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Eagle and Shield Title:Taking of Mission Ridge

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DRUM HEAD was the pen name of a regular correspondent to the TOLEDO DAILY COMMERCIAL who either was a member of the regiment, or traveled with the unit in some other capacity. I have so far been unable to identify him. The following letter appeared in the COMMERCIAL on December 11, 1863 (page 2).

Nov. 30, 1863.

EDITOR COMMERCIAL: I take time to drop you a few lines, which may prove of interest. On the 23rd instant, the troops were ordered out of the works, and lay in line of battle close to the enemy's pickets. This of course was a signal for commencing hostilities, and all were anxious to know where the ball would first commence. It being already late in the day, nothing transpired more than changing the positions of the different divisions, and that was done in nearly every hour during the night. Towards morning the 3rd division, 14th A.C., was busily engaged throwing up a line of works on their old picket line, and skirmishing commenced along the line. At ten o'clock and 20 minutes a heavy cannonade opened on Lookout Mountain, commencing on the west side, and gradually nearing round the point. All eyes were strained on Lookout, where craggy sides were yet veiled in the morning fog. Roll after roll of musketry, and the cannons deafening roar, now became general. It was now beyond doubt Hooker was at work on Lookout in good earnest. The batteries seemed to grow louder and quicker, and seemed to shake the very earth as if a thousand thunderbolts had been let loose to fly through the heavens. At about two o'clock, P.M., the sound of small arms began to round the point, the fog had cleared away, but the peak yet remained in the clouds. It could be plainly seen that the line of gray backs was giving way before the victorious true blue. As soon as it became known, and no doubt left for anxiety to feed on, the entire line took up a cheering yell of pride and satisfaction, which must have sent despair to the hearts of the enemy laying entrenched before us. Night came, but only the artillery ceased its fire; the battle was still raging at one o'clock in the night, the enemy was contesting every inch of the east side of the mountain. Bragg had apparently strengthened his line, and seemed to hold his own for the night, to cover a retreat which would leave us in indisputed possession of the position on the morrow, the 25th. This day it was the hero of Chicamauga's turn to again try his proof mettle; and we expected bloody work. All were eager for the fray. Sherman was already in a hot battle on the left, near the mouth of Chicamauga Creek. General Baird's Division was ordered to reinforce Sherman, as he had been repulsed, which afterwards proved only to be strategy, and all understood before hand by generals, for Sherman had already gained a position which he could hold against all rebeldom at once. Bragg had apparently seen the movement, as it was intended he should, for troops could be seen moving along Missionary Ridge to the rebel right. We had no sooner reported, than Sherman despatched us to the left center again, countermarching through a neck of woods, to make an attack on Missionary Ridge simultaneous with an attack along the whole line from Sherman to our right. Sherman seemed now to be content, and his fire slackened into silence; which the remainder of the line took a signal to commence with renewed fury. From here my interests were immediately connected with the 3d Brigade, and still closer to the 14th Ohio, an so warm were they that I can but narrate transpired in the Brigade at that time; for it was under the flanking fire of one of the enemies best batteries, at the time when scaling the rocky and steep Mission Ridge, over fallen timber and underbrush, in the face of a strongly entrenched foe who was pouring showers of the deadly missiles into our ranks, and the raking fire of artillery that sent shot, shell and canister along our line. After fighting for an hour and a half we made the ridge, gasping for breath, charged the enemy's work, and drove him howling to the bottom. But no sooner had we gained a footing than the enemy's reinforcements sprang afresh on our left flank, a hand to hand conflict ensued which resulted in driving the enemy from the ridge. We perceived the importance of the point we had gained. The Rebel centre had been broken, and all the artillery to the left must fall into our hands. Having thus repulsed the foe, the men gave such shouts and cheers as can only come from a band of heroes fighting for freedom and nationality. Night cast her dark veil over the bloody scene, where many a brave heart had poured out its treasure. Col. Phelps, commanding the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, was wounded in scaling the steep, but would not leave the field. He gained the top, and, at the head of his brigade, fell dead pierced by a musket ball in the breast. He was a brave, kind and generous officer. His country will deeply feel his loss, and his memory long live with his late command, who deeply mourn him. The casualties in the Brigade will amount to killed, 16; wounded, 100; missing, 3. As far as I can learn we have captured 63 pieces of artillery, 20,000 small arms and 7,000 prisoners. The 14th and 11th Army Corps followed the enemy on the Ringgold road. The enemy made a stand on Walnut Ridge, at Ringgold. The 11th Corps, being in advance, charged the enemy, but without success. He would not yield, but, as soon as the 14th Army Corps had closed up, the Grey Backs pulled out. The 3d Division returned to camp at Chattanooga on the 29th, after destroying six miles of the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad, with two large bridges, all beyond Ringgold, Ga. The paraphernalia captured are now being gathered and will increase one-third. Chickamauga is redeemed with double-shelled and doubly-whipped interest.


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