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Seventh Series No. 6.



Campaign of Battery D, First Rhode
Island Light Artillery, in Kentucky
and East Tennessee.

[Late First Lieutenant Battery E, First Rhode Island
Light Artillery.]



In March, 1863, Gen. A. E. Burnside, having been relieved at his own
request of the command of the Army of the Potomac, was soon afterwards
assigned to the Department of the Ohio. Upon his special request, the
Ninth Army Corps was also detailed for service in this department, and
at once preparations were made for the transportation of the corps from
Virginia to Kentucky. Battery D, First Rhode Island Light Artillery,
Capt. William W. Buckley, was at that time attached to the Ninth Corps
and was sent with its corps to the west. This battery had been at the
beginning of its service attached to the first division of the Army of
the Potomac, and when the army was divided into army corps, this battery
was included in the first corps commanded by General McDowell. Its first
active service was in the short and successful campaign to
Fredericksburg, in April and May, 1862. Then it went through the
campaign of the Army of Virginia, under Gen. John Pope, losing heavily
at the battle of the second Manassas, then again under General
McClellan, in his successful campaign of South Mountain and Antietam.
Meantime, General McDowell had been succeeded by General Hooker in the
command of the First Army Corps. It was in the Fredericksburg campaign
under Burnside, and was by his order transferred from the First to the
Ninth Army Corps. After a not unpleasant march, both by rail and
steamboat, the battery reached Lexington, Ky., on March 30th, 1863, and
went into camp on the Fair grounds. Here it remained but a week, and
then the line of march was taken up for camp Dick Robinson. On the 26th,
the battery began its march from camp Dick Robinson to Somerset, near
the Cumberland river, completing it on the 7th of May, 1863, and there
it remained until the 7th of June. It was now expected that within a few
days the march for East Tennessee would commence. Although we, members
of the battery, well knew that the campaign would be arduous and full of
dangers, still we were all anxious to advance. In consequence of orders
to General Burnside to send a part of his command to Vicksburg to assist
General Grant, and in consequence of the raid of Gen. John Morgan, it
was not until the 21st of August, 1863, that the expedition started. The
Twenty-third Army Corps was the only corps that commenced at that date
the march over the Cumberland river and mountains. General Hartzuff
commanded the corps, consisting of three divisions commanded by Generals
White, Hascall and Carter, respectively. We were attached to Gen.
Hascall's division, and marched with our division by way of Stanford,
Crab Orchard and Cub Creek to the Cumberland river. The Ninth Corps was
reported to be at Cincinnati and to follow close upon the tracks of the
Twenty-third Corps. The strength of the Twenty-third Corps was, perhaps,
15,000 or 20,000 men of all arms.

The march over the Cumberland mountains was full of adventures and
labors. It would require a much longer paper than this to describe the
many incidents that befell us on that famous march. We had no snow nor
ice to encounter, but otherwise I doubt whether or not Napoleon's
crossing of the Alps was more fraught with dangers and hardships than
was this crossing of the Cumberland mountains by the Army of the Ohio.
On the 4th of September, 1863, we arrived upon the bluffs of the
Tennessee river, opposite Loudon. Here we remained, recuperating, until
the 15th of September. The enemy had hurriedly retreated upon our
arrival at Loudon, leaving horses, mules and beef cattle, which we duly
appropriated to our own use. A large amount of wheat and corn was found
in the possession of the farmers, which was seized by the
quartermasters. A steam flour-mill was found in good condition and was
employed in grinding up the wheat and corn. We supplemented our rations
with chicken and fresh pork while we were encamped at Loudon. We were on
the main line of railway from Virginia to the Southwestern states. In
their retreat from Loudon, the enemy had burned the bridge across the
Tennessee at that point. It was several days before we were able to
place across the river a pontoon bridge. From the south, in the
direction of Chattanooga, Gen. N. B. Forrest often threatened us. From
the north, a General Jones was daily reported to be advancing down the
valley of the Holston upon Knoxville. About the time that our battery
arrived at Loudon, Gen. Burnside made a public entry into Knoxville.
General Burnside was not a little disappointed in not having with him
the Ninth Army Corps as early as he expected. The corps had been
transported from Vicksburg (after having done excellent service before
that city and also at Jackson) to Cincinnati, Ohio. In consequence of
the great heat at Vicksburg and of the arduous service required of the
corps, nearly 50 per cent of the men were sick with dysentery and ague.
They were sent into Kentucky as soon as possible to find a healthy camp
for a few weeks. Crab Orchard was the place selected for the camp on
account of its medicinal springs and salubrious surroundings.

On Sept. 25th, 1863, the first division of the Ninth Army Corps arrived
at Knoxville, after being subjected to long, fatiguing marches over bad
roads by way of Cumberland Gap and Morristown. Our repose at Loudon was
broken by orders to place knapsacks and the ammunition chests of the
caissons upon flat cars in order to expedite a contemplated forced
march. The railroad from Loudon was in operation to a point up the
Holston valley beyond Knoxville. The order to move was received upon the
15th inst. We made camp on the night of the 15th near Knoxville, about
thirty miles from Loudon. On the 16th we advanced to Strawberry Plains,
and on the 17th to New Market. We remained in New Market two days, and
then received orders to countermarch to Loudon. We had been absent about
a week, and had covered in all about 200 miles. The cause of this rapid
movement from Loudon to New Market was a rumored attack by the enemy
upon our forces in southwestern Virginia. The cause of our return was a
dispatch from General Halleck to General Burnside, notifying him that
two divisions of General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had been sent
to reinforce General Bragg, and he desired him, General Burnside, to go
to General Rosecrans' aid as soon as possible.

On the 23rd of September our battery crossed the Tennessee at Loudon by
the aid of a single flat boat large enough to take over only one team
and carriage at a time. It took all day and most of the night to effect
the crossing. Soon after crossing, we took up the march for Sweetwater,
a station sixteen miles south from Loudon, on the east Tennessee and
Georgia railroad. We had no sooner arrived at Sweetwater than we were
ordered to countermarch, and away we went back to Loudon. On our arrival
there, we were ordered into a rebel fort to the right of the village
facing south. This hill was in a bend of the river. A pontoon bridge had
been laid across the river and troops of all arms were continually
crossing to the south bank. There strong lines of battle were formed,
and in expectation of a severe conflict, we awaited the approach of
General Forrest, who was steadily driving back our cavalry and mounted
infantry upon Loudon. We were all anxious for a brush with the famous
General Forrest, and had he assailed our position he would have met with
a hot reception. This was the 28th of September, 1863.

Forrest was reported to be advancing with a large mounted force,
estimated by citizens and negroes from 3,000 to 15,000 men. We supposed
that on the morning of the 29th we would have a royal battle on the
banks of the Tennessee. But day dawned and no attack was delivered, and
soon word came from our mounted force that Forrest had commenced his
retreat down the valley during the night, while we were watering and
feeding our horses and mules and inspecting ammunition. From October 1st
to the 5th, we were busy collecting forage. In our wagons, and carefully
covered by the forage, were carcasses of hogs and sheep. Our company
cooks served up rations which could only be fully appreciated by eating.
Men, horses and mules were growing fat, sleek and handsome.

On the 6th of October, we received orders to report to our first
division of the Ninth Army Corps at Blue Springs, in the valley of the
Holston, distant about ninety-eight miles from Loudon. The enemy were
reported to be threatening our communications with Cumberland Gap, and
the Ninth Corps had been ordered to prevent all interference with this
line. The infantry were transported by rail, but the battery was sent
forward on foot. In order that the battery should arrive as soon as
possible after the infantry it was forced along at the rate of about
thirty miles per day. We found the roads in very fair condition. At
dark, on the 9th, we arrived at Bull Gap, a gorge in one of those spur
ranges of mountains that extend out from the main chain, and which, at a
distance, resembles somewhat a large windrow of hay. On the next day we
passed through the gap and soon came up with our division, posted in
lines of battle along Lick Creek.

Our arrival was duly reported and we were ordered to hold ourselves
ready to take position and open upon the enemy.

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