121st Ohio Volunteer Infantry
|Report of Lieutenant Jared D. Haudenschield,
second-in-command, Army of the Ohio detachment, at the
Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina
The 121st O.V.I., being ordered to provide five soldiers for the Army of the Ohio detachment that was to reinforce
the Illinois Battalion, under the command of Colonel Robert Winter, in North Carolina, consisted of all members of
Company H viz: J. D. Haudenschield, lieutenant; Corporals J. Young and P. D. Haudenschield, Privates Jeff Craig and
Michael Bishop, who acted as medical orderly. The entire detachment numbered about 33 officers and men, consisting
of elements, in addition to those of the 121st, of the 21st, 30th, and 91st Ohio Infantries and the 49th New York
Infantry, all under the command of Captain Robert Halbisen of the 21st. All elements of the company arrived on Friday,
March 19 and established camp with the Illinois troops in a pine woods. Col. Winter was to bring two companies for
the force, but a large number of one company was captured and the rest were folded into the other, so that the battalion
only had two companies. We bedded down for the night on a soft blanket of pine needles, but unfortunately, we were
next to the platoon fire, and all night conversations were a little too close to the dog tents. I, however, was ordered to
the officers’ end and did without a tent for the duration.
At 6AM on Saturday the 20th, Reveille sounded and the troops woke up, tired from their long marches the day or
two previous. At 7AM the company was formed, and Corp’ls Young and Haudenschield were selected as 1st and 2nd
corporals respectively, with two New York corporals as 3rd and 4th. Platoons were divided and etc. Rations were
cooked, and a quick breakfast of salt pork, hardtack, and apples had to do. At 9AM, the brigade, under Bvt. Colonel M.
Lavis went out and performed company, battalion, and brigade drill. The entire brigade consisted of five companies. I
have never seen such an organization called a brigade since the brigade’s foraging parties during the march through the
Georgia countryside. I was temporarily attached to brigade staff as an orderly for the drill and so the drill did not come
under my observation. The only brigade maneuver performed was that of “Fire by the Bugle,” which was not
adequately explained, and, subsequently, was performed in battle with mixed results.
After the drill, our battalion marched back to camp, where we relaxed until about 2PM, when word came that
General Johnston’s forces were advancing on our position. We quickly formed up and marched out to the field of
battle. Our other battalion, which was already on the field, fell in behind us. Near a grove of trees, a battery of artillery
was stationed, and in front of it was deployed the infantry. We then commenced digging breastworks, but
unfortunately, the engineers kept repositioning the line and to cause much more fatiguing work. Finally, the line was
established and the 2nd Platoon was ordered to form a reserve behind the 1st, and we entrenched there as well. Col.
Winter brought out his colors for the fight, selecting two men from our company to guard them, one being Pvt. Craig.
Considering that we have only two companies, I feel that the necessity of having a flag on the field very loosely looked
at regulations, and then for the Illinois men not to defend their own flag was disgraceful.
Long before we expected them, the Rebels formed up before us and began an attack on our line. Skirmishers
slowed their progress and a company of men carrying Henry Repeaters did well to postpone their attack until our
fortifications were more complete. At last the Rebels came on, and our skirmishers fell back. 1st Platoon poured in a
destructive fire and soon the enemy fell back. They reformed and came on again. Capt. Halbisen pulled out the 1st
Platoon, and sent in the 2nd. We fired by sections, and when the Rebs came close, Halbisen brought up the 1st
Platoon, which added a devastating fire into them. At last they pulled back without breaking the line.
We were pulled out of the line and marched back to camp. Here, we cleaned our weapons and relaxed. We
prepared a nice meal of salt pork, sweet potatoes, and fried zucchini. We then set down for another night of rest.
Sunday the 21st dawn bright and clear. Again, we were wake by 7AM. We were notified by high command that we
were to have the morning off and not to be ready to form until Noon. However, Col. Winter decided to have battalion
drill at 9, which did not make many of the men happy and kept our breakfast slim. Drill was a quick quarter hour,
which made it more of an inconvenience than any burden. But the major problem that morning was the move up of the
time table from noon to 11AM. This was a major issue as many men had secured passes and so their reception of the
information was very hap-hazzard. At the appointed hour we once again formed for battle and took a long march to an
open cotton field. Our brigade was placed facing an edge of a woods and entrenched there, in advance of the main
line. We were earlier informed to leave behind all digging equipment, including any tin plates and cups that could have
been useful. The 2nd Platoon was sent into the woods as skirmishers while the rest of the men put together the
defensive line. Unfortunately, many of the men assigned to my platoon had been new recruits recently released from
convalescent camps and had not the least idea how to do skirmish drill. Sergeant B. Biederman of the 30th, assigned to
my platoon, was of inestimable help in fixing this problem.
At around 1PM, the Rebels began an assault on the far right (we were on the far left.) We kept a light skirmishing
with the enemy battle line forming before us, when suddenly we were took in the flank and I ordered an immediate
dispersal back to the trench. Here, we had been poorly sighted. The line was only a couple of yards from the tree line,
and we were quickly overwhelmed and disbursed. Capt. Halbisen was believed to be dead, and 1st Sergeant Foraker,
Sergeant Shanks and I pulled back and reformed what was left of our forces. We formed what we could of a skirmish
line to hold off Rebels forming in the rear of the fortifications. At this time, the captain of the Illinois company took
charge of the remnants of the battalion and marched us away from the battle. In a safe enclave, we met up with much
of the battalion, which had escaped capture. Capt. Halbisen had survived and retook command. All members of the
121st returned except Cpl. Young, who was missing and feared captured or dead. Reforming, Col. Lavis took the
brigade in behind the enemy, who were hotly engaged with the main line. Forming battle line unnoticed, we struck
them in the rear. The enemy quickly disintegrated and routed, us pursuing until orders came to stop.
Cpl. Young was later found, slightly wounded. Cpl. Haudenschield, Pvt. Craig, and myself all suffered minor
wounds. All did their duty to the upmost. Pvt. Bishop was always in his proper place, tending to all the wounded near
at hand, and on Sunday, even those of the enemy.
Jared D. Haudenschield,
121st Ohio Volunteer Infantry
|This report is of the 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, held on March 19, 20, and the 21,
All pictures can be view in our 2010 Picture Gallery.