Thomas Crowl

American
Storyteller

Excerpts from:

Opdycke’s Tigers in the Civil War
The History of the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

The 64th Ohio retired. The 125th was alone facing the enemy. The advancing Confederate battle line was thinner, but no less resolute. Lieutenant Charles Clark seized the regimental flag when the color corporal fell. Clark was almost immediately knocked down by a ball. He escaped severe injury when the bullet was slowed by the rubber poncho draped over his shoulder and stopped by his silver watch. With Kershaw's Gettysburg veterans just one hundred yards away, Clark, his face streaked with sweat, looked at his wrecked watch and shouted to Colonel Opdycke, "They may outflank us and kill us, but whip us, they can never." This moment in Dyer's field would be immortalized in bronze on the regiment's battlefield monument thirty years later. Finally, Opdycke pulled the 125th back to Snodgrass Hill in his rear, firing as it went to slow the enemy.

Seeing the 57th Indiana was in trouble, Lieutenant Colonel David Moore ordered Companies B,I and K from the 125th forward. Captain Sterling Manchester, commanding Company K, moved to the front, and, sword in hand, pointed the way forward. The men surged forward behind the Captain into an increasing cloud of gray-white battle smoke that was enveloping the field. Private Nathan Hatch of Company B, who had made a reckless solo charge on May 26 near New Hope Church was the first to be killed in the shadow of Kennesaw Mountain. Moments later, Manchester re-emerged from the smoky cloud stumbling and pale.

A Minie ball had shattered the Captain's left arm severing the artery before entering his chest and leaving a gaping wound. Nevertheless, Manchester managed to walk back to the Federal picket line before collapsing. Moore helped put Manchester on a stretcher, removed his sword, field glasses and haversack before moistening the Captain's lips with water and loosening his frock coat. Finally, Moore, the Methodist pastor, sought the blessing of God before sending Manchester to the surgeon. It was obvious to all who saw the wound that Manchester could not survive.

It was Sunday evening, August 21, and a wet day in the hills around Atlanta. Colonel Opdycke rode over from brigade headquarters to talk to Lieutenant Colonel David Moore. To Opdycke's eyes, his friend and subordinate seemed isolated. Opdycke had reached a level of maturity as a commander that he could render a clear-eyed assessment of Moore. "He is not stern enough to hold men under him in proper subjection," he wrote his wife, Lucy, on August 22nd, "the Major causes him a great deal of trouble, and the (Lieutenant) Colonel ought not allow it." Moore, like so many others, was physically and emotionally exhausted from three and a half months of a hard, bloody military campaign. Moore confided his feelings to Opdycke who wrote Lucy, "He feels now that the Lord is displeased with him for not preaching, and regrets not having accepted the Chaplaincy, and would like to see his way out of service to return to his holy calling. I tell him preaching is honorable, but the greatest work in this nineteenth century for a citizen of the U. S. of America is to help crush out the rebellion, and that I for one certainly hoped that it would be pleasing to the lord that he should remain in service, at least until the expiration of the terms of enlistment of the 125th Ohio."