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Operations about Lookout mountain.

We have on hand, and now publish for the first time, a number of reports of affairs about Lookout mountain. The reports given below will be followed by others until the whole of the series we have is completed.

We have been promised by several officers of high standing papers which shall discuss certain important features of these operations. Meantime these reports, never before in print, will be regarded as valuable contributions to the history of the Army of Tennessee:

Report of General Longstreet.

October 29, 1863.
Colonel George William Brent, Assistant-Adjutant General:
Colonel — Up to the 9th of October my forces were along the regular line of investment, extending from Lookout mountain, on the left, to Lieutenant-General D. H. Hill's corps, on the right. My left ocoupied the base of the mountain, and sharpshooters extended the line to the river on the west slope of the mountain. I had a small picket upon the summit of the mountain, and a small cavalry force about Trenton reported to me from time to time. On the 9th, I received orders to send my sharpshooters down the river to occupy a point on the left bank between Raccoon mountain and [267] Walden's ridge, for the purpose of preventing the use of the road on the opposite bank by the enemy's wagon trains. As I had but a small force of sharpshooters, I thought it best to send a brigade in addition, as a smaller force would be liable to be cut off and captured. A brigade was thought to be force enough to secure its retreat to the mountains, and finally to make its escape to our main force should a movement be made against it. General Law's brigade was selected for the service, and a sufficient force was ordered to the point indicated as soon as practicable. Pits were sunk and occupied by the troops, and they effectually put a stop to the travel on the road on the opposite bank. We were advised in a few days, however, that the enemy was using another road, a little longer, which avoided this point, and he had several other roads of communication that were entirely beyond our reach, particularly the Poe and Anderson roads. On the 25th, I was ordered to make a reconnoissance in the direction of Bridgeport. This reconnoissance was interrupted by the enemy's making a crossing of the river at Brown's ferry, about three miles below the point of Lookout mountain.

As soon as the crossing was discovered, the troops near the point assembled and drove back the enemy's advance, but the force was found to be crossing in too much strength to be successfully opposed by a brigade. The brigade was therefore concentrated and withdrawn to the foot of the mountain on the west side. The force near the crossing was small, as the duty for which the brigade was ordered was to guard a point some six miles below Brown's ferry. The brigade could not be reinforced, as the enemy's moccasin batteries commanded the only road across the mountain. If it had been practicable to reinforce, I should not have thought myself authorized to do so by taking my troops that were occupying their proper positions in the line of investment for that purpose, as my orders and the disposition of my troops had no reference to any such move on the part of the enemy, and to have done so would have broken our line and exposed the whole army. Besides the enemy's position was such that he could reinforce from any point of his lines in half an hour, whilst I could only reinforce from my nearest point in about three hours. He would have the benefit of his artillery, and we could not cross the mountain with ours. On the 27th, I received orders to make arrangements and examinations for the purpose of dislodging the enemy from his new position, and with that view was called to meet the Commanding-General on the mountain on the following day. On the afternoon of the 27th, I received a report from my signal party, near Trenton, that the enemy was advancing in force from Bridgeport. I sent this information up to the Commanding-General, but as it was not confirmed by the cavalry, it was not credited.

On the 28th I met the Commanding General on the mountain in accordance with his appointment. Whilst engaged in an examination of the enemy's new position, one of my signal party reported [268] to us that the enemy was advancing in force from Bridgeport. He guided us to a projection on the mountain, about a mile off, where we saw the head of the enemy's column, and where we saw his force, about five thousand, file past and unite with the force already at Brown's ferry. The rear guard of this command, about fifteen hundred, with a battery of artillery, came up in about an hour and halted about three miles from the main force. The road between the two commands ran along the western base of a series of heights, and parallel to them. The position that had been taken by General Law's brigade was about a mile from this road, and opposite the point of the road about half way between the rear guard and the main force. As soon as the rear guard halted, I sent orders to General Jenkins to concentrate at the base of the mountain his three brigades that were on the east side, and to be ready to cross it as soon as it was dark enough to conceal our men from the fire of the enemy's batteries, and I directed that he should report to me upon the mountain at once. I also ordered General Law to advance his brigade as soon as it was dark, and occupy the height in his immediate front, which commanded the road between the enemy's forces. General Jenkins reported in time to see the positions occupied by the enemy. He was ordered to hold the point designated for General Law, with a sufficient force, whilst a portion of his command moved up the road and captured or dispersed the rear guard. He was also directed, if time and circumstances favored it, to make a demonstration against the main force, and if an attack at night should give us such advantage as to warrant it, to endeavor to drive the enemy across the river, but if the latter should appear inexpedient, to recross the mountain before daylight. As soon as it was dark, his troops were put in motion, but the route across the point of the mountain was so difficult that he was not able to get his troops into their positions until midnight. He arranged two brigades, under General Law, to hold the position between the enemy's forces, whilst his own brigade, under Colonel Bratton, was sent to make the attack upon the rear guard. His fourth brigade, General Benning's, was held on the left of General Law's two, in readiness to reinforce Colonel Bratton. The brigade under Colonel Bratton claims to have had complete success up to the moment that it was recalled. It was recalled in consequence of General Law's abandoning his position, which was essential to the safety of Colonel Bratton's command. As soon as General Law yielded his position, it became necessary to recall Colonel Bratton, and send the troops back to their positions, in order that they might pass the mountain before daylight. The loss sustained by the two brigades under General Law was probably one-tenth of the loss sustained by the single brigade which claims a victory. As General Law's troops were veterans, I can only attribute the want of conduct with his troops to a strong feeling of jealousy among the brigadier-generals. About eight o'clock at night, on the 28th, I received notice that the [269] Commanding-General had approved my plan, and information from him that another of my divisions had been relieved from the lines and could be used in this attack, but it was too late for it to cross the mountain before daylight, and the success of the affair depended entirely upon a night attack and a surprise. To have put two divisions on the west side of the mountain during daylight would have exposed them to an attack from the enemy's entire force, without artillery, and in a position where they could not be reinforced. My object was merely to inflict such damage upon the enemy as might be accomplished by a surprise. That the point was not essential to the enemy at Chattanooga is established by the fact that he supplied his army at that place some six weeks without it.

About the 31st of October, Lieutenant-General Hardee, Major-General Breckinridge, and myself, were ordered to examine this position with a view to a general battle. It was decided that an attack was impracticable. That the only route by which our troops could reach the field was a difficult mountain road only practicable for infantry, and entirely exposed to the enemy's batteries on the other side of the river. His positions were connected by a short and easy route, whilst ours would have been separated by a mountain impassable to artillery, except by a detour of some fifty miles, and hardly practicable for infantry.

Our position was so faulty that we could not accomplish that which was hoped for.

We were trying to starve the enemy out by investing him on the only side from which he could not have gathered supplies.

Copies of communications connected with this matter are appended to this report. The reports of the subordinate officers have already been forwarded.

I am, Colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. Longstreet, Lieutenant-General.


List of Casualties in Jenkins' brigade--Colonel John Bratton commanding — in the action at Lookout Mountain, on the night of the 28th of October, 1863.

command.Killed — Officers and Enlisted Men.Wounded — Officers and Enlisted Men.Missing — Officers and Enlisted Men.Total — Officers and Enlisted Men.
Sixth South Carolina regiment 13316
Fifth South Carolina regiment9849102
Second South Carolina rifles651764
First South Carolina regiment238545
Palmetto sharpshooters635344
Hampton legion8651285
Grand total3128639356

Original Rough draft of report of General C. L. Stevenson.

January 2, 1863.
General — I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the troops of my command, west of Chattanooga creek, on the 24th of November, 1863.

On the 12th of November, I was directed to move my division from the position near the tunnel of the East Tennessee and Georgia railroad, which it had occupied since its return from East Tennessee, to the extreme left of our infantry lines, the top of Lookout mountain, reporting to Lieutenant-General Hardee. On the 11th of November, the positions of the troops of his command were assigned by the Lieutenant-General--Walker's division (commanded by Brigadier-General Gist) to occupy that portion of the line which lay west of Chattanooga creek, to the Chattanooga road, at the base of the mountain; Cheatham's division (commanded by Brigadier-General Jackson), that known as the “Craven house slope,” extending from the left of Walker's line to Smith's trail, on the western side of the mountain; and the defence of the top of the mountain was entrusted to my division and a very small and inadequate force of cavalry. [271]

The position assigned to me, the table on the top of the mountain, included the pass at Johnston's crook, distant eighteen (18) miles. The numerous passes along the western crest, to “Nickajack” pass, a distance of about ten (10) miles, were held by infantry; the remainder by a small force of cavalry. The defensive works on the mountain extended across from east to west at about two and a half miles from the point.

To guard this extended line, to protect these numerous passes, and to complete, with the dispatch so frequently urged upon me by the Commanding-General, the line of defence, the work upon which was prosecuted, agreeably to his order, day and night, and the necessity of watching with the utmost vigilance the movements of the heavy force of the enemy threatening my rear at Stephens' gap and Johnston's crook, demanded and received my constant and undivided attention. By personal inspection and reconnoissance, I familiarized myself with the character of the line entrusted to me, but had neither time nor occasion to acquaint myself with the dispositions made by the Lieutenant-General Commanding for the defence of the rest of the line, further than such information as I acquired by personal observation in visiting and adjusting the posts of my pickets and signal stations, at and near the point of the mountain, from which place, in favorable weather, both armies could be plainly discerned.

On the 23d of November, about 1 o'clock P. M., my attention was attracted by heavy firing in the valley below. I immediately proceeded to the point of the mountain, from which I could plainly see all the movements of the enemy. I watched them closely until dark, and then hurried off the following dispatch, by signal, both to Lieutenant-General Hardee and direct to General Bragg:

I observed closely from the point the movements of the enemy until dark. Their object seemed to be to attract our attention. All the troops in sight were formed from centre to left. Those on their right moved to centre. The troops from “Raccoon ” were in line in full sight. If they intend to attack, my opinion is it will be upon our left. Both of their bridges are gone.

The movements of the enemy and his demonstration against our right, were such that, in my own mind, I had not the slightest doubt that his purpose was to attract our attention, induce us to concentrate on our right, thereby weakening our left, and thus render the acquisition of the “Craven house slope” practicable for him.

His manoeuvre had the desired effect, for during that evening Walker's entire division was removed from its position to the extreme right, and the force west of Chattanooga creek thereby diminished more than one-third. After dark, I was informed by Lieutenant-General Hardee, that he had been ordered to the extreme right, and I was directed to assume command of the troops west of Chattanooga creek. To fill, as far as possible, the vacancy caused by the removal of Walker's division, Jackson's brigade, of [272] Cheatham's division, was removed from the “Craven house slope,” and Cumming's brigade, of my own division, from the top of the mountain--General Cumming, as senior officer present, being placed in command of the two brigades. I was advised by Lieutenant-General Hardee to transfer my headquarters to the “Craven house,” and subsequently to the camp just vacated by him.

Having thus, without the slightest premonition — not only a large portion of the troops, but even the permanent commands having been removed — been placed in command, at night, at a most critical period, over a wing of the army with whose position and disposition, as I have already stated, I had enjoyed no opportunity of making myself acquainted, I at once used every exertion to gain the necessary information, by sending every officer of my staff, and devoting the whole night myself to riding over and examining the lines. I found the position, at which General Hardee advised me to establish my headquarters, to be on the eastern side of Chattanooga creek, some distance beyond the extreme right of my line, and at least two and a half miles from the base of the mountain. The distance, and the fact that the situation was most unfavorable for personal observation, determined me to return to the mountain, which afforded this advantage in the highest degree, and I accordingly addressed you the appended communication (A). On my way back I examined the whole line, and, at sunrise, reached the “Craven house.”

After examining the “Craven house slope,” I was convinced that, should it be attacked by the enemy, it would be impossible, with the force at my disposal, to hold any point upon the northwest side, so completely was it commanded by the batteries of the enemy on Moccasin point, and those on the ridge near Lookout creek, recently erected to command that slope, and I was satisfied that the best plan that could be adopted in such an event was to hold a line near the “Craven house,” placing Walthall on the Northwest slope, with a strong force of skirmishers on the creek to resist the enemy as long as possible, finally falling back fighting to the line selected; posting as many sharpshooters as possible on Lookout point, from which position they could pour upon the enemy a most destructive fire, and by descending Smith's trail with troops from above, to strike him in flank. Accordingly, after seeing General Moore, and conversing with him upon the subject of his line, and his ability to hold it, of which he spoke with some confidence, I went to the top of the mountain to make what I conceived to be the proper disposition of the troops there. I directed Brigadier-General Brown, then commanding my division, to hold the large portion of Pettus' brigade ready to move at a moment's notice to any point to which it should be ordered. I thus provided, as well as the means at my disposal permitted, either for an attack upon Cumming or Jackson.

Immediately upon my arrival on the mountain, I directed the lookouts at the point to keep a close watch, and advise me of any movements that the enemy might make. [273]

About 10 o'clock A. M., I received from Brigadier-General Jackson, the communication (B) written him by General Walthall, and, soon afterwards was informed by the men at the point that there was some picket firing on Lookout creek. I immediately rode to the point to see what was going on. The enemy had, by felling trees, constructed three (3) temporary bridges over the creek, and in a short time forced a passage. The troops, as they crossed, formed to cover the passage of the remainder. I immediately sent a staff officer of General Hardee's, Major W. D. Pickett, who happened to be with me, to General Jackson, to inform him of what I had seen, and to direct him at once to place all of his troops in position. He reached General Jackson, I suppose, a little after eleven (11) o'clock A. M. I caused the picket at Smith's trail to be largely increased, and a strong force to be posted as sharpshooters along the crest of the mountain. The artillery, with trails raised, opened with spirit and effect, and was used until the enemy advanced so close under the cliff that the guns could not be sufficiently depressed for the shots to take effect.

General Walthall's pickets and skirmishers extended from the turnpike bridge of Lookout creek to the railroad bridge, and thence making nearly a right angle across the northwest slope of the mountain to a point near Smith's trail. The enemy, as Walthall mentions in his report, had threatened to force a passage of the creek on his right, but their real movement was upon his left. A large force had moved up the creek, under cover of the fog, crossed above, and passing along the western slope, attacked him successfully in flank and rear. Their advance on the flank and from the front was gallantly contested, but though their front line sometimes wavered, they pressed on, Walthall falling back to the line which I have before mentioned, but with very heavy loss in prisoners, owing to the enemy's taking him in flank and rear. Finding that the fog was becoming so dense that the troops on the northern point of the mountain could not see the enemy moving upon Walthall, I gave orders for Pettus, with my only disposable force, to move down and report to Brigadier-General Jackson. He started at 12 1/2 o'clock, and reached the scene of action a little past one (1) o'clock, relieving Walthall on the left of Moore's line. This position was held by Moore, Walthall and Pettus until about 8 o'clock P. M., when Walthall, and part of Pettus' command, were relieved by Clayton's brigade, commanded by Colonel Holtzclaw, which was sent to cover the movement to the right. Moore and Holtzclaw retired from the position about 2 o'clock A. M., on the 25th.

Early in the day the appended communication (D) was received from General Bragg. A perusal of it will show how highly important he on that day considered my making such dispositions as would effectually prevent a severance of the troops which I commanded from the main body of the army.

About the time that the attack was made upon Walthall, the enemy massed a considerable force upon the Chattanooga road, in [274] front of Cumming's line, evidently for the purpose of co-operating with and making a demonstration in favor of their assaulting column. The number of his troops massed for this purpose, who had been in plain sight until the view was obscured by the mist, the serious weakness of Cumming's force, there not being a man for yards upon some parts of the line, and the certainty that to reinforce the command near the “Craven house” from Cumming was to give the enemy an opportunity to cut us off from the main body, without even a show of resistance, are facts which rendered it highly improper to withdraw a man from that line.

I have already stated that he had but two brigades to hold the lines from Chattanooga creek to the Chattanooga road at the base of the mountain; the force early that morning at the “Craven house slope” had consisted of two brigades, Moore's and Walthall's, and was now reinforced by the larger part of a third, Pettus', while, on the mountain top, there were but one very small brigade and two regiments of another, the larger portion being between the front and the works, the other picketing and holding a line of about ten (10) miles.

I had been directed by General Bragg, if I needed reinforcements, to call for them (see letter marked C), and as soon as I saw that the enemy were attacking and would carry the point, I availed myself of the order, and called both upon Generals Breckinridge and Bragg for them by a staff officer. I instructed him to say to them that if they would send me reinforcements, I would, when the fog rose, attack the enemy in flank by sharpshooters on the mountain crest, and descending Smith's trail take him in rear, and, I doubted not, drive him from the slope. This statement I repeated by three other staff officers, sent at intervals of a half hour. After waiting for some time for an answer, I received a verbal order from General Bragg, to the effect that no reinforcements could be sent me — that I must withdraw as best I could, under cover of the mist and night, and that one brigade would be sent to the base of the mountain to cover the withdrawal. Subsequently, I received the following note:

2 1/2 O'clock P. M.
The General-Commanding instructs me to say, that you will withdraw your command from the mountain to this side of Chattanooga creek, destroying the bridges behind. Fight the enemy as you retire. The thickness of the fog will enable you to retire, it is hoped, without much difficulty.

After dark, Major-General Breckinridge, then my corps commander, reached the foot of the mountain with one brigade-Clayton's — to be used in covering the withdrawal, by which Walthall's and a part of Pettus' command, as has been heretofore stated, were relieved.

I was engaged in issuing the necessary orders for the retirement of the troops when Major-General Cheatham, a part of whose division was then under my command, arrived. He informed me that he had come to consult with me, but not to take command. [275]

I sent the troops from the top of the mountain down, and then proceeded myself to a point near its base, where General Cheatham and myself had appointed to meet. Here, as senior officer, he assumed command, and I then gave no further directions with regard to the retirement of the troops, except such as I received from him for those of my own division. Brown was directed at once to cross Chattanooga creek (about 11 o'clock P. M.), Cumming at 1 o'clock, and Cheatham's division afterwards, all with directions to await further orders on the eastern side. General Cheatham then left me, as I understood, to get further orders from General Bragg.

About 12 o'clock at night, two staff officers of General Bragg's rode up to where I was (General Cumming's quarters), and stating that they could not find General Cheatham, handed me orders to him from General Bragg, to send all the troops that had been west of Chattanooga creek to the extreme right. This order was immediately given, and was executed as quickly as possible.

The conduct of the troops was all that could have been desired, and they accomplished all that could have been expected of them. The withdrawal of Walker's division, on the night of the 23d, in my opinion, rendered the position on the left untenable, opposed by so large a force, and it was beyond the power of the troops there to do more than to secure the road communicating with the top of the mountain until the general commanding the army could decide whether he would reinforce them sufficiently to hold the line or abandon it. His decision I have already given. The mountain was held till 2 o'clock of the next morning, and the troops, artillery and trains were withdrawn in order to the eastern side of Chattanooga creek.

Report of General E. C. Walthall

ATLANTA, Georgia, December 13, 1863.
Major James D. Porter, Jr., A. A. G., Cheatham's Division:
Major — I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my command in the affair on Lookout mountain, 24th November, 1863.

About dark, on the evening of the 23d, I received orders from Brigadier-General Commanding to hold my command in readiness to move at a moment's notice, and, late in the night, to have three days rations prepared; but in view of the movements of the enemy on the previous day, my command, which occupied a position on the west side of Lookout mountain, and near the northern slope was ordered to “stand to arms.” Before daylight, on 24th of November, my picket line, which extended along Lookout creek from the turnpike bridge, near its mouth, to the railroad bridge across it, and thence up the mountain side to the cliff, was strengthened by increasing its reserves early in the morning, troops having been observed moving rapidly up the creek. [276]

The fog, at that time, being very dense, it was impossible to estimate the numbers of the troops in motion, and this fact, as well as what seemed to be the state of things in Chattanooga and on the river, was reported to the Brigadier-General Commanding.

Shortly thereafter, the fog having been partially dissipated in the valley (though it still obscured the crest of the mountain above), with Brigadier-General Moore, the ranking officer at hand, I observed the movements of the enemy across Lookout creek, from a point near the right of my command, and saw a brigade take position in front of that part of my picket line between the two bridges, of which one regiment was thrown forward, and soon the pickets were engaged. Brigadier-General Moore returned to his command, it being agreed between us that he would notify the Brigadier-General Commanding of what had been observed. Rude breastworks of logs and stones had been constructed on the mountain side by the command which had occupied the ground before me, running parallel to the mountain and the creek, and along these my command, except the Thirty-fourth Mississippi regiment. with which the picket reserves had been strengthened, was formed awaiting the development of the enemy's purpose, it being uncertain whether he would pass across the creek on the right, as the movements discovered would seem to indicate, or would approach from the left of the crossing of the creek above the angle in my picket line, with the troops which had already moved in that direction. Soon after the firing commenced across the creek, two batteries, which had previously been erected on the ridge beyond Lookout creek (of which, in conversation with the Brigadier-General Commanding, I had more than once made mention), opened upon my main line, less than three-quarters of a mile distant; and while these batteries were shelling, two pieces of artillery were planted between the creek and the river, which, although across the creek from my picket line, was yet, by reason of the course of the stream, in rear of much of that part of the line which took the direction of the creek.

Major Johnson, commanding Thirtieth, and Colonel Brantley, commanding Twenty-ninth Mississippi regiments, occupying positions nearest to it, had been instructed to support that part of the picket line which extended up the mountain side from the railroad bridge, should the enemy approach from that direction, and the other regiments--Twenty-seventh Mississippi, under Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, and Twenty-fourth Mississippi, under Colonel Dowd--were held ready to move to the right or left, as occasion might require. While writing a communication to inform the Brigadier-General Commanding of the position of the pieces in the angle of the creek (with the suggestion that a single piece, in a position which had been prepared for artillery, could silence them, and that this done, I thought I could hold the force in check), I received information through scouts sent out up the creek to observe the movements of the enemy, that a force had crossed the creek above [277] the angle in the picket line, I added this to the communication, and sent it to Brigadier-General Commanding by one of his staff officers. In the meantime, Brigadier-General Moore had applied to me to know the position of my line, as he was ordered to form on my right, and I learned from a staff officer of Brigadier-General Commanding, that such would be General Moore's position. I informed both where my line then was (and Captain Moreno, of the staff of the Brigadier-General Commanding, went with me, at my request and looked at my position), but that the direction which would ultimately be given my line would necessarily depend upon the direction from which the enemy, then engaging my pickets on the right and threatening my left, almost at right angles to the part engaged, might make his main attack.

Meanwhile the firing from the batteries beyond the creek, which before had been irregular, became constant and heavy, and soon the enemy advanced on the left, in three lines running across the mountain side. Such a resistance as I could offer a force like this, consisting, as the Federal General Thomas, in an official dispatch to his Government says, of Geary's division and two brigades of another corps, was made with my small command, nearly one-third of which was. covering a picket line more than a mile in extent. While Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Mississippi regiments, in support of the picket line, were resisting the enemy in the position assigned them (to cover which it had been necessary to take intervals), and when the immense numbers of the enemy had been discovered, the Twenty-seventh, and part of the Twenty-fourth Mississippi regiments were put in position several hundred yards in rear of the picket line, where, being sheltered from the enemy's small arms, and reserving their fire till the regiments and pickets in front had passed behind them in falling back, they delivered a destructive fire upon the advancing lines. The front line wavered, and then was broken at one point, but after falling back a short distance, it soon reformed, and despite my rapid and well directed fire, moved steadily and irresistibly forward, pressing heaviest upon my extreme left. I endeavored in falling back to turn the rocks and irregularities of the ground to the best account, for the protection of the men, and retiring from one position of strength to another, to yield the ground as slowly as possible, with the hope that support (for which I had sent to General Moore) might reach me. Many officers and men were captured, because they held their positions so long as to render escape impossible, the ground in their rear being rugged, rocky and covered with fallen timber.

My command being greatly sheltered, were enabled to inflict upon the enemy, as he advanced, a loss far greater than it sustained.

By 12 o'clock M., or about that time, and two and a half or three hours after the first picket firing began, I was driven to the ridge which runs down the Northern slope of the mountain, and here, with three companies of sharpshooters from the Twenty-fourth Mississippi regiment, which had previously been posted there [278] (and afterwards strengthened by another from the same regiment), I made an effort to retard the enemy's progress till the remainder of my command, including the pickets on the right, then in charge of Colonel J. A. Campbell, Twenty-seventh Mississippi regiment, could pass across the Northern slope of the mountain. The slope was commanded by the casemated batteries on Moccasin point, from which my command was constantly sheltered, from the time the slope was reached till they had passed across it. This passage was effected, in part, by means of a rifle pit, designed for the double purpose of a covered way and defence against an attack from a Northern direction, which runs across that part of the slope west of Craven's house, the sharpshooters on the ridge meanwhile resisting the enemy's advance as far as they were able, being themselves subjected to a heavy fire from the Moccasin guns.

After passing Craven's house, between half-past 12 and one o'clock P. M., or about that time, I dispatched a staff officer to Brigadier-General-Commanding to advise him of my movements. Most of my picket line to the right of the railroad bridge (which had been forced back upon the reserves in the rifle pits, at the foot of the mountain, and there were unable to check the force opposing them) were cut off, including the efficient officer in charge of it — an ineffectual effort having been made, as soon as the enemy began to overwhelm me on the left, to retire it up the steep mountain side, before the advancing lines, sweeping along the west side of the mountain, could occupy the slope near Craven's house.

The only pathway leading from the right of the picket line to Craven's house, ran up the creek to a point near the railroad bridge, and then obliquely in its general direction across the side of the mountain to the northern slope, forming an acute angle near the bridge. When the left was forced back, this angle was possessed by the enemy, and then the picket force on the right had to be withdrawn up a rugged, steep, broken, rocky and difficult passage, even for a footman at leasure.

The character of the ground making it impossible to communicate through mounted men with different parts of the line, the overwhelming force of the enemy, the advantageous positions of his batteries beyond the creek, the extent and direction of my picket line, and the fact that my only outlet, when forced to retire, was across a point commanded by the Moccasin guns, all assisted to create confusion, in the withdrawal of my command, to a point on the east side of the mouniain, without the direct range of the enemy's guns.

The point selected was about four hundred yards from the Craven house; there my line extending from the road up to the cliff. About 1 o'clock P. M., I checked the enemy's advance, which was heaviest on my left, and was soon informed that reinforcements would be sent to me by a staff officer of Brigadier-General Commanding. In the course of half an hour or three-quarters, Brigadier-General Pettus came up with his command in fine order, and [279] moved promptly upon the line I occupied, engaging the enemy at once and with spirit, and enabling me to withdraw my command and replenish my ammunition, then well-nigh exhausted, from my ordnance train, which I had ordered up to the road in my rear. This done, I formed my command, under cover, immediately in his rear for his support at such point as it might be needed. Soon afterwards, through one of his staff officers, he requested me to send him support on his left, and I immediately ordered Colonel Brantley, Twenty-ninth Mississippi regiment, with his own regiment, Thirtieth Mississippi, and a small detachment of the Thirty-fourth, to support this part of the line, and in a few moments the remainder of my command was moved up to strengthen the line, which along its whole length was hotly engaged. I directed Colonel Brantley to advance his left as far as it could be done without leaving an interval between his line and the cliff, so as to get the benefit of an oblique fire upon the line which was pressing upon us. This order was executed with that officer's usual promptness. In the meantime orders were received from Major-General Stevenson, through Major Ingram, of the staff of Brigadier-General Commanding, to hold the line then occupied till reinforcements should arrive, when an advance would be made, and the forces on the mountain would co-operate; and from Brigadier-General Commanding, through a staff officer, that the position would be held as long as possible, and if forced to retire, that I could fall back up the mountain. Later in the evening an order reached me from the latter to hold my position, if possible, till ordered to retire.

General Pettus' command and my own held the position all the afternoon (during the most of which time it was so hazy and misty that objects could not be well distinguished except at a short distance), and until long after nightfall, when, having been relieved by Colonel Holtzclaw, with his brigade, I withdrew my command to the road leading down the mountain road in the rear, and there remained till about 11 o'clock, when, under orders from Major-General Cheatham, I moved my command to McFarland's spring, where it passed the remainder of the night.

At no time during this prolonged struggle, whose object was to prevent the occupation by the enemy, first, of the important point near Craven's house, and afterwards the only road down the mountain leading from Major-General Stevenson's position to the main body of the army, did I have the benefit of my division commander's personal presence. Reference has been made to such orders as reached me from him after I was relieved, and while awaiting orders to move, I saw him for the first time, on his way, as he told me, to see the General-in-Chief.

The casualties in my command cannot be correctly reported, inasmuch as the killed, and many of the wounded, fell into the enemy's hands. The accompanying list, to which I respectfully refer, only shows among the killed and wounded such as were known certainly to be so, and cannot, for want of positive information, [280] embrace a large number, particularly of the pickets and their reserves on the right, who are supposed to have fallen, as they were long subjected to a very heavy fire from both artillery and small arms, but of whose loss, further than they fell into the enemy's hands, no report can be had.

I regret that, for want of a competent person to prepare one, I am unable to submit an accurate map of the ground I occupied, and its surroundings, as it would contribute greatly to a perfect understanding of movements and events as related.

No copies of the dispatches forwarded during the morning having been retained, and as I am unable to obtain such now, I have been compelled to refer to them from memory. The officers and men of my command, with a few exceptions, did their duty well in this engagement; but it is due in particular to commend Colonel W. F. Brantley, Twenty-ninth Mississippi regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel R. P. Mackelvaine, Twenty-fourth Mississippi regiment, for the skill, activity, zeal and courage, I have ever observed in them under similar circumstances, but which, in an especial degree, signalized their action on this occasion. The latter officer was not with his regiment during the engagement west of the mountain, having been previously assigned to duty on the picket line, where he rendered me important aid. Major John Ingram, Assistant Adjutant-General to Brigadier-General Commanding, was with me during most of the afternoon, and I am pleased here to signify my high appreciation of his gallantry, and the valuable assistance I received at his hands, in his bearing my orders and otherwise. To Lieutenants James C. Harrison, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, and George M. Govern, Assistant Inspector-General of my own staff, I am indebted for the promptness, gallantry and efficiency with which all their duties upon the field were discharged.

I submit herewith the reports of regimental commanders, showing many details not incorporated herein.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. C. Walthall, Brigadier-General.

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