Doc. 96.-the battle of Wauhatchee.
Official report of General Thomas.
headquarters Department of the Cumberland, Chattanooga, Nov. 7, 1863.General: I have the honor to forward herewith the official reports of Major-General Hooker, (commanding the Eleventh and Twelfth corps,) and of Brigadier-General W. F. Smith, Chief Engineer Department of the Cunmberland, (commanding the expedition, composed of Turchin's brigade, Baird's division, Fourteenth army corps, and of Hazen's brigade, Wood's division, Fourth army corps, and detachments of the Eighteenth Ohio infantry, under command of Colonel T. R. Stanley, and of the First Michigan engineers, under command of Captain B. 1). Fox,) of the operations of their respective conimands between the twenty-sixth and twenty-eighth ultimo, to gain possession of the south bank of the Tennessee River, and to open the road for a depot of supplies at Bridgeport, Preliminary steps had already been taken to execute this vitally important movement before the command of the department devolved on me. The bridge, which it was necessary to throw across the river at Brown's Ferry, to gain possession of the northern end of Lookout Valley, and open communication with Bridgeport by road and river, was nearly complete. On the twenty-third, orders were sent to General Hooker to concentrate the Eleventh corps and one division of the Twelfth corps at Bridgeport, informing him at the same time what his force was expected to accomplish, and that a force from this place would cooperate with his, by establishing a bridge across the river at Brown's Ferry, and seize the heights on the south or Lookout Valley side, thus giving him an open road to Chattanooga, when his forces should arrive in Lookout Valley. The force to throw the bridge was organized by Saturday, the twenty-fourth, and the bridge completed, giving General Smith two days to examine the ground with the two brigade commanders, and to give all the necessary detailed instructions to insure success. General Hooker reported on the twenty-sixth that he would be ready to move on the twenty-seventh at daylight. He was instructed to move at the appointed time with full directions how to provide for the defence of his flank, and to cover the approaches to the road from the direction of Trenton. The bridge was successfully thrown across the rivers on the night of the twenty-sixth, and General Hooker reached Lookout  Valley, and communicated with this place on the twenty-eighth. The enemy attempted to surprise him the night after he reached his position in Lookout Valley, and after an obstinate contest of two hours duration was completely repulsed, with a loss of upward of one thousand five hundred killed and wounded, over one hundred prisoners, and several hundred stand of arms. I refer you to the reports of Generals Hooker and Smith for the details of the operations of their commands, commending to favorable consideration the names of those officers especially mentioned by them for gallant and meritorious conduct. The skilful execution by General Smith of the work assigned him, and the promptness with which General Hooker with his troops met and repulsed the enemy on the night of the twentyeighth, reflects the greatest credit on both of these officers and their entire commands. I herewith annex consolidated returns of casualties. I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General Hooker's command.
|Second Division, 12th Corps,||84||174||8||216|
|Brig.-Gen. Smith's command,||4||17||--||21|
Report of Brigadier-General W. F. Smith.
headquarters Department of. The Cumberland, Office Chief Engineer, Chattanooga, Nov. 4, 1863.General: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations for making a lodgment on the south side of the Tennessee River, at Brown's Ferry. On the nineteenth of October, I was instructed by General Rosecrans to reconnoitre the river in the vicinity of Williams Island, with a view of making the island a cover for a steamboat landing and storehouses, and began the examination near the lower end of the island. Following the river up, I found on the opposite bank, above the head of the island, a sharp range of hills whose base was washed by the river. This range extended up the river nearly to Lookout Creek, and was broken at Brown's Ferry by a narrow gorge, through which ran the road to the old ferry, and flowed a small creek. The valley between the ridge of hills and Raccoon Mountains was narrow, and a lodgment effected there would give us the command of the Kelly's Ferry road, and seriously interrupt the communications of the enemy up Lookout Valley, and down to the river on Raccoon Mountain. The ridge seemed thinly picketed, and the evidences were against the occupation of that part of the valley by a large force of the enemy, and it seemed quite possible to take by surprise what could not have been carried by assault, if heavily occupied by an opposing force. The Major-General commanding the Geographical division and the Major-General commanding the department visited with me the ferry, a few days after this reconnoissance, and both agreed as to the importance of the position by itself, and especially in connection with the movements to be made from Bridgeport to open the river, and I was directed to make the necessary arrangements for the expedition to effect a lodgment. To do this fifty pontoons with oars to carry a crew and twenty-five armed men were prepared, and also two flat-boats carrying forty and seventy men. The force detailed for the expedition consisted of the brigades of Brigadier-General Turchin and Brigadier-General Hazen, with three batteries, to be posted under the direction of Major Mendenhall, Assistant Chief of Artillery. Sunday, the twenty-fifth of October, I-was assigned to the command of the expedition, and. the troops were distributed as follows: One thousand five hundred men, under Brigadier-General Hazen, were to embark in the boats and pass down the river, a distance of about nine miles, seven of which would be under the fire of the pickets of the enemy. It was deemed better to take this risk than to attempt to launch the boats near the ferry, because they would move more rapidly than intelligence could be taken by infantry pickets, and, in addition, though the enemy might be alarmed, he would not know where the landing was to be attempted, and therefore could not concentrate with certainty against us. The boats were called off in sections, and the points at which each section was to land were carefully selected and pointed out to the officers in command, and range-fires kept burning, lest in the night the upper points should be mistaken. The remainder of Generals Turchin's and Hazen's brigades were marched across and encamped in the woods out of sight, near the ferry, ready to move down and cover the landing of the boats, and also ready to embark so soon as the boats had landed the river force,. and crossed to the north side. The artillery was also halted in the woods during.the night, and was to move down and go into position so soon as — the boats had landed, to cover the retirement of our troops in case of disaster. The equipage for the pontoon-bridge was also ready to be moved down to the river so soon as the troops were across. Axes were distributed to the troops, to be used in cutting abattis for defence so soon as the ridge was gained. General Hazen was to take the gorge and hills to the left, while General Turchin was to extend from the gorge down the river. The boats moved from Chattanooga at three A. M., on the twenty-seventh, and, thanks to a slight fog and the silence observed, they were not discovered until about five A. M., when the first section had landed at the upper point, and the second section had arrived abreast of the picket stationed at the gorge. Here a portion of the second section of the flotilla failed to land at the proper place, and alarming the pickets, received a volley. Some time was lost in effecting a landing below the gorge, and the troops had hardly carried it be  fore the enemy began the. attack. The boats by this time had recrossed the river, and Lieutenant-Colonel Langdon, First Ohio volunteers, in command of the remnant of the brigade of General Hazen, was rapidly ferried across, and, forming his men, quickly pushed forward to the assistance of the troops under Lieutenant-Colonel Fay, Twenty-third Kentucky volunteers, already hard pressed. The skirmish was soon over, and General Turchin, who followed Lieutenant-Colonel Langdon, quietly took possession of the hills assigned him. So soon as the skirmishers were thrown out from each command, the axes were set at work felling an abattis, and in two hours the command was sufficiently protected to withstand any attack which was likely to be made. So soon as the last of the troops were across, the bridge was commenced, and continued under some shelling for an hour or so, and was completed at half-past 4 P. M., under the vigorous and skilful superintendence of Captain P. V. Fox, First Michigan engineers, and Captain George W. Dresser, Fourth artillery. Six prisoners were taken and six rebels buried by our command, and several wounded reported by citizens, and among the wounded the Colonel of the Fifteenth Alabama. Twenty beeves, six pontoons, a barge, and about two thousand bushels of corn, fell into our possession. Our loss was six killed, twenty-three wounded, and nine missing. The artillery placed in position was not used, but credit is due Major Mendenhall for his promptitude in placing his guns. To Brigadier-General Turchin, Brigadier-General Hazen, Colonel Stanley, Eighteenth Ohio volunteers, who had the superintendence of the boats, and was zealous in his duty, and to Captain Fox, First Michigan engineers, all credit is due for their zeal, coolness, and intelligence. Captain Dresser, Fourth artillery, and Captain P. E. F. West, U. S. Coast Survey, rendered every service on my staff. Lieutenants Klokke, Fuller, Hopkins, and Bent of the Signal corps, were zealous in the discharge of their duties, and soon succeeded in establishing a line of communication from the south side of the river. I inclose the reports of the various commanders. Respectfully submitted.
W. F. Smith, Brigadier-General O. E., Commanding Expedition.