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The battle of Chickamauga, 19th and 20th of September, 1863.

Report of action of the Third South Carolina regiment in the battle of the Chickamauga.

headquarters Third South Carolina regiment, Near Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 10th, 1863.
Captain C. R. Holmes, A. A. G..:
Captain,—I have the honor, in obedience with circular of the 7th instant from brigade headquarters, to submit the following report of the recent operations of my command. The train conveying my regiment and James's battalion reached Greenwood Mills, on the Western and Atlantic railroad, about 2 o'clock P. M. on Friday, the 18th September ultimo, when I reported to Brigadier-General Kershaw, who had preceded me, and who ordered me into camp with that portion of the brigade which had already arrived at that point. Early the next morning we marched under General Kershaw's command to the neighborhood of Ringgold, where we remained in line of battle to guard a gap in the mountains until a short time after dark, when we took up the line of march for the Chickamauga. After a fatiguing and remarkably dusty march we reached the river, and crossed it at Alexander's bridge, and bivouacked on the left of the road, near three hundred yards from the bridge, about 1 o'clock at night. About 9 A. M. the next morning (Sunday) we were put on the march and moved towards the left of our guard line of battle. After going about a quarter of a mile, we were massed in columns of regiments and rested in reserve for about an hour, when we were advanced by the flank a short distance, and thrown in line of battle about two or three hundred yards behind and parallel to a line of breastworks in the woods, and running, I judge, nearly north and south. The engagement had by this time fairly opened in our front, and we immediately advanced towards the firing, in a westerly direction, crossing (what I understood was) the Lafayette road just to the left of a small house on the left of the road as you approach Chattanooga, and thence through the woods in front, until we reached the fence on the edge of a large corn and stubble field. Here we met a portion of General Hood's division returning in disorder under a feeble fire from the enemy, who seemed to be forming in front, and on a line nearly perpendicular to our line of battle. By order from General Kershaw I changed front forward on my first company, and the other battalions conforming to the manoeuvre of mine as the [378] directing one, our line was placed in a position to continue the advance, which we immediately resumed. Our direction was now diagonally across the fields. The enemy's line in front of my regiment rested on the summit of a commanding hill on the west or farther side of the field, along which ran a thickly wooded forest, and I had to encounter their fire, delivered from this advantageous position, before they were driven from it, and after they gave way I suffered considerably while passing over this hill by a fire delivered from the high ground in the woods beyond the field.

We passed two or three pieces of artillery on this hill, which I suppose the enemy had failed to put into position before we were upon them. We pressed forward, crossed the fence (which was afterwards used for making breastworks), and passed about one hundred yards into the woods, where we were halted by General Kershaw, as I understood, until General Humphries could come up on our right.

Soon afterwards, hearing firing on our right, which I suppose was General Humphries, we were again ordered forward. We pressed on under a very severe infantry and artillery fire, from which my regiment suffered very heavily until we got within about fifty yards of the enemy's line posted on a strong and elevated position on (what I am informed was) Peavine ridge.

Here the fire directed against my regiment was very deadly. In the meantime, the regiment immediately on my right (and which had already obliqued much too far to the right of mine) veered still further to the right, and left a gap between us, I suppose, of at least three hundred yards. With my right flank thus exposed, and my line terribly thinned by the galling fire that still raged in my front, and with no signs of a continued advance on my left, I found it impossible to advance farther with any advantage, and I, therefore, halted and returned the enemy's fire as effectively as I could. I directed an officer to report my surroundings to General Kershaw, who sent an order to retire behind a low ridge just in front of the fence, which ran along the northern side of the field and which we had just before crossed. Here the line was reformed and, seeing the importance of holding this position, I directed my men, in the lull of battle which then ensued, to bring forward the rails from the fence mentioned to make a rude breastwork just behind the crest of the ridge, where we had taken position. Soon afterwards the enemy advanced against us, but were very handsomely repulsed by the cool and deliberate fire of our then thinned line. An irregular fire was [379] then kept up until, at length, reinforcements came up in General Gracie's brigade, which passed over my line and attacked the enemy in the position in which we had last assailed him; but, so far as I could discover, with no better success. After these reinforcements became engaged, my regiment took no active part in the action as, on account of my heavy losses and of the importance of holding the line then occupied in case of failure of the pending attack, I understood that I was to act on the defensive. The wisdom of this order was afterwards illustrated. When Gracie's brigade failed to carry this strong position of the enemy, they retired, with other troops that had been unsuccessfully thrown against the same point. Night was now near and the battle thus terminated in my immediate front. My regiment, with those associated with it, became engaged about 12 M. (I suppose), and continued so until about 4 o'clock P. M. without relief or reinforcements; but we drove the enemy nearly half a mile, and were only stopped when we encountered him in large force in the strong position mentioned. And, though we did not succeed in forcing this position, the enemy eagerly availed himself of the cover of night to retreat from it. A list of casualties is herewith submitted. It will be seen that the losses in the regiment were heavy. Among the gallant men who fell that day was Captain W. A. Williams, Company F, who was acting major of the regiment when he was killed. He was an excellent officer and an estimable man, and his death is a serious loss not only to his company, but to the regiment. Among the most seriously wounded were Lieutenants Pitts and Cunningham, each of whom lost a leg by amputation. They are, therefore, unfortunately lost to the service. Captains Richardson and Swygort and Lieutenant Johnson were severely wounded. Captain Todd, acting Lieutenant-Colonel, and Adjutant Y. I. Pope were also severely wounded. Other officers were slightly wounded whose names will appear on the accompanying list of casualties. After Adjutant Pope was wounded, I detailed Lieutenant John W. Watts to act in his place. He and Sergeant-Major E. M. Hix were of great assistance, and discharged the duties of their offices with entire satisfaction to me. The conduct of officers and men generally was praiseworthy and highly creditable. I am glad to be able to report that all of my dead were well buried, and the unfortunate wounded were conveyed to the infirmaries where they received proper attention.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

James D. Nance, Colonel Commanding.

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J. B. Kershaw (5)
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