History - Part VII
 
 
Last update 25 Jan 2011

THE ALABAMA 37TH REGIMENT OF VOLUNTEER INFANTRY,
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA:
A NARRATIVE HISTORY & CHRONOLOGY


PART VII: January - May 1864

February 1864 - Brigadier General John Creed Moore (photo at left), the man who has led the brigade containing the 37th Alabama since Corinth, resigns his commission and returns to Texas. His contempt for Bragg has grown unbearable. Moore openly (and in hindsight probably rightfully) criticizes Bragg and Brigader General John K. Jackson for bungling major decisions at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Major John P. W. Amerine is transferred to another unit at some point. Adjutant, John C. Meadows, also transfers at some point and is replaced by Thomas L. Samford.

The 37th Alabama remains in Moore’s (old)-Baker’s Brigade. The brigade is now assigned to Stewart’s Division, 2nd Corps, Army of Tennessee. Upon losing both of the battles outside Chattanooga, General Braxton Bragg is relieved of command and replaced by the beloved, and greatly-respected General Joseph E. Johnston (called "Uncle Joe" by his men).


Army of Tennessee: General Joseph E. Johnston, Commanding
Hood’s (2nd) Corps: Lieutenant General John Bell Hood
Stewart’s Division: Major General Alexander Peter Stewart
Moore’s Brigade: Colonel Alpheus Baker
37th Regiment of Alabama: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander A. Greene


While at Dalton, Johnston keeps the men very busy. He reorganizes everything. The men build winter homes of wood and chink the logs with mud and wood chips to keep out the bitter cold.

Food is once again abundant and the men finally begin to put back on some of the weight they’ve lost from the year’s earlier privations.

Morale improves greatly under Johnston’s watchful eye. With the help of several heavy snowfalls, regiments start to challenge one another in snowball fights. After a number of these snow skirmishes, Johnston divides his command of roughly 60,000 men evenly and stages a full-blown "Winter Snow Battle." It is disguised as a morale device, but it is intended to keep the men’s military skills honed. The men are ordered to load blank cartridges in their weapons and face off 30,000 against 30,000 in the deep drifts. One participant writes:
"The battle lasted about an hour and it looked like a sure enough battle, with the single exception that no blood was shed."
- Wilson Park Howell, 25th Alabama Infantry at Dalton
February 22, 1864 - From Vicksburg, Mississippi, Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman launches a campaign designed to take the important railroad center at Meridian, Mississippi - and - if he can, push on to Selma, Alabama to threaten Mobile. From there, he can easily prevent the shipment of Confederate men and supplies to other fronts.

To counter the threat, Confederate President Jefferson Davis orders troops into the area. As this operation unfolds, Union Major General George H. Thomas, from his base at Chattanooga, Tennessee, decides to probe General Joseph E. Johnston’s army in northern Georgia. He hopes that Johnston’s loss of two divisions (sent to reinforce Lieutenant General & Episcopal Bishop Leonidas Polk’s withdrawal from Meridian, Mississippi to Demopolis, Alabama) will make him vulnerable.

Skirmishing and intense fighting occurs throughout Thomas’ demonstration around Dalton, Georgia. These actions are variously called "Tunnell Hill," "Buzzard’s Roost Gap," "Crow Valley," "Mill Creek Gap," and "Dug Gap" by the Federals and Confederates.

February 25, 1864 - in fighting at Crow Valley, Georgia, Union troops almost turn the Rebel right flank. It holds. On the same day, the 37th Alabama is engaged at "Buzzard’s Roost."

February 27, 1864 - Thomas’ army withdraws, realizing that Johnston is ready and able to counter any assault.

February 28, 1864 - At Dalton, Georgia, Private Christopher Columbus C. Sessions (Co B) writes of the earlier fighting to his sister, Miss E.N. Sessions. He confirms Johnston’s degree of readiness, and his men’s willingness to carry the fight to the Federals:
" ... Well I suppose you have herd of the Yankees advancing on us here. We was marched out a Tuesday last & lay in line of battle untill this morning we was marched back to our same camp we left. I thought they was going to make a heavy attact here but they found we was strong & had a good position & they left. And it was well for them for we would of give them fits shore. We had about 16 or 18 thousand & they had about 15 or 20 thousand. All they fighting was done was jest skermish fighting. I suppose we killed 40 or 50 and taken about the same prisners. They killed and wounded some of our men but ni [read not] so many. I was out on skirmish 24 hours but I was in reserve and didn’t git to fight much. I shot 7 rounds at them. I stood behind a little Beach [read Beech Tree]. The balls sized around very close. The closest they shot to me they cut a leaf off of a lime about 3 feet from me jist as I stept out to shoot. A Friday night they took a flight & left so yesterday we fallered them up to Tunnell hill wich was 3 miles & found they was too fur a head & we turned back. So I don’t care if they never stop but if they ever come back they will have to fight shore. Well I must say the 37th got to run the Yanks once ..."

Known Regimental Dead during January-February 1864:
- Private Thomas Smith (Co I) - died from gunshot wounds Feb 11 (possibly died from wounds
        received in East Tennessee in Nov)
- Private John M. Harrell (Co E) - died of unknown cause Feb 25 near Atlanta (probably while hospitalized)



March 5, 1864 - Colonel Alpheus Baker, (image at left) commanding Moore’s old brigade, is promoted to the rank of Brigadier General of the Confederate Army.

March 14, 1864 - Private Samuel W. Stricklin (Co E) is Killed in Action at Kingston, Georgia.

April 16, 1864 - Private Ephram T. Hendley (Co H) dies from pneumonia.

May 2, 1864 - Action breaks out at Tunnel Hill and at Ringgold Gap, Georgia.

May 3, 1864 - Additional activity springs up at Chickamauga Creek and at Red Clay, Georgia.

May 7, 1864 - Private John D. Parker (Co A) dies from an unknown cause at Atlanta (almost certainly while hospitalized there).

May 8, 1864 - Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston entrenches his army on the long, high mountain of Rocky Face Ridge, eastward and across Crow Creek Valley. The 37th Alabama is about to renew its acquaintance with an old adversary from the days it spent defending Vicksburg.

Major General William Tecumseh Sherman takes overall command of the Western Union Armies, and is now operating at Chattanooga. He begins moving into northern Georgia against Johnston. As Sherman approaches, he decides to demonstrate against the strong position at Rocky Face Ridge with two columns while he sends a third through Snake Creek Gap, to the right, to hit the Western & Atlantic Railroad at Resaca, Georgia.

The two Union columns engage the Confederates including the 37th Alabama at Buzzard’s Roost (also called Mill Creek Gap) and at Dug Gap. The third Union column, under Major General James Birdseye McPherson, passes through Snake Creek Gap.

May 9, 1864 - McPherson’s column advances to the outskirts of Resaca where it finds the Confederates heavily entrenched. Fearing defeat, McPherson pulls his column back to Snake Creek Gap.

According to a report made by Colonel John A. Minter of the 54th Alabama, one man is killed on this day from a "detached Company" of the 37th Alabama that is assigned to him. Although not named, it is most likely Private John T. Carter of Company B who is the only regimental member known killed in action during this time period. Another member of Company B, Private H.D. Pearson is wounded on May 10, as is Lieutentant Thomas Jefferson Carlisle (Company I).

May 10, 1864 - Sherman decides to take most of his men and join McPherson to overrun Resaca.

May 11, 1864 - In the morning, Sherman’s army withdraws from in front of Rocky Face Ridge.

May 12, 1864 - Observing Sherman’s movements, Johnston retires south towards Resaca.


May 13-15 1864 - The 37th Alabama is engaged in the "Battle of Resaca"
Army of Tennessee: General Joseph E. Johnston, Commanding
Hood’s (2nd) Corps: Lieutenant General John Bell Hood
Stewart’s Division: Major General Alexander P. Stewart
Baker’s Brigade: Brigadier General Alpheus Baker
37th Regiment of Alabama: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander A. Greene
Regimental losses: 4 killed, 33 wounded, 6 missing


Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston withdraws from Rocky Face Ridge to the hills around Resaca. During the day, Union troops test the Rebel lines to pinpoint their fortifications.

May 14, 1864 - The day is marked by full scale fighting, and the Union troops are generally repulsed.

May 15, 1864 - The battle continues with no advantage to either side until Sherman sends a force across the Oostanula River, at Lay’s Ferry, towards Johnston’s railroad supply line. Unable to halt this Union movement, Johnston is forced to retire.

During the fighting at Resaca, four men of the 37th Alabama are killed. Only Private John S. Tate (Company H) has been identified as killed in action. Thirty-three others are wounded, including Captain C. E. Evans (Company G) and Captain Cinncinatus Pennington (Company F). Many more men are missing and are taken as POWs, several appear to be deserters.


May 17, 1864 - The 37th Alabama is engaged in the "Battle of Adairsville"
Army of Tennessee: General Joseph E. Johnston, Commanding
Hood’s (2nd) Corps: Lieutenant General John Bell Hood
Stewart’s Division: Major General Alexander P. Stewart
Baker’s Brigade: Brigadier General Alpheus Baker
37th Regiment of Alabama: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander A. Greene


Following the Battle of Resaca, General Joseph E. Johnston’s army retreats southward while Sherman pursues. Failing to find a good defensive position south of Calhoun, Georgia, Johnston continues to Adairsville while the Rebel cavalry fights a skillful rearguard action. Skirmish fire continues throughout the day and into the early evening.

Union Major General O. O. Howard’s IV Corps runs into entrenched infantry of Lieutenant General William J. Hardee’s Corps, while advancing, about two miles north of Adairsville. The 44th Illinois and 24th Wisconsin (under the command of Major Arthur MacArthur, father of Douglas) attacks Cheatham’s Division at Robert Saxon (the Octagon House) and incurs heavy losses.

Three Union divisions prepare for battle, but Major General George H. Thomas halts them due to the approach of darkness. Sherman then concentrates his men in the Adairsville area to attack Johnston the next day. Johnston originally expected to find a valley at Adairsville of suitable width to deploy his men and anchor his line with the flanks on hills. The valley, however, is too wide, so Johnston disengages and withdraws.

May 19-20, 1864 - Johnston retreats to Allatoona Pass and finds the valley he’d earlier hoped for. Sherman decides that he most likely will pay dearly for attacking Johnston here, so he plans to move around Johnston’s left flank and steal a march toward Dallas, Georgia. General Johnston anticipates Sherman’s move and meets the Union forces at New Hope Church.

May 25, 1864 - Sherman mistakenly guesses that Johnston has a token force at New Hope Church and the body of his army remains at Allatoona Pass. Therefore, Sherman orders Major General Joseph Hooker’s Corps to attack. Hooker’s men are severely mauled.


The 37th Alabama is engaged in the "Battle of New Hope Church"
Army of Tennessee: General Joseph E. Johnston, Commanding
Hood’s (2nd) Corps: Lieutenant General John Bell Hood
Stewart’s Division: Major General Alexander P. Stewart
Baker’s Brigade: Brigadier General Alpheus Baker
37th Regiment of Alabama: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander A. Greene


May 26, 1864 - Overnight, both sides entrench, and skirmishing continues throughout the day around New Hope Church. The 37th Alabama now numbers only about 300 men.

May 27, 1864 - Following the Union defeat at New Hope Church, Major General William T. Sherman orders Major General O. O. Howard to attack General Joseph E. Johnston’s seemingly exposed right flank at Pickett’s Mill. The Confederates are ready for the attack, which does not unfold as planned because supporting troops never appear. The Rebels repulse the attack causing high Union casualties.


The 37th Alabama is engaged in the "Battle of Pickett’s Mill"
Army of Tennessee: General Joseph E. Johnston, Commanding
Hood’s (2nd) Corps: Lieutenant General John Bell Hood
Stewart’s Division: Major General Alexander P. Stewart
Moore’s-Baker’s Brigade: Brigadier General Alpheus Baker
37th Regiment of Alabama: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander A. Greene
Regimental losses: 9 killed, 53 wounded


The 37th Alabama itself pays a heavy price at Pickett’s Mill. The unit is pounded by heavy artillery bombardment, which is concentrated on their particular section of the Confederate line. Captain W.D. McNeill, commanding the 42nd Alabama Regiment wrote of the actions:
"... On the 27th the enemy commenced a very heavy fire upon the part of the line occupied by the Thirty-Seventh Alabama. Two companies of my regiment were sent to reinforce Colonel Greene. ..."
Nine men are reportedly killed in the actions of the 25th and 27th of May, including Captain J. M. Leach (Company I). Command of his company passes to George H. Chatfield. Captain Jeptha J. Padgett of Company D is among the wounded. Another 53 men of the regiment are also wounded in the fight.

The bravery of the combat veterans of the 37th Alabama, who hold their ground against the brutal barrage, does not escape the attention of their division commander, Major General A. P. Stewart. In his official report of the action, he writes:
 "The 37th Alabama, which suffered severely from the fire of a battery with the 54th Alabama who re-enforced it, is entitled to special mention for the fortitude with which they endured the ordeal."
Lieutenant Colonel A. A. "Alec" Greene sheds some additional light on the "ordeal" endured by the men of the 37th Alabama. He writes:
"My loss in this unequal contest was 62 men killed and wounded. Three men had their heads carried away, 1 had his right shoulder torn off, 1 had both hands carried away, and many had painful wounds in the head, and scarcely any in the left wing of my regiment escaped unhurt."
To compound their situation, the unit’s old rifles were not even capable of firing a projectile a far enough distance to even reach the enemy’s lines.


Known Regimental Dead from Actions at New Hope Church and Pickett’s Mill, Georgia:

New Hope Church (May 25, 1864):
- Captain James M. Leach (Co K) KIA - New Hope Church
- Private John J. Caldwell (Co I) WIA/DOW - (died of his wounds on 27 May 1864)
- Private W.W. Flowers (Co K) KIA - New Hope Church
- Private William J. Peacock (Co B) KIA - New Hope Church
- Private James H. Lett (Co I) WIA/DOW - New Hope Church (died of wounds 27 May 1864 while hospitalized at West Point GA after being transported via Dallas GA)
- Private John R. Harmon (Co G) KIA - New Hope Church

Pickett's Mill (May 27, 1864):
- Private Silas H. Daniel (Co D) KIA - Pickett’s Mill
- Private William F. Hudgins (Co H) KIA - Pickett’s Mill
- Private Joseph L. Lock (Co E) KIA - Pickett’s Mill
- Sergeant Joseph Tucker (Co E) KIA - Pickett's Mill
- Private Joseph M. Reese (Co C) KIA - Pickett’s Mill (conflicting data also has him POW)

Other Known Dead in May 1864:
- Private V. Carlilse (Co A) - Died of currently unknown cause 30 May 1864 at Macon GA
- Private Benjamin Cadish (Co A) - Died of currently unknown cause 31 May 1864 at Macon GA (also reported as 24 May)


NEXT: History - Part VIII

 

37th Alabama Regiment of Volunteer Infantry CSA
2300 Cottondale Lane Little Rock, AR 72202
cculpepper@aristotle.net

© Copyright 2007 C.C. (Chip) Culpepper