Reports of Col. John Q. Lane, Ninety-seventh Ohio Infantry, commanding Second Brigade, of operations November 29 – December 1 and December 15-16, 1864.
HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., SECOND DIV., FOURTH ARMY CORPS
SIR: In obedience to orders from the headquarters Second Division, Fourth Army Corps, I have the honor to very respectfully submit for the information of the general commanding the following report of the operations of this brigade from and including the 29th day of November to and including the 1st day of December, 1864:
I assumed command of the brigade on the morning of the 29th ultimo while the troops were in line of battle on the north side of Duck River, near the Franklin pike. The brigade consisted of the Twenty-sixth Ohio Veteran Volunteers, Captain Clark commanding; Ninety-seventh Ohio Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes commanding; Twenty-eighth Kentucky Veteran Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Boone commanding; Fortieth Indiana Veteran Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Leaming commanding; Fifty-seventh Indiana Veteran Volunteers, Major McGraw commanding; and One hundredth Illinois Veteran Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Hammond commanding, making in all 80 commissioned officers and 1,586 enlisted men. At 8 a.m., by order of General Wagner, I moved my command in the direction of Spring Hill. I was notified that a division of rebel cavalry was on our flank, and made the usual dispositions to guard against surprise by putting out flankers & etc. On nearing Spring Hill it became apparent that the enemy was trying to get possession of that place. Leaving the Twenty-sixth Ohio one mile and a half southof town for the purpose of protecting our trains I moved my command at double-quick to the east side of town, formed line of battle, deployed the Twenty-eighth Kentucky Veteran Volunteers as skirmishers, and by order of General Wagner moved at once on the enemy, who was in heavy force on an eminence half a mile east of the town, with his skirmishers within 400 yards of our trains. The troops moved forward in splendid style; the enemy stubbornly resisted for thirty minutes, when he yielded the eminence to Colonel Boone’s Twenty-eighth Kentucky Veteran Volunteers, and moved to my right in the direction of the Third Brigade. I ordered Colonel Hammond, with his regiment (One hundredth Illinois Volunteers), to support Colonel Boone, Twenty-eighth Kentucky, whom I had instructed to hold his position near the town, where we immediately constructed a line of rifle-pits. I had but just madethis disposition of my command when the Third Brigade became engaged with greatly superior numbers, which, after a gallant resistance, commenced falling back in the direction of the town. By order of General Wagner I changed my front forward on the First Battalion, let the Third Brigade pass me and form in my rear, and prepared to dispute the enemy’s farther advance with a line of skirmishers well out. I moved the One hundredth Illinois and Company F, Fortieth Indiana, to my left so as to hit the enemy in the flank, which caused him to stop and reform his lines. Before he could again advance the darkness of the night made our position secure.
The troops rested on their arms until 4 o’clock on the morning of the 30th, when by order of General Wagner I resumed the march in the direction of Franklin; moving to the right of and parallel with the Columbia pike, with flankers well out, watching the enemy, who was maneuvering for our trains. This march was most arduous to the troops, who had already been twenty-four hours on constant duty without sleep or eating. At 11 o’clock we arrived at Stevens’ Hill, two miles south of Franklin, and formed line of battle, my right resting on the hill, where we remained until 1 p.m., when, by order of General Wagner, I moved my command to the west side of the Columbia pike, in front of Stone Hill, posted a strong line of skirmishers covering my front and flanks, and saw the balance of the army retire to a position in the rear. From the top of Stone Hill in the rear of my brigade I saw the enemy come through a gap in Stevens’ Hill, in two columns, one formed on the right, the other on the left of the pike. At 2 o’clock I sent word to General Wagner that the enemy was advancing in force and was about to envelop my flanks. With my skirmish line and a section of artillery posted on Stone Hill I retarded the advancing column until I received orders, and withdrew my command to a position one-third of a mile in advance of the main line of works on the right of the Third Brigade. I here received orders to give battlto the enemy, and, if able, drive him off; if overpowered, to check him as long as possible, and then retire to the main line of works. At about 3 p.m. the enemy drove in my skirmishers; advanced in heavy columns, striking the Third Brigade, and pressing down on the Fortieth Indiana Veteran Volunteers on the left of my line. This regiment steadily held its position, driving back the enemy at every attempt to force our lines until the Third Brigade, on my left, fell back, when I gave the order to retire to the main works. We had much difficulty in getting into the works, owing to a heavy line of abatis of locust boughs placed there for some purpose, through which my line had to pass. This caused some delay which enabled the enemy to get within fifty feet of us; fortunately five of my regiments had held their fire, when, forming quickly behind the works, they poured into the advancing column a volley so deadly that the enemy fell back in dismay, only, however, to renew the attack, which now became a hand-to-hand fight over the parapet, lasting until 10 o’clock at night. Fresh troops were constantly hurled against our lines, until the enemy had madeeleven distinct assaults upon our works with a determination only surpassed by the undaunted courage of our troops. Regiments would charge over the parapets into our lines only to be beaten down with clubbed muskets or taken prisoners. Private James S. O’Riley, Company I, Fortieth Indiana Veteran Volunteers, bayoneted the color-bearer of the Fifteenth Alabama Regiment, and carried away the flag. In front of the Ninety-seventh Ohio Volunteers a rebel regiment planted their colors on our works. First Sergt. Alfred Ransbottom, Company K, of that regiment, captured the flag and took the color-bearer prisoner. We captured from the enemy 284 prisoners, 45 of whom were officers.
My loss in this engagement, although fighting behind a good line of works, was 16 commissioned officers and 402 enlisted men.
I could here instance many acts of great personal courage, but where all did so well I deem it improper if not invidious to make distinctions.
My staff consisted of Capt. Henry C. Tinney, assistant adjutant-general; Lieut. Louis L. Cox, aide-de-camp; Capt. John W. Aughe, acting assistant inspector-general; Capt. Orpheus C. Harvey, provost-marshal, and Capt. George A. Lemert, topographical engineer. These officers were of invaluable service to me, promptly carrying my orders and everywhere stimulating the troops to greater exertions. Capt. William A. Munger, acting commissary of subsistence, and Lieut. Caleb B. Gill, acting assistant quartermaster, were on duty with the trains. Dr. Hosea Tillson, chief surgeon of the brigade, rendered every possible assistance to the wounded.
At 11 p.m. I withdrew my command from the line of works and resumed the march to Nashville, Tenn., at which place I arrived at 11 o’clock on the morning of the 1st day of December, 1864.
I have the honor to submit herewith a sketch showing the position occupied by my brigade.*
I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
JOHN Q. LANE,
Colonel Ninety-seventh Ohio Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.
Capt. E.G. WHITESIDES,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Division, Fourth Army Corps.