Sunday, July 13, 2014

Battle of Buzzard Roost.

The Battle of Buzzard Roost, will be told by Major Samuel Hymer and William Tyson, who participated in the battle.  These accounts were written in a book  by Isaac Henry Clay Royse, called The History of 115 regiment Illinois volunteers Infantry, published in 1900.  His book can be read on line.

By Major Samuel Hymer.

Major Samuel Hymer.
Push to enlarge.
Soon after the regiment came to Tunnel Hill in July, 1864, Company D was assigned to guard a bridge at Buzzard Roost Gap, a little more than half way from Tunnel Hill to Dalton. At that time there were no fortifications in the place and the company was kept busy for some time making- log" breastworks for their defense. In August a company of engineers arrived and with the aid of Company D built a very substantial blockhouse. The company occupied a row of tents on the bank of the creek near the blockhouse, being ready to enter that stronghold in case of need. The company had three miles of railroad to patrol and keep open, which, with other duties, kept them very busy day and night. Frequent raids were made by Confederate cavalry and the company occasionally had slight skirmishes with them, without loss, however. On one occasion a horse was killed and its rebel rider severely wounded.

General Wheeler came in the valley some time in September with quite a force of cavalry and attacked Dalton, but the garrison, making stout defense, held them in check until the arrival of General Steedman with a force from Chattanooga.  After General Hood left Atlanta on his raid on the North the country about Buzzard Roost was constantly filled with rebel scouts so that we were compelled to be always on the alert expecting an attack.

As my account of Hood's attack on our blockhouse is given in substance in the body of the history, it is not necessary to repeat it here, but an incident is worth mentioning. Squire Bechtol of Company D was illiterate, but proved to be the smartest man in the company. When the blockhouse was captured he lay on the ground groaning and appearing to be badly wounded, and would not let anyone touch him, so he was left there with the wounded and after the rebels were gone with the prisoners, he managed to come to, having only feigned injury.

After the surrender we were taken to General Bate's headquarters, where we were asked many questions. The next morning after the capture a detail from Company D buried the dead. The wounded were taken to a house nearby and left there to make the most of their condition, while the rebel army moved on.

We were fairly well treated by our captors and recognition made of our gallant defense, being permitted to retain our side arms and most of our personal effects. The company went on a tour through the Confederacy, via Selma and Montgomery, Ala., to Milieu, where Lieutenant Jones and myself were separated from the enlisted men. By special exchange fifteen of the men were sent North and the others left to take their chances in Andersonville and other prisons. Lieutenant Jones and I, with other officers were sent to Camp Sorghum, near Cloumbia. There we met Captain Hanon and Lieutenant Gore of Company A. As Sherman approached we were taken to Charlotte, North Carolina, seventy-five men being put in each box-car. At Charlotte many prisoners made their escape, the guards not being any longer careful to prevent it. I preferred to wait a little longer and be exchanged, which occurred soon after, and Lieutenant Jones and I came to Annapolis, Md. After a visit home we were ordered to Benton's Barracks, near St. Louis, where we met the remnant of Company D, which had been exchanged at Vicksburg, and were soon after discharged.

By William Tyson.

William Tyson.
On October 13, 1864, Hood's army of nearly forty thousand came to the blockhouse. It was a beautiful day and we had been very busy all of the forenoon fixing up winter quarters, as we expected to remain there all winter. We borrowed a yoke of oxen and a cart to do our hauling with and as Anson Underhill was an expert at driving, we put him in charge of the team. We were getting along nicely until about noon, when we saw some men ride up on top of the hill, about a quarter of a mile south of us. At that distance we could not make out whether they were friends or foes, but surmised that they were rebels, and every fellow broke for the blockhouse. Captain Hymer said, "Give them a few shots and we will find out who they are." Four or five others of the company and I stepped out about thirty feet in front of the blockhouse, raised our guns and fired.

We had hardly more than discharged our pieces, when out of the woods to our right a volley from the rebel guns rang, and the balls came flying thick and fast all around us. We broke for the blockhouse on the double quick. About this time Anson Underbill drove up with the team and Captain Hymer called to him to come in. Anson said, "Wait until I unhitch the oxen", and he stayed out there as unconcernedly as though there was nothing the matter, unhitched the team, took off the yoke, turned them loose and came inside. The rebels opened fire on us with musketry and artillery. One hundred and thirty-three cannon balls were fired at the fort ; yet, this little band of Spartans held the rebels in check for ten hours, when they were finally forced to surrender.

Along about nine o'clock at night the firing had ceased on both sides, and everything had become perfectly quiet. The moon was almost full, and was just be- ginning to shine around the spur of Rocky Face Ridge and lighten things up, when the rebels were seen approaching by the way of the bridge. The sentry on that side of the block house halted them and asked them what they wanted. They replied that they wanted us to surrender. Sergt. Andrew Jacoby and Robert Stewart went out and met them on the bridge, and wanted to know who they were. One of them answered that he was General Bate's aide-de-camp and wanted us to surrender. He took Jacoby and showed him the men lying along side the railroad embankment with lumber to cross the ditch on, and sharpened rails to 1 stop up the port holes with, and told him if we did not surrender they intended to charge on us and set fire to the fort and burn it down. The sergeant came back and reported to Captain Hymer what they had seen, when Captain Hymer went out and held a consultation, and agreed on the terms of surrender.

In this engagement five were killed, six wounded and thirty-seven taken prisoners. Nathan Jones was shot through the forehead with a musket ball. Joseph Boyd had his left arm torn off at the shoulder with a cannon ball ; he lived an hour or more after he was shot, making a pitiful noise all this time and begging for some one to shoot him and put him out of his misery. Fielden Loe had has head blown off with a cannon ball. John Parish had his left arm shot off with a cannon ball, between the elbow and wrist, and was badly bruised on the left side with a piece of timber. William Dixon had the flesh all torn off the inside of his left leg above the knee by a cannon ball ; his body was warm the next morning when we went to the blockhouse to bury him. Patman Zimmerman, two others whose names I have forgotten, and myself were detailed the next morning to bury the dead.

We dug a grave about six feet square just south of the road in a nice blue-grass plat, then carried them out and laid them in it, side by side, wrapped their blankets around them and covered them up. They have all been taken up since then and removed to the National Cemetery at Chattanooga, and are buried in Section K.

We never knew how many we killed of the rebels ; some said thirty-five, while others said we did some very wild shooting; that we shot away over them. We marched out of the blockhouse about ten o'clock at night. The moon was shining very brightly and the first thing I noticed was the cannon balls which had struck the fort and bounded back.  There was at least a good two-horse wagon load of them lying around on the ground. The southeast corner of the fort was all torn into splinters from top to bottom. We were soon surrounded by the rebel guards and a howling mob of Confederate soldiers.

They would ask us, "What regiment do you'ns belong to?" We told them we belonged to the 115th Illinois. "Well, we thought you'ns were Illinois boys. You just fit like hell." They wanted to trade us out of everything we had. I had on a brand new hat that had been sent to me from home; along came a Johnny and said, "You've got a pretty good hat. I guess we'll trade," and with that he jerked it off my head and slapped his on in place of it. I afterwards learned that he took it off a Union prisoner at Misionary Ridge about a year before. It was all full of holes, and the rim hung down in my eyes. I think I must have had on the poorest hat in Hood's army.

1 comment:

Rodney Dillon, Jr. said...

Fielden Loe, who was killed in this battle, was my great-great grandmother's first cousin. He was originally from Tennessee, but migrated with his immediate family to Illinois. He was a Mexican War veteran. His father and brother also served--and died--in the war in Illinois units. The father, William Anderson Loe, enlisted at age 62 in the 61st Ill., was captured at Shiloh and exchanged, but was ill with pneumonia and died in a Union military hospital in Nashville. The brother, Moses Loe, 103rd Ill.,was mortally wounded in the Battle of Atlanta. The name was also spelled Low and Lowe, usually spelled Lowe today.