The accompanying map, showing the shape of the enemy's line of works opposite my line, will explain our relative positions. Upon reference to it, it will be seen that opposite to my right and right centre the enemy's works ran about half a mile north and south, and nearly parallel to the Chattanooga and Lafayette road, which was about three hundred yards behind; that at a point opposite my centre his works formed, as before stated, a retiring angle, running in a westerly and somewhat oblique direction to the Chattanooga and Lafayette road; and that at a point nearly opposite my right, his works formed another retiring angle, running back also to the road. My right and right centre, consisting of Polk's brigade and Lowry's regiment of Wood's brigade, were checked within one hundred and seventy-five yards of the advance part of this portion of the enemy's works, and the rest of the line were halted in compliance with the order previously given, to dress upon the right. Passing towards the left at this time, I found that the line of advance of my division, which was the left of the right wing of the army, converged with the line of advance of the left wing of the army; the flanks of the two wings had already come in collision ; part of Wood's brigade had passed over Bate's brigade of Stewart's division, which was the right of the left wing, and Deshler's brigade, which formed my left, had been thrown out entirely, and was in rear of the left wing of the army. I ordered Wood to move forward the remainder of his brigade, opening at the same time in the direction of the enemy's fire with Semple's battery. That part of Wood's brigade to the left of Lowry's regiment, and to the left of the southern angle of the breastworks in its advance at this time, entered an old field, bordering the Chattanooga and Lafayette road, and attempted to cross it in the face of a heavy fire from works in its front. It had almost reached the road, its left being at Poe's house (known as the burning house), when it was driven back by a heavy oblique fire of small arms and artillery, which was opened upon both its flanks; the fire from the right coming from the south face of the breastworks, which was hid from view by the thick growth of scrub oaks bordering the field. Five hundred men were killed and wounded by this fire in a few minutes. Upon this repulse, Lowry's regiment having also in the meantime been forced to retire, I ordered the brigade still further back to re-form. Semple's battery, which had no position, I also ordered back. I now moved Deshler's brigade by the right flank, with the intention of connecting it with Polk's left, so filling the gap left in my centre by the withdrawal of Wood. This connection, however, I could not establish, as Polk's left had, in its turn, been also driven back. Finding it a useless sacrifice of life for Polk to retain his position, I ordered him to fall back with the rest of his line, and with his and Wood's brigades I took up a strong defensive position, some three or four hundred yards in rear of the point from which they had been repulsed. Deshler's brigade had moved forward towards the right of the enemy's advanced works, but could not go beyond the crest of a low ridge from which Lowry had been repulsed. I therefore ordered him to cover himself behind the ridge, and hold his position as long as possible. His brigade was now en echelon about four hundred yards in. front of the left of the rest of the division, which here rested for some hours. In effecting this last disposition of his command, General Deshler fell, a shell passing fair through his chest. It was the first battle in which this gentleman had the honor of commanding as a general officer. He was a brave and efficient one. He brought always to the discharge of his duty a warm zeal and a high conscientiousness. The army and the country will long remember him. At about 3.30 P. M., I received orders from Lieutenant-General Polk to move forward on a line with my left, Deshler connecting my right with Jackson's brigade, and, when I had formed my line, to remain and hold the position. I accordingly advanced with my centre and right wing, drove in the enemy's skirmishers, and forced his line behind the works from which he had repulsed us in the morning. The left wing of the army had been driving the enemy; the right wing now attacked. Lieutenant-General Polk ordering me to advance my heavy batteries and open on the enemy, Captain Semple, my acting Chief of Artillery (Major Hotchkiss, my Chief of Artillery, being disabled by a wound received the day before), selected positions in front of the line, and placed his own and Douglass's batteries within two hundred yards of the enemy's breastworks, and opened a rapid and most effective fire, silencing immediately a battery which had been playing upon my lines. About the same time Brigadier-General Polk charged and soon carried the north-western angle of the enemy's works, taking, in succession, three lines of breastworks. In these brilliant operations he was materially aided by Key's battery, and towards its close by Douglass's battery, which had again been moved by my orders to my extreme right, where it was run into position by hand. A large number of prisoners (regulars) were here captured. The enemy abandoned his works and retired precipitately. Brigadier-General Polk pursued to the Chattanooga and Lafayette road, where he captured another piece of artillery. I here received directions from Lieutenant-General Hill to halt my command until further orders. I cannot close this report without an acknowledgment of distinguished services rendered by various officers and men, which would otherwise pass unnoticed. I have already incidentally called attention to the gallant conduct of Brigadier-General Polk, but it is due to him and to the country, which wishes to appreciate its faithful servants, to say that to the intrepidity and stern determination of purpose of himself and men I was principally indebted for the success of the
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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