89th OVI Field Band at Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga
“The 89th Ohio Volunteer Infantry”
Written by Ned Lodwick, U.S. Grant Homestead Association
The 89th OVI formed from rural areas of Clermont, Brown, Highland, and Ross Counties in August of 1862. They trained at Camp Dennison for three years service.
Their first Colonel was John G. Marshall, cousin of U.S. Grant. He was an attorney from Georgetown and an excellent organizer.
The Regiment came out of training camp as well prepared as any for the struggles ahead of them. The 89th first served in West Virginia where they were struck with a severe outbreak of “camp fever”. This wide spread diarrhea killed some and debilitated many more. One of the casualties of this disease was Col. Marshall who was so weakened that he resigned his commission and returned home.
In the summer of 1863, the 89th was transferred to Gen. Rosecran’s Army and began its history of heavy fighting. They were is a few skirmishes and small bottles in June of 1863 during the Tullahoma Campaigns but in September of that year truly “saw the elephant”, when they were in their first major battle, at Chickamauga.
On September 19th, 1863 the Rebels attacked the Union forces camped fifteen miles south of Chattanooga along Chickamauga Creek in Georgia. During the afternoon of the first day 10 men were wounded while advancing the skirmish line. The Surgeon was ordered to take these men and the sick back to Chattanooga. On Sunday the 20th, the battle raged for seven hours. By the afternoon the 89th was in the hottest part of the fight at Snodgrass Hill. This is where Union Gen. George Thomas put together his brilliant defense that won him the name, “The Rock of Chickamauga.”
The 89th along with the 21st Ohio and the 22nd Michigan were a key part of that defensive line. At dusk the orders were passed to pull back but the 89th and her brigade never received those orders. As darkness fell the position was surrounded by an entire division of the enemy and after a tremendous fight than expended all of their ammunition, the three regiments were forced to surrender. Over sixty men of the 89th were killed and many more were wounded. Nearly 140 officers and men were captured.
The officers were sent to Libby Prison in Richmond from which some of the 89th‘s officers escaped in October and returned to the Regiment by November. The enlisted men were set to Andersonville Prison where the majority died of starvation. The severely wounded were left upon the field of battle by their captures to die.
In two days the 89th had been reduced to 75 healthy men, 40 wounded, and 20 sick under the command of the Regimental Surgeon. The twelve men of the Regimental Field Band were included in the number of healthy men. The band was used to send commands to the men and as hospital orderlies in battle. They had returned to Chattanooga after the first days battle carrying the wounded.
Capt. John Jolley had been in Southern Ohio recruiting when the battle raged at Chickamauga. When he heard the news he immediately started towards Chattanooga with his recruits and stopped at each hospital on his route and brought the now healthy men of the 89th along with him. When he reached the battered remnants of the Regiment he was promoted to Major and placed in command of a regiment that now mustered 200 men.
On October 27th, 1863 the 89th was part of the assault on Brown’s Ferry that partially broke the Confederate strangle hold on Chattanooga and opened the “Cracker Line” that at least allowed food and supplies to the starving Union troops. The following month, on November 25th, the 89th rushed up Mission Ridge in a desperate assault that completely broke to Confederate defenses and relieved the siege.
Gen. Sherman began his Atlanta Campaign in February, 1864 and that began an eight month period of nearly continual fighting for the 89th. They fought at Rocky Face Ridge, Buzzard’s Roost, Resaca, Dallas, New Hope Church, Kenesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, the Battles of Atlanta, Jonesboro, and Lovejoy Station to mention only a few. Then, in November 1864, they Marched to the Sea, through the Carolinas, and fought in the Battle of Bentonville, NC on March 19th -21st of 1865. The Regiments last duty was to march in the Grand Revue on May 24th, 1865.
After two years and nine months the remaining remnant of the 89th was mustered out at Camp Dennison on June 13, 1865. The Regiment had fought in over fifty battles. During their service in the war the 89th lost 3 officers and 77 enlisted men in battle and 5 officers and 300 enlisted men form disease. Total of 385.
For more information see www.ohiocivilwar.com