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Doc. 210.-occupation of Brown's Ferry, Tenn.

headquarters Second brigade, Third division, Fourth army corps, Brown's Ferry, near Chattanooga, October 30, 1863.
General W. F. Smith, Chief Engineer Army of the Cumberland:
I have the honor to report as follows of the part taken by troops under my command, in the occupation of the left bank of the Tennessee River, at this point.

On the morning of the twenty-fifth instant, I reported, by order of the commanding officer of the Fourth army corps, to the Chief Engineer of this army for instructions, and was then briefly informed for the first time of the duty to be assigned me, and the method of performing it, which was to organize fifty squads of one officer and twenty-four men each, to embark in boats at Chattanooga and float down the river to this point, a distance by the bends of the river of nine miles, and land upon its left bank, then occupied by the enemy, making thereafter immediate dispositions for holding it, while the remaining portion of my brigade and another one should be speedily sent over the river in the same boats to reenforce me. The movement was to be made just before daylight of the twenty-seventh. My brigade then consisted of the following regiments: Sixth Kentucky volunteer infantry, Ninety-third Ohio volunteer infantry, Fifth Kentucky volunteer infantry, First Ohio volunteer infantry, Sixth Ohio volunteer infantry, Forty-first Ohio volunteer infantry, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio volunteer infantry, Sixth Indiana volunteer infantry, Twenty-third Kentucky volunteer infantry, with an aggregate for duty of two thousand one hundred and sixty-six men.

The twenty-fifth was employed in organizing my parties, each being placed in charge of a tried officer.

On the morning of the twenty-sixth I, in company with the Chief Engineer, visited the place where it was desired to effect the landing, and, from the opposite bank, found the position as represented below.

It was desired that I should land and occupy the two hills to the left of the house.

There was a picket post at this point, also in the depression between the two hills.

It was thought best to organize a party of seventy-five men, who should be the first to land and at once push out upon the road that comes in at the house, clearing and holding it, while half the first organized force should be landed simultaneously at each of the two gorges, (A and B,) who should immediately push up the hills, inclining to the left and following the crest, till they were wholly occupied. Each party of twenty-five was to carry two axes, and as soon as the crest should be reached, a strong line of skirmishers was to be pushed out and all the axes at once put at work felling a thick abatis.

The remainder of the brigade was to be organized, and being ready on the opposite bank, armed and provided with axes, was to be at once pushed over and also deployed in rear of the skirmishers, were to assist in making the abattis.

Positions were also selected for building signal fires to guide us in landing.

I afterward selected tried and distinguished officers to lead the four distinct commands, who, in addition to being instructed fully as to the part they were to take in the matter, were taken to the spot, and every feature of the bank and landings made familiar to them.

They, in turn just before night, called together the leaders of squads, and each clearly instructed what his duties were, it being of such a nature that each had, in a great degree, to act independently, but strictly in accordance to instructions.

At twelve o'clock at night the command was awakened and marched to the landing and quietly embarked under the superintendence of Colonel T. R. Stanly, of the Eighteenth Ohio volunteers.

At precisely three o'clock A. M., the flotilla, consisting of fifty-two boats, moved noiselessly out. I desired to reach the point of landing, at a little before daylight, and soon learned that the current would enable me to do so without using the oars. After moving three miles, we came under the guns of the enemy's pickets, but keeping well under the opposite shore, were not discovered by them till the first boat was within ten feet of the landing, when the picket fired a volley, harmlessly, over the heads of the men. The disembarkation was effected rapidly, and in perfect order, each party performing correctly the part assigned it with so little loss of time, that the entire crest was occupied, my skirmish line out, and the axes working before the reenforcements of the enemy, a little over the hill, came forward to drive us back.

At this time they came boldly up along nearly our entire front, but particularly strong along the road, gaining the hill to the right of it, and would have caused harm to the party on the road, had not Colonel Langdon, First Ohio volunteers, commanding the remaining portion of the brigade, arrived at this moment, and after a gallant but short engagement, driven the enemy well over into the valley, gaining the right-hand hill. They made a stubborn fight all along the hill, but were easily driven away with loss.

General Turchin's command now came over, and taking position on the hills to the right, my troops were all brought to the left of the road. The enemy now moved off in full view up the valley.

The Fifty-first Ohio volunteers, Eighth Kentucky, Thirty-fifth Indiana volunteers, and two batteries of artillery, were subsequently added to my command, and the three points farther to the left occupied.

We knew nothing of the country previous to occupying it, excepting what could be seen from the opposite bank, nor of the force there to oppose [582] us. We found the hill facing the river precipitous, and the face opposite less steep, but of difficult ascent. The top is sharp, having a level surface of from two to six feet in width, forming a natural parapet, capable of an easy defence by a single line against the strongest column. It is from two hundred and fifty to three hundred feet above the river. Beyond it is a narrow productive valley, and the higher parallel range of Raccoon Mountains is about one and one fourth mile distant. The entire opposite face of the hill now is covered with slashed timber.

The enemy had at this point one thousand infantry, three pieces of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry — ample force, properly disposed, to have successfully disputed our landing.

Our losses were five killed, twenty-one wounded, and nine missing. We buried six of the enemy, and a large number were known to be wounded, including the colonel commanding.

We captured a few prisoners, their camp, twenty beeves, six pontoons, a barge, and several thousand bushels of forage fell into our hands.

My thanks are especially due to Colonel A. Wiley, Forty-first Ohio volunteers, and Major Wm. Birch, Ninety-third Ohio volunteers, who commanded and led the party that took the heights, and to Lieutenant-Colonel Foy, Twentythird Kentucky, commanding party that swept the road, and Lieutenant-Colonel Langdon, First Ohio volunteers, commanding the battalions formed of the residue of the brigade.

Had either of these officers been less prompt in the execution of their duties, or less obedient to the letter of their instructions, many more lives might have been lost, or the expedition failed altogether. The spirit of every one engaged in the enterprise is deserving of the highest commendation. My staff gave me the intelligent and timely assistance they have always done when needed, and to Lieutenant-Colonel Kimberly, Forty-first Ohio volunteers, and Lieutenant Ferdinand D. Cobb, same regiment, I am especially indebted for valuable service.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. B. Hazen, Brigadier-General.

Colonel Wiley's report.

headquarters Forty-First regiment, Ohio volunteer infantry Brown's Ferry, Tenn., Oct. 30, 1863.
Jno. Crowell, Jr., Captain and A. A. G.:
In compliance with your order I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the detachment under my command, in gaining possession of the ridge on the west side of the Tennessee River, at Brown's Ferry, on the morning of the twenty-seventh instant.

The detachment consisted of one hundred and fifty officers and men Forty-first Ohio volunteers, Captain W. W. Munn commanding; one hundred and seventy-five officers and men One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Jas. Pickands commanding; one hundred and fifty officers and men Sixth Ohio volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel A. C. Christopher commanding; one hundred officers and men Fifth Kentucky volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel J. L. Treanor commanding.

The detachments from each regiment were organized into companies consisting of twenty-four enlisted men and one commissioned officer each. The whole embarked on twenty-four pontoons. At three o'clock A. M. the fleet moved from the landing at Chattanooga in the following order:

The Forty-first Ohio volunteers, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio volunteers, Sixth Ohio volunteers, and Fifth Kentucky volunteers, and reached the landing at the ferry at five A. M.

The fleet was preceded by a detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Foy, Twenty-third Kentucky, on a barge, which was not under my command; My orders were to land at the ferry and carry and hold the height on the left of the gorge. The eminence to be gained is a ridge about four hundred yards in length, parallel with the river, and about three hundred feet above it, the face next the river being very precipitous; the ascent at the end next the gorge not so difficult. The fleet proceeded without molestation until about five o'clock A. M. When the first boat, which was almost abreast of the barge containing Lieutenant Colonel Foy's detachment, was within about ten yards of the landing, it was fired on by the enemy's pickets stationed at the landing. The crew of the first boat delivered a volley and leaped ashore, followed instantly by the second boat, in which I myself had embarked. The first company, deployed as skirmishers to cover the flank of the column, were immediately pushed up the further slope of the ridge; the second company, covering the head of the column, advanced along the crest toward the left. The regiments effected their landing promptly in the order already indicated, and advanced in column by company up the height and along the crest, when the line was established as previously indicated in the following order: The Fifth Kentucky on the right, Forty-first Ohio on the left, Sixth Ohio on the right centre, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio on the left centre. Each regiment, as soon as it gained its position, threw out two companies as skirmishers to cover its front, and commenced felling the timber and constructed a parapet, each company having carried two axes for that purpose.

The enemy were encamped in the valley at the foot of the ridge, and at the first sound of the axes his skirmishers advanced up the hill and engaged our force vigorously for some time, when they were driven back to the road at the foot of the ridge. A section of artillery then opened on us, but without effect. No further effort was made to dislodge us. As soon as it became light, we discovered the enemy retreating to our left up the further side of the valley. He left five dead and one wounded in front of our line of skirmishers. The following is a list of casualties:

Killed: Privates Thomas Ladler, company A, Forty-first Ohio volunteers; Melvin F. Howard, company B, Fifth Kentucky volunteers. Wounded: Second Lieutenant C. W. Hills, company A, [583] Forty-first Ohio volunteers; Sergeant C. H. Bennett, company A, Forty-first Ohio volunteers; First Lieutenant A. S. Galbreath, company I, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio volunteers; Sergeant Samuel Gaynes, company I, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio volunteers; privates Jos. Sims, company K, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio volunteers; Wm. Clark, company K, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio volunteers.

I cannot commend too highly the gallantry and firmness of the troops engaged as skirmishers.

The enemy's line attacked vigorously, encouraged by the shouts of their officers to “drive the Yankees into the river,” and only gave way within a few rods of our own line. I have also the pleasure of testifying to the promptness, skill, and efficiency of Lieutenant-Colonel Pickands, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio volunteers; Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher, Sixth Ohio volunteers; Lieutenant-Colonel Treanor, Fifth Kentucky volunteers, and Captain Munn, Forty-first Ohio volunteers, commanding detachments from their respective regiments.

The best evidence of the alacrity and skill with which they handled their troops, consists in the fact of their effecting a landing, gaining the crest of the height, and the position assigned them, and making all their dispositions for defences before the enemy, who had doubtless been alarmed by the firing at the landing, who not only knew the country, but could have gained it by a much less difficult slope.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Aquila Wiley, Colonel Forty-first Ohio Volunteers, Commanding Detachment.

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October 30th, 1863 AD (2)
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