previous next

Doc. 105.-battle of Chickamauga, Ga.

By S. C. Reid, ( “Ora,” )1

I have already sent you an outline of the great battle of Chickamauga, and now undertake to give you a detailed account of its prominent features, without going into minute particulars, which would fill a volume. It has taken me some time to gather the information, and which has been attended with no slight obstacles. Besides this, the inconveniences in camp afford one but a poor opportunity to write with any satisfaction to one's self.

After a year of sad and disheartening reverses in the West, our arms have achieved a great and glorious victory. From the time General Johnston fell back from Bowling Green, Kentucky, a [363] dark and bloody struggle has ensued, in which, on every occasion, we have fought against superior numbers, victory wavering first on one side and then on the other. Notwithstanding the disasters of the Kentucky campaign, we retrieved a portion of Middle Tennessee and North-Alabama. The battle of Murfreesboro, in which we won a brilliant victory on the thirty-first of December last, afterward proved but a drawn battle, and on the night of second January following, we retreated to Tullahoma. Several months elapsed after this terrible conflict. We advanced to Wartrace and Shelbyville, were again ready to give the enemy battle, when a large portion of General Bragg's forces were withdrawn to Mississippi for the rescue of Vicksburgh. Nothing was accomplished by the move. General Bragg was left in a critical position as a mere army of observation, opposed to an overwhelming army in his front, which for months he held at bay. The enemy at last succeeded in surprising our forces at Liberty and Hoover's Gaps by a flank movement, and General Bragg, most prudently, to save his army, fell back, on the twenty-seventh of June last, to Chattanooga. The enemy followed at leisure to the banks of the Tennessee.

About the first of September, it was known that Burnside's forces were approaching Knoxville, threatening our right, when it was deemed expedient to evacuate that point, and concentrate General Buckner's forces with those of General Bragg. This movement was being effected, when it became apparent that Rosecrans was crossing his army at Bridgeport, having previously shelled Chattanooga by a small force in front. The threatening position of the enemy on our left now made it beyond doubt that he intended a flank movement toward Rome, and no time was to be lost in cutting him off. To save the State of Georgia, Chattanooga had to be abandoned, and, knowing the superiority of the enemy's numbers, General Bragg could not afford to leave behind a sufficient garrison to defend the place. At this time, it must be understood, General Bragg had no knowledge that General Longstreet's corps was on its way from Virginia to reenforce him. Our troops evacuated Chattanooga on the seventh of September, and after a severe march through the dust, which was ankle deep, and exposed to the burning rays of the sun, they reached the vicinity of Lafayette, Georgia, on the ninth. The enemy's cavalry, under General Wilder, had already reached Alpine, and driven back Pegram's cavalry, and it was reported that a large body of the enemy was in the direction of McLemore's Cove.

Breckinridge's division, composed of Adams's, Helm's, and Stovall's brigades, guarded the various roads leading into Lafayette from the southward. On the morning of the thirteenth, our scouts reported a large force of the enemy advancing on our position from the direction of Alpine, twenty-five miles south-west of Lafayette. Adams's brigade was immediately thrown across the road to oppose the threatened advance, Stovall forming on the left of Adams, with his artillery, commanding a wide extent of open ground in our front. At mid-day, a squadron of our cavalry came dashing through our lines of skirmishers, followed by the “Lightning brigade” of Wilder. Our infantry and artillery immediately opened with buck, ball, and canister, and sent them to the right about with many an empty saddle.

In the mean time a large force of Thomas's corps was moving up McLemore's Cove, sup posed to be Negley's and another division. Cheatham's division was moved rapidly forward to Lafayette in front, a portion of Hill's corps occupied Catlett's Gap, in Pigeon Mountain, (which is a spur of Lookout, about fifteen miles from Chattanooga,) flanking the enemy on his right, while General Hindman was ordered to attack the enemy immediately in the Cove. For some reason, attributed to the nature of the ground, the attack was not made, and the enemy escaped.

To understand the advance of Rosecrans's army, it would seem that Thomas's and McCook's corps, with Stanley's division of cavalry, commanded by Mitchell, crossed the Tennessee at Bridgeport, marching over Sand Mountain into Will's Valley, and from thence down McLemore's Cove in the direction of Lafayette. Crittenden's corps had crossed above Chattanooga at Harrison's, and was moved in the direction of Ringgold. A portion of Park's corps, of Burnside's army, and a brigade of his cavalry, came down from Knoxville to Loudon and Cleveland.

On the morning of the fourteenth, it was reported that the enemy had abandoned his position in the vicinity of Alpine, and that he was moving up McLemore's Cove in the direction of Chattanooga. General Cheatham's division was ordered to proceed toward Crawfish Springs, about half-way between Lafayette and Chattanooga, to reconnoitre the enemy, which he did, and returned on Tuesday, the fifteenth.

A council of war was then held at Lafayette, Georgia, on that day, and it was resolved to advance toward Chattanooga and attack the enemy wherever he could be found. On the sixteenth, General Bragg issued a spirited address to his troops, and preliminary orders directing the troops to be held in readiness to march that night. These orders were subsequently countermanded, and renewed at seven A. M. on the seventeenth, and Buckner's corps accordingly marched north from Lafayette at nine A. M. on that day, and encamped on Pea Vine Creek, ten miles from Lafayette; Walker camping a mile further on, and Polk's corps camping at Rock Spring. General Bragg made his headquarters at Leet's Tanyard, near Walker County, on Pea Vine Creek.

The following order defined the movement:


headquarters army of Tennessee, Leet's Tanyard, September 18, 1863.
I. Major-General W. H. T. Walker's division will move to Alexander's Bridge, or Byram's Ford, and there cross the Chickamauga. [364]

II. Major-General Buckner will move on Tedford's Ford, and there cross the river. Both these columns will be put in motion at six A. M. this day. None but ambulances and artillery wagons will move with these columns.

III. Lieutenant-General Polk will move at the same hour, and by pressing, engage the attention of the enemy at Gordon's Mills, and be prepared to move by his right flank to cross the river by the nearest ford.

IV. The cavalry of General Pegram will cover the front of Buckner and Walker, and that of General Armstrong the front of General Polk.

By command of General Bragg. G. W. Brent, A. A.G.

Buckner's corps was accordingly early upon the road, and, passing by Pea Vine Church, started for Tedford's Ford by the best and nearest road. His movement was unexpectedly checked, however, by encountering Walker's column, and when relieved by its passage, that of General Cheatham. At eleven o'clock, and while matters were brought to a halt by this collision, the following circular, of same tenor with the previous one, but more ample, was received:


headquarters army of Tennessee, in the field, Leet's Tanyard, September 18, 1863.
I. Johnson's column, (Hood's,) on crossing at or near Reid's Bridge, will turn to the left by the most practicable route, and sweep up the Chickamauga toward Lee and Gordon's Mills.

II. Walker, crossing at Alexander's Bridge, will unite in this move and push vigorously on the enemy's flank and rear in the same direction.

III. Buckner, crossing at Tedford's Ford, will join in the movement to the left, and press the enemy up the stream from Polk's front at Lee and Gordon's Mills.

IV. Polk will press his forces to the front of Lee and Gordon's Mills, and if met by too much resistance to cross, will bear to the right and cross at Dalton's Ford, or Tedford's, as may be necessary, and join in the attack wherever the enemy may be.

V. till will cover our left flank from any advance of the enemy from the Cove, and by pressing the cavalry in his front ascertain if the enemy is reinforcing at Lee and Gordon's, in which event he will attack them in flank.

VI. Wheeler's cavalry will hold the gaps in Pigeon Mountain, and cover our rear and left, and bring up stragglers, etc.

VII. All teams, etc., not with troops, should go toward Ringgold and Dalton, beyond Taylor's Ridge. All cooking should be done at the trains. Rations, when cooked, will be forwarded to the troops.

VIII. The above movements will be executed with the utmost promptness, vigor, and persistence.

By command of General Bragg. G. W. Brent, A. A.G.

It must be borne in mind that the Chickanauga runs in a course nearly north; that Lee and Gordon's Mills are at the crossing of the Chattanooga and Lafayette road, and that Dalton's, Tedford's, Alexander's, and Reid's are respectively in their order further down the river (north) from Lee and Gordon's Mills. The crossing of the Chickamauga was to begin at the lowest ford and to be effected successively.

Breckinridge's division marched by the way of Catlett's Gap and the Crawfish Spring road to the main Chattanooga road. On the seventeenth, Adams's brigade occupied this gap, and from a lofty eminence near, could be seen the enemy's long wagon trains, solid columns of infantry, squadrons of horse, and batteries of artillery, passing all day long, and which seemed interminable. The enemy was evidently making his way across the slope, or south-west point of Lookout, to the Chickamauga, with a view of advancing on the line toward Ringgold and Dalton. Our chances of success against this immense and splendidly equipped army seemed small indeed, but instead of disheartening, it only seemed to nerve our boys and add impetuosity to their eagerness for the fray. At twilight the flood of their tens of thousands rolled on. As the veil of night covered the plain below, it became spangled with the thousands of lights of the enemy's bivouacs, revealing their immense encampment.

On Friday morning, the eighteenth, the enemy was found to occupy the opposite side of the west fork of the Chickamauga, which runs east of north, emptying into the Tennessee above Chattanooga. Our army had now advanced to the Chickamauga, General Forrest's cavalry being in front, on our right, reconnoitring and skirmishing with the enemy. General Law's Alabama brigade, Benning's Georgia brigade, and Robertson's Texas brigade, of Longstreet's corps, under command of General Hood, with Johnson's division, came up that morning from Dalton. It was now determined to force the passage of the Chickamauga, the enemy holding Alexander's Bridge in force, as well as the other. General Walker, commanding a sub-corps, composed of Liddell's and Walthall's brigades, under General Liddell, and Ector's, and another, commanded by Colonel Wilson, of Georgia, under General Gist, were ordered to carry this bridge. It was now three P. M., and Walthall's brigade, supported by Liddell's, in command of Colonel D. C. Govan, gallantly advanced for this purpose. A severe fight ensued, the enemy resolutely disputing the passage, but Walthall's men were irresistible, and after a bloody struggle, in which Walthall lost one hundred and two of his men killed and wounded, the point was carried, but the enemy burned the bridge in their retreat. Walker's corps then marched a mile below to Bryam's Ford, and crossed crotch deep. They bivouacked that night in front of Alexander's Bridge, occupying the position held by the enemy that day.

At the same time, while Walker was engaging the enemy, Stewart's division of Buckner's corps, composed of Clayton's, Brown's, and Bate's brigades, were moving on Tedford's and [365] Dalton's Fords. Bate's. brigade was being thrown forward to a commanding position, supported by Clayton and Brown, but before getting into line the enemy opened a severe fire with musketry and artillery. General Bate soon formed his brigade in a skirt of woods immediately in front and opened fire, the Eufaula battery at the same time unlimbering and playing with such admirable effect on the enemy's guns, that he was soon induced to retire from his position, near Mr. Alexander's house, which was set on fire by our shells and destroyed. Stewart's division then camped near the ford which was held by Pegram's cavalry during the night, while Preston's division effected an unobstructed passage at Hunt's Ford, a mile higher up. Thus was secured the crossing of the Chickamauga by our army, to the astonishment of the enemy, who was surprised to find that we had really advanced upon him in force. That night Adams's brigade, of Breckinridge's division, guarded Childress Bridge, on the extreme left of our army, and Ector's brigade was in front of Reid's Bridge on our right.

While our army was thus advancing toward Lafayette to check the main body of Rosecrans's army, Crittenden's corps was vainly dreaming of a triumphant march toward Atlanta. The enemy's cavalry had advanced as far as Tunnel Hill, from where they were driven back, on the eleventh of September, by Forrest's and Scott's cavalry, General Bushrod Johnson's forces occupying the ridge back of the railroad tunnel. To show that Rosecrans. had no idea of being attacked by Bragg, on the eighteenth, while he was securing the bridges and fords across the Chickamauga, the enemy's cavalry made a dash on Ringgold, shelling the town, but were driven back by our cavalry with considerable loss. It is stated that at this time, some of our people informed Crittenden that we had received large reinforcements from Virginia, which caused him to make a precipitate retreat. On the same day, Brigadier-General Hodge's Kentucky cavalry, which had been serving in Virginia, drove the enemy out of Cleveland, after a severe skirmish, in which some sixty of the enemy were killed and wounded, and thirty of a Michigan regiment taken prisoners.

Early on Saturday morning, the nineteenth, General Bragg came up to Tedford's Ford, and the commands of Hood and Johnson and Walker and Buckner were advanced for formation into line.

All our forces, but a portion of Hill's and Longstreet's, were across the river, being on the west side of the west fork of the Chickamauga, which is a very tortuous stream, its general direction running north by east. Our position was in the extreme north-west corner of Georgia, about eight miles west of Ringgold, and seven miles south of Chattanooga. The battle-ground extended from the right, four miles from the Tennessee State line, and across the boundary line of the counties of Catoosa and Walker, in Georgia, to about six miles, near Lee and Gordon's Mills on our left. The nature of the ground is undulating and heavily timbered with oak and a thick undergrowth. Toward the west, approaching Missionary Ridge, the ground becomes broken into hills and valleys. Our line of battle rested on the bends of the river, forming an obtuse angle, and was formed that morning without much regard to corps organization as follows: General Walker's corps, composed of Liddell's and Gist's divisions, the former commanding his own brigade, under Colonel D. C. Govan, and Walthall's brigade; and Gist commanding Ector's brigade, and another, under Colonel Wilson, took position on our right, with Cheatham's division in reserve. Stewart's division, composed of Clayton's, Bate's and Brown's brigades of Buckner's corps, formed the centre; and Bushrod Johnson's division, composed of his own brigade, under Colonel Fulton, and McNair's and Gregg's, with Hood's division, commanded by General Law, and Preston's and Breckinridge's division, formed on our left wing, under command of General Hood, General Longstreet not having come up. Our right wing was commanded by General Polk.

It was contemplated by General Bragg to make a flank movement and turn the enemy's left, so as to get our forces between him and Chattanooga, and thus cut off his retreat, believing that the main force of the enemy was at Lee and Gordon's Mills, and upon which he had intended to move. But, unfortunately, General Thomas, who commanded the left of the Abolition army, had that very morning, at nine o'clock, sent a despatch to General Palmer, commanding the Abolition centre, ordering him to attack our front immediately, while Thomas proceeded to flank us on the right. Thus, before we were prepared, the enemy commenced a counter attack, while General Walker at the time was awaiting orders to move into position. General Forrest, who was on our right flank, in front, annoying the enemy and retarding his movements, was now being sorely pressed by Thomas, and requested Ector's brigade to support him, Colonel Wilson's brigade at the same time moving forward. After a gallant fight, against tremendous odds, these two brigades were driven back. At this time General Walker was ordered by General Bragg to ascertain the cause of such heavy firing. Walker and Liddell, after a reconnoissance, then ascertained that a corps of the enemy, under Thomas, was moving to turn our right wing, and Liddell's division was immediately advanced to support Ector and Wilson, who had been badly repulsed. It was now about noon when Walthall's and Govan's brigades, under Liddell, gallantly met the enemy, and such was the impetuous charge made by these troops that they broke through two lines, driving back the Fourteenth, Sixteenth, and Eighteenth United States regulars, and capturing two batteries; Walthall's brigade capturing the whole of the Fifth United States infantry, four hundred and eleven officers and men; and Govan's, one hundred prisoners, and the celebrated Loomis battery, a captain of which refused [366] to leave his gun and was captured with it. By this time the enemy's centre being broken, their extended lines flanked Liddell on both sides, compelling him to retire with his prisoners, and was only enabled to bring off three of the guns.

At the same time Stewart's division had advanced to meet the foe, Clayton's brigade becoming engaged at noon, and was exposed to a most destructive fire, Brown's brigade then advanced and relieved Clayton, but such became the fury of the enemy's fire that they were compelled, after a determined stand, to fall back. Bate's brigade was then ordered forward and staggered for a moment, but breasting the storm they delivered a constant fire into the enemy's ranks with good effect, and then rushing forward, charged a battery and drove the enemy from their guns, three of which were brought off the field. The Abolitionists fell back to a second battery, which opened with grape and canister so severely, that in making a charge the brigade became divided and the effect was lost, enabling the enemy to recover their guns by throwing forward their infantry. Bate soon rallied his brigade, which formed in line again, confronting the enemy with such daring that it drew forth general admiration and the praise of officers high in rank. It was at this time the brave, chivalrous Colonel A. F. Rudler, of the Thirty-seventh Georgia, received a slight wound, and his gallant color-bearer, John C. Clemence, fell mortally wounded while bearing forward the regimental flag. The enemy's artillery was capably and continuously served, and with terrible effect. Our troops moved through a tempest of grape and canister. The woods had been fired by the burning missile of the enemy which was calculated to appall the stoutest heart; but still our men pressed forward undaunted, and made the burning forest vocal with their yells, while the terrified enemy gave away before them.

It was now about two P. M. The enemy was being largely reenforced, and hurrying forward his multiplied numbers to recover his lost ground, when the chafing Cheatham moved forward his veterans of J. K. Jackson's, Maney's, Strahl's, Wright's, and Preston Smith's brigades, relieving Liddell's command, and met the shock of battle as the enemy's forces came rolling down toward them. The artillery, under Major Melancthon Smith, opened on them a sweeping fire which made their columns shake. Then again our lines wavered before the desperate struggle of the enemy, and the fight was kept up with varied success until five P. M., we having sustained a slight repulse. It was here fell the brave Preston Smith. At the same time Stewart had been again pushing them in the centre, and had also failed to dislodge the enemy. General Liddell was now ordered still further to the right, and again engaged the enemy. Govan's brigade charged and took another battery, and while engaged with the enemy one of our batteries in the rear opened on his men, causing them to fall back. Walthall held his own against fearful odds, but was finally compelled to retire under the fire of the enemy, whose position was now very strong, they occupying the crest of a slight eminence which they had fortified with fallen timber, and by this great advantage had maintained their ground against two desperate assaults.

The sun was setting when the Stonewall of Bragg's army, Cleburn, of Hill's corps, came up with his braves under Deshler, Polk, and Wood, relieving Walker, and passing to the front over the bloody ground that had been so stubbornly contested by Cheatham, charging the enemy up to their very breastworks. A crashing fire of musketry from the enemy made Cleburn's men reel, when forward dashed the batteries of the gallant Semple and Lieutenant Key, who opened a terrific fire on the enemy's works, while the division charged with such impetuosity that the enemy recoiled and were driven half a mile from their line of battle.

That night our troops slept on the field, surrounded by the dead. No cheerful fire dispelled the gloom, and profound silence brooded over the field of carnage.

We must now go back to bring up the movements of our left wing, which occurred on the nineteenth. General Hood was in command of two divisions, his own, under General Law, Colonel Sheffield commanding Law's brigade, and Bushrod Johnson's, which formed on the left of Stewart's. Preston's division of Buckner's corps, consisting of Gracie's, Trigg's, and Kelley's brigades, formed on the left of Hood's, holding an important hill and bluff, upon which were placed two batteries. Adams's brigade of Breckinridge's division formed into line near Glass's Mill, on the Chickamauga, and was the extreme left of our army. None of the infantry on our extreme left was engaged that day, but in the morning Slocomb's battery of the Washington artillery had a bloody duel with the enemy, and suffered severely in men and horses, and the gallant Lieutenant Blair was killed. The enemy's battery did not escape, however, without being completely riddled. About three o'clock, when Stewart was hotly engaged, Hood's command attacked the enemy, driving them back across the Chattanooga road, which fronted our whole line of battle, capturing a battery and taking off three guns. It was late in the afternoon when Hood's division was being sorely pressed, that Trigg's brigade of Preston's division, was detached, rendering timely aid, and driving the enemy from the desired position. At dark, Hood's command fell back three hundred yards across the Chattanooga road, and formed line of battle on a ridge. It should have been stated that in the morning of this day Colonel Johnson, commanding Morgan's cavalry, as well as Pegram's cavalry, took a gallant part in the fight on our right, and that Scott's Louisiana cavalry with three companies held at bay seven regiments of infantry.

The battle of Saturday had closed without our having gained any decided advantage, and from the stubborn resistance made by the enemy, our lines were but little advanced. All night long the enemy's axes were heard cutting timber to [367] make breastworks, and they actually piled up their own dead for this purpose. The position on which Buckner's left rested (Preston's division) had been selected as the point d'appui, and the pivot upon which the army was to swing in the movement which had failed by reason of the attack on our right. It was now understood that the battle would commence at daylight, Sunday, and that the same movement would be attempted. For this purpose Breckinridge's division, of Hill's corps, was moved that night on our extreme right, to strengthen that wing. Preston was ordered to a position further to the left. Hindman's division, of Manigault's, Deas's, and Anderson's brigades, came up and took position between Hood and Preston. General Longstreet came up at midnight and took command of the right wing. McLaws's division had also come up, Kershaw's and Humphrey's brigades, and formed in reserve half a mile in the rear of Hood. All was now ready for the grand attack of the coming Sabbath.

Sunday, twentieth of September, the sun rose clear and bright, but an impenetrable mist covered the field between the two belligerent armies. Our troops were all in line waiting but for the word to “forward.” General Polk had the night previous received orders to commence the attack with Hill's corps at daylight, and had despatched two couriers that night to the headquarters of General Hill, but they failed to find him, he being in the rear at Tedford's Ford, and the order consequently did not reach General Hill until late Sunday morning, General Polk having despatched one of his aids to look for him. This delay unfortunately lost us at least three hours of daylight, which, as the sequel will show, proved very lucky for Rosecrans's army. The enemy had worked like beavers during the night, and had made three lines of intrenchments, besides having the advantage of position on a rising ridge, and were still at work during the early part of the morning. Skirmishing had commenced in front of our lines, but the battle did not open on our right wing until ten o'clock, when the command “forward” ran down our ranks. It was a splendid sight to see that martial array of glorious heroes as our long lines advanced to the bloody contest with the abolition infidel foe. Major Austin's Louisiana battalion, on the extreme right of Hill's corps, moved boldly forward, deployed as skirmishers, and engaged the enemy eight hundred yards in front. That intrepid warrior Breckinridge moved forward his division in as perfect order as if on dress parade, followed closely in the rear by his splendid battery of artillery. Soon the sharp rattle of volleys of musketry were heard, and the roar of battle thundered through the forest. Having driven in two lines of skirmishers, and exposed to a severe cannonading, the division met and drove the enemy from a dense thicket, Adams's brigade capturing a battery, one of the guns being secured by Colonel R. L. Gibson's regiment, and two more by Major Austin's battalion. Breckinridge's division had now crossed the Chattanooga road, having been advancing parallel with it, when by a flank movement to the left, the division formed its line of battle at a right angle with the road, Adams being on the right, Stovall in the centre, and Helm on the left. Advancing for about eight hundred yards through open fields and dense thickets, subject to a constant artillery fire, the division encountered at one hundred yards a division of regulars intrenched in a strong position. Helm, encountering a deadly fire from the intrenchments, was held in check,while Adams and Stovall passed on exposed to a terrible fire of grape and shot from the enemy's front, at the same time a galling fire enfilading them from the left. Notwithstanding, Breckinridge's line stood firm and steadfast, and delivering a volley and charging the enemy with a shout, dispersed their first line in gallant style. At this moment a second line came up on our right flank, sustained by a heavy battery, and delivered an unbroken volley which staggered our whole line and forced it to retire. It was at this time General Adams received a severe wound in his shoulder, making the fifth time that this veteran soldier had suffered for his country. Such was the proximity of our troops at the time, that Adams was taken prisoner; the heroic Helm was killed, and Major Graves, chief of artillery, mortally wounded. The command fell back some three hundred yards to a commanding height, from which Slocomb with his Napoleon guns checked the hosts of the advancing enemy, Adams's brigade having been successfully rallied by the gallant Gibson, who, colors in hand, again fronted the foe. Had the reserve ordered forward to Breckinridge's support come up in time, the enemy's position might have been carried, and prevented the conflict of the afternoon. As it was, notwithstanding our partial repulse, several pieces of artillery were captured and a large number of prisoners.

At the same time each succeeding division to the left gradually became engaged with the enemy, extending to Longstreet's wing. Walker's division now advanced to the relief of Breckinridge; and after an engagement of half an hour, was also compelled to retire under the severe fire of the enemy. The gallant champions of Tennessee, under Cheatham, then advanced to the relief of Walker, but even they wavered and fell back under the terrible fires of the enemy. Cleburn's division, which had several times gallantly charged the enemy, had also been checked, and Stuart's division, occupying the centre and left of our wing, detached from Buckner's corps, had recoiled before the enemy, but not without slaying their battalions in heaps, charging across an open wood and field under a tornado of grape and canister.

Up to noon the struggle had been most desperate on our right, and resistance made on both sides with unparalleled stubbornness, our right wing having been repulsed by the enemy's superior numbers, thus for a second time thwarting the intended swinging movement. The meridian sun, which had witnessed the terrible carnage of the conflict, now commenced its westward course, [368] as if declining further to side with the abolition banners of the east. A reconnoissance made in our front showed that the enemy had fallen back from that portion of the field.

At this critical juncture, it being now about one P. M., the lion-hearted Longstreet ordered General Buckner to advance, which he did as a second line to McLaws's and Hood's divisions. This movement, effected by Longstreet, was in the nature of a left wheel upon his right, Hood's division being as a centre. By this manoeuvre he advanced one mile and a half, and formed at right angles with the Chattanooga road, the movement at the same time uniting Buckner's corps, by bringing Preston's division within a short interval on Stewart's left. Longstreet's corps proper, Hindman's and Bushrod Johnson's divisions now advanced like tigers on the foe. The second line of the enemy, who had taken up a position on a ridge or range of hills, with temporary breastworks formed of rails and fallen timber, had been driven back with great slaughter, Hood's corps having captured thirteen pieces of artillery and a large number of prisoners. The North-Carolinians of McNair's gallant brigade on this occasion made their mark. Lieutenant-Colonel Frank A. Reynolds, of the Thirty-ninth North-Carolina, capturing ten pieces of cannon, seven of which were brought off the field, with two standards of colors, the regiment losing one hundred men out of two hundred and thirty-eight. The glorious Hood himself was seriously wounded, having his leg amputated on the field. Longstreet now took command of Hood's corps in person with other troops, when charge after charge was made, pressing back the enemy's right, until their line was doubled on their centre, for a distance of three miles. Kershaw's South-Carolinians and Humphrey's Mississippians now advanced to the assault of the ridge, and soon became engaged in a desperate struggle, the tide of victory vacillating, when the peerless Preston was ordered to advance his division of united troops, Gracie's, Kelley's, and Trigg's brigades, who had never before been in action, to their aid. They moved forward through a deadly fire with the firmness and courage of veterans, exciting the highest admiration, when a simultaneous assault was made, and the enemy driven from and over the crest of the ridge with great slaughter, thus wresting from him his supposed impregnable position. General Longstreet, in passing over the scene afterward, remarked that the troops who could take such a stronghold could carry any works the enemy could construct.

It was now about five o'clock when the enemy's right wing had been driven back in dismay, and Rosecrans, to check our further advance and save his army, attempted to reenforce his right by throwing over a heavy body of troops from his left. The movement was at once perceived by the eagle eyes of Longstreet and Buckner, who had reconnoitred the ground, and it being suggested by General Law, commanding Hood's division, that we could enfilade the enemy as he approached by placing artillery near the Chattanooga road, and opposite the angle formed by the enemy's lines, Major Williams, commanding a battery of artillery, of Buckner's corps, was ordered to concentrate his batteries at the point it was supposed the enemy would cross. Soon after, as was expected, the heavy columns of the enemy made their appearance and were about wheeling into line, when Williams opened on them a terrific fire with grape, canister, and shrapnel, mowing down the abolition foe, and shivering the woods behind which they attempted to take shelter. At the same time, Stewart's division, which had been ordered forward by General Longstreet, fell furiously upon the flank of the column, on the right of the road, while Law opened a most unmerciful fire on the left. The enemy's right and centre gave way before the mighty shock, and broke with frantic confusion; over twenty pieces of artillery were captured, and several thousand made prisoners.

General Bragg, upon whom rested the mighty responsibility of the immense stake at hazard, and who, upon every part of the battle-field, watched with intense anxiety the fate of the day — as he directed the storm of death-then felt that the God of battles would award to him the victory.

The western horizon, crimsoned with vermilion hues, now shed its ruddy light on the hill-top and forest-plain, painting the bloody battle-field still reeking with human gore-but the battle strife had not yet ceased. Driven to desperation, and determined at all hazards to hold their position on their left wing, the enemy with a resolute ferocity hurled his battalions upon our right, at the same time opening his batteries with a storm of shell and grape. Liddell and Gist, of Walker's corps, who had been again ordered forward, being their fifth engagement with the enemy, were met by a most destructive fire, which enfiladed them on both flanks and drove them back. Our line of battle on the right was now about half a mile from the Chattanooga road. The enemy was sorely pressing our wavering lines. General Polk, who had borne the brunt of the battle during the day, and fought his wing against the concentrated masses of the enemy with unequalled bravery and endurance, had now marshaled his forces for a last desperate charge, on which depended the fate of the day. His flashing eye at this moment discovered that Granger's reserve corps of abolition troops was moving down upon us, and not a moment was to be lost. At the same time it was reported that Longstreet was driving the enemy's right flank, which added fresh nerve and vigor to our already exhausted men. The signal being given, the whole line advanced, Breckinridge leading off on the extreme right, the division making a left half wheel, which brought it parallel to the enemy's lines, whose artillery belched forth a blasting fire. Forward pressed Stovall, Gibson, and Helm, in perfect order, cheered by other lines of troops as they advanced, and passing through the “unterrified” of Walker's line, who was then engaging the enemy, without halting, and reserving their fire until within a few yards of the foe, when they sprang forward with a wild yell to the charge, receiving a volley from the enemy without effect. A second volley from the barricades of [369] trees and stones checked Breckinridge for a moment, and many a brave, with the noble Helm, fell, but the officers rushed forward, mounting the barricades, followed by their men, dealing destruction to the panic-stricken hordes, who fled on every side, a brigade of U. S. regulars, under General King, being perfectly routed by Gibson. Still onward pressed the division of Breckinridge, driving the enemy for three quarters of a mile, capturing nine pieces of cannon and hundreds of prisoners, until entering the woods about seventy yards west of the Chattanooga road, the enemy's killed and wounded making its bloody track in the pursuit.

At the same time on came the chivalrous Cleburn, with the brave Deshler, Wood, and Polk, who soon came in conflict with Granger's corps, sweeping them before their ranks like leaves, and facing the murderous fire of their barricades. The heroic and dashing Deshler went down, but still the men pressed forward; Wood, with Lucius Polk's brigade, storming breastwork after breastwork, until the third work was carried-Polk capturing three pieces of cannon, the standards of the Second Ohio, Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania, Seventy-ninth Illinois, and five hundred prisoners. Like the ocean's wave, rolled onward the brigades of the warrior Cheatham toward the centre of the enemy's works, which were carried with an irresistible impetuosity. Maney's brigade adding new laurels to its fame, as well as Strahl's, Wright's, Jackson's, and the lamented Preston Smith's capturing several pieces of artillery, and a large number of prisoners. This sealed our victory. The enemy was totally routed from right, left, and centre, and was in full retreat to Chattanooga, night alone preventing their further pursuit. Then arose along our lines, from wing to wing for miles, one wild, tumultuous yell, and cheers which made the hills and forest shake again. The day was ours; while the croaking raven of the night perched on the ill-starred banner of the vain, boasting Rosecrans, now crestfallen, defeated, and humiliated. Polk's wing captured twenty-eight pieces of artillery, and Longstreet's twenty-one, making forty-nine pieces of cannon, both wings taking nearly an equal number of prisoners, amounting to over eight thousand, with thirty thousand stand of arms, and forty stands of regimental colors. The enemy's loss in killed, wounded, and. prisoners, by their own account, is not less than thirty thousand. Ours is computed at twelve thousand, our wounded being unusually large compared to the killed. The enemy is known to have had all his available force on the field, including his reserve, with a portion of Burnside's corps, numbering not less than eighty thousand, while our whole force did not exceed fifty thousand. Nothing was more brilliant in all Bonaparte's Italian campaigns; it was equally as desperate as the battle of Arcola, and far more decisive in its results. So far it exceeds all previous battles of our revolution, and nothing could surpass the irresistible courage and heroic intrepidity of our officers and soldiers.

It is impossible to crowd into this limited space the numerous personal heroic deeds, or the valorous and chivalrous incidents, recalling the exploits of the knights of romance, which occurred on the ever-memorable field of Chickamauga, even were they known to the writer, while it is a source of regret that I cannot do full justice to companies and regiments by recording here the noble and heroic part which they bore on this bloody battlefield, where all were alike distinguished for heroism and bravery.

It is but justice to General Longstreet to accord to him the turning of the tide of victory by his masterly manoeuvre, which was followed up and completed by General Polk, while it must be conceded that the resolute decision of General Bragg in checking the enemy's advance into Georgia, striking him at a disadvantage, with great odds against us, and driving him from the State, defeated and routed, deserves the gratitude of our countrymen.

Too much praise cannot be given to the gallant Georgians. In Hood's division thirteen pieces of artillery were captured, to secure which our boys forced the abolition prisoners to haul them off the field. It was a novel sight to see two confederate soldiers mounted on a gun-carriage, with their rifles in hand, driving a team of “abolish,” which had been harnessed up for the occasion. The able manner in which Hood's division was handled by the accomplished Brigadier-General E. M. Law, called forth the high praise and congratulations of General Longstreet. The most eminent service had been rendered by our bold dragoons under the daring chieftains Forrest, Wheeler, Wharton, and Scott, who drove back and checked the enemy's advances, and during the fight greatly annoyed their flanks, capturing a large number of prisoners.

Not since the battle of Cressy, 1346, when. cannon were first used, was the artillery arm of the service more effective on both sides, or more chivalry shown. During the evening of the twentieth, when Liddell's brigades were in desperate conflict with the enemy, Captain Sweet's battery silenced a battery of the enemy, which was afterward captured. The officer in command, on being taken prisoner, inquired the name of the confederate officer who served the guns, as he desired to present him with his sword and glass, for his gallantry and great skill. The officer referred to was the brave Lieutenant Shannon, and the glass and sword were left with Major M. Smith for the heroic artillerist. The batteries commanded by Captains Cobb, Carns, Lumsden, Fowler, and indeed all our artillery officers, rendered distinguished service, and none more so than the lamented Major E. E. Graves, chief of artillery of Breckinridge's division, Who was killed on the field. Major J. K. Porter, Chief of Artillery of Buckner's corps, Lieutenant-Colonel James H. Hallonquist, Chief of Artillery of General Bragg's staff; and Major Palmer also rendered distinguished service.

An idea of the desperation of the fight may be had from the casualties in Govan's and Walthall's brigades, which suffered the largest loss of any [370] two brigades in the army. But one colonel was left in command in Govan's brigade. Colonel Featherston, of the Fifth Arkansas, fell in the first engagement while gallantly taking a battery; Lieutenant-Colonel Baucum, of the Eighth Arkansas, and Colonel Gillespie, of the Seventh, were both wounded. Ten company officers out of twelve, in the First Louisiana and Eighth Arkansas, consolidated, were killed and wounded. In the two brigades one thousand and six hundred men and officers were killed and wounded in five desperate engagements. Eight field officers out of ten were killed and wounded in Walthall's brigade, and Colonel J. J. Scales, of the Thirtieth Mississippi, captured. In the Twenty-fourth Mississippi, Lieutenant-Colonel R. P. Mackelvaine and Major W. C. Staples were wounded; also, Lieutenant-Colonel A. J. Jones, of the Twenty-seventh ; Lieutenant-Colonel L. B. Morgan, of the Twenty-ninth ; Major J. M. Johnson, of the Thirtieth; Major W. G. Pegram, and Captain Fowler, afterward commanding Thirty-fourth Mississippi. Lieutenant-Colonel H. A. Reynolds, Thirty-fourth Mississippi, was killed. Colonel Brantley, of Twenty-ninth, and Colonel Campbell, Twenty-seventh, were the only officers uninjured. Whole loss, seven hundred and eighty-one killed, wounded, and missing.

The Louisiana, Kentucky, and Alabama troops were also conspicuous for their gallantry. Sergeant J. C. McDevitt, the color-bearer of Gibson's regiment, Adams's brigade, was mortally wounded in both legs with canister. The brave Major Loudon Butler, of the Nineteenth Louisiana, was killed at the head of his regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel R. W. Turner, of same regiment, was wounded, also Captain E. P. Guilliet, of General Adams's staff. Colonel Daniel Gober and Major C. H. Moore, of Sixteenth and Twenty-fifth Louisiana; Colonel L. Von Zinken and Captain E. M. Dubroca, of Thirteenth and Twentieth Louisiana; Captain John W. Labouisse, A. I. G.; Major J. C. Kimball, Thirty-second Alabama, and Lieutenants S. L. Ware and Scott Yerger, were distinguished for their gallantry and bravery. Major James Wilson, A. A. G.; Captains Cabell, Breckinridge, Clay, Coleman, and Maston, of General Breckinridge's staff, also won additional distinction. The brave and chivalrous Colonel Hewitt, of the Second Kentucky, and Lieutenant-Colonel Inge, of the Eighteenth Alabama, were killed.

Bate's brigade, of Stewart's division, retook a gun and confederate flag which had been captured by the enemy the evening before. General Bate had two horses shot under him, suffering considerably from the fall of the last. General Brown was struck in the breast by a spent ball, which shocked him severely, and General Clayton was struck with a fragment of shell on the side. Bate's brigade lost six hundred and eight, out of one thousand and eighty-five, including sixty-seven officers. Every staff-officer had his horse shot under him. Colonel R. C. Tyler, of the Fifteenth and Thirty-seventh Tennessee, lost one hundred and twenty out of two hundred and two men. All the field-officers were wounded, six company officers were killed, and two color-bearers were shot down. During the evening of the twentieth, this gallant regiment became disconnected from Bate's brigade, and fought independently, capturing, with a portion of the Fourth Alabama, a fine battery, the men of the regiment managing the guns and carrying them to the rear, the horses being all killed. During the night after the battle, Preston's division captured two regiments, being part of a small force which held its position on our left. Major J. Stoddard Johnson, A. A. G.; Major T. H. Clay, Inspector-General; Major A. C. Gibson, Chief of Ordnance, and Major T. K. Porter, Chief of Artillery, of General Buckner's staff, were distinguished for the gallant service which they rendered on the field.

On Monday, twenty-first, Forrest and Wheeler pursued the enemy, who did not stop until they reached Chattanooga., the former keeping up a running fire and capturing a number of prisoners. Wheeler also destroyed a wagon train and captured one hundred prisoners. Major John Taylor, of the First Louisiana cavalry, went within five miles of Chattanooga, and captured the splendid colors of the Thirtieth Indiana, with one hundred prisoners. Our whole army moved forward on Tuesday, and formed in front of Missionary Ridge, taking possession of Lookout Mountain, and securing the river road toward Bridgeport. It is stated that the enemy had already crossed a portion of his army over the river, but finding he was not pursued, returned. There is hardly a doubt, however, that if our troops could have pursued him that night, we would have at least occupied Chattanooga, as the enemy was most precipitous in his flight, leaving his hospitals, wounded and dead alike, abandoned, on the banks of the “River of death!”

1 correspondent of the Mobile Tribune.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Chattanooga (Tennessee, United States) (23)
Ringgold, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (5)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (5)
Fairview (Georgia, United States) (4)
Fort Scott (Kansas, United States) (3)
Dalton, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (3)
Bridgeport, Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (3)
Alpine, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (3)
Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (2)
Pigeon Mountain (Georgia, United States) (2)
Pea Vine Creek (Arkansas, United States) (2)
Missionary Ridge, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (2)
La Fayette (Georgia, United States) (2)
Knoxville (Tennessee, United States) (2)
Alabama (Alabama, United States) (2)
Will's Valley (Alabama, United States) (1)
Wartrace (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Walker County (Georgia, United States) (1)
Walker (Georgia, United States) (1)
Vicksburg (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Tunnel Hill (Georgia, United States) (1)
Tullahoma (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Tennessee River (United States) (1)
Taylor's Ridge (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Shelbyville, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Sand Mountain, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Rock Spring, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Ora (California, United States) (1)
Mississippi (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Loudon, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Lookout Mountain, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Kentucky (Kentucky, United States) (1)
Keith (Georgia, United States) (1)
Jackson (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Hoover's Gap (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Cressy (Kentucky, United States) (1)
Crawfish Spring (Idaho, United States) (1)
Cleveland, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Bowling Green (Indiana, United States) (1)
Atlanta (Georgia, United States) (1)
Arcola, Douglas County, Illinois (Illinois, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Hood (19)
W. H. T. Walker (18)
Simon B. Buckner (18)
Braxton Bragg (18)
Longstreet (17)
John C. Breckinridge (17)
Lucius Polk (14)
Wirt Adams (14)
Liddell (12)
Walthall (10)
Alexander Stewart (10)
Bate (10)
Charles Preston (9)
R. E. Lee (8)
A. P. Hill (8)
W. S. Rosecrans (7)
D. C. Govan (7)
L. Thomas (6)
Bushrod Johnson (6)
Powell Clayton (6)
Cheatham (6)
Stovall (5)
W. G. Pegram (5)
Forrest (5)
Ector (5)
Eugene H. Brown (5)
Eugene Wilson (4)
Stephen Wheeler (4)
Benjamin Hardin Helm (4)
Gist (4)
R. L. Gibson (4)
A. G. H. Wood (3)
Trigg (3)
Tedford (3)
E. M. Law (3)
Hindman (3)
T. L. Crittenden (3)
Cleburn (3)
A. E. Burnside (3)
Wright (2)
Lawrence Auton Williams (2)
Coloner Wilder (2)
Strahl (2)
Melancthon Smith (2)
S. C. Reid (2)
William J. Palmer (2)
McNair (2)
McLaws (2)
Maney (2)
Kershaw (2)
John Kelley (2)
I. Johnson (2)
Humphrey (2)
E. E. Graves (2)
Gordon Granger (2)
Gracie (2)
Samuel Fowler (2)
Deshler (2)
William R. Dalton (2)
T. H. Clay (2)
G. W. Brent (2)
Orren Austin (2)
A. J. Alexander (2)
L. Zinken (1)
Scott Yerger (1)
James Wilson (1)
Wharton (1)
S. L. Ware (1)
R. C. Tyler (1)
R. W. Turner (1)
John Taylor (1)
Sweet (1)
J. E. B. Stuart (1)
W. C. Staples (1)
T. R. Stanley (1)
Preston Smith (1)
Slocomb (1)
Sheffield (1)
Shannon (1)
J. J. Scales (1)
A. F. Rudler (1)
J. Robertson (1)
H. A. Reynolds (1)
Frank A. Reynolds (1)
T. K. Porter (1)
J. K. Porter (1)
Park (1)
North (1)
Negley (1)
Tommy Morgan (1)
L. B. Morgan (1)
C. H. Moore (1)
John G. Mitchell (1)
J. C. McDevitt (1)
Dan McCook (1)
Maston (1)
Manigault (1)
R. P. Mackelvaine (1)
Lumsden (1)
John W. Labouisse (1)
T. Butler King (1)
J. C. Kimball (1)
R. S. Key (1)
A. J. Jones (1)
Joseph E. Johnston (1)
J. Stoddard Johnson (1)
J. M. Johnson (1)
J. K. Jackson (1)
Inge (1)
Hodge (1)
Hewitt (1)
James Harrison (1)
James H. Hallonquist (1)
E. P. Guilliet (1)
J. J. Gregg (1)
W. J. Gordon (1)
Daniel Gober (1)
Gillespie (1)
A. C. Gibson (1)
Fulton (1)
Featherston (1)
E. M. Dubroca (1)
Doc (1)
Deas (1)
George W. Coleman (1)
Ferdinand D. Cobb (1)
Cleveland (1)
John C. Clemence (1)
Carns (1)
James Campbell (1)
Cabell (1)
Loudon Butler (1)
Brantley (1)
Bonaparte (1)
Chas W. Blair (1)
Henry L. Benning (1)
Baucum (1)
A. J. Armstrong (1)
W. P. Anderson (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
September 18th, 1863 AD (2)
20th (2)
19th (2)
18th (2)
17th (2)
1346 AD (1)
December 31st (1)
September 20th (1)
September 11th (1)
September 7th (1)
September 1st (1)
June 27th (1)
January 2nd (1)
16th (1)
14th (1)
13th (1)
9th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: