REGIMENTAL HISTORY -WISCONSIN TWENTY-FIRST INFANTRY
21st Memorial Oshkosh,Wisconsin
Move to Cincinnati
Battle of Perryville
Move into Georgia
Battle of Chicamauga
Peach Tree Creek
Pursuit of Hood
Join the Grant March of Sherman
Review at Washington
The Twenty-first Regiment was organized at Oshkosh, and was composed of companies enlisted in the Counties of Fond du Lac, Winnebago, Outagamie, Waupaca, Calumet and Manitowoc. Its organization was perfected under the superintendent of Colonel Benjamin J. Sweet, and it was mustered into the United States service on the 5th of September, 1862.
Harrison C. Hobart, Captain in the Fourth Wisconsin Infantry, had been commissioned Lieutenant Colonel, but being, at the time, on duty at New Orleans, did not join the regiment at the time of its organization. The regiment left the State of the 11th of September, 1862, for Cincinnati. Arriving there, they crossed the river to Covington, where they received their arms, and were immediately assigned to duty in the trenches, where they suffered severely for the want of tents and camp equipage. From this point they marched to the defense of Louisville, under Brigadier General P.H. Sheridan. Here the regiment first received their tents, and became equipped for the field, and was assigned to the Twenty-eighth Brigade, in the division commanded by Brigadier General Rousseau, and marched, with the Army of the Ohio, into the interior of Kentucky, and on the 8th of October, was engaged in the battle of Perryville. In this battle, Colonel Sweet was in command. The regiment was placed, erroneously, about a hundred yards in front of the left of the main line, in a position between two armies, and in consequence, suffered from the fire of both lines. From this Position, the regiment was quickly driven back to the rear of our line, with severe loss. Major Frederick Schumacher, Captain Hiram Gibbs, Captain George Bentley, and Second Lieutenant David W. Mitchell, of Company C, were killed, and Colonel B. J. Sweet, First Lieutenant A. B. Smith, Company I, and First Lieutenant F. Ostenfeldt, Company E, were wounded, and Second Lieutenant C. H. Morgan, Company F, was taken prisoner.
Colonel Sweet being disabled by a ball which he received after the regiment had fallen back, did not again assume command. Lieutenant Colonel Harrison C. Hobart, joined the regiment at Lebanon, KY. Having left their camp and garrison equipage at Louisville, the men suffered severely from exposure. Leaving Lebanon, October 29th, the regiment arrived at Bowling Green, November 4th. Surgeon Carolin died at this place. On the 10th of November, they marched to Mitchelville, a station on the railroad. Here the Twenty-first was engaged in guarding the road and the supplies of the army. The men suffered greatly from hardships, being exposed to severe weather without shelter. Captain Jewett, of Company D. and several others died at this place. December 7th, the regiment marched toward Nashville and went into camp five miles south of that city December 9th, and remained there until the morning of December 26th, when the army under Major General Rosecrans, moved upon the rebel army then lying at Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Twenty-first the belonged to the Third Brigade, First Division, Fourteenth Army Corps of the Army of the Cumberland. On the 30th of December, the army met the enemy near Stone River, and the Third Brigade, on the extreme left, was detached from the main line to cover what is known as the Jefferson Pike. The Brigade train was attacked here on the morning of December 30th, by Wheeler’s rebel cavalry of thirty-five hundred men, while it was moving on the road. The Twenty-first was nearest the point of attack. It rapidly moved to the rear of the flying train, and forming a line of battle near a blockhouse, fought the enemy until they were routed. The loss of the enemy in this engagement was over eighty, killed and wounded. The next morning the regiment moved to its position in the line of battle of the Fourteenth Corps, and was actively engaged at the front throughout the battle of Stone River. Brigadier General Rousseau, in his report of this battle, mentioned the Twenty-first Regiment, and its commander, Lieutenant Colonel II. C. Hobart, for good conduct. The loss in this engagement was not severe. Benjamin D. Tuney, company D, died of wounds, and Lieutenant A. B. Smith, of Company I, was wounded. On the 5th of January, 1863, our army entered Murfreesboro, and the Twenty-first went into camp near that city. From January 5th, until June 24th, the Twenty-first lay at Murfreesboro, foraging, drilling, fortifying and skirmishing with the enemy. The regiment then moved with the army upon the enemy who were encamped near Tullahoma. On the 26th of June, the Twenty-first was engaged in driving the rebels from a strong position at Hoover’s Gap, and afterwards followed the retreating enemy to the Tennessee River.
September 1st, the Tennessee River was crossed at Bridgeport, Ala. The Twenty-first was with the army in crossing the two ranges of steep mountains below Chattanooga, and joined in the march to Dug Gap, where the enemy was found in great force. The Union forces were withdrawn from this dangerous position with great difficulty, the Twenty-first forming the rear guard. The rebel army, reinforced by Longstreet, had assumed the offensive. On the 19th of September, the Third Brigade of the First Division, to which the Twenty-first belonged, was moved to a position near one of the gaps at Mission Ridge, and in front of one of the fords of the Chicamauga. A large rebel force commenced crossing this ford early in the morning. Early in the day commenced this terrible battle of Chicamauga. The Twenty-first, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hobart, with the rest of the Third Brigade, commanded by General Starkweather, were moved into forenoon, held its position until the other regiments of the brigade were driven to the rear of them. At this moment, the Fourth Indiana Battery was captured by the rebels, and was re-taken immediately by a part of the Twenty-first, and other troops. Havey firing continued till late in the evening, and the Twenty-first was under arms at the front until 12 o’clock at night. On the morning of the 20th, the regiment, with its brigade, was early placed in line of battle; it was a part of the ever memorable line of the Fourteenth Corps under Major General Thomas. The Division was commanded by Brigadier General Baird. At about 9 o’clock, A.M., the rebel forces commenced a series of terrible charges, which were repeated until the close of that eventful day. The First Division occupied the extreme left of the line, the Twenty-first being on the right of the Division, with a heavy battery in position at each flank. That part of the line in which the Twenty-first was stationed, never faltered during the day, although the trees on the line were nearly all cut down by the fires of the enemy’s batteries. Near sundown, General Thomas ordered a retreat, the right wing having been flanked by the enemy. The Twenty-first did not receive the order, and held their line fighting until they saw the other regiments suddenly moving to the rear. Lieutenant Colonel Hobart then ordered the regiment to fall back to the second line of works, where, still fighting, they remained until nearly surrounded by the enemy. The regiment then attempted to cut its way to the rear, in which attempt Lieutenant Colonel Hobart, with about seventy officers and men, were captured. The flag of the Twenty-first, the last of the Fourteenth Corps, and its gallant Sergeant, remained in front until captured by the enemy.
After this battle, the regiment, with what remained of the brigade, was retired to a line of defense near Mission Ridge, and September 22nd, it fell back to Chattanooga, where it remained with the shattered remnant of Rosecrans’ army in the defense of that place. During the winter of 1863-64, it held the outpost upon Lookout Mountain, and remained in this position until the 2nd of May, 1864. Colonel H. C. Hobart having escaped from Libby Prison, after more than four months’ close confinement, retired to the regiment at this place. The health of discipline of the regiment was greatly improved at this post. On the morning of the 2nd of May, 1864, the regiment, 400 strong, in splendid condition, marched from the mountain to join in the advance upon Atlanta. Here the Twenty-first was transferred to the First Brigade of the First Division, Fourteenth Army Corps. The brigade was commanded by Brigadier General Carlin. The campaign opened at Rocky Face Ridge, near Dalton, on the 8th of May, where the enemy were strongly posted. The Twenty-first were in the flank movement made by General Sherman, though a gap called Snake Creek, which caused the enemy to fall back to Resaca. On the 14th of May, the First Brigade, with the Twenty-first in the front line, was ordered to assault the enemy’s works. This terrible and bloody assault was made in the early part of the day, and although not successful, the brigade held its position near the enemy’s line until after dark, the Twenty-first being the last regiment to retire.
The regiment continued in line of battle until the enemy retreated. On the 27th of May, it went into position with the army of Pumpkin Vine Creek, near Dallas, the enemy being in force at this place. Here Companies A and E, gallantly drove the rebel skirmishers form a commanding ridge, which the regiment occupied and fortified. At this place the men were under fire for more than six days without being relieved. The skirmishers were constantly engaged. On the 30th of May, the enemy made an unsuccessful attack upon this part of the line and retired, leaving their dead and wounded. General Carlin sent his compliments to the regiment, thanking them for their fortitude and gallantry. George Leurville, Company K, is reported as having died of wounds on the 4th of June.
The enemy again falling back, were closely pursued by the First Brigade, in line of battle. On the 17th of June, near Big Shanty, the skirmish line of the Twenty-first became engaged with the skirmish line of the enemy, and charging through a stream waist deep, and up a steep embankment, drove from its position, a North Carolina regiment, capturing thirteen prisoners. The enemy again retiring, the regiment was moved into position in front of the memorable Kenesaw Mountain. Here it sustained for days the most terrible fire from the rebel batteries, constantly shifting from left to right. Timothy Kennedy, of Company F, and William H. Bates, Company G, are reported as killed. General Sherman having again driven the enemy form his position by a flank movement, July 4th, the regiment deployed as skirmishers, followed the enemy a short distance south of Marietta. At this time Lieutenant Colonel Hobart was assigned to the command of three regiments of the First Brigade, and Major M. H. Fitch took command of the Twenty-First.
On the 5th of July, the regiment, under command of Major Fitch, was directed to find the forces under General McPherson. Moving to the right, the regiment encountered the line of the rebel army. Notwithstanding the dangerous position, and the severe skirmishing of the rebels, it held its place until relived by other forces. Amos O. VanDuzen, of Company a, was reported as killed. On the 20th of July, it took part in the battle of Peach Tree Creek. During this battle, a part of the front line of the Fourteenth Corps being driven back, the position was retaken by gallant charge of the Tenth and Twenty-first Wisconsin Regiments, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Hobart, the enemy leaving their dead and wounded upon the field.
In the siege of Atlanta, which followed the battle of Peach Tree Creek, the Twenty-first was constantly engaged. On the 7th of August, it charged upon a line of skirmishers, posted in extensive field works, took the works, and captured a rebel Captain and thirteen prisoners. Charles II. Noyes, of Company G, is reported to have died of wounds, August 13th.
After many days of severe skirmishing, the regiment joined in the great movement to flank the enemy out of Atlanta. The Twenty-first deployed as skirmishers, drove the rebel cavalry about two miles along the railroad, which was completely destroyed by the troops in the rear. After the battle of Jonesboro, the enemy having evacuated Atlanta, the Twenty-first went into camp at the latter place, on the 8th of September, just four months from the opening of the campaign, having fought their way for a distance of more than one hundred and thirty miles. The loss of the regiment in this campaign, was one hundred and twelve killed and wounded, and one hundred and ten disabled by disease and fatigue, leaving only about one-third of the arms-bearing men to enter Atlanta.
In the pursuit after Hood, the regiment was under command of Major Charles H. Walker. After this unsuccessful chase, it went into camp at Kingston, Ga. Here, the regiment having been filled with recruits from the First and Tenth Wisconsin, Lieutenant Colonel Hobart was mustered as Colonel, Major Fitch as Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain C.H. Walker as Major. Colonel Hobart, by the order of the General commanding the First Division, was assigned to the command of the First Brigade, leaving the regiment in command of Lieutenant Colonel Fitch. John F. Fitch, of Company K, is reported as having died of wounds, on the 24th of October, 1864.
On the 12th of November, 1864, the Fourteenth Corps, under command of Major General Jeff C. Davis, commenced the famous "march to the sea", the Twenty-first being the only regiment from Wisconsin in the corps, now of the Army of Georgia. On the 4th of November, the army passed through Marietta, leaving the beautiful town in flames, and on the 15th, entered burning Atlanta. The Regiment, well equipped and clothed, and with haversacks filled for the last time from the stores of the army, moved forward on that wild, bold and romantic march, with no hospital, without a base, and with rations and forage only for a few days. November 17th, the regiment reached the Oconee River. Regular foraging parties were organized, to obtain supplies for the men and animals. November 23rd, the Twenty-first entered Milledgeville, thus far meeting no enemy, except occasional scouts of rebel cavalry. Much of the time was employed in destroying railroads and bridges. December 6th, the regiment reached the Savannah River, fifty miles from Savannah. The rebel cavalry were brushed away as the army dashed along the banks of this river. December 11th, the regiment, in the pine forests a few miles from Savannah, heard the guns of our navy, firing upon Fort Jackson. the Twenty-first took an active part in the siege of Savannah, until its evacuation, and December 21st, it entered the city, and went into camp. At this place, Colonel H. C. Hobart, by the recommendation of General Sherman, was commissioned Brigadier General by Brevet, and by a special order of the War Department, assigned to a command of that rank. January 20th 1865, the Carolina campaign commenced, General Hobart still commanding the same brigade. Lieutenant Colonel Fitch being detailed to the command of three regiments, Major Walker assumed command of the regiment. The Twenty-first, crossing the Savannah River with the Fourteenth Corps, shared actively in the campaign which "marked the earth with ruin". The regiment marched with the column the passed north of Columbia, and after overcoming almost insurmountable difficulties, crossed the Catawba River. The roads were almost impassable, and the men will never forget the many miles of corduroy with they constructed. March 4th, 1865, the Twenty-first entered North Carolina. At this point the burning ceased. March 11th, the regiment encamped at Fayetteville, on Cape Fear River. Leaving Fayetteville, it was in the advance brigade, which encountered the enemy, in force, on the 19th of March, near Bentonville. The advance of the enemy was gallantly driven back to their main line, by three regiments of the brigade, immediately under the command of General Hobart. In this sharp engagement, which was the last of Sherman’s battles, the Twenty-first took an active part. The enemy having retired, the regiment marched to Goldsboro, which place it entered March 23rd, thus closing the memorable campaign in the Carolinas.
April 10th, having been rested and refitted, the Twenty-first joined in the campaign to Raleigh, and on the 13th, was in the first brigade of infantry which entered the city, and the flag of the Twenty-first was placed upon the Capitol, where it floated until the First Brigade left the city. During negotiations between Sherman and Johnston, the Twenty-first formed the extreme left of Sherman’s army, being posted near Cape Fear River. April 28th, the war being announced as closed, the Twenty-first, with its corps, commenced its march for home. May 2nd, it crossed the line of Virginia, and in six days after leaving Raleigh, the regiment encamped on the banks of the James River, at Richmond, marching at the rate of thirty-one miles per day. Mary 11th, the regiment, in line with its corps, marched through Richmond, for Washington, at which place it went into camp, on the south side of the Potomac River.
In the grand review of the armies at Washington, the Twenty-first was the last regiment but one, in the column of Sherman’s army. No regiment in the Fourteenth Corps commanded more attention for its soldierly bearing and fine appearance. June 10th, it left Washington, by rail, for Milwaukee, passing through Pittsburg, Cleveland, and Grand Haven. On the 17th of June, at Milwaukee, two years, nine months, and twelve days after being mustered into the service of the United States, the officers and men were honorably discharged. Of nine hundred and sixty men, who left the State in the regiment, only two hundred and sixty returned with it.
Original Strength: 1,002
Gain by recruits in 1863: 2
Gain by recruits in 1864: 152
Gain by recruits in 1865: 15
Loss by death: 288
Mustered out: 483