Dan McCook's Regiment
52nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry 1862-1865
By Nixon B. Stewart
Between August 1862 and May 1864, the 52nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry enjoyed a charmed existence. All that changed when General William T. Sherman's Federal columns embarked May 7 for Atlanta, the 52nd leading the advance south at the head of its army corps. During the next four months of exhaustive campaigning the Buckeyes' discipline, courage and endurance were tested as never before, their ranks reduced by 253 casualties - the highest total of any regiment then serving in the 14th Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
Recruited in Jefferson, Belmont, Tuscarawas and Van Wert counties, as well as Cincinnati, Cleveland and the state's Western Reserve, the 52nd was led to the front by Colonel Daniel McCook Jr., a scion of Ohio's famous fighting McCook family. "Colonel Dan," as his men universally called him, was a pre-war law partner of Sherman, a lover of poetry and student of military history. Soon elevated to brigade command, McCook performed valuable service in the Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga campaigns, although his Ohioans experienced limited combat.
When the rough slopes of Kennesaw Mountain were reached in June 1864 the 52nd met the grim face of war head on. In a desperate uphill assault against entrenched Confederates on June 27 at what became known as the "Dead Angle," McCook's brigade was repulsed, losing 35% of its strength. More than 135 Buckeyes were shot down, 45 of them killed or mortally wounded, including McCook. A member of the 52nd described Kennesaw as "our golgotha and our Waterloo." The regiment's major, J. Taylor Holmes, wrote soon afterward: "Men gave up their lives everywhere, it seemed. You could not say or think who would die or be maimed the next instant. [Our] point of assault was the key to the mountain, but human flesh could not do more than we did and a failure was the result."
Eleven weeks later, after additional fighting at Peachtree Creek, Atlanta and Jonesboro, Holmes reflected, "No Ohio regiment has made a bloodier mark during the past four months."
The narrative history of "Colonel Dan" McCook's regiment was published in 1900 by former Company E sergeant Nixon B. Stewart. Blue Acorn's reprint features the addition of an index as well as 52 photo portraits, 11 of them new to this edition.