The fight in-lookout Valley — Details of the engagement.
The army correspondent of the Charleston Courtier
gives that paper a very full account of the fight in Lookout Valley
, which has so changed the face of the situation at Chattanooga
We give some extracts from the letter:
The enemy were several miles distant, and the smoke of their bivouac fires resting above the tree tops indicated a halt.
Subsequently the column resumed its motion, and during the afternoon the long, dark, thread-like lines of troops became visible, slowly wending their way in the direction of Chattanooga
On Lookout Peak, gazing down upon the singular spectacle — a coup d'ail
which embraced in curious contrast the beauties of nature and the achievements of art — the blessings of peace and the horrors of war — were Generals Bragg
, and others, to whom this bold venture of the enemy opened at once new vistas of thought and action.
Infantry, artillery, and cavalry, all gilded silently by, like a procession of fantoccini
in a panorama, until among all the "sun down's sumptuous pictures," which glowed around us, there was not one like that of the great, fresh, bustling camp, suddenly grown into view, with its thousand twinkling lights, its groups of men and animals, and its lines of white-topped wagons, now strung like a necklace of pearls around the bosom of the hills.
The Federal had succeeded in effecting a junction with the Army of Chattanooga.
The question which naturally arises is, why did not Gen. Bragg
throw his army in front of the advancing columns and check the movement?
The answer is in the shape of one of those stolid facts which even strategy cannot always stir.
On Monday night Gen. Thomas
--or perhaps Grant
, for he is now in Chattanooga
— crossed a force of 6,000 men, first over the Tennessee
at the edge of town, then over the neck of land known as the Moccasin
, and finally over the river again at Brown's Ferry, in rear of Chattanooga
, where, after a brief skirmish with one of our regiments, they took possession of the hills and commenced the work of fortification.
Simultaneously with this movement a column at Bridgeport
, consisting of the 11th corps, Gen. Howard
, and 12th corps, Gen. Slocum
, the whole under command of Gen. Joe Hooker
, started up the valley.
Under these circumstances, an interposition of our forces across the valley would in the first place have required the transfer of a considerable portion of our army from the east to the west side of Lookout Mountain
, thereby weakening our line in front of Chattanooga
, while the enemy reserved his strength; secondly, it would have necessitated a fight in both our front and rear, with the flanks of the Federal
protected by the mountains; and finally, had we been successful, a victory would only have demoralized two corps of the Yankee
army without at all influencing the direct issue involved in the present investment of Chattanooga
, however, who from the peak had carefully watched the march of the 11th corps, determined to make an attack for another purpose — namely, to capture, if possible, a large park of wagons and its escort, numbering, as was supposed, from fifteen hundred to two thousand men, who still remained in the rear.
It subsequently appeared, although it was not known at the time, that the advance guard of the 12th corps had moved up after dark and taken position in the same locality.
's, or rather Gen. Jenkins
's division — he being the ranking Brigadier — was assigned the honor of making the attack, but owing to the rugged nature of the road the troops could not be marched to their respective places until a late hour in the night — probably between twelve and one o'clock.
The situation at this time was as follows: The enemy were in the neighborhood of Brown's Ferry, on a line of hills parallel with the river; Gen Law's Alabamians and Robertson
's Texans on the same range of heights, one mile and a half this side, and nearer to Lookout Mountain
, while Gen. Benning
, with his Georgians, had a position on the left of the two brigades last named, being intended as a support to Col. Bratton
, commanding the brigade of Gen. Jenkins
These commands covered as it were the bridges on which they had crossed Lookout Creek
, at the same time that they threatened the line of the enemy at Brown's Ferry, to prevent a movement from that direction.
, with his six regiments of South Carolinians, consisting of the First, Col. Kilpatrick
, Second, Col. Thompson
, Fifth, Col. Coward
, Sixth, Lieut.-Col. Steadman Palmetto Sharp
shooters, Col. Walker
, and Hampton Legion, Col. M. W. Gary
, now moved down the valley a mile or more to the left to attack the supposed rear guard and capture the much envied wagon train.
Skirmishers being thrown out, the Federal
pickets were soon encountered, and these falling back, the enemy were found in line of battle.
Instead of being surprised, they instantly opened with heavy vollies, and it required but a short time to reveal the fact that instead of a paltry body of men one brigade was fighting a whole division belonging to the 12th Army Corps of Virginia
The battle commenced about one o'clock, and for two hours the brigade faced an unknown and unseen foe, guided only in their movements by the dim light of a shadowed moon and the flashes of the enemy's guns.
As the engagement progressed Col. Bratton
, discovering a weakness on the right of the Federal
, line, ordered Col. Walker
, of the Sharpshooters, to attack vigorously at that point.
Sweeping his regiment around so as to form nearly a perpendicular with our line of battle, he poured his fast succeeding volleys into the ranks of the enemy, who began to fall back out of range of its fury, silencing at the same time the Federal
Meanwhile, Col. M. W. Gary
, of the Hampton Legion
, being ordered to the right of Col. Coward
, and securing an-opportunity, assumed the responsibility of making a flank or "Jackson
" movement on the Federal
left, and by a skillful manœuvre, marked by his usual dash, succeeded in precipitating his regiment fairly upon the coveted spot. --Pushing impetuously forward at a charge, his men veiling and pouring in a destructive fire as they advanced, the Yankee
line was speedily broken.--The legion now pressed on, taking prisoners by the way, passed through the wagon camps, left these and a large amount of spoils in their rear, and prepared to charge the battery which had been compelled to retire in the early part of the action, and from its new position was playing, though with little effect, upon our line.
In ten minutes more the guns would have been ours, and Gary
only waited to re form his front and receive the cooperation of Col. Coward
At this juncture, in consequence of the presence of the enemy from the direction of Brown's Ferry, hereafter explained, a peremptory order was received from Gen. Jenkins
, through Col. Bratton
, to retire to the bridges.
The tidings could scarcely be believed.
, in his characteristic manner, took the courier to a fire light to ascertain whether he was not "demoralized," but the courier, cool and collected, told his name and the company, and repeated the order to "fall back!" Victory was already in our hands; the enemy whipped beyond peradventure, and the fruits of success in our possession; yet there was no other resource than to obey the command of the chief.
Officers and men alike participated in the general feeling of reluctance, and the discipline of the brigade, always admirable, never was put to a severer test.
The movement rearward, however, was slowly made, Colonels Walker
forming a fresh line of battle at various intervals, and the Hampton Legion
shooting the horses and mules, which, being unharnessed, prevented the removal of the wagons.
Twenty or more prisoners were also brought away by Colonel Gary
, together with a captured flag.
Meanwhile the enemy in the vicinity of Brown's Ferry, consisting of Slocum
's corps and Granger
's corps of the Western army, numbering probably between 9,000 and 12,000, seeing the attack of Col. Bratton
, rapidly marched up the valley one column aiming to intersect the long interval between Jenkins
's brigade and that of Gen. Benning
, and thereby cut the former off from the bridge, and the other column moving to attack the line of Gens
Law and Robertson
The two latter soon became engaged along their front, during which the Federal
, hugging the bank of the river, sought to turn the right of Law
's brigade and pass around in that direction towards the bridge, which it was now a matter of life and death to us should be stubbornly held.
Instantly- divining the intention of the enemy Gen. Jenkins
ordered Law to maintain his position at every hazard, and at the same time instructed Bratton
to fall promptly back upon the creek.
The Federal had reached the right of Benning
's brigade, and were now within three hundred yards of the road by which Bratton
was to pass to the rear Lieut. Col. Logan
, of the Hampton Legion
, with fourteen companies which he had relieved from picket and hurried forward to the field, had already arrived, and occupying a position first on the left, and subsequently on the right of Bening
— filling the gap between the latter and Robertson
— contributed not a little to the check which the enemy now received.
Still the situation was a critical one, and nothing but able generalship, well timed movements and perfect discipline prevented our success from being changed to a disaster.
On leaving the field four of Batton
's regiments were brought to the rear by a route around a hill whereby the dangerous pass was avoided, but the remaining two of his regiments kept the road, and marched within two hundred yards of the threatening front of the enemy.
Fortunately they were not molested, being covered by our skirmishers, and the greatest difficulty was overcome.
It was now left for the division to re-cross the two bridges — small structures on which not more than four men could walk abreast, and distant from each other a third of a mile.
here again shielded us from harm.
Law and Robertson
, leaving skirmishers in front, dropped silently back into the darkness, and in a short time passed over the lower bridge to the opposite side of Lookout creek
The skirmishers then in turn retired.
Such was the perfect order of Jenkins
's brigade, although so severely handled, that having arrived at the upper bridge, the General
again formed it in line of battle to cover the passage, when Benning
, leaving a regiment of skirmishers to protect his rear, also recrossed.--The latter forming another line of battle on this side of the creek, there awaited the passage of Col. Bratton
, who soon followed.
, always in his place, was in front, or rather now rear of his command, directing every movement, and among the skirmishers, under Logan
, was the last to recross.
The two latter officers maintained their positions yet awhile to give time for the straggling wounded to reach the other side of the stream, and at about five o'clock in the morning the entire country west of Lookout creek
was abandoned to the enemy.
So ended the engagement, with its stirring and perilous scenes.