A Determined and Plucky Set of Men: The 35th Ohio and Missionary Ridge

    Captain Frederick W. Keil of the 35th Ohio looked back on the battles for Chattanooga as a time where his regiment and comrades in the Army of the Cumberland proved to General U.S. Grant that they could fight. Keil commented rather acidly in the regimental history how Grant had commented to Sherman that "Thomas' army had been so demoralized by the battle of Chickamauga that he feared they could not be got out of their trenches to assume the assume the offensive.' This stricture was wholly uncalled for and highly unjust. A more determined and pluckier set of men than those found in the trenches at Chattanooga never shouldered a musket," Keil noted. "Braver men with stouter hearts never wore the blue and these men needed no Army of the Tennessee to show them how to fight."

   Among those who made the charge at Mission Ridge was Private Patrick C. Hathaway of Co. A. He reported that his brigade was "in the advance but were not in any order whatever. Every fellow that could run the fastest was ahead. The officers were nearly all left to the rear because their wind was not so good as the sturdy soldier. We had some pretty hard fighting after we got up the hill for the Rebs rallied their men and endeavored to make a bold stand but the boys went into them headlong & independently, as the Reb prisoners remarked that the Yankees fought just as well without officers as with them."

    During the siege of Chattanooga, the 35th Ohio served in Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer's Second Brigade of General Absalom Baird's Third Division of the 14th Army Corps. It was an enlarged brigade that included the 75th, 87th, and 101st Indiana regiments, the 2nd Minnesota, and the 9th, 35th, and 105th Ohio regiments. The 75th Indiana, 101st Indiana, and 105th Ohio had served at Chickamauga under Colonel Edward King who was killed in action. After the battle, these regiments had been folded into Van Derveer's brigade when the Fourth Division of the 14th Corps was broken up.

  Hathaway's account is one of the few I've seen from this regiment regarding Missionary Ridge, so I'd consider it a bit of rarity. Hathaway's letter appears on the blog courtesy of Griff's Spared and Shared.

    

The Army of the Cumberland's victory at Missionary Ridge did much to dispel the gloom and embarrassment that hung over the army in the wake of its defeat at Chickamauga in September.  Hathaway commented that the enlisted men made the charge in some cases without their officers who "were nearly all left to the rear because their wind was not so good as the sturdy soldier. The Rebel prisoners remarked that the Yankees fought just as well without officers as with them."

Chattanooga, Tennessee
4 December 1863

 

Dear Mother,

Through the divine providence of the almighty God, I am once more permitted to write you a few lines to inform you of my whereabouts and that I am yet on the land & among the living.

You perhaps have heard of the late battle fought at or near Chattanooga called Mission & Lookout Mountain. I was one of several thousand who participated in the glorious conflict wherein the federal army were unanimously victorious. It is useless for me to give you a minute detail of the battle, as you have or will no doubt see it through the papers. Our Third Division was on the 23rd ultimo all out to front where we lay a day & a half. In the meanwhile, Sherman on the left was crossing the river & turning the Rebels flank and on the 24th ultimo, old Joe Hooker was driving them from Lookout Mountain. On Monday the 25th, the Third Division moved to the left & about 3 o’clock p.m. were ordered to storm a line of breast works at the base of Missionary Ridge, which was done amid a storm of grape shot & canister & shell which fell about & around us thick & fast but fortunately there was comparatively few [illegible]…the work only [illegible] a few guns.

After resting a short time, we again received the word forward & we all simultaneously leaped the works & started double quick for the fort at the summit of the ridge & were again greeted by shell & canister & shot. The ridge—as it is called—is about as high as the hill in front of Thomas [illegible] house but a great deal more steep. Before we had gained half the distance, we were almost exhausted by the charge, but to return would have been madness & so by pulling ourselves up by shrubs & bushes, gained the top & sent the Rebs flying, capturing some eight cannon.


A portion of the Confederate artillery pieces captured at Chattanooga in November 1863. 


The Second Brigade commanded by Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer was the one’s that were in the advance but were not in any order whatever. Every fellow that could run the fastest was ahead. The officers were nearly all left to the rear because their wind was not so good as the sturdy soldier. We had some pretty hard fighting after we got up the hill for the Rebs rallied their men and endeavored to make a bold stand but the boys went into them headlong & independently, as the Reb prisoners remarked that the Yankees fought just as well without officers as with them. Night coming on, the firing grew less fierce & finally died away altogether.

We camped on the field of battle overnight among the dead & dying. On the next morning we drew four days rations & started in pursuit of the Rebs. We followed them a couple days but did not get engaged anymore—that is, our division—& then returned back to old Chattanooga which was my wish. I have got pretty good quarters—have a chimney to my tent. Four of Uncle Sam’s boys are settled in it & enjoy it first rate when not on duty. The loss of killed & wounded of the 35th Ohio was 25.

Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer

Oh! the horrors of war. To think how so many of the bright young men are killed & many crippled for life. We have one instance which pains me to recall to memory & that is John Venard of Co. F who had been at the regiment about two months & then wounded in the late battle—shot in the knee by a musket ball & lodging. I have since learned that his leg has been amputated. Only 16 & a cripple for life [Venard died from the wound on 26 December 1863]. Oh, thank God that it was not Cornelius, myself or Andy Hathaway. You will please tell his folks if they have not learned of the fatal news.

Cornelius was not in the fight. He was a reserve & could see all the fighting though did not participate in it. Various are the rumors afloat in camp. Among the rumors is one that the 14th Army Corps—which we belong to—is going to remain here to garrison this place which I hope will come true. If it does, I don’t think we will have any more marching to do. Rations are getting more plenty & we drew a lot of clothing. I drew a wool blanket today. I and my bedfellow have been sleeping between the gum blankets, which are very cold. I hear from Andy pretty frequently; he is doing well. I hope he will get to remain where he is until his time is up, if the place suits him.

I received a letter from Sylvan Jeffrey a few days ago. He wrote a first-rate letter. He said that Abe got home. Christmas will soon come up but to me I fear it will be a dry one if the good Lord [illegible] me to get home among you all next Christmas 64 is all I should ask. I have written this rather hastily which the scribbling & composition show. You can read it at the table as of you [illegible] or when at leisure. May God bless & protect you all with life & health is my prayer for you all. Write soon & Believe me to be your affectionate son—Paddy Hathaway

 

P.S. I forgot to say that George Hydee came out of the late battle unharmed though in the most fiercest part. He is a brave fellow. Lemuel B. Stump too is a boy that deserves [illegible]

Respectfully, — Paddy H.


Source:

Griff's Spared and Shared, Letter of Private Patrick C. Hathaway, Co. A, 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry


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