No. 180.-report of Col. Preston Pond, jr., Sixteenth Louisiana Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.
Hdqrs. Third Brig., First Div., Army of the Miss., ----,---1862.Sir: I have the honor to submit through you to Brigadier-General Ruggles, commanding First Division, Second Grand Division, Army of the Mississippi, the following report of the movements of the Third Brigade of his division on Sunday and Monday, April 6 and 7: On the morning of the 6th, at daylight, the brigade was formed in the order of battle, with columns doubled on the center at battalion distance, the right resting on the left of General Anderson's brigade, with the left extended towards Owl Creek and crossing the left of General Hardee's line about 500 yards to the rear. At about 8 o'clock an order was received from General Ruggles to throw one regiment, with one section of guns, to the left, towards Owl Creek. In compliance with this order, Colonel Looney's regiment (Thirty-eighth Tennessee) and one section of Captain Ketchum's battery were thrown about three-quarters of a mile to the left, and the position assigned to them covered on the front and flank with cavalry skirmishers. These dispositions were not quite completed when an order was received from General Buggles to advance the whole of his line. The brigade moved forward in double columns, over very difficult ground, endeavoring to preserve the proper interval between itself and General Anderson's brigade and at the same time to guard the flank of the line on Owl Creek. After advancing about 600 yards the brigade was halted near some small houses, with a large field on the left and also with a similar field in front. The enemy's skirmishers being seen towards Owl Creek, Colonel Looney's regiment, with the section of Captain Ketchum's battery, were again sent to the left, to a distance of three-quarters of a mile, and posted to command the Owl Creek road. Information being received from Colonel Looney that the enemy were ambushed in his front, the Crescent Regiment, under Col. M. J. Smith, was detached to report tc Colonel Looney and to support him. Shortly after an order came from General Hardee for the left to advance. In response to this order the Sixteenth and Eighteenth Louisiana Volunteers and battalion Orleans Guards advanced until they reached the line occupied by the Second Brigade, commanded by General Anderson, which brigade was engaging the enemy in one of his camps and which he was stubbornly contesting.  This camp having been carried, the whole line advanced through a narrow strip of woods and across a wide field until we reached the main and last camp of the enemy, which was not occupied, this camp having apparently been abandoned without a contest, as there were no evidences of any struggle having taken place there. As we approached this camp a few of the enemy were seen on our left, who fired a few shots at us, but who were dispersed by one shot from Captain Ketchum's battery. When we entered the edge of the field in which their main camp was situated we perceived the enemy in full retreat to our right. The left of the brigade was immediately thrown forward and the whole put in motion at double-quick to cut him off, and the movement would, without doubt, have been successful, but when nearly across the field a deadly fire was received from our own forces on the right, killing and wounding several of the Eighteenth Regiment Louisiana Volunteers, under the command of Colonel Mouton. Not knowing at first from whence the fire was directed, and fearing that I might have passed some of the enemy's forces, the brigade was halted and thrown back about 100 yards, to the edge of the woods. When our troops on the right advanced across the opening this brigade advanced on the same line, passed through the main camp, and through a very deep ravine beyond it. At this time we were moving a little in advance of the front line, which was commanded by General Hardee. Upon rising the crest of the hill the command encountered a heavy fire of grape at a distance of about 400 yards. The brigade was thrown back under the cover of the hill, and Captain Ketchum's battery placed in position on the hills to the rear, to silence the enemy's battery and to disorganize its infantry supports. While waiting for Captain Ketchum's battery to get into position I reconnoitered, and discovered the enemy posted in considerable numbers in a camp some 200 or 300 yards to my front and left, and in a similar camp immediately to my front and right, from which the fire of the battery had been received and was still continued. A. t this time (about 4 p. m.) Colonel Ferguson brought a peremptory order to me to charge the battery with my brigade. Colonel Ferguson was informed that there was a battery immediately in front, and said he would inform General Hardee and report to me. Immediately after Colonel Ferguson left me the Washington Artillery was placed in battery to the right of the enemy's main camp and made an effort to silence the enemy's battery on my front, but failed to do so. By orders said by Colonel Ferguson to be the orders of General Hardee, my brigade was filed, left in front, up a deep ravine, in a direction flanking the enemy's battery, and while the head of the column was some 300 yards in front of the battery, by the direction of Colonel Ferguson, speaking as for General Hardee, I ordered the charge. This brought my troops under the fire of the enemy's battery and three of his regiments in an oblique column instead of line of battle, and the fire became so destructive that the troops recoiled under it. The Eighteenth Louisiana Regiment suffered severely in this charge; also the Orleans Guards; the Sixteenth Louisiana less than either, being on the right, and consequently in what might be called the rear of the column. As my troops were advancing to this charge we again received a severe fire from our own, troops on the right, which, added to the fire of the enemy, almost disorganized the command. In order to reform we were compelled to fall back about 150 yards to the enemyvs main camp, where we were rejoined by Colonel Looney with his regiment, he having received orders to leave his position on Owl Creek road  and nnife with the brigade. The camp on my right was subsequently abandoned by the enemy and occupied by our troops, the enemy withdrawing his battery. I heard sharp firing from my right on that camp, in which the Thirty-eighth Tennessee was engaged before it united with the brigade. The camp to my left continued to be occupied in considerable force, and as the duty of guarding the left was placed in my hands, and being separated about a quarter of a mile from the forces immediately on my right, I felt that any rash or inconsiderate advance or engagement of my troops might result in the exposure of our left and rear, and therefore made no attack on it. The charge made on the enemy's battery, by which the Eighteenth Regiment suffered so severely, was not in accordance with my judgment. I did it reluctantly and in obedience to peremptory orders. If left to myself I had the means of taking it, and would have taken it in twenty minutes after my battery had been brought into action. There was a wide gap between my left and Owl Greek. I was alone with my brigade, without anything to support my own rear or the left of the general line, and therefore felt it my duty to take every step with extreme caution and to keep my force in hand to hold Owl Creek against any and every contingency. In this I was acting in strict accordance with the plan of battle communicated to me by General Bragg on the evening of the 5th instant, and to this plan I rigidly adhered, no advices having reached me of change of plan. At night, after the battle ceased, acting in obedience to orders received through the day from a great variety of sources, I found my infantry line considerably in advance of our general front. I immediately fell back to this line, resting my right on the main camp of the enemy and extending my left to Owl Creek, establishing police guards around each regiment, with pickets in rear and front and to the left, across Owl Creek. My ranks were then opened and the men caused to lie down on their arms. There was some picket firing during the night, but nothing important developed itself. I would mention that on Sunday evening, just after the firing ceased, I heard cheering on the river below me, evidently proceeding from a large force, to which my men responded, thinking it to be from their friends, and when the cheering ceased a band played the air of “Hail Columbia” from a boat which was ascending the river. My bivouac on Sunday night was within a mile of the river and within 400 yards of the enemy's lines. During the night our main line was thrown back about three-quarters of a mile, without the movement having been communicated to me. On Monday morning at daylight a sharp skirmish took place between pickets, and was immediately followed by a spirited engagement between my lines and those of the enemy. A battery was also opened against my right at a range of about 400 yards. At this time I discovered that our main line had fallen back and that my brigade was alone in the presence of the enemy, who was in strong force. I regarded the position as perilous and would no doubt have been cut off or cut to pieces but for the cool, intrepid, and gallant conduct of Captain Ketchum, who brought his battery into position on my right and maintained a spirited and effective fire against the enemy within infantry range, while my regiments were withdrawn under the lead of their respective commanders. I cannot speak too highly of the coolness and intrepidity of Colonel Mouton, Major Gober, Colonel Looney, and Captain Mouton, manifested by the orderly manner in which they withdrew their respective  commands over the most difficult ground, and united themselves, without disaster, with the main line. The infantry movement left Captain Ketchum's battery exposed; but as the whole was in great peril, I thought it better to sacrifice the pieces than the regiment, if anything had to be lost. Captain Ketchum, however, withdrew, covered by a regiment of Texas Rangers, exhibiting throughout the whole a degree of skill and courage which mark him as an artillery officer of the highest merit; in fact, the safety of my command is due to him. Upon reaching the main line, the left of which was at the enemy's first camp on the Savannah road, I was ordered by General Ruggles to form on the extreme left and rest my left on Owl Creek. While proceeding to execute this order I was ordered to move by the rear of the main line to support the extreme right of General Hardee's line. Having taken my position to support General Hardee's right, I was again ordered by General Beauregard to advance and occupy the crest of a ridge in the edge of an old field. My line was just formed in this position when General Polk ordered me forward to support his line. While moving to the support of General Polk an order reached me from General Beauregard to report to him with my command at his headquarters. This was on the extreme left, where my brigade became engaged in the fight, which continued until the contest between the armies finally ceased. As General Ruggles was present at this point no report of particulars is necessary. My command was kept well in hand through the occurrences of both days and brought off the field in as good order as it entered it, under my immediate command. Colonel Mouton was wounded in the fight at the church and Major Querouzewas wounded in the knee in the charge on enemy's battery. The Crescent Regiment was not seen by me during the engagement, but I received information from various sources that it was in the fight on the right and served with marked gallantry and effect. Very respectfully, Capt. Walter Crain whose battery has been taken from him. I saw him fighting gallantly in the ranks with his rifle, and in the engagement of. Monday he received a severe wound. If gallantry would entitle an officer to his command none deserve it more than Captain Crain.
|16th Louisiana Volunteers||14||13||31||5||27||90||See report.|
|Ketchum's battery||1||13||14||Sick. 23.|
|18th Louisiana Regiment||13||80||118||211|
P. Pond, Jr., Colonel, Commanding Third Brigade.