two divisions took up the positions assigned them for the night. Before adjusting the line satisfactorily, I received an order to report at headquarters, and was absent from my command until near midnight. After my return, and about two A. M. on the twentieth, I received a report from General Baird that the left of his division did not rest at the Reid's bridge road, as I had expected. I immediately addressed a note to the General Commanding, requesting that General Negley be sent me to take position on General Baird's left and rear, and thus secure our left from assault. During the night the troops threw up temporary breast-works of logs, and prepared for the encounter which all anticipated would come off the next day. Although informed by note from General Rosecrans that Negley's division would be sent immediately to take post on my left, it had not arrived at seven A. M. on the twentieth, and I sent Captain Willard of my staff to General Negley, to urge him forward as rapidly as possible, and to point out his position to him. General Negley, in his official report, mentions that he received this order through Captain Willard at eight A. M. on the twentieth, and that he immediately commenced withdrawing his division for that purpose, when the enemy was reported to be massing a heavy force in his front, sharply engaging his line of skirmishers, and that he was directed by General Rosecrans to hold his position until relieved by some other command. General Beatty's brigade, however, was sent under guidance of Captain Willard, who took it to its position, and it went into action immediately — the enemy at that time having commenced a furious assault on Baird's left, and partially succeeded in gaining his rear. Beatty, meeting with greatly superior numbers, was compelled to fall back until relieved by the fire of several regiments of Johnson's reserve, which were placed in position by General Baird, and which regiments, with the cooperation of Vandeveer's brigade of Brannan's division, and a portion of Stanley's brigade of Wood's division, drove the enemy entirely from Baird's left and rear. To prevent a repetition of this attack on the part of the enemy, I directed Captain Gaw, my chief topographical officer, to go to the commanding officer of these troops and direct him to mass as much artillery on the slopes of Missionary Ridge, directly west of the State road, as he could conveniently spare from his lines, supported strongly by infantry, so as to sweep the ground to the left and rear of Baird's position. This order General Negley mentions in his report having received from Captain Gaw, but from his description of the position he assumed he must have misunderstood my order, and instead of massing the artillery near Baird's left, it was posted on the right of Brannan's division, nearly in the rear of Reynolds's right. At the same time the assault just described was made on Baird, the enemy attacked Johnson and Palmer and Reynolds with equal flerceness, which was continued at least two hours, making assault after assault with fresh troops, which were met by my troops with a most determined coolness and deliberation. Having exhausted his utmost energies to dislodge us, he apparently fell back entirely from our front and we were not disturbed again until toward night, after the withdrawal of the troops to Rossville commenced. Just before the repulse of the enemy on our left General Beatty came to me in person and asked for fresh troops, stating that most of those I had sent to him had gone back to the rear and right, and he was anxious to get at least another brigade before they attacked him again. I immediately sent Captain Kellogg to hurry up General Sheridan, whose division I had been informed would be sent to me. He soon after returned, reporting that in attempting to hurry up the troops that were ordered to report to me, he had met a large force of the enemy in the open corn-field to the rear of Reynolds's position, advancing cautiously, with a strong line of skirmishers thrown out. He had met Colonel Harker, whose brigade was posted on a ridge a short distance to the rear of Reynolds's position, who also saw this force advancing upon him, but, with Captain Kellogg, was of the opinion that they were Sheridan's troops coming to our assistance. Hearing heavy firing to my right and rear through the woods, I rode to the slopes of the hill to ascertain its cause. Just as I left the woods, I met Colonel Harker and Captain Kellogg with the above information. I told Colonel Harker that I was expecting Sheridan's troops from that direction, but if these troops fired on him, seeing his flag, that he was to return their fire, and resist their further advance. He immediately ordered his men to commence firing, and skirmished with them from that point to the crest of the hill slightly in his rear, placing his right in connection with Brannan's division and portions of Beatty's and Stanley's brigades of Negley's division, which had retired from the extreme left to that point. I rode toward the crest of the hill, when I saw a body of our troops assembled in line of battle. On the way I met General Wood, who confirmed me in the opinion that the troops advancing upon us were the enemy, although we were not then aware of the disaster to the centre and right of our army. I then directed him to place his division on the prolongation of Brannan's, who, I had ascertained from wood, was on the top of the hill above referred to, and to resist the further advance of the enemy as long as possible. I sent my aid, Captain Kellogg, to notify General Reynolds that our right had been turned, and that the enemy was in his rear in force. General Wood barely had time to dispose his troops on the left of Brannan before another of those fierce assaults, similar to those made in the morning on my lines, was made on him and Brannan combined, and kept up by the enemy throwing in fresh troops as fast as those in their front were driven back, until near nightfall.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.