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[261]

No. 69.-report of Col. Rodney Mason, Seventy-first Ohio Infantry.

Hdqrs. Seventy-First Regiment Ohio Vols., April 10, 1862.
When we formed in line on Sunday morning we had an aggregate of 510 commissioned, non-commissioned officers, and privates in line. You were yourself witness to the conduct and disposition of the regiment during the battle on Sunday. When the artillery opened upon our front from the north bank of the creek the regiment fell back, but were promptly rallied and reformed on another ridge of ground about 150 yards in rear — a strong position for infantry, and the only defensible one near. While there awaiting the attack the Fifty-fifth Illinois and Fifty-fourth Ohio formed in the ravine on our left. I had seen two or three regiments form in line on the ground lately abandoned by us, and thence at right angles towards our new position, threatening the right of the line formed by the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth. I was deterred from opening fire upon them by a message, communicated by a mounted orderly from Colonel McArthur, that they had been visited by officers of his regiments, and that they were our own men, displaying a secession flag captured from the enemy, intended as a decoy. When they opened on you, however, I gave the order to fire, and my men delivered a well-directed and well-sustained fire, which must have been destructive, for the enemy were thrown into confusion and fell back; but they soon rallied-almost immediately. It was here that the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Kyle fell, mortally wounded. His fall had a most disheartening effect upon the entire regiment, by whom he was greatly esteemed, the regiment having been recruited and organized by him. We continued to fire from our line until I saw the left of the brigade falling back and was informed that our left flank had been turned, when I gave the order to fall back. I was on the right. Major Andrews was on the left. The country in our rear, as you are aware, is much broken by short, deep ravines, leading into the main channel running into Lick Creek. In this retreat the regiment was separated. I led part of it towards our right and rear, as Major Andrews led part to the bank of the Tennessee River, where he spoke one of the gunboats, which, shelling the roads, covered their retreat. Part of the regiment went back under your personal command. At the Landing we rallied as many of our men as could be collected, about 250, and took part in the last combat, in which the enemy were checked.

In the battle on Monday we started with about 200 men. These were scattered through the woods shortly after our entering into the action, a few remaining in line. The others I disposed of, as far as I was able to collect them, in other regiments or in such way as I could make them available.

I desire to make special mention of Major Andrews for the steadiness, discretion, and gallantry with which he conducted that portion of the regiment under his command after we were broken, and to Adjutant Hart and Sergeant Major McConnell for their untiring efforts and constant gallantry throughout the day.

I am required to state especial cases of misconduct. None came under my observation, nor have I been informed of any deserving especial notice. I regret that the regiment did not bear themselves with greater steadiness; but it must be remarked, in extenuation, that the regiment was new; that it had been rapidly organized, and that we were ordered [262] unarmed into the field, and that up to the time of our arrivel at this post the regiment had never spent ten hours in the battalion drill Soldiers thus situated are never reliable, and when exposed to the fire of artillery, to which they have no means of replying, are almost always disheartened, if not demoralized. The fact that our loss amounts to one-fifth of the entire force engaged — the actual killed and wounded, certainly known and reported, of over one-eighth-shows that there was no want of personal courage or exposure. The severest loss fell on Company K, Captain Bown, who held the log house formerly occupied by the Fifty-fifth Illinois as a hospital until they were cut off by the enemy, losing, killed, wounded, and prisoners, more than one-half of their officers'and men.

R. Mason, Colonel Seventy-first Ohio Volunteers. Col. David Stuart, Commanding Second Brigade, Fifth Division.

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