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Doc. 141.-battle of Mission Ridge.1,

Colonel Grose's report.

headquarters Third brigade, First division, Fourth army corps, Whiteside, Tenn., December 4, 1863.
Lieutenant J. A. Wright, A. A.A. G.:
sir: In accordance with duty, I have the honor to report the part my brigade took in the recent battles before Chattanooga. On the twenty-third of November ultimo, under orders, and the command of Brigadier-General Cruft, I marched from this place with part of my command, Eighty-fourth Illinois, Colonel Waters; Ninth Indiana, Colonel Suman; Seventy-fifth Illinois, Colonel Bennett; Thirty-sixth Indiana, Major Trusler; Fifty-ninth Illinois, Major Hale; Twenty-fourth Ohio, Captain Bacon. Effective force, officers and men, one thousand six hundred and ninety-three. We marched that day to Lookout Valley and reported to Major-General Hooker, where we rested for the night, and were ready to move at daylight on the morning of the twenty-fourth, at which time I was ordered with my command to the front, and informed that General Hooker desired to see me in person. I repaired to his quarters, and received instructions to move with my command and drive the enemy from and effect a crossing of Lookout Creek at a destroyed bridge, near the railroad crossing over that creek) which courses along the base of Lookout Mountain on the west into the Tennessee River. I immediately went forward in advance of the troops, to make observations and learn the position, and found the enemy's pickets on the east bank and ours on the west, within thirty paces of each other, enjoying a friendship which was soon after broken and turned into wrath upon the approach of my forces.

I discovered soon that the creek was more swollen than was expected, and the only means of passage was to repair a place in the centre of the bridge, of about fifteen feet, which was strongly covered by the enemy from their rifle-pits on the opposite side and from the railroad embankment, which gave them complete protection. I ordered up the Eighty-fourth Illinois, supported by the Seventy-fifth Illinois. The former, in line with proper skirmishers, advanced through a bayou or pond, in some places up to their waists, drove the enemy under cover, and soon occupied the west bank of the creek; and Captain Chambers, of the Thirty-sixth Indiana, with a detail, was sent forward to do the work, but it was found impracticable without too great a loss. In the mean time Captain Bacon, with the Twenty-fourth Ohio, had moved upon the left of the two illinois regiments, and was briskly skirmishing with the enemy along the creek. General Hooker, upon a hill to the rear, soon saw the impracticability of the crossing, and desired to see me. On reporting to the general, he directed me to take the other four regiments not thus in position and proceed to the creek a mile above and to the right, where General Woods's brigade, of General Osterhaus's division, was constructing a pole-bridge, which was nearly completed. When I arrived at the crossing point, I met General Woods there. He had some skirmishers over the creek and a regiment ready to follow, and as soon as that regiment passed over, the General kindly gave me the use of the bridge. I at once crossed over the four regiments, and prolonged the line of battle on his right. I formed in double lines, the Thirty-sixth Indiana and Fifty-ninth Illinois in front line, the right of my lines connecting with the left of the brigade of General Whittaker and of General Geary, still to my right, who had advanced from a crossing still farther to the right and higher up the creek. The line was thus formed, obliquely up the slope of the mountain, and the grand forward move was soon in motion, moving forward as fast as the men and officers could climb, (for all were on foot,) sweeping every thing before them, over rebel camps and rebel rifle-pits. As the lines advanced so that the left of General Wood's brigade neared the position of the Eighty-fourth and Seventy-fifth Illinois, flanking the rifle-pits of the enemy defending the crossing the enemy were so surprised at the “Yankee trick” that most of them threw down their arms and surrendered. These two regiments immediately crossed under command of General Cruft, and extended the main line of battle on the left, covering and advancing on the main Chattanooga road over the [604] point of the mountain slope. These two regiments of Colonels Waters and Bennet, the latter in front, with the whole line, only halted when imperative orders were received to “pursue to the crest of Lookout Slope only, and no farther,” until farther orders. The Eighty-fourth and Seventy-fifth Illinois had already been gallantly pressed forward four or five hundred yards in advance of the crest, and beyond and to the left of the White House, and sufficiently far to uncover the mouth of Chattanooga Creek and allow troops to pass from the city to our rear. My other regiments were in the line rather above and to the right of the White House, but fully covering the plateau of ground on which it is situated.

There were two regiments of the troops on my right that were immediately under the high ledge of rocks at the top of the mountain that were farther advanced than the centre of the line. I was greatly annoyed with overtures to relieve these two regiments with regiments from my command, and before nightfall, I sent the Fifty-ninth Illinois and Ninth Indiana to relieve them, making now four regiments of mine in the front line, two on the extreme left and two on the right and far in the advance of all other regiments. At the point now occupied by these two regiments there was constant firing kept up on both sides, and about eight o'clock P. M., Colonel Suman and Major Hale, commanding those two regiments on the right, reported their ammunition exhausted, when the Thirty-sixth Indiana and Twenty-fourth Ohio were sent to relieve them, who held the position until about midnight, when the firing ceased on both sides, the enemy evidently having retired from our front, and, as afterward appeared, from the top of the mountain, but not until these two latter regiments had also exhausted their ammunition. Thus all my regiments had been in the front line during this engagement. The ground in front of the centre of the line, in and about the White House, I believe, was the common stock of the skirmishers of all the commands engaged, and at the house they found in park two pieces of the enemy's artillery, (with the limbers,) which was not in use upon our advance. Early the next morning, the enemy having entirely left the mountain, the Stars and Stripes waved upon the point of rocks on the summit of this grand old mountain. This was the conclusive evidence to observers for many miles around that one of the grandest feats of the war had been performed by our soldiers in successfully storming this stronghold, and taking most of the enemy, that were there posted, prisoners. Our advancing lines completely enfiladed most of the enemy's works, which were poorly adapted to the defence of the position.

Early on the morning of the twenty-fifth November, the Eighty-fourth and Seventy-fifth Illinois were advanced on the left to make a reconnoissance, and captured some rebel guards, camps, baggage, and several boxes of arms, near the road from Chattanooga up the mountain to Summer Town, and found that the main force of the enemy had evacuated Chattanooga Valley. These facts being reported, the whole force, under General Hooker, moved about ten o'clock A. M., toward Rossville, situated at the base of Missionary Ridge, five miles distant from Chattanooga, at which place the La Fayette road passes through a gorge in the ridge. Having to rebuild the destroyed bridge over Chattanooga Creek, it was after two o'clock P. M. before our advance, General Osterhaus's division, reached the rebel lines strongly posted in the gorge. The attack was soon made, however, and the advance division forced the passage, routed the enemy and moved forward through the gorge. As my advance approached the passage in the ridge, General Cruft. directed me to move up the point of the ridge to the left and at right angles with the road. As we assumed the point of the ridge, a brisk fire was opened from the summit upon some cavalry escort in our front. They soon found other quarters and gave way for our infantry. The Ninth Indiana, Colonel Suman, was in advance, and, seemingly by intuition, came into line with skirmishers in front, supported by the Fifty-ninth Illinois, Major Hale, in double-quick, on the left, the Eighty-fourth Illinois and Thirty-sixth Indiana in the second line, the Seventy-fifth Illinois and Twenty-fourth Ohio forming the third line. By the time the rear lines were formed, the advance line had charged and driven the enemy from two lines of barricades, visiting the enemy with severe punishment, killing and wounding a large number and taking all the balance prisoners that were behind the barricades. Two regiments of. General Whittaker's brigade soon came up on the left of my second and third lines on the slope of the ridge, General Geary's division advancing still further to the left in the valley; at the same time General Osterhaus's division was advancing to the east side of the ridge to my right.

We continued the advance, meeting and driving more of the enemy northward on the ridge. At the same time heavy firing was going on a couple of miles to our front. As we approached, it seemed to be advancing toward us, which turned out to be General Johnson's division, Fourteenth corps, driving the enemy south on the ridge. When his lines and ours approached within eight hundred or nine hundred yards of each other, the enemy's forces, between us, threw down their arms, and firing and destruction of life ceased; and it appeared to me that we had more prisoners between than we had men in our own lines. Here we disposed of prisoners, cared for the wounded, buried the dead, and rested for the night. Colonel Suman and Major Hale, with their regiments, deserve favorable mention for daring and gallant conduct on this occasion.

On the morning of the twenty-sixth, our forces moved on the Ringgold road in pursuit of the routed enemy. Two divisions of Fourteenth corps, under Major-General Palmer, had the advance, followed by General Osterhaus's division; then came the two brigades of our division, followed [605] by General Geary's division. Delayed at Chickamauga to rebuild bridge, we reached Peavine Valley about sunset, and the forces advanced cautiously through its mud and dense underbrush, until the advance reached the La Fayette road, where it found a battery and train of the enemy moving. One volley captured all, scattering the men therewith in every direction. General Palmer's forces there took the Grayville road to the left. Our division moved forward out of the valley, ascended the hill, gathering up many scattering prisoners, and rested for the night, four miles from Ringgold.

At early day on the morning of the twenty-seventh, General Osterhaus, taking the advance, followed by our division, we moved forward. At about eight o'clock we approached the town and found the enemy in force on White Oak Ridge and in the gorge through which Middle Chickamauga flows beyond the town.

A severe engagement soon commenced, our forces endeavoring to carry the position by a front assault. The action lasted about four hours, with heavy loss to us; at last the place was carried and the enemy driven. My brigade had been placed in position in the town, took no part, but was under fire, where I lost one man killed.

Shortly after the enemy had been driven from their position, I received orders to move, with my command, in pursuit, and was soon under way. Skirmishing with their rear-guard soon commenced, and destroyed bridges made the pursuit difficult and slow. We followed them until night, a distance of three miles, and found what appeared to be a division in a well-selected position, and in accordance with orders, I returned to Ringgold. We recaptured two of our wounded men, took two more prisoners, found broken caissons, wagons, ambulances, dead and dying men of the enemy strewn along the way to a horrible extent.

We remained at Ringgold until the evening of the thirtieth November, when I received orders to return to Whiteside via the Chickamauga battle-field. We marched to Reed's farm, on west Chickamauga, six miles, and camped for the night. On the first day of December, we crossed the creek, proceeded two miles to the memorable battle-field of the nineteenth and twentieth of September, 1863. We buried the remains of about four hundred of our brave fallen comrades that had been the prey of animals for two and a half months. On the left of our line, the dead of the enemy over a portion of the ground had bee well buried, and ours tolerably well covered, but toward the centre and right but few of ours were attempted to be buried or covered at all. The heads and feet of those on that part of the field that had been slightly covered, were mostly uncovered, and frequently found separated and some distance from the bodies. On the west of the road from Gordon and Lee's Mills to Rossville, and on our centre and right, and as far as I went to the south, but few burials had been attempted of either party.

We had not time to explore the entire field, and no doubt many of our soldiers remain unburied yet. All good clothing had been stripped from the bodies. Such a sight of inhumanity I hope never to witness again. On the second of December, we marched to our old quarters at this post, and thus ended our part of a fruitful campaign.

My command took prisoners as follows, the evidence of which is herewith forwarded:

List of names and rank taken by my provostmarshal, two hundred and forty-five; wounded on Mission Ridge and prisoners, twenty-one; voucher of Lieutenant Jaquis, Provost-Marshal of division, one hundred and eleven; with officers, four; vouchers of Captain Woodbury, of Twenty-ninth Ohio, one hundred and fifty-nine; vouchers of Captain Tolby, Twenty-seventh Missouri, thirty-seven; captured by Colonel Suman on Missionary Ridge, and turned over to the regiment on his right, as he states, which was one of General Wood's regiments, two hundred. Total, seven hundred and seventy-seven.

The conduct of the officers and men of my command was highly commendable, and I thank them for a prompt obedience and execution of all orders, without regard to danger or fatigue.

I am under obligations to my staff-officers for their kind and willing assistance rendered me during the campaign.

The following is a table of casualties in the brigade during the campaign, namely:

Major G. Trusler, Thirty-sixth Indiana volunteer infantry: killed, one enlisted man; wounded, ten enlisted men; total, eleven enlisted men; aggregate, eleven.

Colonel J. C. B. Suman, Ninth Indiana volunteer infantry: killed, two enlisted men; wounded, one commissioned officer, twenty-two enlisted men; total, one commissioned officer, twenty-four enlisted men; aggregate, twenty-five.

Major C. Hale, Fifty-ninth Illinois volunteer infantry: killed, one enlisted man; wounded, four commissioned officers, thirteen enlisted men; total, four commissioned officers, fourteen enlisted men; aggregate, eighteen.

Colonel J. E. Bennett, Seventy-fifth Illinois volunteer infantry: wounded, two enlisted men; total, two enlisted men; aggregate, two.

Colonel L. H. Waters, Eighty-fourth Illinois volunteer infantry: wounded, four enlisted men; total, four enlisted men; aggregate, four.

Captain G. M. Bacon, Twenty-fourth Ohio volunteer infantry: wounded, four enlisted men; total, four enlisted men; aggregate, four.

Killed, four enlisted men; wounded, five commissioned officers, fifty-five enlisted men; total, five commissioned officers, fifty-nine enlisted men; aggregate, sixty-four.

Knowing that I filled every post of danger required of me, I rejoice that so few of my men have fallen, compared with former battles. Lists of the casualties accompanying the reports of the regimental commanders respectively, which for further particulars are herewith forwarded.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

W. Grose, Colonel Commanding.

1 see document 18, ante.

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