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John Beals Chickamauga Letter

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Westfield, Ind., Dec. 8th , 1896

Comrade J. H. Gray, Esp.,

Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dear Sir: - - Your's of Nov. 30th, '96, recieved and your request complied with. John Beals
Extracts of a letter addressed to my wife, dated inside the fortifications at Chattanooga, Tenn., Sept. 24th 1863.
We fell back to this place last Monday night. Reached here at daylight Tuesday morning. I have not time to give the particulars of the battle but it was severe. the ninteenth and twentieth was the hard fighting, perhaps the hardest that has been in the west....
We reached Crawfish Springs at daylight on Saturday morning, Sept. 19, 1863, halted a few minutes, then came on two miles and stopped and made a little coffee, and then started for the battle. We were moved up and took position. Were soon relieved and moved to the left, then forward, then back to the right - - and the bullets were whistling thick - - and then forward in line until in two hundred yards of the rebs' Battery, and lay down. The Battery and their Regiments of Infantry opened on us. there was on Regiment to our left and in advance of us. They broke and ran through our men. That left us to draw the whole fire of battery and infantry, which was severe, and we held our ground until we were flanked on both sides, and then had to fall back, which was done in middling order, but the Rebs came on and we found ourselves again nearly surrounded, and had to fall back the second time, rallied again and in a short time found ourselves in the same fix again and we fell back in bad order, but rallied again and ld our ground ....
That night we went to our position and lay there all night and the next morning we made breast works of rails, logs and rocks, and when the Rebs came they did not drive us. We held our position, that is, our division, and the flanks gave way and let us be surrounded. About two o'clock the Rebs closed in around us and the only chance was to cut out. While surrounded Col. King was killed. Col. Robertson of the Seventy-fifth, Ind. Regiment took command of our brigade. General Negley took the lead to cut through and our Regiment next, and we started and went out with but little loss, but the Rebs lay so thick in some places that we could hardly walk through them. Their Batteries palyed on us all the time. After we got out we went and fetched another brigade out and then started for Chattanooga and traveled until midnight with nothing to eat since daylight the morning before, stopped and eat a little and then took a nap. the next day we laid there and until midnight and then started for Chattanooga. We reached the fortifications at daylight and at seven we started on Pickett, and the Rebs came and it was not long until it was pretty warm work. We fought them all day and until after dark. They drove us from our position at about sun-down, but we regained it a little after dusk. Here Lieut. Pfaff and Philip T. Williams were wounded, both pretty severe but not dangerous. We were relieved and came our place in the fortifications. Yesterday we strengthened out breastworks, and to-day we await the approach of the enemy but he appears to be slow in coming.
My love to all, John Beals.

P.S. This position was in front of a hewed log house in which was some General's Head-quarters. The 101st. Regiment was sent out east of the Chattanooga Road in a piece of woods. We soon found General Wilder's men in those woods and we were recalled and went on with the Brigade. Moving left means Northward. Then forward is Eastward. Here we left the Chatanooga Road and our Brigade. Then back to the right or South, then east or front, to the rear of the 44th Regiment and lay down - - this regiment in our front and to left means to the left of Co. A There was nothing between Co. A and the Battery, for I remember we, Co. A, opened fire on them at left-oblique until they were pretty well silenced .... This last stand was made just west of the Chattanooga Road and south of the small field where the Ninteenth Battery was, or where we left it when we were taken from our Brigade. We were in a piece of wood-land and were gathering together all the men we could find and putting up logs and chunks for protection when C. King came riding down and asked for Col. Doan. I told him where I last saw him and he gave me this order;
"Tell Colonel Doan to hold his men here until further orders." Up to this time there was not a commissioned officer in sight save Lieut. Pfaff, and he had been injured early in the day and relieved from duty so that the command fell to myself.
Lieut. Pfaff and myself shook hads with Col. King and the tears were running down his cheeks as he left us and rode back north. We stayed at the place where we made the last stand, most of the Regiment coming to us, until after sundown. then we went to the North some distance and joined out Brigaade, the first we had seen of it since early morning.
I will send you a copy of another letter written on Sept. 28th, 1863, was lost. It gave in a more connected form all the incidents.
The letters that I have give more a general account.
John Beals.