The following letter was sent to me from a descendant of Joseph Garner, 175th Ohio Infantry. Permission is granted by Patrick Garner.
Joseph Tuttle Garner enlisted in the 175th regiment (Company A) of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry on September 1, 1864, almost two years after having been mustered out of the 60th O.V.I. on November 10, 1862. The regiment was organized at Camp Dennison, Ohio on October 11 under Colonel Daniel McCoy.
On October 11 the regiment left for Cincinnati and there boarded the steamer Jewess on the 12th and traveled down the Ohio River to Louisville, Kentucky, where they docked twelve hours later. From thence they left for Nashville, Tennessee and then moved to Columbia on October 20. At Columbia it performed post and garrison duty in the town and was also engaged in guarding bridges and trestles along the Nashville & Decatur Railroad north and south of the town.
Dec. 2nd, 1864
I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I was still in the land of the living. We left the block house the 24th of last month. Since that time I have had but one nights sleep, that is to sleep all night at a time. That was last night and it rained, but the rain did not disturb me and I slept sound.
We got orders about half past five to leave the block and burn all we could not take with us so we did so and marched to Columbia before ten o’clock that night. The next night I was on guard in town and the next night I went to bed and slept till midnight, then I got up and went to the pontoon bridge and stayed there until Sunday morning. Then I went back to Columbia and lay around all day and at night I lay down for a good sleep. They had been fighting around all day and I thought we would have to leave sometime that night. I had just got on a good sleep when I was ordered up and to get ready to march, I did so. We was marched out in the street and I was detailed to stay and help burn the town. Our men had all left. I knew there was danger, but when there is danger there is a chance to win a name, so I went to it and left town. We marched across the river but could not find our regiment, so we halted. There was about 30 of us. We lay there, then went to a place called Springhill. We halted there but a little while, then we went to Thompsons Station, some two and a half miles from town. We stayed there all night, and the next day the news came that the Rebs was coming.
We was deployed to skirmish and here they came. They was on horseback and run around us and got a part of our train. We was then surrounded and part of us taken. We then started back to Springhill. We went about five miles around over hills and thru the woods, and you can guess we was tired but we got back safe. We was ordered to the front for they was fighting there and holding our men very tite. We started to the front and got near there when our Col. said we should have rest, and we went back and lay down to rest without supper. We had had no dinner and not much breakfast.
That night some more of our men came up out of the blockouse, the next morning between three and four o’clock we started on to Franklin. We got there about noon. We lay down there all the rest of the day until about 1/2 past three. We then went downtown and was ordered to go back, which we did. We had no more than got there than the cannons commenced firing. In a few minutes our skirmishers commenced and the balls fell thick around us. We was ordered to lay down. We did so and had just got down when our front was broke and here they came rite past our regiment. We was ordered to halt them, we could not, and then the Colonel ordered us to retake the works. I tell you papa, that was a trying time for new men but I thought there was a chance for a new laurel so I started and so did all the rest. Papa, I went mad, I did not think of danger. When the old soldiers saw us go they followed. I did not stop with the first works but went rite over them with my hat in one hand and my gun in the other. I thought of nothing else but fight.
I out run all the rest of the regiment and when I got to the front works there was not a sound man there. There was lots of dead and wounded. The rest of the regt. went above. I raised my head and there stood a Reb, just ready. I leveled my gun, he leveled his. He shot just as I did. His ball passed thru the top of my hat and just broke the skin. It pulled my hair like blazes, and my gun fired, he fell, poor fellow. I don’t know whether I killed him or not. I knew he fell. He was about a rod from me. He knocked me down on my knees. I felt for my scalp and found it was there. I then picked up my hat and went at it rite. By that time the Rebs had got to the works, and our men had got up and old soldiers said they never saw the like, but we drove them back. I never knew how fast I could load a gun before. There was no scard about me. I was so mad I never thought of death. We went in the fight four o’clock in the evening and I had 70 rounds of ammunition, when I went in and about dark I run out. When my gun was shot at the top band I threw it down and called for another. It was handed to me by a captain of the 12MO. I had not had that long when a ball passed threw the butt about half way from my shoulder to the lock. I did not mind that. I got more cartridges and fired away. I shot about 140 rounds from four in the morning until 10 at night. Then our men fixed bayonets and leaped the works on our rite and we was ordered to stop shooting. When we stopped the Rebs came in by the dozens. Here was one whole regt. surrendered and came in. When we stopped firing the captain I was with told me to take one of our regt. to the hospital. He was shot in the arm. I hated to leave for I wanted to go over the works to see what I had done for the man that shot my hat, but I took the boy to the field hopsital and there I saw sites. I started to the front and found another poor fellow shot in the head. I helped to carry him to the rear then I started back, but I was only to find more poor wounded to take to the rear. I took one more to the hospital then I stayed and helped to dress their wounds until I got so sick I could not see. I went out of the house to keep from fainting.
Our men had quit fighting and commenced to retreat. We left Franklin sometime after midnight. The Rebs did not follow. We got the most of our wounded away. (We fetched off the rest under a flag of truce.) We marched all the rest of the night and reached here about noon yesterday. I had not had anything to eat for two or three days and have not had much to eat since we got here. Our regt. captured three stands of colors. There is not one regt. out of ten that would of stood like we did when there was troops running. The general gave us praise. Our regt. lost in killed, wounded and missing less than –.
I can’t tell our loss. The rebs lost five to our one. I can’t tell the loss to our company, I guess it was nine or ten. –Skuttles was shot dead. Our Col. got 3 wounds. Dennis is not hurt, you may tell his friends. I will send you my hat lining to show how close you came to having one son less. I want you to write. Tell Bell Pennington I wrote to her long ago and have got no answer. I got a letter from you the 25th and was glad to hear from you. Tell Lide Pabst I saw her brother this morning, he is all rite. He is a good soldier. He says he can’t tell how often he thought we were but gone.
Your son, Joe
The papers will tell how big the fight was. It commenced at 4 o’clock and quit about 12. Give my respects to all.