Mustered in at Camp Dick Robinson, Kentucky, May, 1863, and at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, June and August, 1863; mustered out at Company Shops, North Carolina, June 30, 1865.
Felix A. Reeve was appointed as colonel by the Secretary of War on September 6, 1862, and authorized to raise and command the regiment from refugees from East Tennessee who were gathering at Federal posts in Kentucky, especially at Cumberland Gap. Soon after his appointment, Cumberland Gap was evacuated by the Federal forces, and the regiment was recruited at other points.
The regiment was first reported December, 1862 in the Department of the Ohio, District of Central Kentucky, with Colonel Reeve in command. On January 10, 1863, at Nicholasville, the regiment was reported with 21 officers, 324 men present for duty, aggregate present 381, aggregate present and absent 652. However, it was not until the middle of May, 1863 that the first four companies were actually mustered into service. At that time the regiment reported 357 effectives. Other companies were mustered in during June, July and August. On June 30, 1863, the regiment was reported in the Department of the Ohio, XXIII Corps, 4th Division, 2nd Brigade; and on July 28 was reported at Lexington, Kentucky. Since the beginning of organization the regiment had been employed on fatigue duty, building fortifications, etc. at various points in Kentucky.
On August 6, the XXIII Corps was reorganized, and the regiment placed in Colonel Daniel Cameron's 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division. The brigade moved into East Tennessee with Major General A. E. Burnside, and on August 31 the regiment was at Wartburg; on September 24, at Greeneville; on September 30, at Lick Creek Bridge; on October 15, at Jonesboro, on the Blountsville Road. It did not serve with its regular brigade during November, being temporarily attached to Colonel William A. Hoskins' 2nd Brigade, Forces in East Tennessee. On December 31, 1863, it was again in Cameron's Brigade at Strawberry Plains.
On January 22, 1864, the regiment moved to Knoxville, where, on January 31 Colonel Reeve was in command of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, and the regiment transferred to his brigade. An inspection report dated February 27, 1864 stated the 4th and 8th Tennessee Regiments, still at Knoxville, were in bad condition as regards appearance, discipline and drill.
On April 10, 1864, the XXIII Corps was again reorganized, and the regiment placed in Colonel James W. Reilly's 1st Brigade, Brigadier General Jacob D. Cox's 3rd Division. Under various commanders, it served in this brigade until the end of the war. On April 20, at Bull's Gap, Tennessee, the regiment reported 27 officers, 369 men present for duty. It was sent to Knoxville by train on April 26, from where it moved down to Red Gap, Georgia, for the beginning of the Atlanta Campaign. It crossed the Georgia line on May 7, and after some preliminary skirmishing, was heavily engaged at Resaca on May 14. During the campaign which followed it was first commanded by Colonel Reeve, then by Captain Robert A. Ragan, and finally by Captain James W. Berry. Colonel Reeve was discharged July 14 on surgeon's certificate of disability.
Although almost constantly engaged for the next three months, the heaviest fighting in which the regiment took part was an attempt to cross Utoy Creek on August 6. Of this engagement, Brigadier General Reilly wrote: "Where all behaved so gallantly, it is very difficult to give special mention to any, but I cannot, in justice, neglect to bear official testimony to the gallant and heroic conduct of the Eighth Tennessee Infantry officers and men, without any distinction. The list of casualties, however, is their best eulogy, when it is known that the regiment went into the charge with but about 160 muskets." Berry, who commanded the regiment at that time, reported: "The regiment entered this charge with 223 men, and lost 26 killed, five mortally wounded, 36 wounded, and 16 missing, making a total of 83 casualties. In this serious charge the officers and men of the regiment exhibited in the highest degree the bravery, discipline, presence of mind which characterizes veteran troops."
The regiment reached Decatur, Georgia on September 8, where it remained stationed for some time. It reported total casualties during the campaign of two officers and 30 men killed, two officers and 55 men wounded, two officers and 23 men missing, for a total of 114. On September 13, the regiment needed 195 recruits to bring it up to the minimum strength.
When General Hood started on his invasion of Tennessee, the regiment moved with the brigade up to Chattanooga, then over to Pulaski, and took part in the fighting from Pulaski, to Columbia, to Spring Hill, to Franklin, and finally to Nashville. On November 26, the regiment had less than 200 effectives, and was stationed in the second line of Reilly's Brigade in the battle of Franklin, where it suffered seven casualties.
In the battle of Nashville, December 15-16, 1864, the regiment was in reserve on the 15th, and on the 16th was stationed on the extreme right of the Federal lines on the Hillsboro Pike. It made a charge about 2:00 P.M. in which it captured four pieces of artillery and about 200 or 300 prisoners.
Early in 1865 the brigade moved to North Carolina, and took part in the campaign resulting in the occupation of Wilmington on February 23, 1865. On February 24, the regiment was reported to need 390 men to fill it up.
From Wilmington, the regiment moved to Newbern; from there to Goldsboro; and from there to Raleigh, where on April 14, it was detached from the brigade and assigned as temporary garrison for Raleigh, under Brigadier General I. N. Stiles, until it could be mustered out. Orders were issued for the muster out on June 22, 1865, and the regiment was mustered out on June 30, 1865. Captain Berry had remained in command of the regiment from the middle of the Atlanta Campaign until the final muster out.
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This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted © 1964 by the “Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee” and is published here with their permission.
This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.
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