| Chickamauga- Viniard Field Confederate Generals' Reports
Source: Official Record, Vol XXX, IV, 55
HEADQUARTERS BENNING'S BRIGADE,
October 8, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit to you the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the battles of the 19th and 20th ultimo on the Chickamauga:
At about 3 p.m. of the 19th, I was ordered to advance and support Brigadier-General Robertson, who was a little to my left. On advancing, I found him with his brigade hotly engaged with a superior force of the enemy's infantry aided by a battery. The place was on the Chattanooga road near a small house, and a smaller out-house with open ground for 150 or 200 yards in front, and stretching to the right and left, through which ran the road from front to rear. Beyond the open ground all was forest, in which, on the right of the road, was the enemy's battery. Thus the missiles from this battery not only swept over nearly all of the open ground, but passed on with effect far into the level wood in the rear.
When we first encountered the enemy they were at the two houses and on the near side of the open ground. After an obstinate contest they were driven from this position and across the open ground into the woods beyond. We then occupied the ground about the houses. My numbers were too few to venture with them alone to follow the enemy into the wood and to the battery. The place we held was much exposed to the enemy's fire, but with the little cover furnished by the houses, some stumps, and a few scattered trees, I thought I could hold it till the re-enforcements (every minute expected) should arrive, when a general advance might be made and the enemy swept from the opposite wood. We did hold it for a long time, driving back several charges of the enemy to retake it. No re-enforcements came. Finally toward sunset the enemy's fire from his battery and from his infantry, protected by the wood, became so heavy, and so many of our officers and men had fallen, that we had ourselves to retire a short distance. We accordingly took up a new position 100 or 200 yards in the rear of the houses, where we remained till the close of the fight.
We felt much in this engagement the want of artillery to oppose not only to the enemy's artillery but to his infantry; but none came to our aid. None had been attached either to my brigade or to Briga-dier-General Robertson's.
My loss was very heavy to my numbers. In the Twentieth Regiment 17 officers out of 23 were killed or wounded. In the other regiments the proportion though not so great was very great. The proportionate loss among the men was but little less. The command fought with a dogged resolution.
On the next day, the brigade was in line a little to the right of the place where it had fought the day before, and a short distance in the rear of Law's brigade. At about 12 m. I was ordered to follow and support that brigade at the distance of from 300 to 400 yards. After advancing, in obedience to this order, 400 or 500 yards, and after having passed the Chattanooga road, Law's brigade, which had moved a little faster than mine, became lost to view in the thick woods. At the same time I saw the enemy in considerable force on his right apparently preparing to attack his flank and rear.
I immediately changed the direction of march by bearing to the right and advancing my left, so as to face this enemy. I then marched upon them and attacked them. After a sharp contest they gave way and we pursued them. They made a stand at some artillery in the wood, but were driven again from this position and pursued several hundred yards beyond the guns, when they disappeared in the wood.
In a short time they returned in heavy force and made a desperate effort to recover their ground. Here there was a very obstinate fight.
At length I saw them turning my right to get into my rear. We then fell back behind the cannon, facing so as to meet this new demonstration. The enemy followed a short distance, but not far enough to retake the artillery, and for some time kept up with us at long range a desultory fire. Finally they disappeared.
The artillery taken consisted of seven or eight pieces. According to my count there were eight--four brass and four iron pieces. Some of the officers thought that the iron pieces were only three. A flag was also taken with the guns.
The brigade, reduced as it was to a handful by the fight of the day before, again suffered heavily. Lieutenant-Colonel Matthews, commanding Seventeenth Georgia, fell mortally wounded while acting in a most heroic manner.
On the previous day 4 field officers had been wounded, 1 I fear mortally--Lieutenant-Colonel Seago, Twentieth Georgia. The other 3 were Colonel Du Bose, of the Fifteenth Georgia; Lieutenant-Colonel Shepherd, commanding Second Georgia, and Capt. McC. Lewis, acting major of Second Georgia. Many other officers of the line fell killed or wounded in one fight or the other.
Lieut. Heman H. Perry, brigade inspector and acting adjutant, had his horse shot under him. Owen Thweatt, one of my couriers, had two horses shot under him. Joseph D. Bethune, another, had his horse shot under him and was at the same time himself wounded. The remaining courier (S. Sligh) was knocked from his horse by a piece of shell, which, however, only bruised him. Hardly a man or officer escaped without a touch of his person or clothes.
Colonel Waddell, of the Twentieth; Major Shannon, of the Fifteenth, and Major Chariton, of the Second Georgia, the only field officers left, set a shining example to their men, as did those that were wounded.
A list of the casualties has already been forwarded; also a tabular statement of the strength of the brigade on each day.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY L. BENNING,
[Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade.]
Capt. L. R. TERRELL,
HEADQUARTERS TEXAS BRIGADE,
In the Field, near Chattanooga, October 4, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to respectfully submit my report of the part taken by my brigade in the action of the 19th and 20th September. My duties in the field have precluded me from submitting my report at an earlier period.
After having remained in line of battle from daybreak until nearly 3 p.m., I was ordered to take position on the left of Colonel Sheffield, commanding Law's brigade (General Law being in command of the division). This placed me on the extreme left of our line. On receiving the order to advance and attack the enemy, I was directed to keep closed on Law's brigade. I had not advanced more than 200 yards until the enemy was reported appearing on my left and endangering my left flank. Colonel Manning, commanding Third Arkansas, my left regiment, was ordered to change front with two companies and meet them, I believing at the moment that it was a small force sent to make a diversion by threatening my flank.
Before these dispositions were completed, my line had passed the Crest of the hill and I discovered the enemy in heavy force on my left, and they opened a heavy-fire upon me. I sent a staff officer to inform General Law of it. He sent me orders to change front and meet them. This made it necessary for me to change my front forward on left battalion, which was done promptly under a heavy fire. To do this, I had necessarily to detach my brigade from General Law's. I sent a courier to inform him of the change.
My line steadily advanced, the enemy stubbornly contesting every inch of ground, until I reached the fence that divides the two fields on the crest of the hill. The thick woods through which my two right regiments (Fourth and Fifth Texas) advanced prevented me from knowing what was on my right, and I was advancing in a direction that separated me from the left of Law's brigade, thus leaving a considerable space uncovered and exposing my right flank. I determined to hold this, if possible, until I could be re-enforced.
As soon as we reached the hill and drove the enemy from it, he opened upon us with grape and canister from two batteries, both of which raked the hill. Seeing that my force was too weak to hold the hill, with my loss momentarily increasing, I ordered them to fall back just behind the crest of the hill. On seeing this, the enemy pushed forward his infantry to the crest. As soon as they appeared on the hill, they were charged and driven back. In this charge I had three regimental commanders wounded, while gallantly leading and cheering their men on, viz, Maj. J. C. Rogers, Fifth Texas, Lieut. Col. J.P. Bane, Fourth Texas, and Capt. D. K. Rice, First Texas.
Immediately upon reaching the hill, I sent a courier for re-enforce-ments, and a staff officer for a battery. Brigadier-General Benning came up promptly with his brigade, and with his usual gallantry assisted in holding our position until nightfall, when we were moved, by order of General Law, to our position on the left of the division, relieving General Hindman, where we bivouacked for the night.
I sent three different messengers for a battery, all of whom returned without any. I then went myself, but could not get the officer in command of the only one I could find to bring his battery up. I have no hesitation in believing that if I could have gotten a battery in position we could have inflicted heavy loss on the enemy, as his infantry was massed in heavy columns at the far end of the field from us. Early in the action and while the Third Arkansas, my left regiment, was driving the enemy in superior numbers before it, the gallant Major Reedy, of that regiment, fell mortally wounded while leading his men with his usual coolness and daring.
At daylight on the morning of the 20th, we were moved by the right flank to our position, where we remained until about 11 o'clock, when we were ordered to move forward in the rear of General Law's brigade. On reaching an open field, our troops in my immediate front were heavily engaged, and just as I reached the open field they charged and took a battery. There was also a heavy firing on my extreme right. General Benning, on whose left I had started, had been detached, before I reached the field, and moved to the right. On looking to my right, I found that there was a considerable space between our forces on the left and those on the right occupied by the enemy, and I determined to engage them. I moved my brigade by the right flank to the proper point and then changed my front forward on first battalion. I at the same time sent messengers to the forces lying in the field on my right, and requested their commander to join my right and advance with me, and one to those on my left, requesting that they join me on my left and advance with me.
These messages I sent three different times as I advanced through the field, but they failed to do so. I advanced to the top of the hill and drove the enemy from it. After holding the hill a few moments, pouring a destructive fire into his fleeing columns in my front, a fire was opened on both my right and left flanks. This fire I believe came from our own men in the rear of my flanks--the same that I had asked to advance with me--but before I could stop it my line had been thrown into confusion, and I found it necessary to fall back to reform. As I fell back, and just as I reached the timber, observing Major-General Hood, I rode up to him to get orders, but just as I was on the point of addressing him he was wounded and carried from the field. Believing that I could not retake and hold the position on the hill alone, and having failed to get the co-operation of the only forces in reach, I formed my brigade in the timber and awaited orders. On reporting to General Law, I was ordered to form on the left of the division and throw up temporary works in my front.
In the aforesaid charge I lost some of my best officers--among them Lieutenants Bookman and Killingsworth, of the Fourth Texas; Captain Billingsly, of the Fourth Texas; Lieutenant Strat-man, of the Fifth Texas, and Lieutenant Worthington, of the Third Arkansas.
Late in the evening I was moved to the position of General Preston, where I relieved General Kershaw, and bivouacked for the night.
In closing my report, justice requires that I should express my indebtedness to my personal staff for their promptness and assistance.
Lieutenant Kerr, acting assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant Scott, aide-de-camp, were active and efficient, and rendered me valuable assistance. To Major Hamilton, my commissary, I am indebted for valuable aid and assistance on the field. In the battle of the 19th he was slightly wounded.
I herewith submit the reports of the regimental commanders.
My list of casualties is heavy, and affords a better test of the conduct of both officers and men than any remark of mine could give. It is herewith submitted.
I am, captain, very truly,
J. B. ROBERTSON,
Capt. L. R. TERRELL,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Hood's Division.
|CSA General Benning's Report|
|CSA General Robertson's Report|