Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Medal of Honor Heritage Trail - Missionary Ridge - November - 1863

Marker ID:  
Location: 3136 S Crest Pl, Chattanooga, TN
County: Hamilton
Coordinates: N 35° 1.128    W 085° 15.827
  35.0188    -85.26378333
Waymark: None


Medal of Honor Heritage TrailMissionary Ridge - November - 1863

General William T. Sherman brought his army to Chattanooga from Memphis and Mississippi. As soon as the army arrived, he led them over a pontoon bridge to Moccasin Bend and behind Stringer’s Ridge to make the Confederates think he was going to Knoxville. Once behind the ridge, however, he crossed the river to the Crutchfield farm on Amnicola Highway. Sherman planned to climb the north end of Missionary Ridge and move south along the crest. However his maps were faulty and he found a series of hills rather than one continues ridge. He passed over Billy Goat Hill into the valley and was forced to move uphill against General Patrick Cleburne’s fortified artillery on top of Tummel Hill.

On November 25th, 1863, General Green R. Raum’s 2nd Brigade of General John E. Smith’s 2nd Division of the 17th Corps moved up the hill on the left but were driven back. Sergeant Freeman Davis’ 80th Ohio Infantry was part of the unit. He saw the color bearers shot down and under severe fire and great danger to himself, he recovered both flags and saved them from capture by the enemy. For this accomplishment he was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Captain.

John S. Kountz was the drummer boy for Company G, in the 37th Ohio Infantry. This unit was to the right of Raum’s brigade in the attack on Tunnel Hill. “When the fighting was going on, “ Drummer Kountz later wrote, “I became so enthused that I threw away my drum and went forward with the regiment. The assault lasted but a few minutes, the firing from the enemy’s entrenched position being simple terrible – grape canister, shot and shell rained upon us… During the battle I was hit by rifle ball just above the knee and the wound bled until the ground under me was covered with blood.”

The company commander asked who would go get him. William Schmidt, his former schoolmate answered, “I will.” Schmidt skirted a low hill for cover as far as he could, and then raced out onto the open field to reach the wounded drummer. He later wrote, “Advancing some distance under cover of the hill, I sprang forward to the spot where he lay. I succeeded in getting him safely back to our lines. When I rescued him he was nearer the rebel works than any of the killed or wounded of our regiment.” William Schmidt was later awarded the Medal of Honor for saving his friend.

Drummer Kountz was taken to an aide station where a surgeon informed him that amputation was necessary. He was chloroformed and on wakening felt for his leg but it was gone. “At the time I was 17 years of age.” Drummer Kountz lost his leg but survived the war for many years. Although the War Department found him guilty of disobedience, the same act of heroism earned him the Medal of Honor 30 years later.

[Photo on the marker can be found on HMDB.org]

National Medal of Honor and Museum of Military History Foundation.