17th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment
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|17th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry|
|Active||March 15, 1862, to July 14, 1865|
|Engagements||Battle of Corinth|
Grant's Central Mississippi Campaign
Battle of Port Gibson
Battle of Champion's Hill
Siege of Vicksburg
Battle of Bentonville
The Seventeenth Regiment was recruited principally from the Irish Population of the State. The regimental organization was effected under the management of Col. John L. Dornan at Camp Randall, Madison. The muster into the United States Service was completed on 15 March 1862, and the regiment left the State on the 23rd. for St. Louis, Mo.
On their arrival at St. Louis, they were quartered at Benton Barracks until 10 April, when they embarked and proceeded up the Tennessee River to Pittsburg Landing, where they landed and encamped. Here they were assigned to the Sixth Division, under command of General McKean, and moved forward with the division early in May, an took part in the investment of Corinth, the division being located near the center of General Halleck's army. Col. Dornan was placed in command of the First Brigade, which was composed of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Wisconsin, and two Missouri Regiments. On the 24th of May, the brigade was placed under the command of General McArthur. During the time the regiment was in front of Corinth, it suffered severely from sickness, notwithstanding which, it was actively engaged in duties of the siege, and on picket duty until the evacuation of the place on the 29th, when it advanced with the division and the army took possession of the town. On 6 June, the division went into Camp about a mile south of the town, where they remained during the summer, engaged in the performance of garrison duty in the fortifications and police duty. About 1 October, Company A, under Capt. McCauley, while on detached duty guarding the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, a few miles north of Corinth, had a brisk skirmish with a regiment of rebel cavalry who were destroying the track, and succeeded in driving them off with the loss of thirteen killed and wounded, and a number of horses and equipment's, which were captured by Co. A.
In the memorable battle of Corinth, the Seventeenth took part with the division of General McArthur. On the morning of the 3rd of October, the regiment was encamped on the Chewalla Road, along which the enemy was approaching driving in the Union forces which had been sent out to watch his motions. The regiment was marched out the Chewalla road a short distance, when it was countermarched to a position south of the Memphis Railroad, where it formed in line of battle with the rest of Gen. McArthur's division in the rear of Battery F, about three miles from Corinth, on the left of the Union line, which was under Gen. McKean. About 11 o'clock, the enemy pressed so hotly upon the forces of Gen. Davies who was on the right of Gen. McKean, that they were driven back, which made a gap in the lines of which the enemy took advantage and gained the camps of the Seventeenth Wisconsin and the Twenty-First Missouri. A force was sent forward which failed to drive back the enemy, when the whole division went to their aid. The enemy endeavored to outflank them. The Seventeenth occupied the right of the line, and was ordered by the commanding officer, to charge upon the enemy. This was handsomely done, the regiment advancing rapidly, led by its field officers. A brigade of the rebels, consisting of four Mississippi regiments, was charged upon and driven out of the camps, and a considerable distance beyond, when the enemy appearing in overwhelming numbers, the regiment was ordered to fallback to the line of the division. The gallant charge of the Seventeenth was highly complimented by the commanding officers. The division fell back before the superior numbers of the enemy until it attained a position behind the interior works nearest Corinth. On the morning of the 4th the division was moved to another portion of the defenses near the Seminary, where it was engaged in the support of the batteries near that point. The enemy's main attack on the 4th was on the center and right, consequently McKeans forces were not as actively engaged as the day before. About 2 o'clock in the afternoon the enemy was found to be retreating towards the Hatchee River. With the rest of McArthur's division, the Seventeenth joined in the pursuit towards Ripley, after which they returned to Corinth and encamped. The casualties of the Seventeenth were 5 killed, 20 wounded.
In pursuance of orders of General Grant for a concentration of his forces, preparatory to his southward movement, the Seventeenth moved with the division on 2 November, and reached Grand Junction on the 5th. Here Co. A, which had been on detached duty since July, rejoined the regiment. The regiment was transferred to the Second Brigade, commanded by Col. Bouck. On the 25th, Colonel Doran resigned, and Lieut. Col. Malloy was appointed Colonel, Major McMahon Lieut. Col., and Adjutant Plunkett, Major. Marching on the 28th, under Col. Malloy, the regiment took part in the southward movement of the army of General Grant, advancing to Waterford, crossing the Tallahatchie and reaching Abbeville, from whence, on 18 December, they continued their route southward until news was received of the capture of Holly Springs on the 21st. On the 22nd, under orders to proceed to Grand Junction, which was in danger of an attack, the regiment was immediately put in motion, leaving Company F, which was out on picket duty, and reached Grand Junction, forty miles distant, on the afternoon of the 23rd. In this vicinity they remained under arms expecting an attack, until 3 January, when they rejoined the division at Moscow, Tenn. On the 10th, the whole command proceeded to Memphis, arriving on the 13th, and on the 18th, embarking on transports, moved down the Mississippi, landing at Young's Point, just above Vicksburg on the 25th, where they were employed upon the celebrated canal by which General Grant proposed to run the rebel batteries.
With General McArthur's division, on the 8th of February, they moved up the river to Lake Providence. Here they were engaged in the work of cutting a canal from the river to the lake for the purpose, if possible, of opening a route by water, which would enable General Grant to get his troops and supplies below Vicksburg. The Seventeenth remained here until the 20th of April, when it moved down the river to Milliken's Bend.
On 25 April, Major Plunkett resigned, and Captain Donald Scott was appointed Major.
With the forces then congregating below Vicksburg, the regiment, which was now in Ransom's brigade, proceeded across the Peninsula, to Carthage, near which they encamped until 10 May, on which day they resumed their onward movement, crossing the Mississippi at Grand Gulf on the 12th, and they marched to join the forces of General McPhearson, to whose corps they were attached, and who was then in position before Jackson. Reaching Raymond on the 16th, while the battle of Champion's Hill was in progress, the brigade was hurried forward, but did not arrive until the battle was over. Here the Seventeenth was ordered to support a battery. The enemy retiring, they were ordered forward in pursuit, and marched until midnight. The pursuit was renewed on the morning of the 17th, and the regiment reached the vicinity of Black River Bridge, soon after the capture of the enemy's position. Here they assisted in constructing the floating bridges, over which they crossed on the 18th, and marched to within a half a mile of the enemy's fortifications to the rear of Vicksburg, and bivouacked in a ravine.
On 19 May, the Seventeenth took part in the assault on the enemy's works. At 10 o'clock, the regiment was formed, eight deep, with companies H and E in front. The whole brigade was to charge at a given signal, the Seventeenth being in the advance, led by Lieut. Col McMahon. Laying down where they were partially screened from the enemy's fire, they awaited the signal, which was at last given. Rising to their feet, the regiment presses forward, exposed to a murderous fire of musketry and artillery. Working their way over fallen timber and broken ground, they obtained a position in a ravine, within seventy-five yards of the enemy's works, which they held for about two hours. Owing to a misunderstanding in regard to the signal, the rest of the brigade did not follow up in support, and the regiment withdrew in good order. The Seventeenth, in this charge, exhibited the greatest bravery, and although unsupported, continued for two hours to occupy the position, under a severe fire of shot and shell. In the assault of the 22nd, the Seventeenth which had suffered severely in the charge of the 19th, was held as a reserve of the brigade. In the charge of the 22nd, the Ninety-fifth Illinois had the advance, followed by the Eleventh and Seventy-second Illinois, and the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Wisconsin. The brigade sprang forward at the signal, but had hardly advanced twenty steps, when they were met By a terrible storm of grape and canister from the enemy's breastworks, which checked the advance of the column. General Ransom rushed to the head of the column, seized the colors of the Ninety-fifth, and waving them, he shouted for the men to follow. The column moved up and fought a while across the breastworks, when, being satisfied that they could not be stormed, General Ransom ordered the Illinois regiments to fall back, one regiment at a time, and in order, and slowly, or the first man who attempted to run or go beyond the ravine, would be shot. "The Seventeenth Wisconsin will remain to cover the movement," was the order of the brave General; an order highly complimentary to the regiment designated. The casualties of the several assaults on Vicksburg were 14 dead, 50 wounded.
After this last assault, General Grant determined on a regular siege, and accordingly the investing forces were engaged in the construction of regular approaches, and other operations of that siege, until the enemy capitulated, on 4 July. On that day, the Brigade of General Ransom was the first to enter the captured city, the Fourteenth Wisconsin on the right and leading, the brigade having earned the post of honor by the indomitable bravery and energy it had displayed during the siege, having dug and fought its way so near the rebel works, that the contending forces could almost cross bayonets from the trenches.
The brigade went into camp the next day within the old line of works, where they remained until the 12th, when they embarked and proceeded to Natchez, of which place General Ransom took possession on the 14th. Here the regiment was employed in picket and guard duty, and on 24 August, were furnished with horses, and employed as mounted infantry.
On the 1 September, Col. Malloy, with 300 men of the Seventeenth, moved out about thirty miles, to Trinity, in the state of Louisiana. Here the rebels gave them a warm reception, but they were soon routed. It was necessary to procure transportation across the Black River, which runs through the town. Two men of Captain Geraughty's company, swan the river, under the severe fire of the enemy, and brought back a small boat, in which the command crossed. The enemy did not abandon his position till two companies had crossed. They were pursued some distance. On the return of our forces, a rebel steamer, loaded with quartermaster and commissary stores, hove in sight. She was taken possession of and destroyed, with her cargo, by Col. Malloy's command.
Col. Malloy next day fell back to the main body of the brigade, at Cross Bayou. They were again sent forward, and recrossed the Black River, and occupied Trinity. The main force joining them the next day, they were ordered forward 11 miles, to the crossing of the Alexandria and Trinity roads. Here they routed the enemy, whom they hotly pursued for nine miles, capturing several prisoners, and having one man killed and four wounded.
On 4 September, they made their appearance before Ft. Beauregard, a considerable earthwork, built for defending the approaches to the town of Harrisonburg.
The enemy fled at their approach, abandoning the fort and its guns, though it was capable of making an obstinate resistance. The Seventeenth immediately took possession, capturing three brass six pounders, two thirty-two pound siege guns, and a twenty-four pound howitzer, besides caissons and ammunition. They also capture a large Confederate flag. They subsequently destroyed a grist mill in the vicinity, and a lot of Confederate cotton and commissary stores, after which they rejoined the brigade, and returned to Natchez.
The Seventeenth remained at Natchez, engaged in scouting and skirmishing occasionally with the enemy, until the last of October, when they moved with the Brigade to Vicksburg, where they were occupied during the winter in camp and guard duty.
In January 1864, seven-eighths of the regiment reenlisted, which constituted it a veteran regiment. On 8 March, they left Vicksburg, en route for Wisconsin, to take their veteran furlough, and arrived at Madison on the 18th, where they were welcomed by the State authorities and citizens. They disbursed to their several homes, and reassembled at Camp Washburn, Milwaukee, on 20 April. On the next day they proceeded to Cairo, arriving on the 22nd, where they found the Seventeenth Corps, to which they were attached, and which was on its way to join the forces of General Sherman, in the Atlanta campaign. Here it was assigned to the Second Brigade, of General Gresham's forces. Colonel Malloy was placed in command of the brigade, Lieut. Col. McMahon being in command of the regiment. They embarked for the Tennessee River on 4 May, and reached Clifton, Tenn., thence marched to Huntsville, Ala., where the Seventeenth was transferred to the Third Brigade, Third Division, General Leggett. Col. Malloy was placed in command of the brigade. On the 5th, they commenced their long march to join the forces of Gen. Sherman, who was then advancing against Atlanta. Proceeding by way of Warrenton and Rome, Ga., they reached Ackworth, near where Gen. Sherman's forces were in position, on 8 June.
On 10 June, the regiment took position near Big Shanty, in front of the enemy, the division occupying the extreme left of the line. They were constantly occupied in heavy skirmishing until the 19th, when the division advanced, taking position on Brush Mountain. During this they suffered 2 deaths and 6 wounded.
On the 22nd, they took part in a demonstration on the enemy's right, carrying two lines of rifle pits. After sustaining a heavy fire from the enemy's artillery for over three hours, they returned to the vicinity of Brush Mountain. With the division they took part in the operations against Kenesaw Mountain where they sustained casualties of 2 dead and 11 wounded.
The Seventeenth accompanied the movement of McPhearson's corps, to the right of Kennesaw Mountain, on 2 July, in the subsequent movement of the Third Division, prior to the crossing of the Chattahoochie, on 17 July, sustaining losses of 1 dead, 3 wounded.
Crossing the river with the Third Division on the 17th, the regiment marched through Decatur, and on the 20th, occupied with the division, a portion of the extreme left of the line, to the south of the Augusta Railroad, in front of Bald Hill. On 21 July, the Third Division, General Legget, led by the brigade of General Force, the Twelfth and Sixteenth Wisconsin in the advance, charged up the hill upon the enemy's works, and after a fierce struggle, drove the rebels out, and took possession of the hill. On the 22nd the enemy attempted to retake possession of their captured works, but after a hard struggle, the Third Division succeeded in holding the ground, and with the aid of the Sixteenth Corps, who attacked the enemy in the rear, finally drove the rebels into their works. In this severe contest of 21 and 22 July, the Seventieth Wisconsin was actively involved and lost 4 to death and 11 wounded.
The Seventeenth Regiment accompanied the movement of the Seventeenth Corps to the right on 26 July, and continued in the duties of the siege, until 26 August, when it took part in the operations of the Seventeenth Corps to the south of Atlanta, being present at the battle of Jonesboro, and Lovejoy Station, returning with the Seventeenth Corps and camping near Atlanta, on 9 September.
On 24 August, Lieut. Col. McMahon was discharged and Major Scott was appointed Lieut. Colonel, and Captain McCauley, Major. The losses in the vicinity of Atlanta were 11.
With the rest of the Seventeenth Corps, the Seventeenth regiment left East Point, where it had been encamped, and crossed the Chattahoochie, in pursuit of the rebel General Hood. From this pursuit they returned to Marietta, and encamped on 4 November, where they remained until the 13th, when they moved to Atlanta, and on the 16th, began the grand march for Savannah.
The Seventeenth, on the march, engaged in the different duties engaged upon the different regiments, an nothing particular occurred to vary the operations of the Seventeenth, and its history is similar to most of the other regiments engaged.
With the Seventeenth Corps, it left Savannah in January, and camped near Beauford, S.C., and joined in the march to Goldsboro.
Col. Malloy was home on leave of absence when General Sherman started for Savannah. He consequently reported himself to major General Steadman, at Chattanooga, who was appointed By General Sherman to the duty of taking charge of such furloughed soldiers or officers of his army who might report themselves after he had cut loose and started his march. These persons were to rejoin their respective organizations on hearing of his arrival at the seacoast. The organization of these detachments into a Provisional Division had been assigned to Brigadier General Charles Cruft. By him Col. Malloy was placed in command of all the available men in the camp of the Seventeenth Corps Detachment, and ordered to occupy all the blockhouses along the line of the Georgia State Railroad, and garrison Tunnel Hill and Ringgold. In a short time Col. Malloy had a full brigade under his command. Hood was making preparations to attack Thomas at Nashville, and the forces of Col. Malloy, on the 30th of November, started from Chattanooga by rail, reaching that city the next day. Col. Malloy's brigade occupied several different positions during the period that Hood threatened Nashville, and on the days of the battle were posted on the right of Fort Negley, in the works. They were afterwards sent to Decatur, Ala., and other points in the performance of severe and arduous duty. These detachments of new recruits, returning veterans and others, were ordered to rendezvous at Stevenson, Ala., on the 13th of January, thence they moved to Nashville, where the various commands were organized into three brigades, all of which on 17, 18 and 19 January 1865, embarked on steamers en route to join their commands in Sherman's army, by way of the Cumberland and Ohio Rivers. General Francis Meagher had command of the Provisional Division. The troops on the boat suffered severely for want of fires, and their commissary arrangements were not of the best. Colonel Malloy visited Wisconsin and joined his brigade after their arrival at Beauford, N. C.. On reaching Ohio they were compelled to take cars, the river not being navigable, and proceeded by way of Pittsburg and Pennsylvania Central Railroad to Baltimore, thence to Annapolis, where they took steamers and proceeded to Beauford, N.C., arriving there on 8 February 1865, from whence they moved by rail to New Bern, on the 12th.
On their arrival at New Bern, General Meagher assumed command of the Provisional Division, and had the general management of its affairs. Much dissatisfaction being produced, the general was relieved from duty on the 2nd of March, by General Cox. The brigades composing the Provisional Division, were attached to the divisions of Generals Carter and Palmer, in the army under General Cox, and made their way towards Goldsboro to cooperate with General Sherman. On their way they encountered the rebel General Hoke, and sundry skirmishes took place which resulted in favor of the Union arms. Reaching Goldsboro on 21 of March, on the 23rd, the forces of General Sherman made their appearance, when the Provisional Division was broken up by that General's order, and the members sent to their respective regiments. In this Provisional Division, about 1,000 Wisconsin men were incorporated, including the veterans of the Eighteenth Regiment. Col. Malloy and Lieut. Col. Scott rejoined the Seventeenth Regiment and accompanied it on the march to Raleigh, and after the surrender of Johnston, proceeded to Richmond and Washington, where they took part in the Grand Review of the troops of General Sherman in May, and thence proceeded to Louisville to muster out. They left that city on 14 July, and reached Madison on the 17th where they were publicly received and paid off, and the regiment disbanded.
For meritorious services during the war, Col. Malloy was brevetted Brigadier General.
The 17th Wisconsin suffered 41 enlisted men killed in action or who later died of their wounds, plus another 228 enlisted men who died of disease, for a total of 269 fatalities.[clarification needed]
- 17th Wisconsin & Missouri State Guard Association - Living History
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