Description

    Union Officer Nathaniel C. McLean Autograph Draft Report of the Battle of Resaca (Unsigned). Seven pages, 5" x 8", "Head Qu 1st Brigade 2nd Div 23rd A.[rmy] C.[orp] / Camp on Pettit's Creek Geo May 22nd 1864." A draft written entirely in his hand, with emendations in ink and pencil throughout. McLean's account begins with noting that he had only recently assumed command of his brigade and details the march toward Resaca and ensuing battle. In small part: "... When we had approached within very short range with our first line, the enemy opened with artillery throwing his first shot directly into the 25th Mich[igan], killing one man & wounding three others. For a few moments the fire was very hot and I was ordered to halt, which I did getting my men under cover & out of range as rapidly as possible. Subsequently under cover of the woods my line was again advanced to within a very short distance of the rebel works, & my skirmishers were constantly engaged until night terminated the conflict. At about seven o clock the next morning I was ordered to withdraw... We fell back to the gap where we remained until the next day when we marched for Snake Creek Gap which we reached on the 13th and after marching for a considerable distance in line of battle towards Resaca went into camp for the night. On the 14th we again formed with a heavy line of skirmishers in front who were constantly more or less engaged & advanced towards Resaca..." After assessing the land and rebel works in front of him, McLean directs his brigade into formation and is given orders to "advance and storm the rebel works... No information was given me of the strength of the rebel works, or the nature and character of the ground over which the charge was to be made." He continues to describe their charge: "I accordingly ordered an advance, and as well as I was able kept my men in line in passing over the troops of the 14th Corps & through the dense and tangled undergrowth of the forest. We passed over one or two ridges & valleys and at length reached a ridge the top of which was within musket range of the earthwork which covered the hill fortified by the enemy. They here opened fire upon us but my men steadily advanced passing over a fence at the foot of the hill when they came upon a plain exposed to the full fire of the enemy from artillery and muskets. As soon as the cleared ground was reached the whole line started forward with a tremendous shout for the rebel works. Never did men more gallantly breast the storm of death which was hurled upon them from every quarter, and their advance continued until they were broken by a bog and creek into which they plunged more than waist deep. To climb the opposite bank under such murderous fire was more than they could do, especially when we found the works so strong that with the force then attacking them there was not the slightest chance of success. Under the circumstances we were forced back leaving fully one third of the attacking party killed or wounded..."

    McLean's account continues and finishes with reporting that all members of his field staff "with the exception of Capt. Stagg had their horses shot under them as was also my own." The draft ends with these lines and is almost identical to the report eventually filed, save the final paragraph added to the final draft. This draft offered here was sent to his wife, and is accompanied by the original transmittal envelope, and a second envelope.

    Condition: The draft has toning throughout, and a single vertical mailing fold. Stray foxing, with slightly darker toning at folds and edges. The transmittal envelope has been opened at top, with small tears and creases thereat; and a single fold. The envelope has a bit of dampstaining in one corner and soiling.


    More Information:

    The son of Supreme Court Justice John McLean, Nathaniel McLean (1815-1905) was a practicing attorney, when the Civil War began. He became a colonel of the 75th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which he organized. He saw action in the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign against Stonewall Jackson, at Second Bull Run,  Chancellorsville, and with William T. Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign and the Carolinas Campaign.



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    Auction Dates
    October, 2016
    19th Wednesday
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