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This regiment was organized at Camp Holton, Milwaukee, and mustered into the United States service on the 14th of October, 1861, and left the State on the 9th of November, for Louisville, Ky.
The regiment arrived on the evening of the 10th, at Jeffersonville, Ind. Crossing the Ohio River to Louisville the next day, they marched to Shephardsville, Ky., twenty miles south of Louisville, where they were stationed and engaged in railroad guard duty until the 5th of December, when they joined Colonel Sill's brigade at Elizabethtown, and were assigned to the Third Division, General Mitchell. On the llth of December, they went into winter quarters at Bacon Creek, and engaged in picket and railroad guard duty, until the 10th of February, 1862, when camp moved to the south side of Green River, where General Mitchell's command was congregated preparatory to marching on the rebel stronghold at Bowling Green. On the 13th, the march commenced, that place was entered on the 15th, and taken possession of without a battle. Remaining a few days, General Mitchell's division pushed on to Nashville and found it occupied by General Nelson's forces, who had come up the Cumberland River. They remained near Nashville until the 18th of March, when General Mitchell's force marched southward to Murfreesboro, being ordered to seize and destroy the great military railroad of the rebels from Memphis to Charleston. Here they remained till the 5th of April, Colonel Chapin being Provost Marshall, and the regiment provost guard. On that day march was resumed, the Tenth passing through Shelbyville and Fayetteville, thence to Huntsville, over almost impassable roads, arriving, there on the llth. Soon after reaching that place, Companies A, F, G, and K, volunteered and were sent to destroy a railroad bridge near Chattanooga, eighty miles from Huntsville. The work was accomplished and the enemy's railroad communications were thus broken. The importance of this act, can be appreciated when the reader is informed that Beauregard, who was then at Corinth, had ordered 40,000 men to his assistance, who were thus prevented from reaching him.
On the 27th of April, a band of rebels 250 or 300 strong, attacked a guard of 25 men under Sergeant McKinson, of Co. H, and Corp. William Nelson, of Co. I, at Paint Rock Bridge, sixteen miles from Stevenson. The enemy advanced on the west end of the bridge about ten o'clock, and commenced firing upon the guard. A simultaneous attack was made at the east end of the bridge. Their fire was returned by the little band of heroes. The bridge was a covered one, and the rebels repeatedly made efforts to charge into it but were met by such a withering fire, that they fell back. In the first two rounds, the rebels wounded five of the defenders of the bridge. The firing at the east end was not severe, being more at random. After two hours hard fighting the enemy retreated.
This was one of the smartest fights of the war, and the little band of Spartans received special commendation from General Buell, for their bravery. Seven of the Tenth were wounded.
On the 29th, the regiment took part in an attack on the rebels at Bridgeport. The enemy were taken by surprise, and fled without resistance, across the Tennessee. From this time the Tenth Regiment was stationed along the railroad from Huntsville, guarding bridges, watertanks and stations. On the lst of May, a detachment of convalescents under Lieutenant Fairchild, were taken prisoners by the rebel guerilla Morgan, but were soon paroled. About the lst of June, eight companies of the regiment went aboard the cars bound for Stevenson. While passing through a deep cut, the train was fired on, and several were wounded. On the 4th of July, Captain William Moore, of Company G, was brutally murdered by rebel bushwhackers, after he was taken prisoner. He was a brave and patriotic soldier, and his loss was greatly lamented. The regiment remained engaged in duty on the railroad, until the retrograde movement in conjunction with Bragg's invasion of Kentucky, was commenced,when the Tenth Regiment as rear guard, brought through the last trains from Huntsville to Stevenson.
The casualties were 4 killed, 4 wounded.
Lieutenant Colonel Guppy being promoted to Colonel of the Twenty-third, Major McMynn was appointed Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain H. 0. Johnson, Major, on the 25th of July.
At Stevenson, the rebels attempted to prevent the leaving of the trains; the Tenth Regiment bringing up the rear, secured the final departure of the troops, and arrived at Nashville on the 5th of September. From Nashville to Louisville, they proceeded by forced marches, reaching the latter place on the 28th of September, having had a slight skirmish with the rebels at Cave City.
The Tenth Regiment was placed in the Ninth Brigade of Colonel Harris, in General Rousseau's division, and took part in the battle of Perryville, or Chaplin Hills, on the 8th of October. Starting with the division from Louisville, they reached Maysville on the evening of the 7th, and marched next morning to the vicinity of Perryville, where the enemy was found in force on Chaplin Hills. The Ninth Brigade, Colonel Harris, occupied a position to the left of Colonel Lytle's brigade, and to the right of the brigade of General Starkweather. About 11 o'clock Colonel Chapin was ordered with the Tenth, to the support of Captain Simmons' battery. The regiment took position in rear of the battery, sheltered by the crest of a ridge. Here they remained till about three o'clock, up to which time the regiment had four wounded. Soon after the regiment advanced to the top of the ridge at a double quick, where they discovered the enemy advancing several lines deep, and driving in the skirmishers, who became confused and ran through the ranks of the Tenth. Three hundred and sixty enlisted men and sixteen officers were all of the Tenth who were in the fight. A volley was poured into the advancing foe, which sent them back over the hill and down the slope. Again they rallied determined to take that battery at all hazards. From this time the contest was terrible. The men fought nobly and never thought of giving one inch of the ground, and held the enemy in check until they were supported by the Thirty-eighth Indiana. Their ammunition was exhausted; the contents of the cartridge boxes of the wounded and dead were used; still that devoted band held their ground, and for half an hour kept the enemy at bay without a cartridge. They remained in this position until ordered to withdraw to the next ridge, where they replenished their cartridge boxes and held the position, the enemy occupying the battle ground, from which they retreated during the night. Our description is necessarily brief. The old flag fell time and again as the color bearers were stricken down, and the sixth color Corporal brought it off the field. Forty-one bullets passed through it and two through the staff. Major Henry 0. Johnson was among the killed.
The casualties, as officially reported, were 48 wounded or died of wounds, 97 wounded.
Captain J. H. Ely was promoted as Major, vice H. 0. Johnson killed.
For their gallant conduct at Perryville, the Tenth Regiment received the highest testimonials from their superior officers. In the pursuit, the regiment accompanied the division of General Rousseau to Crab Orchard, and moved with it from that place, by way of Lebanon, Bowling Green, Edgefield Junction and Edgefield, to Nashville, where they encamped four miles south of the city until the 26th of December.
On that day, it took part in the movement of General Rousseau's division in General Rosecrans' advance against the enemy near Murfreesboro, Colonel Scribner being in command of the brigade. On Wednesday morning, December 31st, Rousseau's division became engaged with the enemy, who gave way, till the division advanced to the right, exposed to a hot fire, until they reached and occupied a rocky ridge covered with timber. Here the regiment got into a terrible fire in front and on the flank, but they sheltered themselves with the rocks and trees, returned the fire and held their ground until ordered to retire, to prevent being cut off from the rest of the army. The division returned to the old position, which was held. During the rest of the day, the division was not engaged with infantry, but were exposed to the heavy artillery fire all along the lines, compelling the men to lie close to the ground. In this day's fight, the regiment lost three killed and seventeen wounded. The giving way of McCook's corps exposed the center, which compelled the falling back of Rousseau's division, as described above. In all the fighting after Wednesday, the Tenth Regiment did not have a man killed or wounded. The division was shifted to other points during the other three days of battle, but was not again engaged in a close fight.
The casualties were 7 killed or died of wounds, 13 wounded, 6 missing.
After the battle, the regiment went into camp near Murfreesboro, where it remained until the month of June. Colonel Chapin resigned in January, and Lieutenant Colonel McMynn was promoted to Colonel.
In the reorganization of the army, the brigade was numbered the First, under Colonel Scribner, in the First Division of the Fourteenth Corps, under General Thomas.
Colonel McMynn resigned on the 16th of June. On the next day, Major John H. Ely was promoted Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain D. McKercher, Major, and under these officers, the regiment joined in the advance of General Rosecrans' army, on the 24th of June, against General Bragg, at Tullahoma. The march was begun on the 24th, but the regiment was not seriously engaged with the rebels on the route, and with the rest of Rosecrans' army, they went into camp at Cowan Station, on the 14th of July. On the 6th of August, they went into camp at Anderson, where they remained until the 2d of September, when they commenced the march across the river and over the mountains, into Georgia, and reached the neighborhood of Stevens' Gap on the llth, where, in the afternoon, the regiment took part in the movement to assist General Negley's division, near Dug Gap. The brigade moved to the front, and companies A and K, of the Tenth, were thrown forward as skirmishers where they exchanged shots with the enemy's skirmishers until about 3 1/2 o'clock, when, finding the regiment and brigade had retired, they fell back and rejoined the regiment, and took position on a hill.
On the 19th,at the battle of Chicamauga.,the regiment advanced with the division, to near the left of the line and about 10 o'clock, moved forward in two lines of battle, about half a mile, and drove the enemy before them, capturing several prisoners. Here the brigade found that the Second and Fourth brigades were not supporting them. The men lay down near the foot of a slope, while a section of artillery in their rear, fired so closely over their heads as to prevent their rising. The rebels advanced in strong force, and before the men could assemble on the battalion, they poured in a heavy volley, which the brigade was unable to return. The rebels were soon turning both flanks. Seeing this the brigade gave way in confusion, but was rallied about half a mile to the rear, and the lines were reformed, and in the afternoon they returned to the front, but were not again engaged that day, and fell back at night.
On the morning of the 20th, the division formed the extreme left of the line, and the First Brigade was next to the Fourth Brigade, on the extreme left, the Tenth being in the second line. Log breastworks bad been thrown up in front of the first line. About 10 o'clock, the rebels turned the left flank, and drove back the Fourth Brigade, on their left. The two brigades being reinforced, in turn drove the rebels back, after a couple of hours sharp work, taking many prisoners. A second attack, while the Tenth was in the first line, was easily repulsed. Soon after noon, the Tenth moved to the left, and built a slight breastwork of logs, &C. About 4 o'clock, P. M., the rebels commenced another attack on the left of our lines, which lasted until dark. The Fourth Brigade gave way, but rallied again. Just at dark, when it became apparent that we could resist their attacks, the Fourth Brigade got out of ammunition, and again broke; the rest followed and scattered over the field. Seeing no chance to rally, the Tenth made for a point where they supposed our troops were in position, but soon came upon the rebel line. Here they found themselves nearly surrounded, and not knowing where our forces lay, the regiment was obliged to surrender. It was then found that with the exception of a small portion, the Federal forces had been withdrawn two hours before, and that the case had been a hopeless one from the beginning of the last attack. About all of the regiment on the field were captured twelve officers, and one hundred and eleven men. Lieutenant Colonel Ely, commanding the regiment, was mortally wounded. Company G was not in the engagement, having been detached to guard a supply train.
On the morning of the 21st, the regiment numbered three officers and twenty-six men. They moved to the front in the afternoon, formed in line, and on the 22d, returned with the brigade to Chattanooga. By its indomitable stubbornness and bravery, the Tenth Sustained the good name it achieved at Perryville, and although it was obliged to surrender, not one particle of censure can stain its bright escutcheon.
The casualties as reported by Captain Roby, commanding the regiment, were 28 killed or died of wounds and 38 wounded. There were 121 missing and taken as prisoners based on a list sent home from rebel prison by Major McKercher.
The remnant of the gallant regiment remained in camp at Chattanooga, employed in guard duty and labor on the fortifications, until the famous assault on Mission Ridge, where it acted as support to Loomis' battery, after which it returned to camp at Chattanooga, and remained during the winter, taking part, in February, in the feint on Dalton, Ga., with the Fourteenth Corps. From thence it moved to Tyner Station, on the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad, where they were employed in railroad guard duty until the 24th of May.
In the reorganization of the army in the spring of 1864, the Tenth Regiment was in the First Brigade, General Carlin, of the First Division, General R. W. Johnson, of the Fourteenth Army Corps, General Palmer, and was under the command of Captain Roby. Eighty-five recruits joined it in 1864, which, with Company G, and the remnant of the regiment left after the battle of Chicamauga., still made a small command. They remained on railroad guard duty until the 24th of May, when they rejoined their brigade near Dallas, and from that time took part in the battles of Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain, and Peach Tree Creek.
The Twenty-first Wisconsin was in the same brigade with the Tenth. The operations of that regiment, in this campaign, may be said to be nearly identical with those of the Tenth. We have tried in vain to procure memoranda of the movements of the Tenth in 1864, but parties appealed to have failed to respond.
After the evacuation of Kenesaw Mountain, on the 5th of July, the Tenth and Twenty-first were sent forward to effect a reconnaissance, on a road leading to the right from that on which the main column was moving towards the Chattahoochie. Fifty men of the Tenth were thrown out as skirmishers, and advanced on the principal road to Atlanta. The rebel entrenchment's were discovered near the river, behind which the enemy was posted in force. The detachment halted, and was joined by the division in the afternoon. The Tenth accompanied the brigade across the Chattahoochie, and on the 20th, at the battle of Peach Tree Creek, together with the Twenty-first, charged upon the enemy, who was forcing back an Illinois regiment, and compelled him to retire in confusion, leaving his dead and wounded on the field.
We append here a list of casualties, as reported by Captain Roby, from May 24th, to July 10th, 1864: 6 killed, 11 wounded.
Shortly after the arrival of the army before Atlanta, the regiment was detached from the brigade, and stationed as guard at Marietta, Ga. Here they remained till the 3d of October, when they were ordered to occupy the old rifle pits near Kenesaw Mountain, and guard the road at that point from the depredations of General Hood, who was then marching north to destroy Sherman's communications, after the fall of Atlanta. Here they remained until the 16th of October, when the recruits and reenlisted veterans were transferred, by order of the War Department, to the Twenty-first Regiment, and the remainder of the Tenth started northward, passed through Nashville, and reached Milwaukee on the 25th, where they were subsequently mustered out of service.
Those who were taken prisoners at Chicamauga., remained in rebel prisons for thirteen months, and many of them were not exchanged till March, 1865, while not a few were destined to become martyrs in the rebel prison pens at Salsbury, Millen and Andersonville.
Regimental Statistics.-Original strength, 916. Gain by recruits in 1863, 20, in 1864, 85; veteran reenlistments, 13; total, 1,034.
Loss-by death, 219; deserted, 21; transferred, 23; discharged, 316; mustered out, 455.
Quiner, Military History of Wisconsin, 1866