Friday, January 27, 2012

Colonel Aquia Wiley.

Col. Aquila Wiley.
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Aquila Wiley.

Birth: unknown
Death: Jun. 5, 1910.

Service: 41st., Ohio Infantry, Co. F&S.
Rank: COL.
Enlisted: 19 Sept 1861.
Mustered: 4 Jun 1864.

Burial: Wooster Cemetery, Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio.

Report of Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Kimberly, Forty-first Ohio Infantry.

HDQRS. FORTY-FIRST OHIO INFANTRY VOLUNTEERS, In Camp near Knoxville, Tennessee, December 8, 1863.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the battalion under my command, which includes the Forty-first and Ninety-third Regiments Ohio Infantry Volunteers, from the time of breaking camp at Chattanooga, November 23, 1863, to the present date:

At the commencement of the operations, Colonel Aquila Wiley,
Forty-first Ohio Infantry Volunteer, was in command of the battalion, but the wounding of that officer on the evening of the 25th devolves upon me the duty of reporting the operations before I assumed command.

At noon of November 23, the battalion prepared to move from its camp near Fort Wood, Chattanooga, upon reconnaissance toward Missionary Ridge, and at 2 o'clock of that day marched in line of battle with the brigade upon the enemy's rifle-pits, a mile in advance of the ridge. The position assigned this battalion was upon the right of the first line, its front being covered by the Fifth Kentucky Infantry as skirmishers. The advance for 800 yards from Fort Wood was over open ground; beyond this was a forest, in the skirts of which the enemy's pickets were met, but gave way readily before the skirmishers. As the line advanced in support of the skirmishers, Colonel Wiley, seeing his right uncovered, sent two companies of the Forty-first Regiment, under Major Williston, to act as flankers.

Passing over a gentle crest, which had been occupied by the rebel pickets, and into the dense undergrowth of oak in the valley beyond, could advance no farther, but the main line went steadily forward for 200 yards without firing, though receiving a rapid musketry fire. A good line of rifle-pits, on considerable crest 100 yards to the front, was now distinctly visible, and in these pits the rebel pickets had been rallied. Colonel Wiley sent notice of this fact to his brigade commander,and received immediately an order to take the file-pits and hold the crest. Before the messenger bearing the order reached him, Colonel Wiley had opened fire and led his battalion forward to within 50 paces of the rifle-pits. Here he mat a severe fire from the front and right. At the letter point the enemy's line of works bent toward his front, and enabled him to pour upon Colonel Wiley's line an enfilading fire. Near a fourth of the men were struck down here in advancing 25 or 30 paces, and the battalion was for a moment staggered by the withering musketry.

It soon rallied, however, under the personal efforts of Colonel Wiley and his subordinates, and pressed forward over the rifle-pits. As soon as these were reached, the enemy's resistance ceased and the men who occupied the pits generally surrendered and were sent to the rear. A slight parapet for the defense of the position was at once constructed. The line to our right was also abandoned almost immediately, and the battalion was left in quiet possession of the works, subject only to cannonade of an hour the enemy's batteries on Missionary Ridge.

During the 24th, and until afternoon of the 25th, the battalion remained in the position above described. At 2 p.m. of the 25th the brigade was formed to carry the enemy's works at the foot of Missionary Ridge. Colonel Wiley's battalion was assigned a position on the right of the second line. The battalions of this line were deployed, having to pass for three-quarters of a mile under fire of the enemy's batteries on the ridge before coming upon the works at the foot. Scarcely was the line in motion before the enemy commenced a furious cannonade from the ridge, which was continued uninterruptedly until his batteries fell into our hands. The works at the foot of the ridge were carried by the skirmish line, and the battalion moved up and covered itself behind them, as well as was possible. While lying here Colonel Wiley, who had incautiously exposed himself, was struck by a canister-shot, which shattered his leg.

A few moments afterward I heard the order from the brigade commander to assault the enemy's line at the summit of the ridge, and the command of the battalion having devolved upon me, I at once ordered them men forward. Owing to the noise of the cannonade, and the fact that the men were lying flat upon their faces for cover, it was impossible to make this command heard along the entire line. After advancing briskly about 50 paces, perceiving my men were not yet all up, I checked the movement for a moment to close up the line. The enemy's canister was thrown too thickly, however, to permit an instant's halt here, and at my command the enemy men promptly commenced the ascent of the ridge. This was very steep and covered with stumps, logs,&c. The advance was made steadily, though of course slowly, and the nature of the ground prevented any attempt at the preservation of lines.

When about two-thirds of the ascent had been accomplished, I saw that the face of the hill where my battalion was moving was concave, and exposed to fire from the rifle-pits at the top, while a battery to the right enfiladed the line. To the left 50 paces the face of the hill was convex, and a part of the left battalions was moving up well covered. To take advantage of this, I closed to the left most of my men, and with the rest, who were now within 30 paces of the enemy's rifle-pits, opened a fire upon the battery to the right, which throwing canister very rapidly. The fire of my men was very effective, the rebel gunners firing but two shots we opened upon them, when they deserted their pieces and ran. Half a dozen men of the Forty-first Regiment, who were farthest to the right, at once seized the battery, and, turning it upon the enemy, added materially to the panic had now seized them.

The party to my left, before alluded to as moving up the convex face of the hill, had entered the enemy's rifle-pits, and the portion of my battalion to the right of this were fast forming in them, when going forward to look down the opposite slope, I discovered the enemy rallying just under the crest. Sending the colors of my regiment forward to the crest, the men were ordered to advance, when they dashed upon the enemy without waiting for command, and drove him entirely form the position.  To the right the enemy still held out, and my battalion, with others of the brigade, advanced along the ridge several hundred yards, when it was halted and prepared to defend the place should the enemy attempt to retake it. No further fighting occurred, and the evening was spent in collecting the artillery which had been captured.

On the night of the 26th, the battalion returned to camp at Chattanooga, and on the 28th, marched with the brigade for Knoxville, reaching its present camp on the 7th instant.

No praise is extravagant when applied to the officers and men whose bravery and zeal carried the enemy's works under such heavy loss on the 23d, and climbed the apparently impregnable heights of Missionary Ridge on the 25th. I have particularly to thank Major Williston, Forty-first Ohio Infantry Volunteers, and Captain Bowman, Ninety-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, for efficient and gallant services, and, without exception, the subordinate officers of both regiments for gallantry in action and faithful performance of duty at all times. Corpl. G. A. Kreamer, Company I, Forty-first Ohio Infantry Volunteers, deserves especial mention for turning the first gun of the enemy when the ridge was carried, and for capturing the flag of the Twenty-eighth Alabama Regiment on the 23d. Sergt. D. L. Sutphin, Ninety-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, took a rebel flag on the ridge, making two taken by the battalion.

It would be presumption in me to speak in commendation of Colonel Wiley, or to say more than that the loss to himself is less than the loss to the service. Maj. William Birch, Ninety-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a brave and faithful soldier, fell on the 23d, while leading his men to the assault.

The loss of the honored dead demands their country's mourning, but the manner of their death will be mentioned with just pride always.

I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient s
ervant, R. L. KIMBERLY.

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