Charles Hennrich Letter - Dec. 20, 1864
27th Iowa Top Banner

Transcribed and Submitted by
Teri Button
Great Great Granddaughter of Charles Hennrich, Company D.

Spring Hill, Tennessee
December 20, 1864

Dear Parents,

Once more I must take up my pen. It appears that you have given up writing completely. I hope that these few lines will find you in good health as I, thank God, also am.

Dear parents, we have had some times for the last five days. You have probably seen in the paper of the two day battle at Nashville, Tennessee. In it my bunk-mate Henry Waterman was wounded the second day as we stormed the breastworks. Michel Thein was also wounded.

Dear parents, it was a terrible sight for one could not hear himself speak because of the loud cannon and musket fire. The battle was started the 15th at 6 am and lasted until darkness on the 16th.

We came into Nashville the 30th of November and had to march two miles west of the city the 1st of December and went into battle formation at once.

The 30th of November General Schofield had a battle at Franklin, Tennessee with the rebel, General Hood, who had an army of 60,000 men. General Schofield had to retreat and arrived in Nashville the 1st with the 23rd and 4th divisions and a division of the 17th Army Corps. The Corps formed its line on ours and the 23rd was held in reserve. The 2nd we went one-half mile further and took possession of the bluffs which surround the town. There breastworks had to be thrown up and batteries had to be placed. Our line was almost twelve miles long from end to end. Our Corps, the 16th, held the center. The 3rd the rebels showed themselves whereupon firing started between pickets. The 4th the rebels started to dig themselves in and our batteries started to bombard them. Picket firing continued and an occasional bomb was thrown from then on until the 15th when the army received orders to leave the breastworks at 6am and attack the rebels. General Smith, with the 16th Corps, made the attack and at the same time fifty cannon opened fire and gave the rebels full rations. The battle was soon general along the whole line.

General Hatch, with the cavalry, took 13 cannon and 12 army wagons the first day. The infantry took four more and 1000 prisoners. That night all was so quiet that one could hear a leaf fall from a tree.

The morning of the 16th the thunder started again. The cannon fire lasted until one o'clock when they stopped and the infantry stormed the breastworks. One brigade of the 4th Army Corps was repulsed twice but the third time the breastworks were taken. By 4 o'clock the last of the breastworks were taken and the whole rebel army put to flight.

The rebels threw away everything in order to get away easier. The battlefield from which the rebels were driven was covered with guns and cartridge boxes. The cavalry started right after them and in the next few days took many cannon and between three and four thousand prisoners.

We lost three to four thousand dead and wounded. How many dead and wounded the rebels lost I can't say. We captured 4000 prisoners and our adjutant says that we now have receipts for 62 cannon.

The 17th we received marching orders and with many "Hurrahs!" we went on after the rebels. On the way we met hundreds of captured rebels who were being taken back to Nashville. On the way here everything looked terrible. Everything which hindered them they threw away, army wagons and caissons were left behind for our cavalry was so near their throat.

NOTES: Charles Hennrich was interrupted at this point as indicated in his letter of 28 December 1864. Henry Waterman was officially reported mortally wounded but he recovered.