No. 217.-report of Col. W. K. Patterson, Eighth Arkansas Infantry.
Hdqrs. Eighth Regiment Arkansas Volunteers, Near Corinth, Miss., April 9, 1862.Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the action of the regiment under my command in the battles of the 6th and 7th instant: The line of battle was formed and we moved forward toward the enemy, already engaged in a sharp skirmish with our pickets, in the direction of his camps. Having advanced a short distance, in obedience to an order from Brigadier-General Hindman my regiment, in connection with a battalion of the Ninth Arkansas Regiment, under command of Major Kelly, went forward and deployed as skirmishers, covering our brigade, relieved another regiment, and drove in the enemy's skirmishers to his main line, near his camps. We continued to move in the line of the brigade against the main body of the enemy, who gave way after a spirited resistance, giving us a retreating fire as we advanced rapidly through the first encampment. Our lines, having been broken by the tents of the enemy, were soon reformed in order in the first open woods beyond the camp, and continued to advance under a constantly retreating fire for three-quarters of a mile. Having pursued and driven the enemy from the fences and woods beyond the field, we changed front in the direction of a large body of the enemy well posted on a hill about half a mile to our left, supported by a battery, from which we received a heavy and well-directed fire during our advance to dislodge them. As we marched up the hill under a heavy fire of the enemy we received a most deadly fire from the rear from a regiment of our friends, killing and wounding a number of officers gallantly leading the charge. At my command the officers and men fell down and sought protection by trees, stumps, and logs on the side of the enemy, preferring, as we did, to fall by the shots of the enemy rather than to fall by our own guns. Here Lieut. Thomas B. Bateman fell at the head of his column. The order to charge was given as soon as the fire from the rear ceased, and we passed and carried the guns of the enemy, and drove the supporting force from their position and pursued them through the camp. In this last move we changed front farther to the left in pursuit of the enemy before us, and were separated from our brigade. The brigadier-general commanding having been thrown from his horse (of which at this time I was not advised), we were left to our own judgment of what was proper to be done. I ordered the men to  rest, as they had been vigorously engaged for more than five hours, and sent for a supply of ammunition to supply boxes. After resting about one hour and receiving a supply of ammunition we moved forward and placed ourselves to the right of a line hotly engaged. We opened fire upon him, and in a few minutes he gave way, retreating beyond a field, and took position under the fence, from which he gave us a deadly fire from his sharpshooters, which we answered with our muskets. In this engagement fell Lieutenant Price in the front rank, firing upon the enemy with his Enfield rifle. Here we killed a number of the enemy as they ran from a pile of cotton to the protection of the fence beyond. The enemy having retired from the fence beyond the range of our guns, we retired to the brigade to which we were attached to a ravine, within supporting distance of our battery, which by this time had come up to our relief. At this time the brigadier-general commanding came up to us and brought up a part of the brigade, from which we. had been separated. We remained in this position until the enemy gave way, after a most obstinate resistance, and moved forward beyond the field across which we had the former engagement, and received a heavy shower of shell from the gunboats of the enemy. From this position we were moved with all our forces to a place beyond the range of the shells at about sunset and slept on our arms on beds of the enemy's hay. Having no blankets, we used tents for covering and drew rations from the enemy's commissary for supper and breakfast. Early on the morning of the 7th, the general commanding being absent from the brigade, under treatment for his injuries of the day before, I formed my regiment, the Ninth Arkansas Battalion, and a portion of the Twenty-seventh and Forty-fourth Tennessee in line of battle in the edge of the field where we had slept, and awaited orders. In a short while Brigadier-General Wood arrived and took command of his brigade, and we moved forward toward the enemy, skirmishing with our forces about 300 yards in front. Having advanced, we were ordered to “Right about; double-quick, march,” which we did, fortunately for us, in disorder, as we passed through the field under a destructive enfilading fire from a battery about 400 yards on our left, under which many of our men fell horribly mangled. As soon as we gained the protection of the woods our lines were readily formed, and we moved on, and were joined, with our brigade, to other forces, and returned to the position previously occupied and where I had first joined the brigade. Before moving forward, as above stated, Major Kelly deployed his battalion as skirmishers and advanced about 400 yards in front of our line, and retired when the brigade moved from the fire of the battery, bringing his skirmishers prudently and safely through the woods to his command before any other move was made. The position to which we were brought, as above stated, brought us under full range of a large body of the enemy, well posted across the open woods in front of us. We were commanded, together with other forces aligned with us, to fix bayonets and advance on the enemy. My regiment, Major Kelly's battalion, and a few men of the Twenty-seventh Tennessee Regiment alone obeyed the order and moved on to the charge, across the open field, under a steady, well-aimed fire of the enemy, and after we had crossed the field, and finding that the entire left of the line had declined the charge, we formed on the left of a line already engaged  with the enemy, and maintained that position until a general movement was made to retire. Here Lieutenant Pettit fell in front of the lines, leading his men on to the charge. The charge above described was gallantly led by Major Kelly and well sustained by Lieutenant-Colonel Couch and Adjutant Watkins on horseback, and the officers and men in general exhibited the courage of veterans in the service. We moved back with the troops of the line to which we were attached, and were not again united to the troops, who refused to go with us on the charge when ordered by our commander, but we halted and united ourselves to the first line we met which was moving to meet the enemy, and again took position in support of a battery, which was charged by a heavy force of the enemy soon thereafter. The charge was gallantly resisted, the battery was saved, and the enemy gave way. During the two days fight the regiment and battalion kept well together, and without difficulty formed in order and moved readily at every command, undisturbed by the confusion of the scattered men of other regiments who occasionally mingled with us in the fight. At this time (late in the afternoon) I found the men completely exhausted, and took them back to the reserve. I took our flag-staff (our flag having been torn to pieces by bullets had been entirely shot off the staff) and with Major Kelly's remnant of a flag led them to the reserve, then being organized by General Wood, and remained with it until we were moved from the field, with all the forces, by the commander-inchief, General Beauregard. During the entire engagement the men and officers generally exhibited cool, determined gallantry, often exposing themselves to serious fire in squads by irregularity caused by an earnest desire to advance, and it is a melancholy fact that we lost more men, in proportion to the wounds, in those places where irregular firing in the rear occurred than in engagements where we were exposed alone to the guns of the enemy. The enemy often wounded but rarely killed us.