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No. 178.-report of Maj. Franklin H. Clack, “Confederate Guards Response” Battalion.

Hdqrs.
Confederate Guards Response Batt., Camp, near Corinth, Miss., April 10, 1862.
Sir: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your orders, about 5 a. m., of the 6th instant, I drew up my command in column at half distance on the left of the Seventeenth Regiment Louisiana Volunteers, which occupied the right of your brigade, at a point distant as I was informed, about 3 miles from the enemy's nearest camp, and between Owl Creek and Bark road, in McNairy County, Tennessee.

The position assigned the brigade at first, that of a reserve to support the First and Third Brigades of General Ruggles' division, having been changed, I formed my battalion in line of battle, under your orders in the same relative position as at first in the brigade, which at that time formed the left of General Hardee's line.

On arriving at the ridge nearest the enemy's first camp, owing to some accident, the Seventeenth Regiment Louisiana Volunteers became for a time separated from my right, and the First Florida and the Ninth Texas remained in their position on my left.

The order was then given to advance, and I took up a position in a hollow immediately below a hill on which was a camp of the enemy and on the slope beyond which they had a battery in position. The charge was made by my battalion, supported on my right by a portion of a regiment, which I was informed constituted a part of General Polk's command. The enemy were being driven back with much effort and stubbornly resisting when some one in the force on the right gave the order to fall back, and simultaneously that force came rushing back, bearing my men with them. I drew off my force to the hollow from which we had charged. The second charge was successful, and we pursued the [511] enemy through that and another camp, and were brought to a stand by discovering a considerable force of the enemy posted in a thick wood on a slope to our left.

Having been separated from you, I consulted with Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, of the Seventeenth Louisiana, who I found had joined me on my left, and with General Russell, and we deemed it advisable to pause. You then placed the brigade in line, and, if I am not mistaken in localities, led us to the successful attack of a camp on the left of our line.

From this time, sir, until the close of the day I am unable to describe the various localities in which you led us to the attack. We made several other successful charges, being ordered from one part of the field to the other, where our services were most needed.

Having bivouacked that night in a camp of the enemy on the succeeding morning, at 5 o'clock, in obedience to your orders, I formed my line and we were placed as a reserve. Being ordered to the left in advance, with the artillery on our left, the enemy were discovered in position in our front, protected by log breastworks. The order was given to charge, which was executed, and the enemy driven from their position. It was then discovered that they had a camp on the hill behind their breastworks, and after our flag had been planted in their camp a battery placed on a slope about 500 yards to our left opened on us, and you ordered us to fall back to the ravine whence we had charged. The enemy still having our range, you ordered a further retiring beyond range.

From this to our final actions with the brigade my ignorance of the geographical details of the localities of the battle-ground and the numerous charges and changes made in our position prevent my giving any specific details of operations, except that I remember we were kept busy in moving and in attacks.

Having arrived at that camp of the enemy on the left of the large parade ground you ordered an advance to dislodge the enemy occupying a wood skirting the rear of this camp. I understood we were ordered to support an attack to be made by quite a large force on our right, which I did not perceive act, however. Having advanced and engaged the enemy, it becoming apparent they were in great force, you ordered us to fall back. This time I lost sight of you, and my command became somewhat scattered. I succeeded, however, in rallying them on the brow of the hill overlooking the enemy's camps, and under the personal instructions of General Beauregard formed line of battle, incorporating in my command some fragments of the Ninth Texas and First Florida.

After futile endeavors on the part of several officers, myself among the number, to rally a sufficient force to renew the attack, I awaited orders. None came, and perceiving the two lines that were drawn up, ostensibly to support the advance, of which we formed the right, diminishing by straggling and finally filing off, I drew off my command, flanking and filing to the right, immediately after the troops on my left, some few in number, had broken from the line and filed to the left. Not having received any specific instructions or orders, I led my command to my last encampment at this place.

I regret, sir, that the irregular course of the engagement of the 6th and 7th instant renders it difficult for me to be specific; a difficulty made almost absolute by the rapidity with which you changed the positions of your brigade and the many points you were called on to attack, for while your command was intended as a reserve, I believe it never [512] once occupied that position or that of a support or any other than that of an attacking force.

I cannot close this feeble report, sir, without calling your attention to a matter which my sense of duty impels me to mention — the strong, immediate necessity for the strictest, most severe discipline. Had we but had this discipline there would not now be an enemy's foot pressing the soil in the vicinity of our late battle. I am convinced that nothing but the daring courage exhibited by a large portion of our force enabled us to sustain ourselves.

Deeming it a duty also to suggest anything that in my opinion may tend to correct what I regard an evil, I must say that the volunteering system, as far as my experience goes, is an evil, the greater in an inverse ratio as is the term of service short. Be assured, general, that we never can cope successfully with our foe unless we discipline our forces, and that the discipline necessary to perfect our military organizations can never be obtained under the volunteer system. We must have recourse to drafting or conscripting. The scenes, sir, we both witnessed on the 6th and 7th instant, when stragglers would fall from their own lines and, retiring under cover of another line, fire recklessly to the front, must convince you of the justness of my remarks, not in this alone, but the disorders resulting from want of proper discipline were numberless; the most fatal to the consummation of a success so gallantly begun being the lawless spirit of plunder and pillage so recklessly indulged in. While our foe throws down all tle barriers of constitutional liberty in his career of oppression and invasion weare fatally lacking in the most important element of resistance; not that I would imitate his example, but our laws are amply sufficient to correct the evil did we but enforce them.

I regret to be compelled to report quite a severe loss in my command. It is as follows: 5 killed on the field, 5 mortally wounded, 1 dangerously wounded, 20 severely wounded, 14 slightly wounded, and 1 missing; total casualties, 45.

My actual force in the field was 144 muskets and 9 officers.

To the gallant bearing of my officers I cannot bear too high a tribute. Ever present until disabled, they rendered most efficient service.

To my assistant quartermaster, Lieutenant Monheimer, is due great credit for the efficient manner in which he kept the battalion supplied with ammunition and took off the wounded.

In the death of First Lieutenant Macbeth, of Company B, I lost a most valuable officer and his country a noble and brave son.

Captain Macmurdo, after conducting his company through both days with singular coolness and bravery, was disabled in the last charge by a severe contusion in the breast from a spent ball.

Captain Fowler and Lieutenants Hyatt and Hardie were severely wounded while gallantly discharging their duty.

Adjutant Price and Lieutenants Bonner and Browne rendered very efficient service.

From the report of Captain Macmurdo, of Company A, I desire to call your attention to the gallant bearing of Privates Harris and North, of his company, who after the color-sergeant was wounded bore the flag of the battalion gallantly in the front until severely wounded.

Lieutenant Price, in command of Company B, mentions with much approbation the brave conduct of Color-Sergeant Doyle and Private Cluff, of that company.

In conclusion, sir, when I reflect that this command had never been under fire before, that they were called on to meet the enemy after a [513] most fatiguing march, and that they were removed from one portion of the field to another very rapidly during both days, I will not be thought to express myself too strongly when I say that they did their duty as officers and men gallantly, and I may well say efficiently.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully your obedient servant,

Franklin H. Clack, Major Confederate Guards Response Battalion. Brig. Gen. Patton Anderson, Commanding Second Brigade, Ruggles' Division.

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