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Introduction to the Edward Bloodgood Battle Report
By George Rugg
One of the inescapable duties of the regimental commander was the submission of reports detailing his unit's actions. This example, in clerical hand, was signed by Lt. Col. Edward Bloodgood (c1831-1914) as commanding officer of the 22nd Wisconsin Infantry. The report is dated 10 July 1864, and recounts the regiment's operations from 16 May to 10 July, during the drive on Atlanta. Throughout this period the 22nd was attached to 2nd (Coburn's) Brigade, 3rd Division, 20th Army Corps, in George Thomas's Army of the Cumberland. Bloodgood recounts the regiment's movements from Resaca, Georgia (about 75 miles from Atlanta) to the Chattahoochee River (about ten miles distant). This copy is marked "Orig;" an endorsement of Col. John Coburn indicates that it was received at brigade headquarters and forwarded.
Sherman's advance from Chattanooga against the important rail center of Atlanta, 120 miles to the south, was a cornerstone of Union strategy in 1864. The Atlanta campaign comprised a long sequence of Federal attacks and flanking movements, through difficult terrain, against successive defensive positions prepared by the Confederate general Joseph Johnston. But Sherman's grander strategic designs are only implicitly evident in this regimental report, which is necessarily concerned with matters of a more tactical nature: where the unit was located, and when; engagements with the enemy and other operations; casualties sustained. It may be noted that Bloodgood lists the regiment's strength on 10 July at "365 Effective Men."
Bloodgood assumed command of the 22nd Wisconsin only on 3 July, when (as he says) Col. William L. Utley "was ordered to Chattanooga." A fuller account of this incident is provided in the published letters of Cpl. Harvey Reid, then a clerk at brigade headquarters:
But this is by no means the most important change in commanders that has taken place. Another chapter of the 22d quarrel is "played out" and we hope that is the final one. Nearly two weeks ago Colonel Utley sent in his resignation on the plea of ill health, which was true, for he had hardly been able to keep up during the campaign, but circumstances seem to show this was not the real reason. . . . A few days since, Colonel Bloodgood told one of his friends that Utley had to resign to avoid a Court Martial for incompetency. The story was repeated, and came to [the] ears of one of Utley's spies who immediately reported it to the Colonel. He went to Bloodgood and demanded to know if he had said so. Colonel Bloodgood evaded an answer one word brought on another until finally in answer to some abusive accusations of the Colonel's Bloodgood called him a liar, and Utley struck him, nearly knocking him down. Bloodgood did not offer to return the blow and there the affair ended. Utley immediately went to General Ward and obtained an order to go to Chattanooga and wait for his resignation papers. This was on the 2d of July, just one year from the day that the officers signed the celebrated petition for Utley to resign.
(Frank L. Byrne, ed., Uncommon Soldiers, pp. 167-68).
The rancor between Utley the Wisconsin politician who raised the regiment and commanded it from its inception and Bloodgood was longstanding. Born at Hancock Barracks, Maine, the son of a regular army officer, Bloodgood volunteered at the outbreak of war and rose to captain in the 1st Wisconsin Infantry. In July 1862 he resigned that post and was appointed lieutenant colonel in the 22nd. On 3 March 1863, in an engagement at Thompson's Station, Tennessee, Bloodgood and part of the 22nd, perhaps acting on the order of the brigade commander, broke off with the enemy and moved to the Union rear. Utley and the rest of the regiment remained in place and were captured. Following the regiment's exchange and parole (Bloodgood and the remainder of the 22nd surrendered to the Confederates in a separate incident at Brentwood, later that month) recriminations flew. Bloodgood was tried, convicted, and reinstated by Washington, to Utley's chagrin. Meanwhile the regiment was relegated to garrison duty; only in the Atlanta campaign did it begin to shed its unenviable reputation.
Provenance note: The Bloodgood battle report was purchased by the University Libraries from R. M. Smythe & Co., New York (Public Sale #194, January 21-22, 2000; lot 1502).
Bibliographic note: A more comprehensive report by Bloodgood on the 22nd Wisconsin's actions in the Atlanta campaign, covering 1 May to 8 September 1864, may be found in the Official Records, Series I, Vol. 38, Part 2, pp. 424-28. For a contemporary account of the feuding among the regiment's officers, see Frank L. Byrne, ed., Uncommon Soldiers: Harvey Reid and the 22nd Wisconsin March with Sherman, Knoxville TN, 2001. For a history of the regiment, see Frank J. Welcher and Larry Ligget, Coburn's Brigade: the 85th Indiana, 33rd Indiana, 19th Michigan, and 22nd Wisconsin in the Western Civil War, Carmel IN, 1999.
Index of Documents
|July 10, 1864 ||Near Chattahoochee River, Georgia||Lt. Col. Edward Bloodgood|