55th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry

55th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry 

On the 10th of December the regiment broke camp, and after a series of severe marches arrived at Stafford C. H. on the 17th. On the 20th of January, 1863 General Burnside moved his army with the intention of attacking the enemy at Frederisksburg, and the regiment, with the division, was sent to Belle Plain Landing to defend that point. Heavy rains and bad roads arrested the movement of the army, and the regiment marched to Brook’s Station and went into winter-quarters. The time was employed in inspections, drills, and picket duty. On the 27th of April the Army of the Potomac commenced its movement upon Fredericksburg, by way of the Wilderness and Chancellorsville. The Eleventh Corps, to which the regiment was attached, marched by way of Hartwood Church, up the Rappahannock to Kelly’s Ford where it crossed, and continued the march to the South Branch of the Rappahannock, which was crossed at Germania Ford. From here the regiment moved on the Plank Road to Chancellorsville, arriving on the 30th. The next day the army went into position. The Eleventh Corps occupied the extreme right, and the Fifty-Fifth was in the second brigade from the right. The entire corps was posted either on or parallel to a pike leading westward into the Wilderness, and affording excellent facilities for a flank movement by the enemy. On the 2d of May scouts and skirmishers reported that the enemy was in heavy force upon the right. About five o’clock P.M. the battle opened. It was not preceded by skirmishing or picket-firing, but volleys of musketry and rapid discharges of artillery announced the conflict. The National troops, at the time of the attack, were engaged in preparing and eating supper, and the first regiment on the extreme right fled, leaving three hundred and fifty guns in stack. The next regiment was unable to withstand the shock, and so it fell back. These were the only two regiments that were facing toward the right. The remainder of the brigade, fired into from flank and rear, retreated in confusion toward the left. The Twenty-Fifth Ohio, which constituted a part of the reserve, was deployed, faced to the right, and the Fifty-Fifth formed a few yards in the rear. The Twenty-Fifth was soon compelled to fall back. The Fifty-Fifth stood its ground until the enemy was discovered sweeping around its flank, when it, too was compelled to fall back. The retreat became general, and was only checked by other troops and darkness. In this engagement the Fifty-Fifth lost one hundred and fifty-three men killed, wounded, and missing. On the morning of the 3d the line was re-formed, and the troops maintained the position until the night of the 5th, when the army retreated, and the regiment went into its old camp near Brook’s Station.

About the middle of May the regiment was transferred to the Second Brigade of the Second Division, and it remained in this brigade during the remainder of its term of service. The regiment marched into Pennsylvania with the army, and was present at the battle of Gettysburg. The division was posted first on Cemetery Hill, but was moved subsequently to the left of the Baltimore Pike. The battle-line of the regiment was not engaged, but the skirmish-line was subject, most of the time, to a severe fire. The Fifty-Fifth lost in this battle about fifty men. The regiment followed the retreating enemy, and at last went into camp on the 25th of July in the vicinity of Catlett’s Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Here the regiment performed very heavy picket-duty.

On the 24th of September the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps broke camp, took cars at Manassas Junction, and moved over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and through Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Nashville, to Bridgeport, Alabama, arriving on the 30th. On the 25th of October the troops moved for Lookout Valley, and encamped on the 28th near the Tennessee River, in the full sight of Lookout Mountain. The enemy attacked the troops in the Valley, but the Fifty-Fifth being on picket was not in the early part of the engagement, and sustained no loss. The regiment moved to Chattanooga on the 22d of November. In the battle of Mission Ridge the corps formed line to the left and front of Fort Hood, and moving forward rapidly, drove the Rebel skirmish-line beyond the East Tennessee Railroad. On the afternoon of the 25th the regiment was posted on the extreme left, and guarded the flank during the remainder of the battle. Immediately after this the regiment entered on the Knoxville campaign, and returned again to Lookout Valley on the 17th of December. This campaign was made in the dead of winter, without tents or blankets.

On the 1st of January, 1864 three hundred and nineteen men in the Fifty-Fifth re-enlisted, and on the 10th the regiment was on the way to Ohio. It arrived at Norwalk on the 20th; on the 22d of February it re-assembled at Cleveland, and on the 4th of March again encamped in Lookout Valley. About this time the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were consolidated, and denominated the Twentieth, and the regiment formed a part of the Third Brigade of the Third Division.

The regiment started on the Atlanta campaign on the 2d of May, and participated in all the battles in which the Twentieth Corps was engaged. At the battle of Resaca, on the 15th of May, it suffered severely, losing upward of ninety men. It was engaged also at Cassville, Dallas, New Hope Church, Marietta, and Kenesaw. On the 20th of July the regiment crossed Peachtree Creek about five miles north-west of Atlanta, and took position on the right of the Fourth Corps. The enemy attempted a movement on the flank of the Fourth Corps, but in the maneuver exposed his own flank. The Third Brigade of the Third Division of the Twentieth Corps moved upon the exposed point, and the enemy was compelled to fall back with heavy loss. During the siege of Atlanta the Fifty-Fifth occupied its place in the lines, sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left, assisting in the gradual but sure advancement of the parallels toward the city. During the movement of the army against Jonesboro’ the Twentieth Corps fell back to the Chatahoochie, and covered several ferries. The Third Brigade was stationed at Turner’s Ferry, where earthworks were constructed hastily, in the form of a semicircle, around the ferry. On the 2d of September a reconnoitering party moved in the direction of Atlanta; the fortifications were found deserted, and the troops entered the city without difficulty. The Fifty Fifth left Lookout Valley with about four hundred men, and during the campaign lost over two hundred. The Twentieth Corps was stationed at Atlanta, and the troops erected comfortable quarters. About the 1st of November the Fifty-Fifth received two hundred drafted men and substitutes, and about the same time those who were not veterans were mustered out. A scarcity of provisions was occasioned by Hood cutting the railroad between Atlanta and Chattanooga. Foraging expeditions were sent out from time to time, and the regiment did its full share of this kind of duty.

The regiment left Atlanta on the 15th of November and moved toward the sea-coast. On the 21st of December it entered Savannah and camped near the city on the north-west. Here it remained until early in January, 1865 when it was thrown across the Savannah River. It marched inland a short distance, and after a few days moved to Hardeesville, on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. On the 29th of January the regiment started fairly on the campaign of the Carolinas. No incident worthy of particular notice occurred until the 16th of March; when, at the battle of Smith’s Farm, the Fifty-Fifth lost thirty-six men killed and wounded, and again on the 19th it was engaged and lost two men killed, one officer and twenty-three men wounded, and seven men missing. On the 24th of March the regiment reached Goldsboro’ and with the corps passed in review before General Sherman. The regiment moved from Goldsboro’ on the 10th of April, and on the 13th arrived at Raleigh. On the 30th it commenced the march to Washington. It reached Richmond on the 11th of May, and on the 18th camped in the vicinity of Alexandria. On the 24th it crossed Long Bridge, and participated in the grand review, after which it went into camp near Washington. Upon the disbanding of the Twentieth Corps the Ohio regiments belonging to it were organized into a Provisional Brigade, and were assigned to the Fourteenth Corps. On the 10th of June they proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky, where, on the 11th of July, the Fifty-Fifth was mustered out of the service. The regiment was transported to Cleveland, Ohio, where it was paid and discharged on the 19th of July.

During its term of service the regiment enrolled about one thousand three hundred and fifty men, and of these about seven hundred and fifty were either killed or wounded in battle. Ten officers were wounded once or more, and eight officers either died of wounds or were killed in battle.

From Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Her Generals, and Soldiers. By Whitelaw Reid, Volume two, The History of Her Regiments and Other Military Organizations. Published by Moore, Wilstach & Baldwin, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1868

 

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