Bullet Dodging at New Hope Church with the 93rd Ohio
The following account from Private Daniel W. Sheidler of the 93rd Ohio recounts his intense experiences dodging Rebel bullets during the Union assault at the Battle of Pickett's Mills, also known as New Hope Church, on May 27, 1864. Pickett's Mills proved one of the hardest fought engagements of the Atlanta campaign, and one that didn't go well for the Union as is evidenced by the heavy casualty lists incurred during the assault on the Confederate lines that day. My wife's great-great-great grandfather was one of those wounded, so the story of this battle is of additional interest to me personally.
This battle has previously been discussed on this blog in "Inside the Crime of Pickett's Mills: Voices from the 49th Ohio" from last May which can be viewed here. Scheidler's story appeared in the March 17, 1898 issue of the National Tribune.
I wish to tell of my experience at New Hope Church. I was a member of Co. E, 93rd Ohio, belonging to the Second Brigade, Third Division, Fourth Corps. The morning of May 27 broke cloudy and the forenoon was decidedly sultry. The very atmosphere was ominous. The expression was frequently heard during the advance, “Oh, we’ll catch it today. We’ll get into it.” My comrades marched steadily and resolutely, it proved to many of them, to their death.
Our brigade was commanded by General William B. Hazen, and composed of the 5th Kentucky, 6th Indiana, 124th Ohio, and 93rd Ohio. We formed line of battle and with fixed bayonets advanced with orders, as we understood it, to charge Rebels wherever found. The march through fields, over hills and hollows, through brush and timber during that hot day was tough on us. In the afternoon we halted on top of a ridge where we lay, seemingly awaiting orders. We afterwards learned that Generals Hazen and Wood, our commanders, did not want to make a charge at this point, feeling it would turn out just as it did, and that Hazen received the order the third time before ordering us to advance.
About 5 p.m., the bugle sounded the advance and our brigade moved down into a ravine and up a hill, the left wing striking an open field, the right wing the timber; the left of my regiment was in the field. Here we encountered the Rebel skirmishers, driving them across the field to their breastworks. Part of our brigade advanced some of the way across the field but fell back to the edge of the timber where our line of battle was held. The right of the brigade rested on a ridge at the right of the field in the timber. I followed the fence at the right of the field, passing through a thicket, beyond which I could see a big log and made a quick run, dropping down behind it.
|General William Babcock Hazen|
A lieutenant of the 124th Ohio and another soldier sought protection at my right. The firing was very brisk from both sides. Looking over the log, I could see the Rebels about 150 yards in our front and one Johnny in particular drew my attention. I rested my Enfield on the log and fired at him, dropping down again to reload. I heard a Rebel bullet strike the log on the side opposite me. Again I took a shot at the fellow and dropped behind the log again, just in time to hear neighbor Johnny’s bullet thud into the log. I reloaded, took another survey and could, as I thought, see plainly Johnny Reb. Leveling my gun a third time, I fired and dropped just in time to hear the third rebel bullet hit the log.
At this stage, the lieutenant at my right arose and pointed with his sword in the direction of the Rebels. He was at once badly wounded and fell back behind the log again. One of his company ran from the rear to him and leaning over him said, “Lieutenant, are you badly hurt?” Scarcely had the words been spoken when he fell, killed outright. The Rebels had charged around on our left and had an enfilading fire on our line and my log was no protection to me. So I made another run to a big tree a little in the rear and straightened up behind it.
A Rebel bullet from our left passed between me and the tree, knocking the bark into my face and convincing me that there was no safe side to that tree. I beat a hasty retreat to where I found most of our regiment and company under cover of the ridge. The lieutenant wounded behind the log was the same man who, after our brigade had charged and taken possession of the ridge at Resaca when that Rebel masked battery on our right opened with grape and canister enfilading our line, persisted in walking up and down the line directing his men to “keep that battery silenced.” I never saw him with his regiment after he was wounded. What became of him and what his name was, I do not know. He was a brave soldier.
|This image showing the tangled undergrowth at Resaca could equally apply at Pickett's Mills.|
Our brigade was relieved about sundown or dusk and that night we built a line of breastworks to the right of the battlefield. Next morning we found our breastworks were endways to the enemy and of course had to change them. This was on May 28th and a fearful thunderstorm came up. It seemed as if the clouds were almost in the tree tops and peal after peal of thunder rolled and rumbled and the lightning flashed, adding additional gloom to the situation.
Two soldiers in a brigade near us were standing by a tree. One of them said while it was thundering, “That’s the kind of cannonading that doesn’t hurt anyone.” Scarcely had the words been said when lightning struck the tree and killed both of them, the shock being felt by our whole brigade.
Daniel W. Sheidler, Co. E, 93rd Ohio, Holden, Missouri
Hazen's brigade constituted of four battalions: (1st) 93rd Ohio and 124th Ohio; (2nd) 5th Ky. and 6th Ind.; (3)6th Ky. and 23rd Ky.; and (4th) 1st Ohio and 41st Ohio. OR38, pt. 1, p. 92. The regiments had been greatly reduced by battle losses and disease. The 6th Ky. fielded only 106 men in May.ReplyDelete
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Remember, the engagement at Pickett's Mill for years, was called east of New Hope. The 93rd fought in what is now, Pickett's Mill Georgia State Park, from 27th May 12864 until 4 June when the confederates retreated. Gen. Schofield broke and turned the confederate line. The State of Georgia, still keeps up the false history, that Pickett's Mill was a 5 hour engagement. If you want to read the truth on face book, its under (PICKETT'S MILL 10 DAYS OF COMBATReplyDelete