long enough to bury the dead, the regiment moved with its corps for Knoxville. Supplies had been very scarce, and, before the march was half accomplished, two-thirds of the men were walking over the frozen ground barefooted; but, with their feet wrapped up in sheep-skins and cow-hides, they journeyed on, and finally reached Clinch Mountain, twenty miles above Knoxville. Here the regiment re-enlisted, one hundred and eighty out of one hundred and eight-eight becoming veterans, and on the 5th of January, 1864, started for Chattanooga, and reached Cleveland, Ohio, on the 2d of February.

With nearly a hundred recruits, the regiment joined its division, in East Tennessee, on the 26th of March, and was placed in a battalion with the First Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel Kimberly commanding the battalion.

At Rocky Face Ridge the battalion was complimented for its steadiness under a galling fire, and at Resaca it gained a crest within seventy-five yards of the enemy's main line, and effectually prevented the use of his artillery.

After Johnston retreated from Resaca the battalion drove the enemy from Calhoun to Adairsville in a day's march, keeping the road cleared so as not to delay the column, though it was compelled to maintain a skirmish-line the entire distance. On the 26th of May the regiment went into position before Dallas, but, on the 27th, was withdrawn, and formed part of an expedition to attack the enemy's right. In the afternoon the enemy's position was found, and Kimberly's battalion moved to the top of a ridge covered with underbrush, and there received a murderous volley from the enemy. A brave attempt was made to charge through the brush, but the fire was too severe. Holding the position, and being slightly sheltered by logs, the battalion waited for the second line to come up; but, after remaining forty-five minutes, and no line arriving, being exposed to an enfilading fire of artillery and musketry, the battalion withdrew. The Forty-First lost one hundred and eight men out of two hundred and sixty, on company losing twenty out of twenty-two, and another nine out of eleven. The regiment was again engaged after the evacuation of Johnston's line at Piney Top Mountain, near Kenesaw. The enemy was found strongly posted in a log farm-house and out-buildings, and the Forty-First was ordered to dislodge them, which it did by a rapid charge. On the 6th of July the Chattahoochie River was reached. The battalion struck the river four miles above the main column, endeavoring to cut off some Rebel cavalry. The skirmish-line pushed them so closely that, to save the pontoon bridge, the last man cut it loose, and it swung round to the Rebel side of the river. In this affair the Forty-First lost two men killed and five wounded.

During subsequent movements the regiment was engaged in the passage of Peach Tree Creek, and in various other minor encounters.

On the 28th of July the command being then in front of the enemy's lines at Atlanta, five companies of the Forty-First deployed as skirmishers, dashed upon the Rebel lines, captured a number, and routed the rest completely. This attack was made through a marshy ravine, over an open field, and against a line strongly posted; but there was nothing in the way of a sharp, determined dash, which, as skirmishers, the regiment would not attempt. The regiment, though frequently under fire, was not actively engaged during the remainder of the siege, and after the evacuation it encamped east of the city for rest and recuperation. From three hundred and thirty-one men at the beginning of the campaign, the regiment had dwindled to ninety-nine, one hundred and fifty having fallen in fight, and over eighty having succumbed to disease.

When Hood moved to Sherman's rear the regiment marched in pursuit, and when that was abandoned returned to Chattanooga, and embarked in the cars for Athens, Alabama. Here one hundred and sixty-four drafted men and substitutes joined the regiment. Toward the close of November the regiment was at Columbia, and marched from there to Franklin. At Franklin the regiment was not engaged, its division being in reserve, and holding the passage of the river on the morning of the retreat, until the army crossed. Nashville was reached the same day, and here supplies were received and an opportunity for rest afforded.

On the morning of the 15th of December Thomas commenced his movement against Hood. The Forty-First, as it could be efficiently controlled as skirmishers, was designated to attack the enemy's line about a brick house to the right of the Granny White Pike. The regiment, breaking cover of a stone wall, dashed across the intervening field of three hundred yards at a run, and despite a rattling fire of musketry, speedily mounted the breastworks, drove the enemy to the second line, and captured two pieces of artillery and a number of prisoners. On the morning of the 16th the command moved up to the Rebels' position on Overton Knob. The Forty-First was again selected to cover, as skirmishers, the attacking column, with orders to go as far as possible without the aid of the line of battle. The Rebel works were covered by a strong abatis, at thirty yards' distance, and the regiment approached to within seventy-five yards of this before the enemy appeared. The fire was not severe, and the line advanced at the double-quick. At the same instant two Rebel lines moved into the works and opened a deadly fire. The abatis was, in many places, utterly impassable, and not easily removed; but several of the skirmishers penetrated it in weak places, and private Kleinhaus, of company F, actually leaped the works full in the face of the Rebel lines. Colonel Kimberly, seeing the line of battle could not advance to the support of the skirmishers, withdrew his men. Several of them, however, being inside the abatis, were unable to retreat; and getting under cover, remained until the enemy, being broken on the right, withdrew. Then they rapidly advanced, captured some prisoners, four pieces of artillery, and two battle-flags. The artillery was marked with the name of the regiment, by order of the Chief of Artillery of the army; and the captors of the flags, Sergeant Garnett, of company G, and private Holcomb, of company A, were afterward sent to Washington with their trophies, by order of General Thomas. The regiment participated in the pursuit of Hood, and finally rested at Huntsville, Alabama.

In June, 1865, the corps was ordered to Texas, and embarked at Nashville, to descend the river. Near Cairo the steamer collided with a gun-boat, and sunk in a few minutes, with all the regimental and company papers and most of the personal property of the officers and men. Fortunately no lives were lost. In Texas the regiment was stationed near San Antonio until November, when it was ordered to be mustered out. It reached Columbus, Ohio, about the middle of the month, and finally was discharged on the 26th of November, 1865, after four years and one month's service.