So what happened to the four brothers serving in the 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company G, after Missionary Ridge? Greer Croy labored in the 36th under Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. Nathan and Calvin, in the 148th, protected the Capital. (see previous post)
Under Sherman, the 92nd would move south. Sherman, promoted by Grant, took command of a “Division of the Mississippi” and, in turn, promoted Major General George H. Thomas, who had distinguished himself in the Chattanooga campaign, to lead the Army of the Cumberland. The taking of Atlanta became their first mission.
Assigned to Thomas, the 92nd moved against Johnston and Hood in the drive to take Atlanta, Georgia. Joining with the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of Ohio, they took the center. Later Grant referred to the battles and consequent siege of Atlanta as a “120 day continuous battle.”
During the day and night of September 1-2 of 1864, Hood evacuated Atlanta. He headed north, hoping to join up with Lee. Rather than follow in mass, Sherman divided up the forces of Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland. Half would go after Hood with Thomas. The rest would head south, supporting Sherman’s mission to cut the South’s supply route. The 92nd went south.
The 92nd OVI again acquired new leadership. They now served under Major General Jefferson Columbus Davis in the 14th Army Corp. They marched under General H.W. Slocum and would man the left wing of Sherman’s March to the Sea. But first they would decimate Atlanta’s infrastructure including railroads and manufacturing. They protected churches and hospitals from destruction.
On November 15, 1864, they headed for Savannah. Most records show that Slocum’s Army of Georgia, taking the left flank, saw little opposition and less fighting. As with so much of the boy’s Civil War service, the exactly role of Robert, William, Duncan, and David Croy in this controversial march remains unknown.
“They had enjoyed a fine march, having had but little resistance. The stories of the mock Legislature at the State capital, of the luxurious supplies enjoyed all along, and of the constant fun and pranks of “Sherman’s bummers,” rather belonged to that route than ours.” Major General of the Army of the Tennessee, Oliver O. Howard[i]
On December 21, 1864, after an 11-day siege, Sherman’s army marched into Savannah. The troops again busied themselves either destroying or confiscating the city’s resources. Meanwhile, the ranks needed replenishing. New volunteers came south over a rough and circuitous route. One of the new members traveling to join up with 92nd, Company G was Calvin Croy.[ii]
Again taking the left flank, Slocum’s army moved north following Confederate General Johnston. At Bentonville, North Carolina, on March 19, 1864, the Confederate forces doubled back, surprising them. They fought through the night and nearly lost their position. In the end, Sherman sent reinforcements and Johnston retreated. They joined forces in Goldsboro and Sherman honored Slocum’s army with its official title, “Army of Georgia.”
On the way to Raleigh, on April 12, 1865, Sherman issued a major message. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox! Image the celebration of the five Croy brothers left in the war. Image the joy in Fairfield Township where their wives, children, parents, and brothers waited, one who was recovering from war wounds. The words of Major General Slocum, written some 20 years after the event, might capture the emotion.
“Thoughts of meeting wives, children, and friends from whom they had been so long separated by the bloody struggle, occupied the minds of all. A happier body of men never before surrounded their campfires than were to be found along the roads leading to Raleigh.”[iii]
Then another event required a second message from Sherman. On the way to negotiate the surrender of Johnston, he learned of the assassination of President Lincoln. Under this veil of sorrow, the troops marched to Washington, D.C., burying soldiers left from earlier battles on the way.
The five Croy brothers participated in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865, the last great event of the war. In Slocum’s words, it was not the cavalry or mounted generals that won the greatest applause, but the rank and file soldiers, lovingly called “bummers,” who earned the audience’s greatest admiration.
“At the review the men appeared “in their native ugliness” as they appeared on the march through Georgia and the Carolinas. Their pack- mules and horses, with rope bridles or halters, laden with supplies such as they had carried on the march, formed part of the column.” [iv]
Next post: The aftermath
Note: Excellent resource with many primary sources http://www.armyofgeorgia.com