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Lookout Valley, October 28, 1863.

Report of General E. M. Law.

headquarters Law's brigade, November 3rd, 1863.
Captain,--I have the honor to report that my brigade was detached about the 8th October for duty beyond Lookout mountain. The object of keeping a force in that locality, as I understood it, was to blockade the road leading from Chattanooga to Bridgeport, which passed near the point of Raccoon mountain, and on the opposite (or west) side of the Tennessee. This object was accomplished by placing riflemen along this bank of the river (which, at this point, is about three hundred yards wide,) to fire upon the enemy's wagon trains as they passed. In order to secure the riflemen who were engaged in blockading the road, it was necessary to picket the river from that point to the bend near the foot of Lookout mountain, a distance of five miles. This would either prevent the enemy from crossing above and cutting them off, or give them sufficient warning to enable them to withdraw. I employed two regiments in blockading the road and picketing the river, and held the remaining three, with a section of Barrett's battery in reserve, at a convenient point for reinforcing any part of the line. As the line was long, and necessarily weak, my principal security for holding it was in having a sufficient reserve to foil the enemy if he should attempt a crossing, by throwing it upon him before he could strengthen himself on this side.

On the 25th of October, by orders from division Headquarters, three of my regiments were withdrawn and brought to this side of Lookout, leaving the two on picket, and the section of artillery. Being notified that Brigadier-General Jenkins would be absent for a few days, from daylight on the 27th, and that I would be left in command of the division, I came to this side of the mountain, leaving Captain L. R. Terrell, A. A. General, as my representative to superintend the operations in Lookout Valley.

On the morning of the 27th, just before daylight, the enemy taking advantage of the fog, which was very dense, commenced the passage of the river at Brown's ferry. They crossed in two boats, carrying about forty men each. They were fired upon by the picket at that point, and the landing was resisted as long as possible. Information of the movement was in the meantime conveyed to Captain Terrell, who at once brought forward the reserve, consisting of about one hundred and [501] fifty men, and attacked the first detachment of the enemy which had landed and been placed so as to cover the passage of other troops. This detachment was driven almost to the river bank, where a second line was formed in position. This reinforcement had crossed and been placed in position, while the fighting with the first detachment was going on. Encountering this additional force, which could not be driven by the mere handful of our men engaged, our line was ordered to retire. This was accomplished in good order, and a line of defence taken up across the valley, which was held until all the pickets on the river were with-drawn. In about two hours and a half from the time the crossing began, a brigade of the enemy moved out from the hills bordering the river (which they had been diligently engaged in fortifying) into the valley beyond. The section of howitzers, commanded by Lieutenant Brown, opened upon it, throwing it into confusion, and compelling it temporarily to retire. The enemy was evidently much astonished at the presence of the artillery, and its fire was very effective. When a second advance in additional force was made, and upon information that the enemy was crossing at another point above them, the two regiments, Fourth and Fifteenth Alabama, which had now succeeded in collecting their pickets with the artillery, retired slowly towards Lookout mountain (I met them with the remainder of the brigade at Lookout creek), where I placed the command in line to await any further advance. The enemy, however, did not advance as far as the creek, but continued to strengthen his position on the hill above Brown's ferry, and commenced the construction of a pontoon bridge a quarter mile above the ferry, which was completed before noon. In this affair we lost six men killed and fourteen wounded. Among the latter was Colonel W. C. Oates, the gallant and efficient commander of the Fifteenth Alabama regiment. One of the wounded was left in the hands of the enemy, too severely injured to be removed. At five o'clock, in the afternoon of the 27th, I learned from my scouts that a considerable force of the enemy was moving from Shellmound in the direction of Chattanooga, and that this force was then in eight or ten miles of my position on Lookout creek. I ascertained further, that a force of cavalry was advancing from Kelley's ferry, where a bridge had been thrown across the river. This information was communicated to the Brigadier-General commanding the division with my views as to the object of the movement. My views as thus communicated were, that it was probably not the intention of the enemy to attack Lookout mountain at present, but to take possession of the railroad as far as the Trenton junction, two miles from the foot of Lookout mountain; and by holding Lookout valley, to [502] obtain supplies by running wagon trains from the junction across the bridge above Brown's ferry to Chattanooga. This has since been done.

About noon on the 28th, I was notified by cavalry scouts and the signal post on Lookout that a heavy column of the enemy was approaching my position from the direction of Shellmound. Soon afterwards his skirmishers appeared in front. They were checked for a time by skirmishers, posted so as to command the intersection of the railroad with the wagon road leading from Chattanooga towards Bridgeport. My riflemen were soon forced, however, to abandon this position and take up the line of Lookout creek. The enemy on crossing the railroad took the road leading to Brown's ferry; fired upon as he passed by my section of howitzers and the batteries from Lookout point. During the afternoon five or six thousand men must have passed towards my right. Late in the afternoon I received a note from Lieutenant-General Longstreet, directing me to cross the lower bridge over Lookout creek, near its mouth, at dark, and advance cautiously, until I commanded the Brown's ferry road at its junction with the road leading across the lower bridge to Chattanooga, to blockade that road and capture any trains that might attempt to pass. This junction I should estimate to be about a mile from the bridge. Just before night I met Brigadier-General Jenkins, commanding division, who informed me that three other brigades of the division were then moving across the mountain with the view of crossing Lookout creek to cut off the enemy's trains and capture the rear guard and stragglers. He requested information regarding the roads, &c., as I was familiar with the locality. After giving all the information in my power, I ventured to remark to him that, in my opinion, the enemy had a large force at the point upon which we intended to move, and that one division was insufficient for the accomplishment of the end in view; that a failure would be the result, and that the troops engaged in it would be seriously injured. I was satisfied, from close and constant observation, that not less than six or eight thousand troops had been thrown across the river from Moccasin bend; that one corps (six or seven thousand more) had passed my position going toward Brown's ferry, and that another of the same strength was following1 General Jenkins replied that he had positive orders to proceed on the expedition. He desired me to send him two guides, who knew the country beyond the creek. These were [503] accordingly sent, and I immediately commenced the passage of the creek, having previously ordered my brigade under arms.

A few minutes after crossing, my advance guard captured a prisoner, who represented himself as belonging to Howard's corps; from him and others of the same corps, captured soon afterwards at a picket post, I learned that this corps had passed the point toward which my advance was directed, viz: the junction of the Chattanooga and Brown's Ferry roads, and was encamped about a half mile to the right of it; and that a division and a half of Slocum's corps were following; these we afterwards learned were encamped a mile higher up the valley, to the left. Half a mile beyond the creek, I formed two regiments in line with skirmishers in front, the other regiments moving in echelon on the right, and advanced to the crest of the first wooded hill, where my line was adjusted, and halted for a short time.

The hill on which I now rested was one of a range of similar hills running from Brown's Ferry close upon the river bank for about a mile, leaving the river as it bends towards the foot of Lookout Mountain and projecting into the valley beyond. The range, at the point where my line was formed, was three-fourths of a mile from the Tennessee, and the distance from the road along which my left advanced (and upon which it now rested) to the point at which the range ran immediately upon the river bank, was about a mile. In the triangle formed by the range of hills, the river and Chattanooga road, the ground was all cleared.

My skirmishers had advanced as far as the Brown's Ferry road, driving off the picket, and now held the road. Another wooded knoll still intervened between my line of battle and the road. At this time Brigadier-General Robertson reported to me with his brigade, by order Brigadier-General Jenkins, commanding division. Robertson's brigade was at once placed in line with my own, with the exception of two regiments, one of which was placed in reserve on the road to my left, and the other was used to guard the bridge in my rear, and to watch the space intervening between my right and the river, which was at least half a mile.

With affairs in this position, I recrossed the creek to see General Jenkins. I learned from him that Colonel Bratton, commanding Jenkins's brigade, was crossing or had just crossed the creek; that General Benning would follow with his brigade and take up a line on my left, uniting with me and commanding the Brown's Ferry road higher up the valley; that Colonel Bratton would push forward on the line of railroad, until he came in contact with enemy. If he encountered [504] only a small force he was to “pick it up;” if the enemy proved too strong for him he was to retire across the creek, under cover of the line held by General Benning. I was instructed to communicate with General Benning, and to control the road so as to prevent reinforcements from moving up it, towards the railroad; and in case Colonel Bratton's command had to retire, to hold my position until he could withdraw his troops. Sending a courier to remain with Bratton's command until it commenced moving, when he was to notify me, I returned to my command. In a short time I received information that Bratton was in motion. My line was at once ordered forward and took position on the wooded slope overlooking the road, the left thirty or forty and the right one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards from it. Here I remained nearly an hour; this time was employed in strengthening the position by the construction of rail and log breast-works, before the firing began on the left. In the meantime, General Benning had come up on my left in rear of Colonel Bratton, while the latter had moved on against the camp of the enemy. Soon after the fighting on the left began, I was notified by Colonel Sheffield of Forty-eighth Alabama regiment, commanding my brigade on the occasion, that a column of troops was moving from the camp on my right along the road in front. I directed the skirmishers to retire to the line of battle, and allowed the head of the column to get opposite to my left, before firing. One volley scattered it in the fields beyond the road where it attempted to reform and move on, but a second fire again dispersed it.

While this was taking place, other troops were coming up from the right, and our position having now been disclosed, they turned to attack it. Their line of attack was formed obliquely to our own — their left coming in contact with our line first, and striking it near the right. This caused their left to be forced in upon our position by the other parts of their line as it advanced. The first attack was easily repulsed. The second was made in heavier force, with a like result at all points of the line except one. This was at the junction of the Forty-fourth and Fifteenth Alabama regiments. Here the enemy, forced in by the right of their line upon a vacant space in our own (caused by detaching a company for service as videttes between my right and the river), broke through the line. Parts of both regiments gave way. By the exertions of Colonel Sheffield, and with the assistance of the Fourth Alabama, which had cleared its front of the enemy, the line was re-established and the enemy driven from it. Before this second attack took place the firing on the railroad had ceased, and a message was brought me by Captain [505] Jamison, of General Jenkins's staff, to the effect that Colonel Bratton had encountered a heavy force of the enemy (a corps, I think he said), that General Jenkins was withdrawing him, and that he wished me to hold my position until he could retire. A few moments before this message came I had dispatched a courier to General Jenkins to report to him that the enemy was attacking me in front, that it was possible for him to pass troops in rear of those engaged in this attack to the point at which I supposed Colonel Bratton to be, and that if this should be done Bratton might be placed in a dangerous position. Very soon another messenger brought substantially the same message delivered by Captain Jamison, and informed me further that Colonel Bratton's command was at the creek, and either crossing or about to cross — I cannot now recall which. About the same time General Robertson, who was watching the extreme right, reported that a strong force of the enemy was moving over the adjoining hill on our right, the head of the column having made its appearance on the edge of the triangular opening in my rear, which I have already described, and near the river bank. My videttes also reported the same thing. In the meantime the second attack had commenced. When the firing had almost ceased, I gave orders for the whole line to retire to the hill on which it had first formed, thence into the hollow behind it, and thence by flanking to the left, into the road and across the bridge. To cover this movement, I held the road with a strong force of skirmishers, and directed General Robertson to place the First Texas regiment, together with part of the Fifth Texas, already there, on an open hill between the bridge and the point from which the enemy was moving, on our right. The movement was executed in a quiet and leisurely manner, the enemy in front making no effort to follow. During the engagement of Colonel Bratton with the enemy no troops passed from the right along the road or in sight of it. It was possible, however, for them to pass near the foot of Raccoon mountain while the attack on my position was progressing. When the order for my command to retire was given I had already received information that Colonel Bratton had been withdrawn, that he was actually at the bridge, and the firing on the left had ceased for nearly, if not quite, half an hour. Believing that the object for which my position was occupied had been accomplished, I withdrew. The movement of the enemy on my right would in a few minutes more have necessitated a change of position, and the intelligence of this movement had its influence in determining the precise moment of withdrawal. But, independent of this, the order was based on my understanding of the plan of operations and the conviction that it was in accordance with that plan. [506]

I would call attention to accompanying reports of General Robertson and Colonel Sheffield, commanding brigades.

For a statement of our loss, which was slight, I refer to the list of casualties. Respectfully submitted,

E. M. Law, Brigadier-General.

Colonel Sheffield's report.

headquarters 48TH regiment, Ala., Nov. 3, 1863.
Captain L. R. Terrell, A. A. General:
Sir,--I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by Law's brigade in the engagement near Lookout creek on the night of the 28th ult.:

About 7 o'clock P. M. I received orders to put my regiment (48th Alabama) under arms. In half an hour I received orders to move across the bridge across Lookout creek. After crossing the creek we had not advanced very far before the pickets captured a prisoner, apparently very drunk, who reported he belonged to Howard's corps. After moving up the road a short distance I was ordered to file my regiment to the right in an open field, at the base of a ridge in my front, and form line of battle in one rank. I then sent pickets in front, under Captain Eubanks, who soon reported no enemy on the ridge. I then advanced rapidly, taking possession of the ridge. The object in obtaining the ridge was, I suppose, to command the road leading down the valley from Trenton and Kelly's Ferry to Brown's Ferry, on the Tennessee river. It was very soon ascertained that there was another and higher ridge in our front, beyond which the road ran. The General commanding (Law) informed me of these facts and ordered me to advance and obtain possession of the ridge in front at all hazards. I had sent Captain Eubanks forward with five men, who soon sent one of the men back, reported no enemy on the ridge, but a large encampment of Federal troops about half mile from the point of the ridge where my left was to rest. He (Capt. Eubanks) with four men crossed the ridge, came up the valley road to where the Chatanooga road intersected the same, and reported the above facts. While reporting to me, the pickets near the forks of the road captured a prisoner. I had given orders to my lietenant-colonel to move the regiment forward; about this time I was informed that a line of twenty or thirty Yankee skirmishers was deployed on the right and left of the Chatanooga road, (who had evidently come down the Kelly's Ferry road,) I ordered Capt. McDuffee, with his company, to the left, with instructions to get in the rear of the skirmishers if possible. The regiment had not advanced but a short distance, till a fire was opened upon the left wing, [507] (from the skirmishers I suppose,) but a few shots from Capt. McDuffee's company soon scattered them, he capturing eight prisoners. The regiment continued to advance, and soon had possession of the ridge, meeting with no resistance except a slight skirmish on the left, here it was the brave and gallant Capt. Eubanks fell mortally wounded, and three privates severely wounded. I put my regiment in position, with its left resting on the Chatanooga road, and some thirty or forty paces from the valley road. I was at this time notified to take command of the brigade. As each regiment arrived it was put in position; on the right, the Forty-seventh Alabama, the Fourth Alabama in the center, the Forty-fourth Alabama on its right, and the Fifteenth Alabama on the right of the brigade. I immediately put out videttes in front of each regiment, along the valley road, and one company from the Fifteenth Alabama on the right across the ridge. I then ordered commanders of regiments to have their men put up breast-works of rails, logs, &c., which was promptly done; here we remained perfectly quiet about one hour, when the videttes in front reported a column of Yankees advancing up the Valley road, from the direction of Brown's Ferry. Orders were given to let them advance till the head of the column was opposite the left of my line, which was done, when a well directed fire drove them back in confusion; in a short time he rallied, returned, and made an effort to charge the works on the ridge, when they were handsomely repulsed, and gave back in confusion; he must have suffered severely in this charge from the cries and groans of the wounded in our front. Being driven back he rallied and left the road, crossing a field in our front; the left wing of the Forty-eighth Alabama, and an Arkansas regiment on my left, opened fire upon him, and caused some confusion in his ranks. In a short time an attack was made on my right, (which rested some two hundred yards from the valley road, with thick undergrowth between our works and the road,) which was handsomely repulsed. In a few minutes another and more vigorous attack was made upon the right, meeting the same fate as the first attack. Being fearful of a flank attack I now strengthened the company on the right with two other companies, one from the Fifteenth, and one from the Forty-fourth Alabama. Shortly afterwards I was notified by one of the pickets on the right, that a column of Yankees had passed around my right near the river; I notified General Law of the fact, and he sent forward the Fourth Texas regiment, which was promptly placed in position on my right, by Capt. Terrell, A. A. G. In a few minutes after placing this regiment in position a vigorous attack was made upon the front of the Fourth, Forty-fourth and Fifteenth Alabama, some two or [508] three columns deep; the enemy was repulsed, but returned in a short time more vigorously, and strengthened by several columns, who broke through my lines over our works, the left of the Forty-fourth Alabama having given way. I here ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Scruggs, commanding Fourth Alabama, to swing his regiment across the ridge and to hold his position at any sacrifice, which was promptly done, the men and officers acting promptly. Here I ordered Col. Perry, commanding the Forty fourth Alabama, to rally his men and to take his position at all hazards; the Fourth Alabama co-operating with him, soon drove the enemy from and beyond the breast-works; he soon returned, but was driven back. About this time I received orders from General Law to fall back to the tall hill near the bridge. When I received this order the firing had ceased. I gave the order to fall back in order and in line of battle. I fell back to the first ridge, remained there a few minutes, and then fell back to where I first formed line of battle, when I received orders to recross the bridge. In leaving the ridge where I had engaged the enemy, I was notified of a column of the enemy advancing down the valley from the river, between the two ridges; at the same time I saw a heavy column marching by the flank on my left, which was evidently the column which passed through the fields in my front in the direction where General Jenkins' brigade was engaged; we had been in our position on the ridge, I suppose, one hour or more, before the firing commenced on our left by General Jenkins' brigade.

I cannot close my report without expressing my thanks to Lieutenant Jo. Hardwick and Sergeant-Major Robbins, of the Forty-eighth Alabama, who volunteered to assist me, in their promptness to deliver every order, also to the commanders and company officers, and men of the Fourth, Forty-seventh and Forty-eighth Alabama regiments, for promptness in driving back the enemy in the several charges; also to Col. Perry, of the Forty-fourth, for rallying his men and driving the enemy from his position they had taken. These regiments were under my immediate observation. The casualties were: Fourth Alabama, 1 killed; Fifteenth Alabama, five wounded, two officers and nine men missing; Forty-fourth Alabama, one killed, ten wounded, eleven missing; Forty-seventh Alabama, none; Forty-eighth Alabama, one mortally wounded, Capt. Eubanks, and three privates wounded. The loss of the enemy was evidently very great, much more so than ours.

I am captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Jas. L. Sheffield, Col. Commanding Law's Brigade.


Colonel Bratton's report.

headquarters Jenkins's brigade, November 1st, 1863.
Captain,--I have the honor to make the following report of the action of General Jenkins's brigade on the night of the 28th October. Having passed from our regular position on the line to the other side of Lookout mountain, in accordance with orders crossed Lookout creek near the railroad bridge and formed line of battle. The Sixth regiment (Major White) was sent to occupy a hill on the right of the road, and the Palmetto sharpshooters --one on the left. The rest of the brigade, except the Hampton Legion (Colonel Gary), which was left to guard a gap between me and General Law until relieved by General Benning, swept down the railroad between the hills mentioned to the Trenton road, capturing a few pickets or stragglers. I then changed direction to the left, and advanced down the Trenton road with four regiments: the Palmetto Sharpshooters, Colonel Walker; Second rifles, Colonel Thompson; First South Carolina volunteers, Colonel Kilpatrick; and Fifth regiment, Colonel A. Coward. The Sixth, Major White, was ordered to advance to the Trenton road and throw its pickets out to watch the Selly's farm road as well as the Brown's Ferry road. The Legion was by this time relieved, and was following in our rear, to be used as reserve. The line thus formed advanced without opposition until near a branch about a half mile from the point at which we entered the Trenton road, then, after some little picket firing, our skirmishers crossed the branch and came in sight of the camp of the enemy. A hasty observation showed that there was considerable commotion in their camp, whether it was of preparation to receive or leave us, I could not tell. But the hurrying hither and thither could be seen by the light of their camp fires, which they were then extinguishing. I immediately threw three regiments, Second rifles, Colonel Thomson; First, Colonel Kilpatrick, and Fifth, Colonel Coward, upon them, with orders not to fire until they passed our skirmishers. The Palmetto Sharpshooters, Colonel Walker, were ordered to advance and take position on the railroad on what was supposed to be the enemy's flank. The three regiments had not advanced far before a very heavy fire was developed, so heavy on the Second rifles as to cause it to halt and finally to fall back. This stopped the advance, leaving the other two in echelon on the field, the Fifth on the right and in advance. I at once ordered up the Sixth from its position in the rear, to act as reserve, and put the Hampton Legion, Colonel Gary, in on the right of the Fifth, Colonel [510] Coward. Colonel Gary moved up, and passing over the line of skirmishers who were fighting on the right and a little in the rear of the Fifth, drove the enemy through their camp and entirely beyond their wagon camp. By this time the Sixth, under Major White, had reported, and was in position on the ground at first occupied by the Second rifles. The position of things at this time was entirely favorable to a grand charge. Our line was, as it were, two sides of a widespread V, the Fifth and Hampton Legion on the right, and the Sixth and Palmetto Sharp-shooters on the left; the first at the point; Second rifles on the left behind the railroad. The enemy, with his left driven, crowded and huddled upon his centre, occupied the base. His line of fire at this time certainly was not more than three or four hundred yards in length, and but from fifty to one hundred and fifty yards in breadth, the sparkling fire making a splendid pyrotechnic display, and encouraging the hope that the balls intended for us were lodging on themselves. At this juncture I received orders to withdraw, and moved back in good order, as the enemy were pressing in the rear. While making arrangements for the charge, I had sent back to ask that Lieutenant-Colonel Logan--who followed us over the mountain with the pickets of the brigade that were on post when we left — be sent up to me. The answer to this request was delivered just then that Colonel Logan was about engaging the enemy in the rear, and that I must withdraw and move back at once. I moved the Sixth regiment to the position behind the railroad, and ordered it to pour its fire upon the crowded mass of the enemy. Under this fire the rest of the brigade was withdrawn. Colonels Coward and Gary were first withdrawn, and ordered to form line of battle about a quarter of a mile in rear to cover the retreat of the others, which was done, and all passed through, bringing away most of our wounded and many of the guns left on the field. I then moved on to the bridge over Lookout creek, Colonel Coward bringing up the rear. Here we formed line of battle to cover the retreat and passage of General Bening's brigade, and were the last to recross the creek. I was ordered back to camp, which I reached a little after sunrise on the morning of the 29th October.

Our loss, I regret to say, is most serious. Colonel Kilpatrick of the First South Carolina volunteers, distinguished not only for gallantry, but for efficiency, was shot through the heart early in the engagement. His bearing was such as those who knew him best, expected, heroic. His loss is irremediable to his regiment. The enclosed list of casualties will display to you the character as well as amount of our loss.

To my fellow colonels and commanders of regiments I am deeply indebted [511] for their gallanrty, good managemement of their commands, and prompt and unhesitating obedience to orders. The steady courage and cool bearing of officers and men under my command saved us from any of the horrible accidents that can so easily attend night attacks. To say that I am proud of their conduct would but feebly express my feelings. I refer you to accompanying reports of commanders of regiments for particulars as to the parts taken by them. I have to regret the loss of the services of Captain J. L. Coker, Sixth regiment South Carolina volunteers, acting assistant adjutant-general on my staff. He was seriously wounded while nobly performing his duty. My courier and a guide from General Law's brigade, whose name I did not learn, are entitled to my thanks for their conduct on the occasion. I cannot close without making special mention of Courier George Peitz, whose enthusiastic gallantry and intelligent conveyance of orders after the fall of my acting assistant adjutant-general contributed greatly to the good order and success of the withdrawal.

Respectfully submitted,

J. Bratton, Colonel Commanding. Captain R. M. Sims, Assistant Adjutant-General.

1 This estimate of force, I learned from a staff-officer of Hooker's command, Eleventh and Twelfth corps, whom I met in New York a few weeks ago, was perfectly correct.

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