Center for Archival Collections

Reference Services | Manuscripts by Subject | CAC Homepage

United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 21st - MS 562: Transcripts

Transcripts - Box 12: Correspondence Copybook: April 1864

April 6, 1864

Camp Chase.
Columbus, Ohio
April 6th, 1864

Sir,

Having been a prisoner of war in the hands of the enemy, I was unable sooner to report the part taken by the 21st Regt. Ohio Vol. Infty. 3d Brigade 2d Division 14th A.C. in the battle of Chickamauga, fought on Saturday and Sunday September 19th and 20th 1863. The regiment moved into action Saturday evening an hour before sundown, under command of Lt. Col. D.M. Stoughton.

We had position on the left of our own brigade and joined Col. Stanley's (2d) brigade on its right.

We engaged the enemy's skirmishers until dark when the firing ceased after which breast works of logs were constructed facing E.S. east in front of an open field. This position was held by us until Sunday morning 20th at which time our skirmishers became engaged with the skirmishers of the enemy.

At day light: Late Sunday morning (20th) we were withdrawn from this position and moved with our brigade to a new position.

Skirmishers from the 26th Ohio Vols. (Genl Woods Division) relieved our own skirmishers and that Regt moved into the position which we had just withdrawn. This position is also particularly marked by two large vats (used for the manufacture of nitre) about two hundred yards to the rear. At 12 O'clock (Sunday 20th) our regiment was assigned a position upon a curved ridge our front being south. A deep ravine was in front of this ridge and on our right heavy timber, on our left an open field with timber beyond. There was an old house about two hundred yards to our rear, which was subsequently occupied by our wounded. Our effective support in this position consisted of the 22d Mich Vols. and 89th Ohio Vols. on our right. Troops under comd of Col. Walker of the 31st Ohio Vols. and 9th Ohio on our left and the 2d Minn. Vols. in reserve. I have not learned any name by which this position may be designated therefore have substituted a description of it.

Immediately after taking positions (12.M.) the enemies skirmishers engaged us and in a short time a strong force moved against us.

A severe engagement resulted in the repulse of the enemy. This demonstration of the enemy for the occupation of this important position was made before the arrival of the support heretofore stated and though superior in numbers, he was unable to endure the repeated vollies[volleys] of our superior arms (Colts Revolving Rifle).

Heavy skirmishing continued until two O'clock when the enemy again made an attempt to carry this position in which he failed. Our position was maintained however with severe loss in killed and wounded. At 2 1/2 O'clock, Lt. Col. D M Stoughton who was comdg. the regiment until this time was severely wounded, and the command devolved upon myself. By 3 O'clock, every effort had failed to procure a further supply of ammunition. Orderlies sent to report our condition and position to Col. Wm Sirwell, comdg our Brigade and to Genl Negley comdg. our Division and to obtain ammunition returned without being able to accomplish the object for which they were sent. Our Brigade had retired in the direction of Chattanooga. I was unable to communicate with Genl Negley and no General officer was designated to whom I might report.

But we continued to hold our position. The cartridge boxes of our killed and wounded were carefully searched; also the hospitals for any ammunition that might be carried there in the cartridge boxes of our wounded, and by this means obtained sufficient ammunition to meet the enemy in a third assault upon our position about 5 O'clock. In this assault the enemy crossed the ravine in our front, and carried his banner up the hill to within twenty yards of our line. He was repulsed and did not retire in good order. During the afternoon a battery had range upon our position inflicting some damage upon us also setting fire to the leaves and brush in our front, and the enemy advanced under the cover of the smoke.

The wounded under cover of our fire were removed. A heavy line of skirmishers continued to annoy us. And a sharp fire upon this line exhausted all our ammunition a short time before sundown at which time the 2d Reg. Minn. Vols. relieved us. A further search for ammunition resulted in finding one round each for the men composing my command which had now become very much reduced in numbers. At this time Col Vandevere [VanDerveer] (who assumed comd) ordered me to occupy a position on the extreme right from which a part of our line had just been driven by the enemy. In obedience to the order we occupied the position and captured nine prisoners. A sharp fire from the enemy forced us back, but we regained our position and held it until dark at which time a Brigade of four Regiments under Col. Trigg moved upon us and overwhelmed us.

Simultaneous with this movement of the enemy, which was upon our right flank and rear, we received a fire from the enemy who had also opened upon our left which took effect both upon the enemy on our right and ourselves. During the misunderstanding thus occasioned a part of my command escaped under the cover of the night.

Col. Vandevere having withdrawn the troops under his command my command was unsupported and both flanks were exposed. Thus, we lost our stand of colors, which were made sacred to us by the blood of many comrades who fell in their defense, and for their honor, on other fields as well as on the unfortunate field of Chickamauga. Great credit is due the gallant officers and brave men of my command for their soldier like bearing and good discipline, who stood by their colors and contested the fortunes of the day to the bitter end.

I have the honor to report that my Regt. did the last firing upon and offered the latest resistance to the advance of the enemy, which he received and which checked his progress, and ended the battle of Chickamauaga.

Having been separated from my Brigade and Division commanders, without orders, and not being in communications with any other General officer, I was not informed of the movements of the army, and held my Regiment to[too] closely engaged for the nature of the contest at dark. The reference made to other officers and troops than those under my command is not intended as a report of any part of their conduct on the field but to describe the position of my own command, yet I would be pleased to note the gallant conduct of the troops I have mentioned.

Our losses were as follows

Killed and died of wounds
Officers1
Enlisted Men47
Wounded
Officers3
Enlisted Men98
Total 149
Prisoners
Officers12
Enlisted Men104
Total 265
Rounds of ammunition expended43,550.

We moved into action with twenty two officers and five hundred and seventeen men with rifles.

Very Respectfully

A. McMahan
Maj. Comdg. 21st Ohio Vols.

April 12, 1868[4]

Camp Chase, Ohio
April 12th, 1868[4]

Major Gen'l Jas. S. Negley

General,

As soon as I can obtain the necessary information, I will submit a report as complete as practicable of the part taken by the 21st Regiment Ohio Vol. Inf'ty in the battle of Chickamauga fought Sept. 19th & 20th 1868[3].

To obtain this information, I must, under present circumstances, (being a paroled prisoner) inquire by letter for several facts which I wish to embody in it. I will state here, however, that my report of the conduct of my regiment on the field during its participation in the battle referred to, is now written, and as soon as the facts above alluded to are obtained will be submitted. I would be pleased to have my report accompanied by a letter from you showing why I received no orders from you before night, or in time to prevent so severe a loss of my command on the 20th of September above referred to.

Be assured, General, that the unfortunate officers and men of my command, now suffering the miseries of inprisonment in the hands of the enemy, as well as myself, will be slow to believe that our old commander, who defended Nashville with such signal ability and who acquitted himself with honor in the battles of Stones River and Dug Gap, came short in the discharge of his high duty, and the expectations of the army and country at the battle of Chickamauga.

It would be useless to call attention to the brave men of my command who fell in the line of their duty, though fighting against hope, but I would be pleased to communicate to the surviving officers and soldiers of my regiment who fought with me on that memorable occasion, that their General appreciates their service and conduct on the field.

As before stated I will submit a report at the earliest possible moment and would be glad to annex to it a copy of your letter and this.

Be assured of my kindest regards
Very Respectfully
A. McMahan
Major 21st Regt Ohio Vols

Address me at
Perrysburg
Wood Co., Ohio

April 13, 1864

Columbus Ohio
April 13th 1864

Col. Wm Sirwell
Comdg. 3d Brigade 2d Div. 14 A.C.
Sept 20th 1863

Colonel,

Will you have the kindness to send me a copy of your report of the battle of Chickamauga fought Sept 19th and 20th 1863, or a statement showing when and under what circumstances the 21st Reg't Ohio Vol Infty was detached from your command if at all, on the 20th of September above referred to.

Having been a prisoner of war in the hands of the enemy, I have as yet, been unable, in consequence of being separated from my command, to submit a report of the part taken by the regiment in said battle, while under my control.

Having been informed that we were not subject to your orders during the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 20th, heretofore mentioned, I would be pleased to accompany my report by a letter from you, showing the facts in the case as may seem proper to you.

I am, Colonel, with great respect
Your Obt. Servant
A. McMahan
Major 21st Regt O Vol

Address me at
Perrysburg
Wood Co. Ohio

April 18, 1864

Headquarters, Louisville Ky
April 18, 1864

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 12 inst has my attention. The intelligence of your safe return is highly gratifying.

Please accept my grateful appreciation of the sentiments of personal respect and confidence you have so kindly expressed.

You are doubtless aware that Generals Brannan and Wood indulged in severe and unauthorized reflections upon the Division and myself. These reflections received my prompt notice and were investigated before a court of inquiry which I requested with (as you have or will read) the most satisfactory results.

During the battle on Sunday and after my 1st & 2d Brigades were detached from my command Genl Brannan applied earnestly for a regiment to support his position. The 21st Ohio was sent to him for the purpose.

Shortly afterwards, the tide of battle and the assault of a largely superior force of the enemy separated my command which then consisted of the remainder of the 3d Brigade and some 50 pieces of artillery from the troops on my left and compelled the withdrawal of the artillery to McFarlands for safety.

The 21st O. remained under the immediate command of Genl Brannan and as I have been informed, covered his retreat after dark. I have received no official report of the operations of the 21st OV after it was placed under the command of Genl Brannan therefore I am ignorant of the facts and you know best what orders he gave if any and how far he is responsible for the circumstance which occasioned the fearful loss of so many heroic men.

I shall take pleasure in reading your statement of the facts.

Yours very truly
Jas S Negley
Major Genl
Major A. McMahan
21st OV
Camp Chase

[Rec'd the original April 21st 1864]

April 22, 1864 (1)

Perrysburg, Ohio
April 22d, 1864

Col Vandervere
Com'dg Brigade
Sept 20th 1863.

Sir,

I have lately returned from an imprisonment of nearly six months in the hands of the enemy.

I have no doubt you will remember the order you gave me, and the position in which you left my command at the battle of Chickamauga on the evening of the memorable 20th of September last. Will you be so kind as to inform me, why it became necessary for you to abandon my command in this position without giving me notice of your intention to withdraw at dark. You knew I had no ammunition at dark; you saw my command in obedience to your orders, expend its last round protecting your right (repulsing the enemy in an attempt to turn it) for which I received your thanks and your voluntary promise of a good certificate but I have read your published report of the conduct of the troops under your command at that time & on that field, and as I saw nothing consuming the 21st Regt Ohio Vols I concluded you were subsequently displeased with the manner in which a large number of it was lost and myself taken prisoner, covering your retreat with the bayonet.

Please inform me whether you considered your orders to me that evening an assumption of command. I will be pleased to accompany my report by a copy of your letter.

Very Respectfully
A. McMahan
Major 21st Regt O.V.
Postoffice
Perrysburg
Wood County
Ohio

April 22, 1864 (2)

Perrysburg Ohio
April 22d 1864

Brig Gen'l Brannan
Com'dg Div AC
Sept 20th 1863

Sir, On the 12th inst I wrote Genl Jas. S. Negley in regard to the dispositions made of the 21st Regt Ohio Vol Infty at the battle of Chickamauga Sunday afternoon September 20th 1863. In reply I received his letter dated Louisville Ky April 18th 1864 from which the following is an extracts:Viz

X X X

Extracts "During the battle on Sunday and after my 1st and 2nd Brigades were detached from my command Genl Brannan applied earnestly for a regiment to support his position. The 21st OV was sent to him for the purpose.

X X

X

The 21st OV remained under the immediate command of Genl Brannan and as I have been informed covered his retreat after dark.

X X X

I have lately returned from an imprisonment in the hands of the enemy, having been captured at the battle and on the day above referred to; and intend to submit a statement of the conduct of my regiment in said battle soon as practicable.

My object in writing to you is to learn why I was not informed of the withdrawal of the troops on the "horse shoe ridge" at dark; and why I received no orders from you in regard to the retreat of my own command.

Having no ammunition, and the troops having been stealthily withdrawn from my flanks I was forced to meet the enemy under serious disadvantages.

The interposition of my regiment between the enemy and our retiring forces made their retreat an easy matter after dark, as they were not disturbed by the even tenor of their way towards Chattanooga.

I will be glad to accompany my report, which is now written, by a letter, containing such information as may seem proper to you.

Very respectfully
A. McMahan
Major 21st Regt Ohio Vol Infty

Post office
Perrysburg
Wood County Ohio

April 24, 1864

Perrysburg Ohio
April 24th 1864

Major Genl B F Butler
Com for exchange of Prisoners
United States

General,

I am a paroled prisoner and wish to be exchanged. I was captured at the battle of Chickamauga Ga Sept 20th 1863 and paroled and delivered to the US Government on the 14th day of March 1864 at City Point Va.

There are still ten (10) officers of my Regt in prison at Richmond which occasions a scarcity for duty with it in the field.

Should it be practicable I would be pleased to be exchanged that I might return to duty with my command in the field.

Very respectfully
A. McMahan
Major 21st Regt Ohio Vol Infty
Post office
Perrysburg
Wood County Ohio

April 27, 1864 (1)

Perrysburg Ohio
April 27th 1864

R.S. Mungen
1st Lt and Quartermaster 21st Regt Ohio Vol Infty
1861 and 1862

Sir,

In consequence of the destruction of my books and papers at the battle of Stone River January 1st 1863 I am without the necessary vouchers for a proper settlement of my account of ordnance and ordnance stores with the Ordnance Department at Washington.

I am now urgently required to forward the necessary reports of stores above referred to; therefore request that you furnish me invoices of all the ordnance and ordnance stores which I received from you from the first day of Sept 1861 to the 31st day of Dec 1862.

The invoices for each issue to be separate-

I do not remember to have received any invoices of ordnance stores from you of the --- stores which you issued to me; but in case invoices were given me duplicates of them will be sufficient.

In case you have lost your books and papers and are unable from that or some other cause to furnish me the vouchers above required I would be pleased if you would furnish me a certificate showing the facts in the case as may seem proper to you.

Very Respectfully
A. McMahan
Major 21st Regt Ohio Vol Infty
Late Capt. Co. C of said Regt

Post office
Perrysburg
Wood County Ohio

---Rec'd an answer May 13th 1864. Copy filed with ordnance papers---.

April 27, 1864 (2)

Perrysburg Ohio
April 27th 1864

Lieut Daniel Lewis
A A Quartermaster 21st Regt Ohio Vol Infty

Sir,

In consequence of the destruction of my books and papers at the battle of Stone River January 1st 1863 I am unable to make the necessary returns of ordnance and ordnance stores for which I am responsible. Will you have the kindness to furnish me with duplicate invoices of the ordnance and ordnance stores which I have received from you. I would be pleased if you would also furnish me with copies of the receipts for the ordnance stores which I turned over to you from time to time.

As before stated I have lost my books and papers; and all memoranda of the various transactions in ordnance and ordnance stores between you and myself previous to January 1st 1863.- and unless you can furnish the duplicate above referred to my reports will be unsatisfactory to some extent at the Ordnance Department Washington.-

But in case you have lost your books and papers or from some other cause are unable to furnish me the copies of vouchers above required I would be pleased if you would make out a certificate showing the facts in the case as may seem most proper to you. Give me the best information you have that will enable me to make correct returns.

Very Respectfully
A. McMahan
Major 21st Regt Ohio Vol Infty
Late Capt of Co "C" Said Regt
Post office
Perrysburg
Wood County Ohio
---An answer rec'd May 13th 1864 Copy filed with ordnance papers--->

MS 562: Introduction | Transcript List
MS 562 Series Description: MS 562: Introduction | 86th O.V.I. Records | Arnold McMahan Papers
MS 562 Abstracts: Part 1 (McMahan Correspondence) | Part 2 (Box 12) | Part 3 (Box 13) | Inventory
Manuscripts by Subject | Civil War Collections