replied he would, and I then informed him I would move my command to the support of General Baird. I requested General Thomas to furnish me a staff officer to conduct it to, and report it to General Baird. I then rode to the other two brigades, for the purpose of following with them in the rear of Barnes's brigade to the assistance of General Baird. When I rejoined them I found the valley south of them swarming with the enemy. It appears that when I moved my command to go to the support of General Reynolds that the gap thus made in our lines was not closed by the troops on my right, and that the enemy poured through it very soon in great force. The head of his column struck the right of Buell's brigade, and cutting off a portion of it, forced it over the adjacent ridge, whence it retired, as I have subsequently learned, with the vast mass of fugitives from the troops on the extreme right towards Rossville. In moving to the support of General Reynolds, naturally following the shortest route, I moved through the woods. My two batteries, Estep's and Bradley's, could not follow their brigades through the woods, and consequently were compelled to make a short detour to the left to get into the open fields on the slope of the ridge, intending to move thence parallel to their brigades. But they were caught in the movement by the rapidly advancing columns of the enemy. Estep's guns were captured, (in the neighborhood of infantry on the right, which, as I understand, might have supported him if it had stood,) while Bradley's battery, more fortunate, succeeded in getting over the ridge, and drew off towards Rossville, with the tide of fugitives setting strongly in that direction. For further details in regard to the movement of the batteries at this stage of the action, I must refer to the reports of Captains Bradley and Estep. I will only remark, that while their movements did not occur under my immediate observation, but took place beyond the reach of my infantry support, I am fully satisfied from all I have learned that neither Captain Bradley nor Estep can be censured for what occurred. When I discovered the enemy in force in the valley south of my command I at once divided his intention, and appreciated the terrible hazard to our army, and the necessity for prompt action. His object was clear. Having turned our right, and separated a portion of our forces from the main body, he was seeking the rear of our solid line of battle to attack it in reverse, hoping thus to cut our communication with Chattanooga, and capture and destroy the bulk of the army. I had with me at the time but one brigade — Harker's, and a portion of Buell's. I immediately formed a line across the valley, facing southward, determined if possible to check the advance of the enemy. He was in full and in plain view in the open fields, and it was evident his force far outnumbered mine. But I felt this, was no time to be comparing numbers. The enemy, at all hazards, must be checked! I was without the support of artillery, and knew I had to depend alone on the musket. I formed my line in a skirt of woods reaching across the valley. In front of me was the open field, across which the the enemy was advancing. It was a matter of great importance to get possession of the fence which bounded this field on the northern side. My line, as formed, was some one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards from the fence north of it, while the enemy's lines were perhaps as much as three hundred and fifty yards south of it. In person I ordered the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Ohio, Colonel Opdyke commanding, to advance and seize the fence. There was a momentary hesitation in the regiment to go forward. Its gallant Colonel immediately rode in front,of the centre of his regiment, and taking off his hat, called on his men to advance. His regiment gallantly responded by a prompt advance, as men ever will under the inspiration of such leadership. The enemy quickly lined the fence; when a sharp fire was opened on the enemy. Soon the Sixty-fourth Ohio, Colonel McIlvain commanding, followed, and formed along the fence on the left of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Ohio. This bold and rapid offensive movement seemed to take the enemy by surprise, and disconcert his movements, for his hitherto advancing lines halted. The other regiments, Sixty-fifth Ohio and Third regiment, Major Brown commanding the former, and Colonel Dunlap the latter, of Harker's brigade, with the Fifty-eighth Indiana, of Colonel Buell's brigade, Emler commanding, were formed on the right of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Ohio, higher up the fence, and on a hill dominating the field in which the enemy had halted. The One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Ohio and Sixty-fourth Ohio again advanced, and took position behind a copse of wood near the centre of the field, the now debated ground of the contending bodies. The movements of the enemy at this moment were so singular, and his blurred, and greasy, and dusty uniform so resembled our own when travel-stained, coupled with the fact that it was expected a part of McCook's command would come from that direction, (the terrible disaster to his force on the right not then being known by us,) that for a few minutes the impression prevailed, and the cry ran along my line, that the troops in front of us were our own. I ordered the firing to cease; the thought of firing on our comrades in arms being too horrible to contemplate. In a few minutes, however, the delusion was dispelled, the enemy commencing to advance in a way that left no doubt of his identity, for he advanced firing on us. I do not mention this mistake on account of its possessing any particular importance per se, but rather record it as an instance of the strange delusions which sometimes occur on the battle-field without any sufficient cause, and without the possibility of a reasonable explanation. This mistake was the more remarkable, as the enemy was probably not more than three hundred, certainly not over three hundred and fifty yards distant, and was halted in a broad open field. But for the mistake we could have punished him most severely at the time he was halted. The hour was now about high noon, possibly it may have been as late as half past 12 P. M.
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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