The Turning Point in Bragg's late defeat — the breaking of the "Left Centre."
An officer who was engaged at the point where the "left centre" broke, in Gen. Bragg
's late defeat, writes an account of the fighting there to the Mobile Register
It will be read with interest:
When the advance of the enemy's lines commenced I beheld the grandest sight that I ever witnessed.
Three lines of battle, extending as far as you could see to the right and left, all advancing at the same time, with colors flying, and keeping as accurately dressed as if on drill.
Our batteries were posted at intervals along the top of the ridge, and as soon as the Yankee
advancing opened upon them with terrible effect.
Still they did not waver or falter, but kept steadily At times our shells would plow through their lines, making great gaps in them; but they would close up and come ahead, and never made a break until they came under fire from our line on the top of the ridge.
My men were as cool, and collected as you ever saw men, and fired as deliberately as if they were shooting squirrels.
Both officers and men felt perfectly confident of our ability to hold the ridge.
The first line of the enemy soon broke, and scattered in confusion.
The second came on and reached the slope of the ridge and started up. Soon it halted, wavered, and separated in front of our brigade, and moved to the right and left.
My men kept firing deliberately and watching the effect of each other's shots, and hundreds of the enemy were made to bate the dust in our front.
Companies C and K both had a good position on the right of the regiment, and their fire told with terrible effect.
As I stated before, the enemy separated in our front and moved to the right and left, under cover of two high points which jutted out from the top of the ridge--one in front of Anderson
's, and the other in front of Deas
Soon we saw the enemy slowly crawling up at these two points in immense numbers.
The men on the right of my regiment changed their fire, and directed it obliquely upon those to our right, but the distance was too great, the firing had but little effect.
Soon it became evident that unless they were driven back they would gain the top of the ridge, and perhaps carry the point.
went to a section of Dent
's battery, which was posted a little in rear of the centre of our brigade — turned the pieces and directed them upon the column advancing up in Anderson
's front, and fired several rounds or canister upon them, but it had but little effect.
In a few minutes the enemy gained the top of the point in Anderson
They halted a moment to get breath, and then a dash for the battery posted at this point.
Two double charges of canister were fired in their faces.
This merely staggered them a moment, and before the pieces could be reloaded they ran up, captured them, and planted their colors upon them.
The 10th Mississippi and Sharpshooters, posted at this point, broke and fled in confusion down the hill.
, commanding the division, was at this time in the rear of Deas
sent Capt. Walker
to inform him that the enemy had carried the hill in front of his brigade, commanded by Col. Tucker
, and that the battery was captured.
merely replied, "that it could not be so."--Captain Walker
reasserted the fact, and turned around and left him. By this time the whole of Anderson
's brigade had retreated, and the enemy had turned the captured pieces upon our brigade.
Several shots were fired from them down our line, and by this time we had the top of the ridge in Deas
's front, and his brigade began to break to the rear.
Still our brigade stood firm and kept back the enemy in our front.
In a few minutes the enemy formed a line on the top of, and at right angles to the ridge, and came marching down upon the flank of our brigade.
Then the left began to give way, and it was gradually continued on towards our right.
The right of my regiment was the last to leave, and when it did, the whole of Anderson
's brigade on our left and Deas
' on our right, had gone, and the enemy had planted his colors all along the line.
Companies R, C, and C, came very near being captured.
was shot down as he turned to run away, besides two or three others in the same company.
started to the rear and then went back, stating that he had rather be captured than run the risk of being shot getting away.
received a flesh wound in the arm, but still remained at his post urging the men to stand firm, and remained with them until all hope was lost, when he started to the rear.
He was seen to fall upon his face, and I was fearful that he had either been killed or dangerously wounded and captured, but I learn this morning that he is sate, with only a slight wound in the wrist.
I am thus particular in stating which brigade was the first to give way, because it was reported Manigault
's was the first.
This is false.
The facts are just as I have stated them, because I witnessed them with my own eyes.
was informed that Gen. Anderson
said his (Manigault
's) was the first to give way. Gen. Manigault
went to Gen. Anderson
and asked him about it, and he denied ever having said so; but, on the contrary, that he had always stated to every one that his own brigade was the first to give way. We all finally fell back about half a mile to the rear, where we rallied and reformed in line again.
After a short conference among the general officers
it was decided to fall back across the creek towards Chickamauga Station
We reached there about 10 o'clock at night.
I made me a pallet, and, hungry, cold, and
tired, I lay down to sleep and dream over the events of the past, sickened at the thoughts of our defeat.
We had been whipped and driven from our strong without making scarcely any resistance.
It is true, we were outnumbered three to one, but still we had the advantage in position.
We never will have another such an opportunity of completely destroying the Yankee
True, one forces had been greatly reduced by sending troops to Knoxville
, yet it does appear to me that we ought to have whipped them.