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June, 1864 – Kennesaw Mountain Takes a Toll

Georgia in June can be a beautiful place. Not as nice as Will County, but the men of the 100th could not think of home. What they thought of was what lay before their eyes – Kennesaw Mountain.

During the first week of June, the boys of the 100th action was taking place. In George Woodruff’s book Fifteen years Ago, Will County in the Civil War he writes of this time, “The distance between the rifle pits of the two lines was about fifty yards, so that they could talk to each other, and during the last few days, the soldiers in them would enter into a truce on their own account, agreeing not to fire on each other for a certain length of time.”

“About the 5th of June, the enemy did not answer to roll call, and we moved on again to near Ackworth, where we remained until the 10th.” After some movement on the 11th Mountain. Woodruff describes it, “Looking to the front we could see on the right, Lost Mountain, and on the left Kenesaw, the rebel lines reaching from one to the other, and beyond lay Marietta.”

“Soon after noon we began to move forward, and during the afternoon orders came for our brigade to make a charge. The necessary preparations were made knapsacks, blankets, and everything that was not absolutely necessary, was piled up and left in charge of a guard, and everyone braced himself up to do his duty.”

Col. Fredrick Bartleson, who had recently returned to the 100th Libby Prison, requested to be placed at the front of the regiment during the upcoming battle. This cheered the men and they vowed to follow him anywhere, to hell if needs be. On the 18th night. At 9 a.m. the next morning the commanders of the 100th after consulting with each other, decided to charge the enemy works. This action was not ordered by headquarters, but never the less, they went ahead.

They were successful. Woodruff writes, “When the shouts of victory went up, the noise reached Newton, the division commander, who sent for Wagner, the brigade commander, and wanted to know what was up. Gen. Wagner replied that he couldn’t tell what his damned tigers were about. They were moving without orders, and he would have them court-martialed.”

“But when they learned of the success of the movement they were satisfied. (In war more, even than in civil life, perhaps, success covers a multitude of sins.) The affair was entirely impromptu, and so sudden and dashing that the rebs were taken by surprise. The 100th captured 14 prisoners and 1 The enemy played hide and seek until the morning of June 23rd “Our record has now brought us to the 23d day of June, the day when we lost our gallant and well- beloved commander, Col. Bartleson. He was on duty as division officer of the day in charge of the skirmish line.”

“While directing his line, the colonel was obliged to pass a point which was exposed to the enemy’s sharpshooters, and he was hit and killed instantaneously. The stretcher bearers of the 57th Ind., seeing him fall went to him at once, and finding him dead, carried the body back of a barn nearby, and remained in their rifle pits, but very little of June the 100th found themselves looking at Kennesaw after spending the winter in of June the 100th was ordered to relieve the 3rd Kentucky during the middle of the Illinois, 57th Indiana and the 26th. Woodruff continues the story, sent us word.”

“Our own bearers were immediately sent out after the body and brought it in, and the regiment then passed in review by the body to take their last hasty look at one they had so loved and honored.The body was then carried back to the rear, to a spot which had been appropriated as a division cemetery. There were no other casualties in the regiment that day.”

We now come to the “assault on Kenesaw Mountain” on June 27th enemy was too firmly entrenched, and the carnage was horrific. Maj. Hammond and Capt. Rodney Bowen rallied 150 men at a depression in the hill and might have been able to hold it if the entrenching tools were sent forward as requested. Their requests went ignored and they were ordered in.

The way back exposed them to a rain of fire, and when they returned the regimental commanders were astonished, thinking all had been killed and the colors captured. Three good men were killed, 16 injured, and 7 slightly wounded.Back home, all were in mourning. Bartleson was laid to rest with great honors and heavy hearts.

The war had taken the best and the brightest and still more just days later. The prayer on everyone’s list was just one three words, “Please God, peace.”

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