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Series 1 Volume XXXVIII; Part I

Official Report Number 79



 
Report of Capt. Peter Simonson, Fifth Indiana Battery, Chief of Artillery,
First Division, of operations May 3 – June 9
 
HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
In the Field, near --, Ga., June 9, 1864.
 

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the batteries of my command from May 3 up to the present date:


The batteries marched with the division by Red Clay, Catoosa Springs, to Tunnel Hill, upon which the enemy appeared to be posted in considerable force. To drive the enemy from this position" a strong demonstration by our troops was made, and with whom I sent four guns of the Fifth Indiana Battery, while the real attack was made by securing a lodgment for a brigade and two guns from the same battery. This section advanced down the ridge with the brigade, and assisted in the movement by firing about fifteen rounds of ammunition. On the following day (the 8th ultimo) the Fifth Indiana Battery was engaged in shelling a line of rifle-pits upon a small ridge in front of Rocky Face Ridge, which the troops of Davis' division charged immediately afterward and took without loss. During the remainder of the operations in front of Rocky Face Ridge and the pursuit of Johnston to Resaca both batteries wore more or less engaged daily. On Saturday, the 14th, after our line had advanced to within a short distance of the enemy's works, a section of Battery B, Pennsylvania Volunteer Artillery, was placed in position in front of a 4-gun rebel battery and a hill to the left occupied by the enemy's infantry. The section only fired a few rounds, as they were entirely unprotected, while all the troops of the enemy were under cover. General Stanley, receiving information that the enemy was massing his troops on our left, directed that both batteries should be placed in good positions, facing to the left, to check the enemy in case of our troops being repulsed. He designated to me a particular spot which the Fifth Indiana Battery should occupy. Shorty afterward the left flank of the division was turned. I ordered the fifth Indiana to open fire on the enemy, who wore advancing in heavy: force out of a thick woods, about 800 yards in front, which did not immediately check them as they advanced up the fields, driving our infantry back to and part of it in the rear of the battery, thus leaving the field clear in front and the enemy only about 400 yards distant. A very rapid fire of canister was opened on the advancing foe, which quickly cleared the field, the greater portion of the enemy's troops going into the woods toward our left. The pieces were immediately turned by hand to the left, and spherical case and shell were used, canister being held in readiness in case they gained the hill on our immediate left. They soon appeared on this hill and opened with a heavy volley of musketry, shooting at least twenty feet above the battery. The regiments which were upon the right and left of the battery seeing themselves flanked by a heavy force, immediately withdrew. The distance to the top of the hill was 150 yards. The men themselves, without particular orders, double-shotted the pieces with canister, and maintained the most rapid firing possible. Some few of the rebels reached the road at the foot of the hill, within fifty yards of the battery, but the main body appeared to be greatly disconcerted by the firing, and although there officers could be seen and heard trying to urge them forward, they very quickly put the hill between themselves and the pieces. They made one more endeavor to get over the hill more to our left, but were met in this attack at first by the fire of the battery with canister, and as they turned, by a volley from Ro’inson's brigade, of, Wil1iams division, of General Hooker’s corps, and who immediately charged and drove them clear over the hill out of sight in great confusion. On the following day (Sunday, the 15th) Battery B was placed in position within 400 yards of the enemy's rifle-pits, and partially enfilading them, where a. constant fire of canister, spherical case, and shell was kept up. The Fifth Indiana was placed to the left of the other, and so as to make a cross-fire. From appearances the next day, it is believed that the fire of the batteries was very embarrassing to the enemy. During the night a feint of an attack was made by the enemy, during which both batteries opened fire again. The batteries advanced after the battle with the division until it arrived near Cassville, where the enemy showed themselves in considerable force. The batteries were placed in position at the edge of a large field in which the enemy was posted.. Both batteries fired at the enemy's lines in this position for about an hour, when they advanced in line with the division to the front of the enemy's works behind Cassville, where Battery B, being placed in a good position,. opened heavily on the enemy, cross-firing with some of General Hooker's batteries that had come in from another direction. The batteries without further engagement advanced with the corps to our line of battle in front of the enemy at New Hope Church. B was first placed in position by being sunk within about 300 yards of the enemy's works. This position was so close to the enemy as to be very hot, which probably accounts for the large amount of ammunition used at this place. The enemy made several feints of attacks on this battery, which caused a large amount of canister to be used. The Fifth Indiana on the following day was placed in the line in Grose's brigade, at a point about 350 yards from the enemy's breast works. Some firing was done in this position during this day. On the following day Spencer's battery, of the Second Division, was ordered to report to me, and was placed in the position previously occupied by Bridges' (Illinois) Battery. The works of the battery were deepened and strengthened, when an endeavor was made to obtain a cross-fire by using it and the Fifth Indiana Battery upon a part of the enemy's works, which was enfiladed by the fire of this battery. This instantly caused a number of pieces of the enemy to concentrate their fire on Spencer, who answered in so effectual a manner as to cause the enemy's guns to cease firing, after which both batteries proceeded without interruption with the original intention, in which they disturbed the enemy greatly. Battery B had in the mean time relieved the Sixth Ohio Battery, but was not used in that position. After the withdrawal of the enemy the batteries were marched to their present encampments.


The officers and men of the command have all behaved well throughout the campaign. I did not see and have not heard of a single straggler or a skulked from either battery, and do not think there was one. Lieut. A. Morrison deserves special mention for conspicuous gallantry upon all occasions, and especially for the great service which he did with his command at Resaca on the evening of the 14th ultimo. Captain McDowell handles his battery well, and proved himself a good soldier on more than one occasion during this campaign. Lieut. G. H. Briggs, of the Fifth Indiana, fully sustained his former reputation for coolness and courage and accuracy of firing. To Captain Spencer and his battery am greatly indebted for their gallantry and pertinacity under rather trying circumstances, and I desire to draw particular attention to the services which he rendered, as he was out of his own division.


The ammunition which we drew after our first supply was exhausted was execrable. Many of the cartridges had been wet; the powder in many of the shell and spherical case was so hard that we were unable to get it out. No attention appears to have been paid to putting rubber gaskets under the Bormann fuse, and many of them exploded prematurely. The batteries were ordered not to receive any ammunition unless it was good or could be made so. Over 400 rounds were refused as worthless.


I have the honor to be, very respectfully your obedient servant,

 
PETER SIMONSON;
Capt. and Chief of Artillery, First Div., 4th Army Corps.
 
Capt. LYMAN BRIDGES
 Acting Chief of Artillery, Fourth Army Corps.
 

 

 
Title: The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies.
Series 1Volume XXXVIII; Part I - Reports; Page 488
Chapter:L - The Atlanta, Ga., Campaign. May 1-September 8, 1864.
Author: United States. War Dept., John Sheldon Moody, Calvin Duvall Cowles, Frederick Caryton Ainsworth, Robert N. Scott, Henry Martyn Lazelle, George Breckenridge Davis, Leslie J. Perry, Joseph William Kirkley
Published: Washington: Government Printing Office
Date: 1891