3rd Kentucky–Captain John Tuttle

Captain John Tuttle was a member of the 3rd Kentucky Infantry, a part of Brigadier General Charles Garrison Harker’s brigade of Brigadier General John Newton’s division of the 4th Army Corps. The following is an excerpt from his diary around the time of Kennesaw Mountain.


June 26

Lay in same place all day… Some spirited cannonading off to our left, some of our batteries probably engaging Kennesaw. We were ordered to the front about dark but the order was countermanded. Late at night received orders to be in readiness to march tomorrow morning at sunrise with 60 rounds of cartridges.

June 27

“Between 8 and 9 o’clock am we formed in column by division (two companies front) to attack the rebel works in cooperation with Davis’s division connecting to us on the right. Moved forward in double quick to within thirty or forty yards of their works with pieces uncapped and bayonets fixed. The enemy opened a murderous fire on us with such effect that our commanders deployed their regiments as best they could and resorted to the use of powder and lead instead of the bayonet as was first intended. Our men lay down and fought them for near an hour when Davis’s division on our right gave way, compelling us of course to do the same. While we were fighting them we compelled them to keep their heads down but when we gave way they rose up and poured a murderous fire into our backs. Our men rushed back like an immense herd of infuriated buffaloes running over and trampling each other under foot. I was run over and badly bruised but glad to get off so well. Our regiment lost 39 killed and wounded. …  Our brigade lost a great many valuable officers including its excellent commander ([Brigadier General] Charles G. Harker), who received a wound while endeavoring to lead his men over the rebel works, from the effects of which he did in a few hours. The loss of the brigade was 231 killed and wounded. Each of the other two brigades of our Division lost about the same. Davis’s division is said to have suffered more severely than ours. About noon we marched back to where we came from this morning. Col Dunlap being sick and exhausted from his exertions in the charge, the command of the regiment devolved upon me. A little after dark our regiment went out on the front line to support skirmishers. Lay here all night listening to the shrill, pantherlike screech of sharpshooters’ balls.

Notes and incidents.

It was ordered that all mounted officers should go into the charge mounted but just before we started the order was modified to the extent to leave it optional with us to go in mounted or on foot. I chose to go on foot and turned my horse over to the supports who remained in the breastworks and took my place as acting Major of the regiment at the right of the rear line. Our regiment formed the rear column. When about half way as I suppose to the rebel works Lt. Harry Carter fell but jumped up again just as I got to him. I asked him if he was hurt and he said he did not know. I look and saw that the skin was peeled up on his forehead in a place about as big as a dollar (by a ball as I suppose which had passed through a small black jack sapling and become flattened), and that the blood was streaming down over his face. He asked me what he must do and I told him to get back inside of our works a few paces to the right and front of where he fell I saw five or six rebel pickets in a pit. (They had been run over by our columns before they could get away.) As I passed them I called out to them “Get out of there John.” One of them jumped up and said excitedly “My name is not John. I don’t know you. I don’t know nobody. What must I do?” I told them to get back inside of our works but did not look back to see whether they did so or not. (I suppose they did as they had no other place to go.)

The head of the column was stopped for a short time by abatis, palisades and chevaux de fries but soon got through them. Though our regiment was the rear of the column about half of them pressed through the ranks of those in front and all were mixed together, some of them immediately at the foot of the enemy’s works. James Isbell of Co. H. fell there…. Several of us begged them to lie down but they would not do so. Most of the men lay down most of the time except when urged by their officers would get up and move up a little closer. I was sometimes up and sometimes down. The concussion from the enemy’s cannon nearly unjointed my neck and the heat from them burn’t my face.

Nearly all the obstructions we first encountered were shot away by the enemy’s balls as also were the black-jack bushes about half way back to our works.

A few minutes after getting back into our works Col. Bradley on whom the command of the brigade had devolved came to me and asked me where my flag was. I told him I did not know. That we went into the action with two superior officers to me and a color company and that I had not specially looked after the colors of the regiment. And further that in the retreat we were so mixed up I could not have told one flag from another if I had tried.

He said he would go with me to hunt them and we climbed over our works and went towards the place from which we had been driven. When about half way to the rebel works we met some of the color company who were bringing them off together with a wounded colorbearer. A good many of our men from different regiments had gone back to the front to help off wounded comrades and the rebels fired on some of them and drove them back. Col. Bradley remained and looked after the wounded until all had been gotten away that was possible before he went back. I remained with him. The woods were on fire where we fought. The rebels were generally very kind in allowing us to help off our wounded.

(Note. The action of Col. Bradley was brave, disinterested and kind and was characteristic of his whole course. I knew of no man in the army possessing more stirling soldierly qualities, not even excepting “old Pap Thomas” whom he greatly resembled. No other man could have satisfactorily filled the place of the lamented Harker).

June 28

Lay in front line all day. One of our batteries less than 100 yards distant fired over us all the forenoon nearly deafening us. Rebs about 300 yards from us. They amused themselves by shooting at every head they could see above our works. They shot very well but hurt none of us. They killed one of our pickets and wounded (several) others in our immediate front. We were relieved (around) dark and retired to the rear line of works.

June 29

Lay in reserve all day. Visited brigade Hd. Qrs. Three times during the day on business. An arrangement was effected about noon today with the rebels to allow us to bury the dead we left inside of their lines, when we were repulsed the day before yesterday. We sent a detail into their lines under a flag of truce for the purpose of bringing off the bodies but they were found to be so much burned and decomposed that they could not be recognized or identified so they were buried where they lay. Was engaged for two or three hours preparing a list of the casualties in our regiment for publication in the Louisville Journal. Lay down about 10 pm.

June 30

Rebel Captain wandered near the lines at 2 am, caused roar of fire which woke up the Captain

Not a shot was fired on our brigade front today. Our men and the rebels sat on their works and strolled about in the woods on the outside. Lt. Col. Smith and several others went out and met the rebel officers two or three times.

July 1

Lay in same place all day.  A kind of truce has been agreed upon between our pickets and those of the rebs by which it was mutually understood that neither side was to fire unless the other side advanced. Our men sat in rows on top of their works or strolled about in the woods in the most careless manner and the rebs did the same, in plain view of each other. Our enlisted men and the rebs railed at each other from as near as they were permitted to approach and the Commissioned officers of each side met and talked twice during the day on our front. The utmost courtesy characterized these meetings.

July 4

There were a number of Bacchanalian 4th of July harangues in the Division after dark which caused a good deal of cheering but I did not attend.

Source: KY-3 File, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park


Recent Posts

James Garfield and the Civil War

While I haven’t published much on here over the last few months, it has been with good reason. I have been working on a new project over the last year and a half, one which is finally finished. Just last week, my second book was published, this one taking a look at the Civil War career of our 20th President, James Abram Garfield. Published by the History Press, James Garfield and the Civil War tells the story of how James Garfield served in the Union army during some of the most pivotal years in American history. I am glad to say it is now available!

Cover1 - Copy

If you would like to purchase a copy, you can do so through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you would like a personalized copy, send me a message through the Contact Me page (under the About Me header). While this book doesn’t deal with the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, it does deal with one of the more interesting and overlooked figures of the Civil War in the West and the Army of the Cumberland. Garfield had left the army for Congress by the time of Kennesaw Mountain, but he had played an important role as the Chief of Staff for the Army of the Cumberland at Chickamauga just nine months before.

I hope you enjoy the book!


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