"Some Skirmishing and Cannonading"
June 1864 was an interesting month for Captain Sam Cox and the 17th Kentucky, especially in the middle of the Atlanta Campaign. Frequently Cox comments that all is quiet, or there was merely some skirmishing and cannonading, not what most people would think of when they think of the fighting and maneuvering in Northern Georgia. The 17th, as a part of Beatty's Brigade, which was under the command of Colonel Frederick Kneffler, and Wood's Division of O.O. Howard's Corps, found itself as a reserve, or as the supporting brigade of the larger attacks in most cases, and saw little of the major actions such as Kennesaw Mountain. However, the 17th was frequently on picket duty, and expended its fair share of ammunition when the whole line would often times come alive as the two sides exchanged fire from their respective entrenchments.
Nothing of interest has occurred today. Our regiment moved back some 200 yards in rear today.
The Brigade has been quiet today. Skirmishing along the whole line; considerable fighting on our left this afternoon.
Still in same position as yesterday; have heard considerable skirmishing all along their line. Rain last night. Saw the 11th Kentucky Volunteers coming in.
Our regiment and Brigade moved to the right about 1/2 mile today, and relieved a portion of the 14th A.C. (Army Corps). Our Regiment occupied the front line. The enemy's works are in plain view and we have to keep close to prevent sharpshooters from picking us off. They shelled us this P.M.
The enemy evacuated their position last night. I visited their works as also the field where our Division fought on the 27th of May--the timber is literally torn to pieces by shot, shell, and musketry.
Our Corps took up the line of march this morning at sunup. Traveled some 6 miles toward the railroad at Acrouth, where we are lying at present; some fighting at the front today.
The Corps in same position as yesterday. Commissary Dept issued whiskey this evening-- we'll probably be drunk tomorrow.
No move today and so far as I know there has been no fighting at the front today. Read a letter from Capt. Briggs today.
Still no move. Suppose will march tomorrow. Pete May[o] and Billy Noland came over from the 12th Cavalry tonight.
Broke camp this morning at 8 o'clock and traveled only 2 miles, when we bivouacked for the night. Have heard some cannonading in front today, Dr. Burgars [Burgess] joined the Regiment today from an absence of 6 months
Our Division moved to the left today to support the remaining Division of our Corps. Some skirmishing in front. The enemy have not retreated since their evacuation on the 5th inst.
Has been raining for several days. The ground is so mellow it is almost impossible to move artillery. We are just where we stopped yesterday P.M.
Still raining and not much prospects of its quitting. Nothing of importance has transpired today; some cannonading along the line and occasionally some little skirmishing.
Rain seems to be over at present! Moved at 12 M. today, 2 miles to our left; our Corps advanced about 1/2 mile. Heavy skirmishing ensued, but no general engagements. Have been sick for 2 days.
The enemy evacuated their position in our front last night and today we moved forward, but soon encountered their pickets and before dark 2 Divisions of our Corps became engaged.
This is my birthday, 26 years old. Considerable skirmishing along the line and very heavy cannonading. I had some whiskey this afternoon and got pretty jolly. Expect a bath tomorrow.
The enemy evacuated our front last night. Our Division took the advance and came on their skirmishers about one mile form their lines. Our Brigade on picket tonight.
Last night about 10 o'clock, the Rebels charged our pickets but were repulsed. Today our line advanced some 100 yards.
From Colonel Alexander Stout, 17th Kentucky Infantry: "On the 6th of June we moved to the vicinity of Acworth and remained there until the 10th, when we again moved forward and found the enemy intrenched, but did not go into position, other troops being in our front. On the 15th the enemy again evacuated his works. We found them again intrenched on the 17th. In pushing our lines up to those of the enemy on that day Companies A, E, F, and K were thrown forward as skirmishers, and drove those of the enemy out of a thick wood and over an open field, and took and held a high steep knob near the enemy's lines. In this important service Captain Robert C. Sturgis, commanding Company K, a gallant officer, received a wound in the knee-joint of which he afterward died. After the capture of the knob, I was ordered to hold it and the skirmish line in front of this brigade. We made temporary works on the line after dark, and upon the knob I desired to make a strong work, as the position was a commanding one. The knob was thickly covered with timber, and after I had posted a few men in front of the line as lookouts, and while we were engaged in building our works in almost total darkness, the enemy crept up very near and made a furious charge upon us. It was sudden and unexpected, without sight or sound to indicated its coming until a volley was fired. It is true that not a man was hurt, but the fire was returned with the effect of repelling the charge. Some of the men for a moment manifested some signs of trepidation, but upon hearing my voice and those of their company officers they became firm and assured in a moment. On the next day, the 18th, we moved to the left and occupied a high piece of open ground and made works, and, being in the front line, we were a good deal exposed to both artillery and small-arms of the enemy. One enlisted man was killed and 1 wounded."
The enemy evacuated our front last night and this morning. Our corps gave pursuit and came up with their skirmishers along the whole line; very heavy cannonading.
Still skirmishing in front and considerable fighting in front of our Corps. This P.M. our Division moved to the right about one mile and relieved Geary's Division, 20 Corps.
Our Brigade advanced, our Regiment as skirmishers drove their skirmishers from their works in an open field. Considerable cannonading along the line. One killed and one wounded.
Considerable fighting today; the enemy gave our Regiment a few shells this afternoon. No damage done. They are shelling our troops from Kenesaw Mt. Hooker had a very heavy fight on our right, the result I do not know.
Heavy skirmishing along the whole line until 4:00 P.M., when our artillery opened along the whole line, which continued some 20 minutes with heavy fighting.
It has been remarkably quiet today along the entire line. Our Brigade skirmishers had to fall back on yesterday P.M. to their original position.
Everything quiet with the exception of some cannonading. Our guns silenced the enemy at Kenesaw this P.M.
Came upon the skirmishers line at 4 A.M. Everything quiet. Our boys and the enemy met this A.M. on Gen. Hagan's front and exchanged papers. Gen. Hagen put a stop to it.
This A.M. our division moved to the right to support the 2nd Division, who were to charge the enemy's works. They attacked and 9 o'clock but were repulsed with considerable loss. Gen. Harker killed.
Some skirmishing and cannonading. The pickets have agreed to some portion of the lines not to fire unless an advance is made. Just what ought to have been done some time ago.
Nothing of interest today; some cannonading. Heard today of Bealy Matthew's death, the 14th inst., of wounds received the 28 of May.
This A.M. at 2 o'clock there was heavy fighting on our right, said to be Davis' Division; do not know the result. Everything quiet in our front, pickets met to converse.
From Colonel Alexander Stout, 17th Kentucky Infantry:
"...on the 20th moved to the right and relieved Geary's division, of the Twentieth Corps. In front of our line we could see the enemy's skirmishers in line across an open field, behind rail barricades, nearly 1,000 yards distant. A battery was placed upon our line and opened upon the skirmish line of the enemy with such effect that they evacuated with precipitation. Under orders to that effect the brigade moved quickly, each man with one or more fence rails in his hands, and took possession of the enemy's line thus abandoned, and in an incredibly short time had made a work so strong as to defy assault, and remained there, occasionally gaining ground upon the enemy's works, and under the destructive fire of the enemy's skirmishers, losing more or less men every day until the 27th, when the brigade was moved to the right and supported the Second Division in the charge made upon the enemy's works. While behind my own works at that position I witnessed an exhibition of cool courage and devotion to duty which I cannot forbear mentioning, although it did not occur in my command. Captain Leonard, whom I did not know, a signal officer, stationed himself not forty yards in rear of my line, and there received a very severe wound in the hip or back. When I heard that he was wounded I went to him, and found him lying upon his back, pale, and in a tremulous voice reading out, in figures, a message, which an assistant with a flat was transmitting to some other point. He seemed on the point of expiring, but determined to complete his task, and did it, and was taken off in an ambulance."