previous next

Report of Brigadier-General E. W. Pettus of operations at Lookout Mountain.

headquarters Pettus's brigade, camp near Dalton, Ga., December 6, 1863.
Sir,—At half-past 12 o'clock on the 24th ultimo I was with my command on the top of Lookout Mountain, and was then ordered by Brigadier-General Brown, commanding Stevenson's division, to report, with three regiments of my command, to Brigadier-General Jackson, commanding at the Craven House. I moved at once with the Twentieth, Thirty-first and Forty-sixth Alabama regiments, and at the head of the column I found Brigadier-General Jackson at the point where the road to the Craven House leaves the road leading down the mountain. Communicating my orders, I was directed to hasten forward and reinforce Brigadier-General Moore at the Craven House.

On the way I met squads of Moore's and Walthall's brigades; and when about three hundred yards from the Craven House I found that that point had been carried by the enemy. The two brigades which had held the point had fallen back. Here I found Brigadier-General Walthall with the remnant of his command formed at right angles with and on the left of the road, gallantly fighting to stay the advance of the enemy. He informed me that he had lost a large [225] part of his command, that his ammunition was nearly exhausted, and that he could not hold the position he then had.

Having no time to send back for orders, and finding the fighting was then all on the left of the road, I moved my command, though right in front, by filing to the left directly up the mountain side to the rocky bluff. So soon as formed my command was faced by the rear rank, moved forward, relieving Walthall's brigade, and was at once engaged with the enemy. Whilst my command was moving into position I sent an officer to the right to find Brigadier-General Moore and to ascertain his condition and the position of his line. In this way I learned that Moore's left was about one hundred and fifty yards from my right and his right resting at the large rocks on the road above the mouth of Chattanooga Creek. I then went down to Moore's line and had a few moments' consultation with him, and at his request extended intervals to the right so as to connect with his line. These facts were communicated by me to Brigadier-General Jackson, with the request that he would come forward, look at the line and give us orders. But he did not come in person, but sent orders that the position must be held.

Meantime the enemy made repeated assaults on my left next to the bluff, but were bravely met and repulsed by the Twentieth Alabama regiment and four companies of the Thirty-first Alabama regiment.

Knowing that Brigadier-General Moore's line was weak and that his men were almost out of ammunition, I again sent Captain Smith, of my staff, to inform the Brigadier-General commanding as to the progress of the fight and to ask his assistance. Captain Smith found Brigadier-General Jackson at the headquarters of Major-General Stevenson, on the top of the mountain (who was then commanding the forces west of Chattanooga Creek), about one mile and a-half from the fight, where General Jackson informs me he had gone to confer with General Stevenson as to the mode in which the troops should be withdrawn in case the enemy should get possession of the mountain road. In answer to my communication I was directed to hold my position as long as possible. When I had to send again to the Brigadier-General commanding he was still on the top of the mountain. After my command had been engaged about two hours, Brigadier-General Walthall, having formed the remnant of his brigade and supplied his men with ammunition, returned with his command into the fight on the left, and our commands fought together from that time until relieved. It should be remarked that [226] during the day the fog was very dense on the mountain side. It was almost impossible to distinguish any object at the distance of one hundred yards. The enemy made no attack on my right or on Brigadier-General Moore's line. But the attack on the left was continued, and finding that the purpose of the enemy was to force my left, at the suggestion of Brigadier-General Walthall I ordered Captain Davis, commanding the Twentieth Alabama regiment, to move forward, keeping his left well up to the bluff, and drive the enemy from the higher ground they then held. The order was executed promptly and in gallant style. The higher ground was gained and held during the fight.

About 8 o'clock at night Clayton's brigade, commanded by Colonel Holtzclaw, relieved Walthall's brigade and the Twentieth and Thirty-first Alabama regiments of my command. These two regiments were withdrawn and formed in the road a short distance in the rear. Some time after this I went to the road leading down the mountain, and there met Brigadier-General Jackson coming down. He directed me to keep my command where it was and await orders, and then passed on down the mountain. After 1 o'clock that night I received orders from the Brigadier-General commanding to retire with my command across Chattanooga Creek at the upper bridge, which was done quietly and in good order.

Captains Gould and Smith, of my staff, bore themselves gallantly throughout the affair. Below is a statement of the casualties in my command. It is small. The day was dark and the men well sheltered on the rock.

I am, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant,


E. W. Pettus, Brigadier-General Commanding.

Casualties in Pettuss brigade in the fight of 24TH ult.

Killed, 9; wounded, 38; missing, 9. Total, 56.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Chattanooga Creek (United States) (3)
Lookout Mountain (Georgia, United States) (2)
Dalton, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
James Moore (7)
E. C. Walthall (6)
Stonewall Jackson (6)
Robert Alexander Smith (3)
E. W. Pettus (3)
Stevenson (2)
J. T. Holtzclaw (1)
Gould (1)
Jefferson Davis (1)
H. D. Clayton (1)
John Brown (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
24th (2)
December 6th, 1863 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: