The Vinton Eagle,
Vinton, Benton Co., Iowa
Wed., August 31, 1864.
From the 2d Iowa Infantry.
Near Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 12th, 1864.
We are about a mile from Atlanta, and still our lines are contracting around
the city. We have had some hard fighting since we set down before Atlanta,
and the 2nd Division has done its full share.
Of the three great battles following [CSA's Gen. John Bell] Hood's taking
command, I was present at one--the 22nd of July. On the morning of that day, by
advancing the lines, the 16th Corps was crowded out from the position we had
temporarily held, between the 15th and 23d Corps. We then moved to the left as
we supposed, to take position on the left of the 17th Corps, which held the
extreme left of the line. The left of the 17th was south-east of Atlanta, and
distant about two miles. In the meantime Hood had massed a large force on our
left, passed beyond the 17th, intending to swing around, attack [Maj. Gen.
Frank P.] Blair in his rear and flank, capture the wagon train, gobble up the
17th Corps, double up the rest of the line, and play mischief generally. It was
a bold attempt and alarmingly near being successful.
We arrived just in time. The rebels were swinging round in a half circle.
We hastily formed in the shape of an L, our right facing south, but not quite
joining the 17th for want of time; our left facing east. Our Brigade faced to
the east, only two regiments, 2nd Iowa and 66th Indiana being engaged. We had
hardly got into line, when the rebels came on with a yell, but our men
received them coolly. An open field almost forty rods in width was in our front,
and in the timber beyond; the enemy formed their line of battle and came to the
edge of the timber, but could not be induced to come any farther in line. The
few who were bold enough to enter the open field never went back, and the
ground back from the edge of the timber for a distance of three hundred yards,
was almost literally covered with dead and wounded rebels, and guns, blankets, &
c., thrown away. For an hour and a half they remained, the officers vainly
endeavoring to get the men to advance under the murderous fire of our men, who
aimed well and fired low. The defeat of the rebels was complete. A Kentucky
brigade in front of our two regiments, was, by their own officers' accounts,
nearly annihilated. This same Kentucky brigade charged on ours at Dallas, and
one of the regiments, opposed the 2nd Iowa in the charge at Donelson. In front
of our brigade, ninety-eight dead rebels were buried next day, and a great
many wounded brought in. Details were made from each regiment in our brigade to
pick up guns. The detail from ours, brought in 170 Enfield rifles, many
On the night of the 26th, the army of the Tennessee moved out, and by 4 p. m.
of the 27th, the 16th Corps being in the advance, took its position on the
extreme right, without much fighting. The 15th and 17th Corps were too late to
get into position on the 27th and had to fight on the 28th. Since then there
has been continual skirmishing, and artillery firing. The 16th Army Corps has
advanced its line nearly a mile, and we are now in plain sight of Atlanta. I
am writing under difficulties this morning--a strong fort has been built at
the left of our regiment, and opened about an hour ago, for the first time on
the rebel lines half a mile distant. Two rebel forts are paying compliments to
ours, and if you will believe me, they make it pretty hot here; shells are
bursting, and solid shot flying all around us, and my head is ringing with the
concussions. We hope we are near the end of one of the largest and most
vigorous campaigns of modern times. We all need rest and relaxation; this thing of
marching in day time, digging at night and watching all the time is wearing on
Since the 10th of May last, there have not been more than 7 or 8 days that I
did not hear the booming of artillery, or the rattle of musketry, either in
skirmishing or fighting. None of the Benton County men have been wounded thus
far, except Sanders, who, I suppose, is at home now. He was a good soldier, as
are all the others. You have probably heard of the death of Lester L. Welch.
Frank Mather was very ill when last heard from. Nickelson is at Rome
[Georgia], detailed in the Hospital. Brown is also sick in the Hospital. My sheet
is filled and I am ready to quit, there is too much noise to write
G. [George] S. Eckerman.
In conducting a search to identify the "Kentucky Brigade" Eckerman refers to
above, I found only one (Confederate) Kentucky regiment (not brigade) that
served in all three battles: at Fort Donelson in Feb. 1862; at Dallas, GA, in May
1864; and at Atlanta on July 22, 1864. That regiment was the 2nd Kentucky
Infantry, CSA. There was not, so far as I could find, a "Kentucky Brigade" in
the first two fights but at Atlanta, the 2nd Kentucky Infantry served in
Lewis's Brigade, which was composed of five Kentucky regiments. This might suggest
that the 2nd Kentucky is the regiment Eckerman recognized, and since the 2nd
Kentucky at that time (July 22nd) was serving in a brigade made up solely of
Kentucky regiments, he assumed it had previously. The 2nd Kentucky was the only
Kentucky regiment I came across that seemed to be in all three battles.
Perhaps someone else has more information.
George S. Eckerman served with Company I, 2rd Iowa Infantry, enlisting Feb.
29, 1864. A Pennsylvanian, he was 31 and living in Monroe Co., Iowa, at the
time. He appears on the rosters of Company H, 2nd Iowa Infantry Veteran
Infantry, and the 2nd/3rd Iowa Veteran Infantry Consolidated. Eckerman was wounded
slightly on Aug. 5, 1864, near Atlanta, and mustered out July 12, 1865, at
Louisville, Kentucky. At the time of his service with the Veteran 2nd/3rd, his
residence was listed as Benton County, Iowa.
Lester L. Welch, a New Yorker, was 24 [also shows up as 34] and a resident of
Benton Co., when he enlisted with Co. I, 2nd Iowa Infantry, on Feb. 20, 1864.
He also served with Co. G, 2nd Iowa Consolidated. He died in the Field
Hospital on July 18, 1864, and is buried in the National Cemetery at Marietta, GA,
Section C, grave 863.
Frank [Francis] Mather, also a New Yorker, was 21 and living in Vinton when
he enlisted with Co. I, 2nd Iowa Infantry, on Feb. 20, 1864. He also served
with Co. G, 2nd Iowa Veteran Infantry [the roster states he served with Co. G,
2nd Iowa Infantry Consolidated Battalion]. He died "on cars" July 24, 1864,
near Rome, GA, apparently enroute, and is buried in the National Cemetery at
Marietta, GA, Section C, grave 255.
I didn't find a Nickelson in the 2nd Iowa Infantry, even using different
spellings; and could not determine who the Brown was Eckerman mentioned.
Roster source: "Roster and Records of Iowa Troops in the Rebellion, Vols.
Civil War and Iowa: Greyhounds and Hawkeyes. CD-ROM. Creston, IA: O. J.
Sue Trout Reisdorph