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Chapter 4:

On June 17, 1862, Gen. Braxton Bragg was placed in command of the army, known afterward as the. army of Tennessee, General Beauregard commanding the department. The army was concentrated at Tupelo, Miss., and after rest and reorganization was ready for the field. General Bragg had before him the alternatives of idleness at Tupelo, an attack on Halleck at Corinth, an attack on Buell at or about Chattanooga, or an attack on Grant in west Tennessee. The threatened advance of Buell meant the severance of the Confederate States, the East from the West. General Bragg, seeing this danger, determined, he said, ‘to move to Chattanooga, and drive the enemy from our important country in western Alabama, middle Tennessee and Kentucky.’

A small division of troops was sent from Tupelo to the department of East Tennessee, then commanded by Maj.-Gen. E. Kirby Smith, and later, Smith was further reinforced by the brigades of P. R. Cleburne and Preston Smith. On the 16th of August, 1862, the army of Kentucky, commanded by Maj.-Gen. Kirby Smith, crossed the Cumberland mountains into the State of Kentucky; and on the 27th and 28th of August, General Bragg crossed the Tennessee river, after which the army of Tennessee took up its march over Walden's ridge and the Cumberland mountains for middle Tennessee. It was found upon reaching that territory that the main [46] forces of the Federal army had been concentrated at Nashville, which was strongly fortified. A demonstration was made against that point, and Bragg's army was thrown rapidly to Glasgow, Ky., reaching there on the 13th of September.

In the meantime, on the 30th of August, General Smith had met the Federal forces at Richmond, Ky., and won one of the most decisive victories of the war. The Federal troops were commanded by Brig.-Gen. M. D. Manson until 2 p. m., when Maj.-Gen. William Nelson reached the field and took command. According to General Manson, ‘the Union troops did not exceed 6,500,’ and General Smith reported his whole force at 5,000 officers and men.

The attack was made and resisted with energy and vigor, so much so that Smith believed that he had encountered 10,000 men, and Manson was confident that he was beaten by an army of veterans 16,000 strong. General Nelson reported, under date of 31st of August, that he arrived on the field three miles south of Richmond, at 2 p. m., and found the command in a disorganized retreat, or rather a rout. With great exertion I rallied about 2,200 men, moved them to a strong position, where I was confident I could hold them in check until night, and then resume the retreat. The enemy attacked in front and on both flanks simultaneously with vigor. Our troops stood about three rounds when, struck by a panic, they fled in disorder. I was left with my staff almost alone. General Nelson was wounded in this combat and General Manson captured. The return of casualties in the United States forces shows that 206 officers and men were killed, 844 wounded, and 4,303 captured.

Major-General Smith, in his report of the battle, said that his leading division under General Cleburne found the enemy in a fine position six miles from Richmond. Without waiting for support, Cleburne commenced the action. A brigade under Gen. Thomas J. Churchill was moved up to turn the enemy's right. While he was in [47] motion, the enemy made a bold and well-conducted attempt to turn Cleburne's right. This was admirably foiled by the firmness of Preston Smith's brigade, Cleburne's division, which repulsed the enemy with great slaughter. In this affair, General Cleburne was badly wounded, and the command of the division devolved on Preston Smith, Col. A. J. Vaughan, Jr., taking command of the brigade. The Federal troops fell back and took position two miles to the rear, where Churchill with Mc-Cray's brigade, from Texas and Arkansas, assailed their line and completely routed it, just as the cheers of Preston Smith's division announced its presence on the field.

Manson fell back two miles, and then it was that Major-General Nelson assumed command of the Federal forces. He formed his line of defense in front of Richmond. The gallant Churchill again led the advance with McNair's brigade and attacked with great fury. In the meanwhile Preston Smith, bringing up his division at a double-quick, formed with wonderful precision and rapidity in front of the enemy's center and left. Almost without waiting for orders, his men advanced and drove the opposing forces from the field in great confusion. Gen. Kirby Smith issued a congratulatory order to his troops, and said in its concluding paragraph: ‘To-morrow being Sunday, the General desires that the troops shall assemble and, under their several chaplains, shall return thanks to Almighty God, to whose mercy and goodness these victories are due.’

The cavalry, under Col. J. S. Scott, of the First Louisiana, consisted of his own regiment, the Third Tennessee, Col. J. W. Starnes; the First Georgia, Col. J. J. Morrison; and the Buckner Guards, one company, Captain Montgomery; the whole numbering 850 men. This command was active and efficient, and having passed to the rear of the enemy, captured the largest part of the prisoners taken.

The infantry regiments of General Smith's little army [48] were from Arkansas, Texas and Tennessee. The Tennesseeans were in Cleburne's division—the Second (Walker's), Lieut.-Col. J. A. Butler commanding; Thirty-fifth, Lieutenant-Colonel Smith; and Forty-eighth, Col. Geo. H. Nixon, in the brigade commanded by Col. B. J. Hill, of the Thirty-fifth; and the One Hundred and Fifty-fourth (senior), Col. Edward Fitzgerald; Thirteenth, Col. A. J. Vaughan, Jr.; Twelfth and Forty-seventh, Col. L. P. McMurray, in the brigade commanded by Col. Preston Smith, and later by Colonel Vaughan. The Confederate forces lost 78 killed and 372 wounded. Among the latter were Col. Geo. H. Nixon, Forty-eighth, and Col. L. P. McMurray, Twelfth and Forty-seventh; among the killed, Lieut.-Col. J. A. Butler, Second Tennessee, who fell gallantly leading his regiment in the last charge before Richmond, and Col. Edward Fitzgerald, One Hundred and Fifty-fourth regiment, who fell in the first engagement at the head of his command. Col. Preston Smith characterized the latter as an officer diligent in executing the orders of his superior, and as a leader in battle ever to be found in the foremost ranks. Young, full of military ardor, he died too soon for his country. Colonel Smith also referred in handsome terms to Col. B. J. Hill, Col. A. J. Vaughn, and to Lieut.-Col. C. J. Polignac; Col. B. J. Hill said of the latter that he ‘seized the colors of the Thirty-fifth. Tennessee, bearing the flag triumphantly through the thickest of the fight.’ Colonel Polignac was afterward made a brigadier-general. He was a descendant of Charles X of France, and after the war between the States was a general of division in the army of his native country. Capt. J. J. Newsom, Second Tennessee, was distinguished in command of sharpshooters, and was seriously wounded. Captain Yancey, of the same regiment, led the skirmish line of Hill's brigade in the final conflict.

The immediate fruits of the victory were 4,303 prisoners, 9 pieces of artillery, 10,000 stand of small-arms and [49] large quantities of supplies. After one day of rest, Major-General Smith pursued his advance, and on the 2d of September occupied Lexington, Ky.

Waiting two days at Glasgow, General Bragg advanced with the intention of forming a junction with Major-General Smith. The advance brigade under Brigadier-General Chalmers (says General Bragg) was thrown forward in the direction of Munfordville to cut the railroad and observe the enemy, but was led forward indiscreetly to attack a superior force strongly fortified. After a desperate fight, General Chalmers was repulsed with a loss of 300 killed and wounded; whereupon General Bragg moved forward with his whole command, surrounded the place, and received its unconditional surrender without firing a gun; 4,267 prisoners, an equal number of small-arms, 10 pieces of artillery, with munitions and supplies, were captured.

The offer of battle was made to the Federal army under General Buell, now advancing on Bragg's rear, with a force nearly double that of the Confederates, but Buell avoided the conflict, and Bragg moved on to Bardstown, where subsistence for the army could be obtained. There, General Polk was left in command, while General Bragg joined Major-General Smith at Lexington. In the meantime Buell had reached Louisville, and began his movement toward Perryville, and on October 7th information was received that Hardee was being pressed by the enemy at that point. At once Cheatham, now at Harrodsburg, was ordered forward.

Our forces near Perryville consisted of three divisions of infantry, 14,500 men, and two small brigades of cavalry, ,500 strong. To this, the enemy at first opposed Gilbert's corps of 18,000. General Bragg expected our forces to attack at daylight, and General Buell in his report said, ‘I had somewhat expected an attack early in the morning on Gilbert's corps while it was isolated;’ but the action was delayed until noon of the 8th, when a [50] second corps of the enemy, McCook's, 18,000 strong, had reached the field, and at the close of the day Crittenden's corps was in action. It is stated in the official report of General Buell that ‘the effective force which advanced on Perryville on the 7th and 8th under my command, was about 58,000 infantry, artillery and cavalry.’

Of General Polk's right wing of the Confederate army but one division, the Tennessee division, under Maj.-Gen. B. F. Cheatham, was present. General Polk being in immediate command of the army until the arrival of General Bragg, General Cheatham was in command of the right wing, Brig.-Gen. Daniel S. Donelson taking temporary command of his division.

Cheatham's division was almost exclusively Tennesseeans, the First brigade (Donelson's), temporarily commanded by Col. John H. Savage, comprising the Eighth regiment, Col. W. L. Moore; Fifteenth, Col. R. C. Tyler; Sixteenth, Col. John H. Savage; Thirty-eighth, Col. John C. Carter; Fifty-first, Col. John Chester; and Capt. W. W. Carnes' battery. The Second brigade, commanded by A. P. Stewart, included the Fourth Tennessee, Col. O. F. Strahl; Fifth, Col. C. D. Venable; Twenty-fourth, Lieut.-Col. H. L. W. Bratton; Thirty-fourth, Col. E. E. Tansil; Thirty-third, Col. W. P. Jones. The Third brigade, Maney's, had one Georgia regiment in addition to the First Tennessee, Col. H. R. Feild; Sixth, Col. George C. Porter; Ninth, Lieut.-Col. John W. Buford; Twenty-seventh, Lieut.-Col. W. Frierson. The Fourth brigade, Gen. Preston Smith, was detached, but the Thirteenth Tennessee, Colonel Vaughan, appears to have been somewhat engaged.

General Hardee's wing comprised the divisions of Patton Anderson and S. B. Buckner. Tennessee was represented in Col. Samuel Powell's brigade of Anderson's division, by Powell's regiment, the Twenty-ninth; by the Second in Cleburne's brigade of Buckner's division; and in the same division by the Tennessee brigade of Bushrod [51] R. Johnson, comprising the Fifth Confederate, Col. J. A. Smith; Seventeenth, Col. A. S. Marks; Twenty-third, Lieut.-Col. R. H. Keeble; Twenty-fifth, Col. John M. Hughs; Twenty-seventh, Col. Moses White; Forty-fourth, Col. John S. Fulton. The Fourth cavalry was with Wharton.

Skirmishing began at 10 a. m. of the 8th, and soon Liddell's brigade, of Buckner's division, was hotly engaged, but was withdrawn to our main line. Cheatham was moved from left to right, with Wharton's cavalry on his right, to meet a movement of the enemy. General Bragg now (at 1 o'clock) ordered the advance of his whole command. Wharton charged the left of the enemy with great fury, rushing over stone walls and ravines, and driving the opposing infantry several hundred yards. Wharton was followed by Cheatham, with the brigades of Donelson, Stewart and Maney, who mounted the steep and difficult cliffs of Chaplin river and moved forward without halt. They were met by a storm of shot and shell and heavy masses of infantry, but our brave fellows pushed on, driving the enemy before them and capturing three of his batteries. The enemy was pushed back a mile, and his three lines crowded into one. General Polk declared that this charge of the Tennessee brigades was one of the most heroic and brilliant of the war, and considering the disparity of the troops engaged, the strength of the enemy's position, the steadiness with which they endured the havoc made in their ranks, the firmness with which they moved upon the opposing masses, it would compare favorably with the most brilliant achievements of historic valor. In this charge Gen. J. S. Jackson, commanding a division of the Federal army, was killed among the guns of one of the captured batteries. It appears from the report of General Buell that General McCook, against whose corps Cheatham made his attack, ‘represented that his corps was very much crippled, the division of General Jackson having, [52] in fact, almost disappeared as a body.’ McCook stated that ‘when Terrill's brigade of Jackson's division gave way, seven guns of Parsons' eight-gun battery fell into the hands of the enemy; at 6 p. m., four of the guns of Harris' Nineteenth Indiana also fell into the hands of the enemy.’ General Terrill was among the killed.

So conspicuous was the part of Cheatham's brigades, that when General Bragg issued his general order authorizing the several commands engaged in the battle at Perryville to inscribe the name of that field on their colors, he said: ‘The corps of Cheatham's division, which made the gallant and desperate charge resulting in the capture of three of the enemy's batteries, will, in addition to the name, place the cross-cannon inverted.’ The guns of Carnes' and Turner's batteries were served with coolness and courage, and were important factors in the success of Cheatham's division.

But Cheatham paid dearly for his success. Donelson's brigade sustained a loss of 347 killed and wounded; the Sixteenth under Colonel Savage losing 199, more than half the casualties of the brigade. Among the killed was Capt. J. B. Vance. General Cheatham said of the gallant Savage that ‘in battle he had an instinctive knowledge of the point of difficulty and danger and went to it.’ Stewart's brigade lost 428 killed and wounded; Maney's brigade, 687.

The First Tennessee lost 179 killed and wounded. Among its dead was the gallant Lieut.-Col. John Patterson Colonel Feild, one of the most dashing and reliable soldiers of Tennessee, reported that after deploying the regiment to the extreme right, it advanced to the charge with close, compact ranks, killing all the horses and men of the battery in his front, and driving its support away. Through a misapprehension of orders the regiment fell back, and the enemy returned to the guns, but Feild reformed and led the regiment up the hill without support, under a heavy fire of musketry, and took the guns [53] of the battery a second time. At this point the First lost 40 or 50 officers and men.

The Sixth Tennessee, always conspicuous in battle, sustained a loss of 91. Colonel Porter said that in assaulting McCook's line, Capt. Thomas B. Rains and Lieuts. Ed. Seabrook, C. N. Carter and N. A. Butler were killed. The color-bearer, John Andrews, being badly wounded, the colors were seized by John Ayeres, one of the color squad, who was in a few moments killed A. W. Pegues next caught up the flag, but was very soon shot in three places and disabled. Ed. Quinn, private Company H, then bore them in advance of the regiment across the field, where he too was killed.

The Ninth Tennessee suffered a loss of 154. Among the wounded were the gallant Col. John W. Buford, Capts. J. W. Hubbard, C. B. Simonton, H. C. Irby, J. L. Hall and H. A. Rogers; and among the dead were Capt. J. M. McDonald, Lieuts. P. J. Fitzpatrick, W. T. Sanler, James I. Hall, J. M. Mathews and D. M. Bell. After the fall of Colonel Buford the command of the regiment devolved on Maj. George W. Kelsoe, who led it skillfully and courageously.

The Twenty-seventh was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Frierson until disabled, when he was succeeded by Maj. A. C. Allen. The story of the Twenty-seventh is the same as that of all the regiments of this brigade—duty well and gallantly performed by officers and men. Colonel Frierson named with honor his color-bearer, Private John Olive. The regiment had a roll of killed and wounded numbering 108. Capt. John M. Taylor and Lieut. E. E. Pate were reported mortally wounded, but Captain Taylor recovered, after long suffering, and has been deservedly honored by his countrymen in civil life.

The Fourth regiment was superb in discipline and training. It lost nearly one-third of those present for duty. It was noted for the courage and steadiness always displayed; when McCook's line was driven back this regiment [54] stacked arms. It was armed with new Enfield rifles abandoned by the Federal troops, and used them in the advance immediately made. Capt. John B. Turner, Lieut. W. O. Capers and Hugh Banks were among the killed.

The Fifth sustained the credit won at Shiloh. Colonel Venable was seriously injured by a fall from his horse, but never left his post. Lieut.-Col. W. C. Suor had his horse killed, but served gallantly on foot. The gallant Capts. John W. Harris, John T. Irwin and James P. Cooper, Lieuts. George C. Kemp, Sam Kirkpatrick and Coleman Wilson, and Color-Bearer J. B. Jones were seriously wounded. Captain Cooper lost 20 men killed and wounded out of 34 present. And there were many brave men killed and wounded whose names are not reported. Private Haygood of the Fifth, shot through the breast with an iron ramrod, drew it out himself. Another private soldier, Tip Allen, was shot in the neck with a minie ball, which in a few minutes was ejected through his mouth. Both these soldiers marched from the field to Knoxville, Tenn.

The Fifth Confederate lost 45 killed and wounded; the Seventeenth, 24. The Twenty-third suffered a loss of 52 killed and wounded out of a total of 201, among the killed being Capt. W. A. Ott. The Twenty-fifth had a loss of 8; the Thirty-seventh, of 39; and the Forty-fourth lost 43. The Federal forces in front of these regiments (Bushrod Johnson's brigade) were Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana men, commanded by the accomplished Col. Wm. H. Lytle, of Ohio. He was wounded and captured by a soldier of Johnson's brigade. On his recovery and exchange, being made a brigadier-general, he fell at Chickamauga.

The left of the Confederate line, under General Hardee, was held by the brigades of Gen. D. W. Adams and Col. Sam Powell (wounded in action). Bushrod Johnson's brigade gallantly led the advance supported by Cleburne. [55] The brigades of John C. Brown (wounded in action) and Jones, of Anderson's division, and S. A. M. Wood were on the left of Cheatham. Liddell's brigade was in reserve, until toward the close of the day it went to the support of Cheatham. Forming on his extreme right, Liddell took the enemy in flank, and inflicted great slaughter upon the left of Rousseau's division.

The cavalry commanded by Gens. Joseph Wheeler and John A. Wharton rendered most conspicuous service. The charges led by General Wheeler on the left, and by Wharton on the right, were as gallant and effective as any made during the war.

General Buell's losses were, killed, wounded and missing, 4,241, and the total loss of Bragg's army was 3,212. This loss attests the severity of the battle. General McCook, of the Federal army, referred to it in his report as the ‘bloodiest battle of modern times, for the number of troops engaged on our side.’

General Bragg, ascertaining that Buell was heavily reinforced during the night, retired the next morning to Harrodsburg, where he was joined by Major-General Smith, and thence to Bryantsville, where he remained until the 13th, affording ample time to Buell to attack. Instead of that, the latter occupied himself in destroying mills from which General Bragg had been drawing breadstuffs.

The Confederate army was not strong enough for an offensive campaign, and disappointed in recruiting his strength in Kentucky, General Bragg retired by way of Cumberland Gap to middle Tennessee. The army had on this campaign captured more than 12,000 prisoners (Gen. John Morgan captured 2,000 additional, and General Forrest, operating in Tennessee, over 7,000), 30 pieces of artillery, 17,000 small-arms, with ammunition, wagons, teams, and an immense amount of supplies and clothing for the troops. Cumberland Gap was ours, north Alabama and middle Tennessee had been recovered, and [56] General Bragg was in front of Nashville, with his army in good form, and stronger than when the campaign began. Gen. Kirby Smith was in undisputed possession of east Tennessee. He had forced the evacuation of Cumberland Gap, had won the victory at Richmond, Ky., and had traversed the State of Kentucky without let or hindrance, in spite of the grand strategy of General Halleck, commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States in the Southwest, who said in a dispatch to Buell, dated Corinth, June 1, 1862: ‘Smith must abandon east Tennessee or be captured.’

On the 23d of October, General Bragg ordered Lieutenant-General Polk to proceed with his command to Murfreesboro, Tenn.

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