Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Louis Mullich, part 3


After capturing Atlanta, Sherman considered his options and decided to send some of his forces to contend with John Bell Hood to the rest, but to keep others around for what became his “March to the Sea.” Louis Mullich and the 108th Ohio were among the men who marched through the heart of Georgia with Sherman.

During this campaign, Louis continued his diary. November 14 saw his unit “burning Railroad and Houses,” then on November 15, he noted “15 killed of the 108th.” On November 24th, he wrote “camp near Millettsville Ga, capital of Georgia, foraging,” referring to the town of Milledgeville. On December 1, a skirmish left “several Rebels killed” but the 108th was marching through “beautiful country” as they passed near Louisville, Georgia during this time.

On the 11th, they were 3 miles from Savannah. December 14’s entry notes “McAllister captured at 4 o’clock in the morning” referring to the Confederate fort guarding Savannah. The 21st brought news “Savannah captured” and “286 cannon captured” along with a sketch of the alignment of the U.S. forces, as well as the locations of the Savannah River, railroads and pikes.

A few days later, Louis noted a “review by Gen Sherman in Savannah” on the 27th.
Sherman had wanted to “make Georgia howl” but his men had a special feeling for South Carolina, and Mullich again participated as the Union troops turned North.

Louis continued his diary. On February 11, he wrote “more than enough to eat” though by the 13th he reported “rations scarce.”

On February 18th, “$42,000 in gold and silver found that had been burnt,” while the notes for the 23rd end with “Bad night and Day march.”
The Federal forces eventually left South Carolina and entered its northern neighbor where Louis continued to record the marches they made and rivers they crossed, including “March through large Swamps” on March 17, before a “big fight at Bentonville” on March 19, with Louis noting a “big loss on both sides Rebels lose the day.” He reported for the 20th: “Heavy Skirmish and fighting all day” followed on the 21st by: “3rd day of Battle fighting day and night. Rebels retreat.” At Bentonville, Confederate troops, now under Joe Johnston, made a tough stand, but the Yankees gained victory here.

The report from Major Frederick Beck of the 108th Ohio, found in the official records, provides further information on how much marching these men did. “March 1, marched entire day. March 2, marched entire day. March 3, marched entire day. March 4, marched entire day; arrived at Great Pedee River and went into camp.” 

The constant tramp, tramp, tramp continued - “marched entire day” also described the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th, before the unit went into camp on March 12 at Fayetteville. At least this all took place in an appropriately named month.

As for the battle on March 19, he described the action at Bentonville: “We were ordered to throw up breast-works, which we did in a short time, and when we had them finished the enemy came on in full force and charged our works. A terrible battle ensued, which lasted for some two hours, when the enemy retired, leaving many dead and wounded on the field in our front.”

A few days later, the 108th moved on: “March 23, marched entire day; crossed the Neuse River and went into camp for the night near Goldsborough (sic).”

During this time, Louis’ diary recorded on April 5: “News of the fall of Richmond, 25,00 Prisoners, 500 guns”  and after a few more days of marching, noted on April 12 “News that Gen Lee had surrendered to Gen Grant. Apr 7th 1861 the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter.” (He was wrong – it was actually fired April 12th of that year.) Unfortunately, he did not record details of how he and his comrades celebrated upon hearing this most welcome news.

On April 18, the mood would have been quite different: “Report of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Booth in Washington on April 14th 1865.”

His next line, for the same date was “hostilities at a standstill” and his April 20th entry brought more good news. “Report of the army in the field North Carolina: Peace declared from state. Troops will be sent home as soon as possible.”

In the weeks following the end of hostilities – at least in the Eastern theater - the 108th Ohio took part in the magnificent Grand Review of the Union Armies in Washington D.C., which Louis records with great understatement - “Review by Gen Sherman in Washington DC” on May 24; he neglected to mention General Grant, President Johnson, the cabinet, and the tens of thousands of cheering citizens who turned out for this spectacular celebration.

On June 9th, he “mustered out of service as U.S. volunteer at Washington at 5 o’clock” and “left Washington” on the 11th.

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