The 70th OVI removes 40,000 pounds of cannon balls from Ft. McAllister.
“The 70th Ohio Volunteer Infantry” Part 3
Written by Ned Lodwick, U.S. Grant Homestead Association
For two days the 15th Corp and the 70th marched in the blistering heat. They left the east side of Atlanta and marched around the north side of the city to the west side. On July 27th the march was over and the men of the 70th were ready for a rest. The officers made the men dig in and build defenses. The men complained but before they sleep that night they have built a chest high breastwork along their entire line. At dawn the Confederates attacked and the Battle of Ezra Church began. The 70th fought from behind their newly erected breastworks and repelled eight consecutive assaults. At the end of the eighth assault the Confederates came right to the breastworks before they are stopped. The rebel color bearer was killed and the men of the 70th reached over the defenses and captured the Confederate battle flag.
On August 31, 1864, at the Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia, the 70th is called upon again. Major Wm. B Brown was still in command of the 70th. He received and read his orders and told an aid that it looked like a bad job. He took a drink of water then went to the Adjutant and gave him his watch and important papers. The Major mounted his horse and calling the officers together told them, “If I fell in the charge, do not falter, go forward until the works are gained and held.” He then led the 70th toward the rebel lines. Volley after volley of musketry filled the air. As the regiment began to close on the enemy Major Brown fell from his horse, mortally wounded. Two men went to his side and asked if they could assist him. He said, “No, but go forward and do your duty. Tell the officers and men of the 70th and my friends at home that I died at my post while in the discharge of a sacred duty:” The works were carried and held.
The 1st of September, Gen. Sherman writes President Lincoln and says, “Atlanta is ours and fairly taken.” Within 30 days the city of Atlanta is evacuated of civilians and utterly destroyed. Sherman will now cut his ties to all supply lines and begins his campaign to “make Georgia howl!”
From November 15- December 10, 1864 Gen. Sherman’s Army of 60,000 men, including the 70th Ohio, ‘March to the Sea’. In the history of the 70th Ohio, Sgt. T.W. Connelly writes only, “We did our part.”
The supplies that Sherman’s Army desperately needed were just off the Savannah, Georgia coast in Union Navy ships. All that stood between them was Ft. McAllister. The fort was made of earthen walls protected by deep trenches and land mines. The fort bristled with twenty three massive naval cannons. On Dec.13, 1864, Hazen’s Division which included the 70th was chosen to assault of Ft. McAllister. These men were chosen because Sherman knew them and trusted them. The 70th was in the center of the line when the division attacks. It was said that the sky turned orange when the fort’s cannons fired. Sherman watches the assault and sees a color bearer go down near the fort. The General says “I can watch no more!” A staff officer quickly says, “They’re up, the colors are up, and they are on the ramparts!” Gen. Sherman puts his binoculars back to his eyes, sees the flag, and says, “Savannah is ours!” The 70th was the first over the ramparts and are given the ‘honor’ of removing the armaments from the fort.
The 70th then participates in the march through the Carolinas, the Grand Review, and finished their service as the garrison of Little Rock, Ark. They were mustered out on August 14, 1865 in Little Rock and had to make their own way home. The Regiment books passage on the steamer “Argosy” and heads towards home. A strong storm at Cave-in-Rock, Ind. grounds the steamer she explodes. Nine die and are buried there, along the river.
The 70th traveled around 5,300 miles by boat, train, and mostly foot. The Regiment lost 5 officers & 70 enlisted men in battle or accident and 2 officers and 188 enlisted men from disease for a total of 265.
Sherman had called the 70th OVI his best regiment.
For more information see www.ohiocivilwar.com