|Battle of Chickamauga- Division Commander Thomas J Wood's Official Report|
HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, 21ST ARMY CORPS,
Chattanooga, East Tenn., September 29, 1863.
SIR: At early dawn of the morning of Sunday, the 16th August, I received an order to move with my division from Hillsborough, in Middle Tennessee, by the most practicable and expeditious route across the Cumberland Mountains to Therman, in the Sequatchie Valley. Wednesday evening, the 19th, was the time fixed for the division to arrive at the destination assigned to it. The Second Brigade (Wagner's) had for a month previously occupied Pelham, near the foot of the mountains, and General Wagner had been ordered to repair the road up the mountains known as the Park road. As the order of movement left to my discretion the route by which my division should cross the mountains, I determined to make the ascent by the Park road, thence to Tracy City, thence by Johnson's to Purdons, whence I would fall into the road leading from McMinnville by Altamont to Therman.
Immediately on receiving the order I dispatched instructions to General Wagner to commence the ascent of the mountains, and to insure his being out of the way of the other two brigades, I directed he should continue the work of getting up his train during the night of the 16th. This was done, and early in the morning of the 17th, the road being free, the First and Third Brigades, with their baggage trains and the ammunition and supply trains of the division, began to ascend the mountains. The work was continued unintermittingly through the day and entire night of the 17th, and by 10 o'clock of the 18th the whole was up. Wagner's brigade had advanced to Tracy City Monday morning, the 17th, with orders to move forward as far as the Therman and Anderson road. On Tuesday, the 18th, I allowed the First and Third Brigades (Buell's and Harker's) to rest till 1 p.m., and then moved to Tracy City. Wagner was ordered to advance on the Therman road to Therman Wednesday morning, select a good encampment, and await my arrival there with the other two brigades and heavy trains. The distance from Tracy City to Therman is 28 miles, which had to be accomplished in one day with First and Third Brigades, their batteries, and the trains, to be at the rendezvous assigned me at the designated time.
At 4 a.m. on the 19th the march was commenced, and a little after nightfall the brigades encamped at Therman. The order for the general movement directed me to take with me ten days' subsistence for the men and ten days' grain for the animals. I descended into the Sequatchie Valley with twenty-five days subsistence for the men and sixteen days' grain for the animals. I do not mention this fact in a spirit of egotism, but simply to show what can be accomplished by intelligence, good judgment, energy, and a willingness to make some sacrifice of personal comfort by commanders. Every educated and experienced soldier knows that one of the greatest drawbacks on the mobility and activity, and consequently on the offensive power of an army, is to be found in the immense baggage and supply trains which usually accompany its movements; hence, whatever lessens the number of vehicles required for the transportation of baggage and supplies by so much increases the efficiency of the army. I transported all the supplies I took into the Sequatchie Valley in the wagons originally assigned to my division for the transportation of regimental and staff baggage. I was then prepared with my division for a campaign of twenty-five days on full rations, or fifty days on half rations. The additional forage required beyond what I brought with me could have been found in the country. In conformity with the order for the general movement, I dispatched Wagner's brigade early Thursday morning, the 20th, to the eastern slope of Walden's Ridge, to make something of a show of force, and at the same time closely to observe, and if opportunity permitted, to threaten the enemy. With the other two brigades, First and Third, I remained encamped at Therman till the early morning of the 1st of September. I then moved in conformity to orders to Jasper, lower down in the valley.
Late in the afternoon of the 2d I received an order to send one of my brigades to Shellmound to cross the Tennessee River. The First Brigade was immediately put in motion under this order, and under the skillful management of Colonel Buell was thrown across the river rapidly, and without accident, during the night. Early in the morning of the 3d I moved with the Third Brigade, and the ammunition and ambulance trains, to the crossing, and with the energetic and judicious assistance of Colonel Harker had everything passed rapidly across without accident. I remained encamped at Shellmound till Saturday afternoon, the 5th, awaiting orders, the delay being occasioned by the necessity of waiting for the arrival of the supply train, which had been sent to cross the river at Bridgeport.
During the afternoon of the 5th I received an order to move, with the two brigades of my division with me, via Whiteside's and the River road, to the junction of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railway with the Trenton and Chattanooga Railroad, for the purpose of observing and threatening the enemy posted on the spur of Lookout Mountain. I advanced as far as Whiteside's Saturday afternoon and evening. Early Sunday morning I continued to advance, Harker's brigade leading. Soon very light parties of the enemy were encountered, but they rapidly fell back before my sturdy, onward movement, though the country through which my line of march led me is most favorable to a prolonged and obstinate resistance by a small force.
Crossing Raccoon Mountain, I descended into Lookout Mountain Valley, and then followed down the valley northward to the junction of the two railways. As I moved down the valley the enemy's signal stations on the crest of Lookout Mountain were in full and perfect view, evidently watching my advance, and actively communicating the result of their observations to the rear. At the junction of the railways my command was about 2 to 2˝ miles from the enemy's advanced works, but the outposts and pickets were much nearer to each other; in fact, in hearing distance. As I was well aware that the enemy had been able to learn from his signal stations with very close approximate correctness the strength of my command, and hence would most probably be disposed to take advantage of my inferiority of force to attempt to crush me by a sudden blow, I immediately made the best possible dispositions to foil such an effort. In making these dispositions I soon became convinced of the utter untenableness of the position at the junction of the railways for an inferior force to receive an attack from a superior one. The position is entirely open, capable of being assailed simultaneously in front, on both flanks, and in the rear. I was well satisfied that I was in the immediate proximity of a very large force of the enemy (which could be still further swelled in very short time). This information I had gained satisfactorily during my advance, and it was strengthened and corroborated during the afternoon and early evening of the 6th. At 2 p.m. I communicated to the corps commander my position, 7 miles from Chattanooga (being at the junction of the railways), informed him of my immediate proximity to the enemy, and attempted to describe briefly the obstacles which barred my farther progress to Chattanooga.
At 4 p.m. I communicated to him the result of further observations and some facts omitted in my note of 2 p.m. In my note of 2 p.m. I suggested that he should move part of the force immediately with him to cover my rear from a reverse attack. This he declined to do on the ground of a want of authority, and indicated that in case I should be attacked by a superior force, I would have to fall back on him; also indicating that if I should have to retreat, I had better do so by the Trenton road. I had already opened communication with him by that road. Not intending to retreat except as a matter of the last and direst extremity, and as the evidences continued to thicken and multiply during the evening that I would be attacked in heavy force early next morning, I determined to shift my command a mile and a half to the rear, to a very strong and highly defensible position, in which I was satisfied I could maintain myself against almost any odds for a long time, and if finally overpowered could draw off my command to the rear. From this position I could maintain my communication by the Trenton road with the force immediately with the corps commander.
The movement was commenced at 10 p.m., the 6th, and made with perfect success, though my pickets were at the time in hearing of the enemy's pickets. My command was thus safely extricated from immediate imminent danger. I learned satisfactorily during the afternoon of the 6th that the spur of Lookout Mountain was held by Cheatham's division, supported immediately in rear by Hindman's (late Withers') division, being the whole of Lieutenant-General Polk's corps. My two small brigades confronted this force.
About 8 a.m. in the morning of the 7th I received a copy of a communication addressed by the commanding general to the corps commander, saying that he thought it would be safe (judging from some indications he had obtained of the movements of the enemy) to threaten the enemy on the spur of Lookout Mountain, with a part of my force. This communication the corps commander appears to have interpreted into an order to make a reconnaissance in force, and accordingly ordered that I should make such a reconnaissance without loss of time. I accordingly commenced at once to make my preparations for making the reconnaissance, and actually made it at the earliest possible moment compatible with the safety of my command and the assurance of the success of the reconnaissance itself.
As the results of the reconnaissance have hitherto been reported, I will not recapitulate them. After taking the necessary precautions to insure, as far as possible, the safety of the command to be engaged in the reconnaissance and the success of the reconnaissance, I committed the conduct of it to that gallant and accomplished officer, Colonel Harker, commanding the Third Brigade of my division. I instructed him to proceed with the utmost circumspection, but to force his command as near to the enemy's position as he might deem prudent.
This point I was, of course, compelled to submit to his judgment. It affords me the greatest satisfaction to record in a permanent official manner that Colonel Harker conducted the reconnaissance in exact conformity to my wishes and instructions. Securing well his flanks and rear from being assailed without timely notice, he drove his solid line to within some thousand yards of the enemy's batteries (and his line of skirmishers to within some 600 yards), whence twelve guns opened on him, and then drew off his command with the loss of but one man. I know no parallel in military history to this reconnaissance. My command being much jaded and worn by the labors of the several preceding days, I allowed it to rest during the 8th, but I was on the alert to gain information of the movements and designs of the enemy. Near nightfall I obtained some information which led me to suspect the enemy was evacuating Chattanooga, but the indications were by no means positive. With a view to verify, this information, I addressed a note to the corps commander, informing him that I had observed some mysterious indications on the part of the enemy, of which I proposed to compel a development by a reconnaissance in force early next morning.
During the night I received a reply to my note, saying the corps commander could not approve the making of the reconnaissance on account of some indications of a general movement of the army, but that he would refer the note to the commanding general. Confidently believing the commanding general would approve my proposition to make the reconnaissance, I held my command in readiness for the movement. In the meantime General Wagner, having with him the Second Brigade of my division, had received information on the north side of the river that the enemy was evacuating Chattanooga. The information having been communicated to the commanding general of the army, an order was dispatched to me to move my command to Chattanooga, prepared for a vigorous pursuit of the enemy.
This agreeable order was joyfully obeyed, and in a very few minutes my command was in rapid motion. Between my late camp in Lookout Mountain Valley and the spur of the mountain my command was overtaken by the Ninety-second Illinois Mounted Infantry, commanded by Colonel Atkins, who informed me he had been ordered to press forward to Chattanooga with all haste, to secure any property the enemy might have left behind, and to discover something of his lines of retreat. I allowed his regiment to pass my command, but on the spur of the mountain I overtook the regiment, halted, when the colonel informed me that the enemy's skirmishers outflanked his, and his farther progress was debarred.
I immediately threw forward the Twenty-sixth Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel Young commanding, to the right and higher up the mountain side than the skirmishers of Colonel Atkins extended, and rapidly drove the enemy's skirmishers from the mountain side. No further opposition was encountered in occupying Chattanooga, and the Ninety-second Illinois pushed rapidly into the town, followed by my First and Third Brigades. The Second Brigade crossed from the north side of the river during the afternoon and evening of the 9th.
The colors of the Ninety-seventh Ohio, of the Second Brigade of my division, were the first planted on the works of Chattanooga, having been brought across the river by a few men in a small boat early in the morning. Thus was this great strategic position, the long-sought goal, gained to us and occupied by our troops. Placing myself as soon as possible after the occupation in communication with the most intelligent and reliable citizens, I learned that a portion of the enemy's troops had retreated by the Cove road, and that the remainder, with the baggage and material of war, had retreated by the Rossville and La Fayette road. I was informed further, that Buckner's command, which had been posted at Tyner's Station on the railway, had retreated by Johnson toward Ringgold, but I subsequently learned he did not go so far eastward as Ringgold, but passed through Graysville and thence to La Fayette. The bulk of these facts I reported to the commander of the corps immediately on his arrival, and by him I am informed they were communicated to the commanding general.
My division remained in Chattanooga till the morning of the 10th. I then received an order to detail one brigade to occupy the town, and move with the other two in pursuit of the enemy by the Rossville and Ringgold road. The Second Brigade was detailed to remain in Chattanooga. At 10 a.m. of the 10th I led the First and Third Brigades out of Chattanooga to commence the pursuit of the enemy. At 2 p.m. of that day I advised the corps commander of the reported presence of a considerable force on my right flank, and at 7 p.m. I further advised him that I had taken a contraband during the late afternoon, who reported the bulk of the rebel army, with General Bragg in person, at Gordon's Mills on the Chickamauga where it is crossed by the Rossville and La Fayette road. I was incredulous of the story, and so expressed myself; but if true, it was so important it should be known that I deemed it my duty to report his narrative. It is due to the humble person who furnished me this invaluable information to record that subsequent developments proved his report to be singularly accurate and correct. Based on my note of 7.30 p.m. of the 10th, a communication was sent me by the commanding general to send a brigade by the way of Rossville to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Gordon's Mills with a view to verifying the truth of the contraband's report.
The order was received at early daylight of the morning of the 11th. Colonel Harker's brigade was immediately sent to execute this service. About the time Harker's brigade was moving the corps commander arrived at my camp. I was directed by him to move forward with my remaining brigade 2 miles on the Ringgold road and then to await further orders. The order was obeyed. At 3.30 p.m., while awaiting further instructions, I received an order from the commanding general to move across the country, by the shortest and most expeditious route, to the Rossville and La Fayette road to support Colonel Harker. Near the same hour I received a note from Colonel Harker, informing me that he had been driving the enemy all day and had arrived within 3 miles of Gordon's Mills.
I immediately sent him an order to press forward to the mills, and informing him that I would make a junction with him during the evening. The junction was made and fortunately, for Harker had been driving his little brigade all day against a vastly superior force, the rear guard of the enemy's great army. A full report of this brilliant and dangerous reconnaissance has been already made, and it is not now necessary that I should say more than that it was superbly made. When I arrived at Gordon's Mills, at 8.30 p.m. of the 11th, the enemy's camp fires could be distinctly seen on the other side of the creek. Their light, reflected over a wide section of the horizon, and, extending upward on the heavens, told that the foe was present in considerable force.
It was my intention to continue the pursuit early next morning, the 12th, but till 8 a.m. the atmosphere was so loaded with haze, fog, and smoke that it was difficult to see a hundred yards in advance. While I was waiting for the atmosphere to became sufficiently clear to continue the pursuit, I received an order to remain at Gordon's Mills till the corps commander arrived there with the other two divisions of the corps. This was done during the afternoon of the 12th. My two brigades remained quiet during the 13th, enjoying much-needed rest.
During the evening of the 13th a copy of a letter of instructions from the commanding general to the corps commander was furnished me by the latter, in which he was directed to leave my command at Gordon's Mills and proceed with the other two divisions to a position on Missionary Ridge, with a view of facilitating the concentration with the other corps of the army. My orders directed me to try stoutly to maintain the position at Gordon's Mills, but if attacked by a superior force, to fallback slowly, resisting stoutly, to Rossville, where it was supposed I would be supported by Major-General Granger's force. In case of extremity, and in case also I should not be supported by General Granger at Rossville, I was directed to select a position guarding the roads leading to Chattanooga and around the point of Lookout Mountain, and hold them at all hazards.
Resolved to make the most stubborn resistance at Gordon's Mills, I took advantage of the creek, a very strong defensible feature in the position, and barricaded my entire front and flanks strongly. So strengthened, I could have successfully resisted a front attack of a vastly superior force. With the exception of an occasional firing on my pickets, the enemy left him undisturbed at Gordon's Mills till between 11 a.m. and 12 m. of Friday, the 18th instant. A rapid advance of his light troops, supported by troops in a solid line, on my right front drove in my pickets as far as the creek, but no effort was made to pass the stream. Such an attempt would have been foiled and cost the enemy dearly.
At about 1 p.m. a force, apparently about a brigade of four regiments, emerged from the wood on the southern side of the creek, nearly opposite the center of my position, apparently with the intention of forcing a passage at the ford near the mills. A few well-directed shots from Bradley's battery soon forced him to relinquish this design and seek the shelter of the woods. The enemy continued to hover in my front during the whole afternoon, making however no serious attempts, and accordingly I became reasonably satisfied that his demonstrations were only a mask to his real design, that of passing a heavy force across the creek lower down, with a view of turning our left and cutting off our communication with Chattanooga.
I communicated my opinion on this point to the commanding general at his headquarters during the evening of the 18th. It was verified by the opening of a terrific engagement on our left as early as 8.30 a.m. on the 19th. Troops had been moved to our left during the night of the 18th to meet the emergency. The battle continued throughout the forenoon and into the afternoon, but my command was left at Gordon's Mills until 3 p.m.
At this hour, I received a verbal order from the corps commander through one of his staff to move with my command and take position, as well as I now remember, on the right of some part of General Van Cleve's division. Throughout the entire preceding part of the day I had distinctly observed a considerable force in front of my position at Gordon's Mills, and just before I received the order to move into action a contraband came into my lines, from whom I learned that this force was the division of General Bushrod R. Johnson. Knowing it would pass the creek immediately I vacated my position, if it should not be occupied by some other troops, I dispatched one of my aides-de-camp to the commanding general, to inform him of the presence of this force in my front, and to suggest that at least a brigade should be sent to occupy the position as soon as I should vacate it. On his way to the headquarters of the commanding general my aide-de-camp encountered Major-General McCook, to whom he communicated the object of his mission to headquarters. General McCook immediately ordered a brigade from his corps to move into position at Gordon's Mills. My aide-de-camp rode on to headquarters and reported what had been done to the commanding general, who approved the dispositions. No delay, however, had occurred on this account in the movement of my command from Gordon's Mills.
Immediately on the receipt of this order my command was put in rapid motion for the scene of the great conflict.
As already remarked, the order directed me to take position on the right of General Van Cleve's command, but as I was totally ignorant of his position in the battle, and met no one on my arrival on the field to enlighten me, I found myself much embarrassed for the want of information whereby I could bring my command judiciously and effectively into action. It should be borne in mind that many of the troops were engaged in the woods, and that it was next to impossible to gain information by sight of the arrangement of the troops already engaged. This information could only be given by general and staff officers, posted in advance to aid in bringing the troops arriving freshly on the ground into action properly. Fortunately, shortly after my arrival on the field I met General Davis, from whom I received some useful information in regard to the status of the conflict. From him I learned that his left brigade (Heg's) was sorely pressed and needed assistance. While I was in conference with him a staff officer informed him that Colonel Heg reported that he could not maintain his position, and at the same instant I saw a stream of fugitives pouring out of the woods, across the Rossville and La Fayette road and over the field to the west of it. These, I learned, belonged to Heg's brigade, of Davis' division. It was evident a crisis was at hand. The advance of the enemy, before which these men were retiring, must be checked at once, or the army would be cut in twain.
Desiring Major Mendenhall, of the corps commander's staff, who chanced to be near me at the moment, to go and rally the fugitives rushing across the field on the west of the road, I at once commenced my dispositions to check the advancing foe. When I first met General Davis on the field I had inquired of him where the fight was. He pointed into the woods, whence the roar and rattle of a very sharp musketry fire resounded, and told me that Heg's brigade was heavily engaged in there. I immediately directed Colonel Harker to form his brigade in battle array nearly parallel to the Rossville and La Fayette road, advance into the woods, and engage the enemy. But the evidence immediately brought to my notice that Heg's brigade was retiring, made a change in this disposition necessary. I consequently directed Colonel Harker to throw forward his right, holding his left as a pivot on the road, thus giving his line an oblique direction to the road, and then advance his whole line. By this disposition I hoped to be able to take the enemy's advancing force in flank. These dispositions, though most expeditiously made, were scarcely completed when a staff officer rode up and reported that the enemy had gained the road and was advancing up it, i.e., in the direction of Gordon's Mills.
This information rendered necessary a further change in the arrangement of Harker's brigade. I ordered him to refuse his left, which brought the left half of his line at right angles with the road and gave to his whole front the form of a broken line, with the apex toward the enemy. In this shape he advanced rapidly, engaged the enemy and drove him between a half and three-fourths of a mile. I followed his advance nearly half a mile, and finding he was doing well, as well as having perfect confidence in his ability to handle his brigade, I remarked to him that I would leave him and go to look after my other brigade, Colonel Buell commanding, which had followed Harker's to the field of battle. For the details of the severe conflict through which Harker's brigade passed in this stage of the battle, for an account of the valuable services it rendered in checking the force which threatened to cut the right of the army from the left, for a report of the heavy loss of gallant officers and men which occurred here, and for a description of the skillful manner in which the brigade was extricated from the perils by which it became environed from encountering in its advance a vastly superior force, I must refer to the more detailed report of the brigade commander. The list of casualties attests the severity of the fighting. The gallant commander himself had 2 horses shot under him. Bradley's battery, attached to Harker's brigade, owing to the density of the woods into which the brigade advanced, did not accompany it. The signal service which this battery rendered at a little later period of the action will be chronicled at the proper time. Leaving Harker's brigade, I returned to where I had ordered Colonel Buell to halt and form his brigade.
When I first met General Davis on the field of battle I was informed by him that Carlin's brigade, of his division, was hotly engaged in the woods in advance or eastward of the corn-field in which our meeting occurred. The sharp and quick rattle of musketry fully assured the correctness of the statement. Seeing no other reserves at hand, and assured that both Harker and Carlin were severely engaged, I determined to hold Buell's brigade in hand to meet emergencies. And it was fortunate I did so, for ere long Carlin's brigade was swept back out of the woods, across the corn-field and into the woods beyond the field on the western side of the road, carrying everything away with it. When I observed the rush across the cornfield I was near the One hundredth Illinois.
With a view of checking an exultant enemy, I ordered Colonel Bartleson, commanding One hundredth Illinois, to fix bayonets and charge the foe. The bayonets were promptly fixed, and the regiment had just commenced to advance, when it was struck by a crowd of fugitives and swept away in the general mélange. The whole of Buell's brigade was thus carried off its feet. It was necessary for it to fall back across the narrow field on the western side of the road to the edge of the woods, under whose cover it rallied. As soon as possible it was formed along the fence separating the field from the woods, and with the aid of a part of Carlin's brigade, and a regiment of Wilder's brigade, dismounted there, repulsed the enemy. This result was greatly contributed to by the heavy and most effective fire, at short range, of Bradley's and Estep's batteries. At this critical moment these two batteries were most splendidly served. The narrow field separating the woods on the west from the Rossville and La Fayette road is scarcely 200 paces wide. Buell's brigade was formed just east of the road when it was struck by Carlin's brigade. It, hence, had to retire but the distance of less than 200 yards to get the shelter of the woods for reforming. But in crossing this narrow space it suffered terribly. The killed and wounded were thickly strewn on the ground. Captain George, Fifteenth Indiana, of my staff, was struck by a ball by my side and knocked from his horse. So soon as the enemy was repulsed, I addressed myself to reforming Buell's brigade, for the purpose of advancing it to recover the lost ground.
Order being restored and a sufficiently solid formation acquired to warrant an advance, I led the brigade back in person, and reoccupied the ground from which it had been forced--the site on which it had been originally formed. In this advance my horse was twice shot, the second time proving fatal. I dismounted one of my orderlies near me and took his horse.
In this advance a portion of Carlin's brigade participated, led by General Carlin. Estep's battery, attached to Buell's brigade, accompanied the advance. Scarcely had the lost ground been repossessed than the enemy emerged from the woods on the eastern side of the corn-field, and commenced to cross it. He was formed in two lines, and advanced firing. The appearance of his force was large. Fortunately re-enforcements were at hand. A compact brigade of Sheridan's division, not hitherto engaged, was at the moment crossing the field in the rear of the position then occupied by Buell's brigade and the portion of Carlin's. This fresh brigade advanced handsomely into action, and joining its fire to that of the other troops, most materially aided in repelling a most dangerous attack. But this was not done until considerable loss had been inflicted on us. The enemy advanced near enough to cut down so many horses in Estep's battery that he could not bring off his guns; but as our infantry held its ground, they did not fall into the hands of the enemy. After the attack had been repelled some of the men of the brigade of Sheridan's division kindly drew the pieces to the ravine, or rather dip in the ground, in rear of the ridge on which the battery was posted, where Captain Estep retook possession of them. For this act of soldierly fraternity and kindness I desire publicly and officially to return my thanks and those of my division to the troops who rendered it, and I regret that I do not know the number of the brigade and the name of its commander, that I might more distinctly signalize them in my report.
The day was now far spent; in truth, it was near sunset. No further serious demonstration was made by the enemy on our immediate front. The troops were posted in a strong position to resist a night attack, the brigade of Sheridan's division and Buell's brigade being in juxtaposition, the former on the right and the latter on the left. Harker's brigade was held as a reserve in the edge of the woods on the western side of the road, and Bradley's battery was posted near to it, covering the troops in the front line.
Just after nightfall a sharp fire ran along the line, caused by some movement of the enemy, which at first was taken for an advance, but in the end proved to be nothing more than a picket demonstration. Jaded, worn, and thirsty, the men lay down on their arms to pass a cheerless, comfortless night on the battle-field.
It affords me much pleasure here to record a Samaritan deed rendered to my division during the night by Colonel Harrison, of the Thirty-ninth Indiana and a part of his mounted regiment. The men were very thirsty, but the distance to water was so great that but few could hope to get permission to go for it. During the night Colonel Harrison brought to us some 400 canteens of good water. They were distributed among my men as equitably as possible, and proved the cooling drop to the thirsty soldiers.
Estep's battery was refitted during the night and was ready for service the next morning. Between midnight and daylight of the morning of the 20th I received an order to move my command to a position on the slope of Missionary Ridge, to be held there as part of the reserve of the army in the coming conflict of the morning. The movement was quietly and successfully made. In the early morning I was directed to move my division eastward from the slope of Missionary Ridge and take the position hitherto occupied by Negley's division, keeping my left in constant communication with General Branan's right. Colonel Barnes' brigade, of Van Cleve's division, was ordered to report to me for service during the day. Placing his brigade on the left, Harker's in the center, and Buell's on the right (the whole formed in two lines, the front one deployed, the second one in double column closed en masse, with their batteries following and supporting), I advanced my command and occupied the position assigned. In doing so I met with no opposition from the enemy. I was instructed not to invite an attack, but to be prepared to repel any effort of the enemy. In throwing out skirmishers to cover my front I aroused the enemy, and had quite a sharp affair with him. By a very imprudent advance of his regiment, done without an order, Colonel Bartleson (moving himself in advance of his troops) was shot from his horse, and either killed or very severely wounded; it was impossible to decide which, on account of the proximity of the place where he fell to the enemy's lines. He was an accomplished and gallant officer, and a high-toned, pure-minded gentleman. His loss is a serious disadvantage to his regiment and to the service.
The position my command then occupied closed the gap in our lines between Sheridan's left and Brannan's right. Although I had not been at all seriously engaged at any time during the morning, I was well satisfied the enemy was in considerable force in my immediate front. Consequently I was extremely vigilant. Such was the status of the battle in my immediate vicinity when I received the following order:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
September 20--10.45 a.m.
Commanding Division, &c.:
The general commanding directs that you close up on Reynolds as fast as possible, and support him.
FRANK S. BOND,
Major, and Aide-de-Camp.
I received the order about 11 o'clock. At the moment of its receipt I was a short distance in rear of the center of my command. General McCook was with me when I received it. I informed him that I would immediately carry it into execution, and suggested that he should close up his command rapidly on my right to prevent the occurrence of a gap in our lines. He said he would do so, and immediately rode away. I immediately dispatched my staff officers to the brigade commanders with the necessary orders, and the movement was at once begun. Reynolds' division was posted on the left of Brannan's division, which, in turn, was on the left of the position I was just quitting. I had consequently to pass my command in rear of Brannan's division to close up on and go in to the support of Reynolds.
So soon as I had got the command well in motion, I rode forward to find General Reynolds and learn where and how it was desired to bring my command into action. I did not find General Reynolds, but in my search for him I met General Thomas, to whom I communicated the order I had received from the commanding general, and desired to know where I should move my command to support General Reynolds. General Thomas replied that General Reynolds did not need support, but that I had better move to the support of General Baird, posted on our extreme left, who needed assistance. I exhibited my order to him, and asked whether he would take the responsibility of changing it. He replied he would, and I then informed him I would move my command to the support of General Baird. I requested General Thomas to furnish me a staff officer who could conduct me to General Baird, which he did. Taking this staff officer with me, I rode at once to Barnes' brigade and directed the staff officer to conduct it to and report it to General Baird. I then rode to the other two brigades for the purpose of following with them in the rear of Barnes' brigade to the assistance of General Baird. When I rejoined them I found the valley south of them swarming with the enemy.
It appears that when I moved my command to go to the support of General Reynolds, the gap thus made in our lines was not closed by the troops on my right, and that the enemy poured through it very soon in great force. The head of his column struck the right of Buell's brigade, and cutting off a portion of it, forced it over the adjacent ridge, whence it retired, as I have subsequently learned, with the vast mass of fugitives from the troops on our extreme right toward Rossville. In moving to the support of General Reynolds, naturally following the shortest route, I moved through the woods. My two batteries, Estep's and Bradley's, could not follow their brigades through the woods, and consequently were compelled to make a short détour to the left to get into the open fields on the slope of the ridge, intending to move thence parallel to their brigades. But they were caught in this movement by the rapidly advancing columns of the enemy. Estep's guns were captured (in the neighborhood as I understand of infantry on the right, which might have supported him if it had stood), while Bradley's battery, more fortunate, succeeded in getting over the ridge and drew off toward Rossville with the tide of fugitives setting strongly in that direction.
For further details in regard to the movements of these batteries at this stage of the action, I must refer to the reports of Captains Bradley and Estep. I will only remark that while their movements did not occur under my immediate observation, but took place beyond the reach of my infantry support, I am fully satisfied from all I have learned that neither Captains Bradley nor Estep can be censured for what occurred. When I discovered the enemy in force in the valley south of my command, I at once divined his intention, and appreciated the terrible hazard to our army and the necessity for prompt action. His object was clear.
Having turned our right and separated a portion of our forces from the main body, he was seeking the rear of our solid line of battle, to attack it in reverse, hoping thus to cut our communication with Chattanooga and capture and destroy the bulk of our army. I had with me at the time but one brigade (Harker's) and a portion of Buell's. I immediately formed a line across the valley facing southward, determined, if possible, to check the advance of the enemy. He was in full and plain view in the open fields, and it was evident his force far outnumbered mine. But I felt that this was no time for comparing numbersˇ The enemy, at all hazards, must be checked. I was without the support of artillery and knew I had to depend alone on the musket. I formed my line in a skirt of woods reaching across the valley. In front of me was the open fields across which the enemy was advancing. It was a matter of great importance to get possession of the fence which bounded this field on the northern side. My line was some 150 or 200 yards from the fence on the north of it, while the enemy's lines were perhaps as much as 350 yards south of it. In person I ordered the One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio, Colonel Opdycke commanding, to advance and seize the fenceˇ There was a momentary hesitation in the regiment to go forward. Its gallant colonel immediately rode in front of the center of his regiment, and taking off his hat, called on his men to advance. His regiment gallantly responded by a prompt advance, as men ever will under the inspiration of such leadership. The regiment quickly lined the fence, whence a sharp fire was opened on the enemy. Soon the Sixty-fourth Ohio, Colonel McIlvain commanding, followed and formed along the fence on the left of the One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio.
This bold and rapid offensive movement seemed to take the enemy by surprise and disconcert his movements, for his hitherto advancing lines halted. The other regiments, Sixty-fifth Ohio and Third Kentucky (Major Brown commanding the former and Colonel Dunlap the latter), of Harker's brigade, with the Fifty-eighth Indiana, of Colonel Buell's brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Embree commanding, were formed on the right of the One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio, higher up the fence and on a hill dominating the field in which the enemy had halted. The One hundred and twenty-fifth and Sixty-fourth Ohio again advanced, and took position behind a copse of woods near the center of the field, the now debatable ground of the contending bodies.
The movements of the enemy at this moment were so singular, and his blurred and greasy and dusty uniform so resembled our own when travel-stained, coupled with the fact that it was expected a part of McCook's command would come from that direction (the terrible disaster to his force on the right not then being known to us), that for a few minutes the impression prevailed and the cry ran along the line that the troops in front of us were our own. I ordered the firing to cease, the thought of firing on our comrades in arms being too horrible to contemplate. In a few moments, however, the delusion was dispelled, the enemy commencing to advance again in a way that left no doubt of his identity, for he advanced firing on us. I do not mention this singular mistake on account of its possessing any particular importance per se, but rather to record it as an instance of the strange delusions that sometimes occur on the battle-field without any sufficient cause and without the possibility of a reasonable explanation. This mistake was the more remarkable as the enemy was probably not more than 300, certainly not over 350 yards distant, and was halted in a broad open field. But for the mistake we could have punished him most severely at the time he was halted. The hour was now about high noon; possibly it may have been as late as 12.30 p.m. When the One hundred and twenty-fifth and Sixty-fourth Ohio advanced to the copse in the open field, I ordered Colonel Opdycke to line the southern side of the copse with skirmishers, with a view of annoying and delaying the progress of the enemy. As he advanced, he inclined to his left, evidently with the intention of outflanking my line and turning my right. This movement of the enemy made it necessary I should gain a position in which I could form a shorter and more compact line, in which my right would be more protected by natural obstacles.
I accordingly retired my command to a narrow and short ridge which shoots out nearly at right angles as a spur from the general ridge which is parallel to the Rossville and La Fayette road. The short and narrow ridge extends athwart the valley in a nearly east-and-west course. The abruptness of the declivity on either side of it almost gives to this ridge the quality of a natural parapet. Troops holding it could load and fire behind it out of reach of the enemy's fire, and then advance to the crest of it to deliver a plunging fire on the advancing foe. In addition there was a moral effect in its command over the ground south of it which inspired the courage of the troops holding it. Here I determined to make an obstinate and stubborn stand. When General Brannan's right was turned (by the opening of the gap in our lines by the movement of my division to support General Reynolds), he had been compelled to fall back to the general ridge inclosing, on the west, the valley in which the great battle was fought, which ridge, as already remarked, runs nearly parallel to the Rossville and La Fayette road.
When I took position with Harker's brigade on the narrow ridge extending partially across the valley, General Brannan formed his command on my right and higher up on the main ridge, thus giving to our united lines something of the shape of an irregular crescent, with the concavity toward the enemy. This disposition gave us a converging fire on the attacking column. Colonel Buell formed his command with General Brannan's. When my arrangements in this position were concluded it was probably 1 p.m. or a little after.
The enemy did not leave us long in the quiet possession of our new position. Soon a most obstinate and determined attack was made, which was handsomely repulsed. Similar attacks were continued at intervals throughout the entire afternoon. To describe each one in detail would be unnecessary and only add useless prolixity to my report. But I deem it proper to signalize one of these attacks specially. It occurred about 4 o clock, and lasted about 30 minutes. It was unquestionably the most terrific musketry duel I have ever witnessed. Harker's brigade was formed in two lines. The regiments were advanced to the crest of the ridge alternately, and delivered their fire by volley at the command, retiring a few paces behind it after firing to reload. The continued roar of the very fiercest musketry fire inspired a sentiment of grandeur in which the awful and the sublime were intermingled. But the enemy was repulsed in this fierce attack, and the crest of the ridge was still in our possession.
Finally the evening shades descended and spread the drapery of moonlight over the hardly contested field. The battle ceased, and my command still held the position it had taken about 1 o'clock, maintaining with glorious courage a most unequal contest in point of numbers. But our inferiority of strength did not appall my men. Their courage and steadfast resolution rose with the occasion. I do not believe that history affords an instance of a more splendid resist-ante than that made by Harker's brigade and a portion of Buell's brigade, from 1 p.m. on the 20th to nightfall. A part of the contest was witnessed by that able and distinguished commander, Major-General Thomas. I think it must have been near to 2 o'clock when he came to where my command was so hotly engaged. His presence was most welcome. The men saw him, felt they were battling under the eye of a great chieftain, and their courage and resolution received fresh inspiration from the consciousness.
At a most opportune hour in the afternoon, probably between 2 and 3 o'clock, Major-General Granger arrived on the field with two brigades of fresh troops of the division of General Steedman. They were brought into action on the right of General Brannan (who was on my right). and rapidly drove the enemy before them. This movement very considerably relieved the pressure on my front. The gallant bearing of General Granger during the whole of this most critical part of the contest was a strong re-enforcement. It affords me much pleasure to signalize the presence with my command for a length of time during the afternoon (present during the period of the hottest fighting) of another distinguished officer. Brigadier-General Garfield, chief of staff. After the disastrous rout on the right, General Garfield made his way back to the battle-field (showing thereby that the road was open to all who might choose to follow it to where duty called), and came to where my command was engaged.
The brigade which made so determined a resistance on the crest of the narrow ridge during all that long September afternoon had been commanded by General Garfield when he belonged to my division. The men remarked his presence with much satisfaction, and were delighted that he was a witness of the splendid fighting they were doing.
Early in the afternoon my command was joined by portions of two regiments belonging to Van Cleve's division, the Seventeenth Kentucky, Colonel Stout commanding, and the Forty-fourth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Aldrich commanding. The fact that these parts of regiments, preserving the form of a regimental organization, did not leave the field after this disaster on the right, where so many other troops fled from the contest, is certainly most creditable to them.
The fact also affords very just ground for the inference that if a more determined effort had been made by the officers, many other regiments that left the field might have been kept on it. The remains of the two regiments most nobly and gallantly aided my command in repulsing the repeated attacks of the enemy. The Forty-fourth Indiana bore itself with special gallantry.
I should do injustice to my feelings were I to omit to record my testimony to the splendid resistance made on my right by General Brannan and his command. It was the ne plus ultra of defensive fighting. About 7 p.m. I received an order from General Thomas to withdraw my command from the field and retire to Rossville. The order was executed without noise, without confusion, and without disaster. My command left the field, not because it was beaten, but in obedience to an order. With a fresh supply of ammunition it could have renewed the contest next morning. And here I can appropriately return my thanks to Major-General Granger for a timely supply of ammunition given me during the afternoon, when that in the car-tridge-boxes and men's pockets was reduced to 2 or 3 rounds per man, and when the prospect of being reduced to the bayonet alone as a means of defense seemed inevitable. My own ammunition train had been carried off by the rout from the right. My command reached Rossville about 10 p.m., where it bivouacked for the night.
Early next morning, the 21st, in obedience to orders, I took a strong position on Missionary Ridge. Strong barricades against an infantry assault were at once made. During the day there was some light firing on my picket front, but nothing serious. The enemy was, however, evidently in considerable force in my front. A t 10 p.m. of the 21st my command, in obedience to orders, left its position on Missionary Ridge and withdrew to this place. Early Tuesday morning, the 22d, it occupied its present position in the line of defenses, and has since been most constantly and actively engaged in strengthening them.
To the officers and men of my command I return my thanks for their gallant bearing, soldierly conduct, and steadfast courage, exhibited both in the contest of Saturday, the 19th, and Sunday, the 20th. Their conduct on both days deserves all praise, and I commend it to the consideration of the commanding general. There were undoubtedly instances of individual misconduct, which deserve reprehension, but as a whole the behavior of the command was most satisfactory.
Of the numerous killed and wounded I would gladly speak by name, but the list is too numerous. To do so would extend my report beyond all reasonable compass. I can only here express my sincere condolence with the relatives and friends of the gallant dead and wounded. The regiments and batteries in my command represented the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Kentucky. The citizens of these great and loyal States have much cause to be proud of their representatives in the late great conflict. They may safely trust their honor and the public weal to such representatives. For the special commendation by name of the more subordinate officers and men who distinguished themselves, I must refer the commanding general to the reports of my brigade commanders, Colonels Harker and Buell, with their accompanying documents, the sub-reports of regimental commanders.
Where so great a portion of my command behaved well, it is difficult to distinguish officers by name, and perhaps may be regarded as making an invidious distinction. Nevertheless, I consider it my duty, on account of their distinguished services, to commend to the notice of the commanding general Colonel Dunlap, commanding Third Kentucky; Colonel McIlvain, commanding Sixty-fourth Ohio; Colonel Opdycke, commanding One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio, and Captain Bradley, commanding Sixth Ohio Battery.
I desire to commend Colonel Opdycke, especially, to the favorable consideration of the commanding general. The record of his regiment (a comparatively new one and never before in a general engagement) in the late battle will, I am sure, compare most favorably with that of the most veteran regiments engaged. The credit is mainly due to the colonel commanding. His untiring zeal and devoted attention to his regiment has brought forth fruit worthy of his efforts. I commend him to the commanding general as an officer capable and worthy of commanding a brigade.
Colonel Buell, commanding the First Brigade of my division, has exercised this command about three months. He bore himself with great gallantry on the field both on Saturday, the 19th, and Sunday, the 20th. With a little more experience he would make an excellent brigadier-general, and should receive the promotion.
In my report of the battle of Stone's River I especially signalized the services of Colonel Harker, commanding the Third Brigade of my division, and earnestly recommended him for promotion, both as a reward for his merits and as an act of simple justice. In the late campaign he has peculiarly distinguished himself. He made two of the most daring and brilliant reconnaissances during the campaign-reconnaissances almost without a parallel in the annals of warfare; and his personal gallantry on the battle-field, the skillful manner in which he handled his brigade, holding it so well together when so many other troops broke, and his general good conduct, are beyond all praise. To speak of his services in the language of what I conceive to be just encomium might be considered fulsome praise. I earnestly recommend him for immediate promotion to the rank of brigadier-general.
Returns herewith submitted show that I went into action on Saturday with an effective force of men and officers of 2,965. The return of casualties shows that my command lost in killed and wounded, absolutely known to be such, 844, and in killed, wounded, and missing, 1,035. Taking the number of the killed and wounded actually known, it will be found to be 28.80 per cent. of the effective force with which I went into action. But it is fair to presume as we retired from the field Sunday evening, that many of the 191 reported missing were either killed or wounded, and that their bodies fell into the hands of the enemy. Taking the number of the killed, wounded, and missing it will be found to be 34.90 per cent. of my whole command. These figures show an almost unparalleled loss. They attest the severity of the conflicts through which my command passed on the 19th and 20th. The record of its participation in the great battle of the Chickamauga is written in blood.
Before closing my report I deem it my duty to bring to the notice of the commanding general certain facts which fell under my observation during the progress of the conflict on the 20th. As I was moving along the valley with my command to the support of General Reynolds, in conformity with the order of the commanding general, I observed on my left (to the west of me) a force posted high up on the ridge. I inquired what force it was, and was informed it was a part (a brigade, perhaps) of General Negley's division. I was informed that General Negley was with this force in person. I remember distinctly seeing a battery on the hillside with the troops. At the time it was certainly out of the reach of any fire from the enemy. This was between 11 and 12 o'clock in the day. A little later in the day, perhaps half or three-fourths of an hour, when I became severely engaged, as already described, with the large hostile force that had pierced our lines and turned Brannan's right, compelling him to fall back, I looked for the force which I had seen posted on the ridge, and which, as already remarked, I had been informed was a part of General Negley's division; hoping, if I became severely pressed, it might re-enforce me, for I was resolved to check the enemy, if possible. But it had entirely disappeared. Whither it had gone I did not then know, but was informed later in the day it had retired toward Rossville, and this information, I believe, was correct. By whose order this force retired from the battle-field I do not know, but of one fact I am perfectly convinced, that there was no necessity for its retiring. It is impossible it could have been at all seriously pressed by the enemy at the time; in fact I think it extremely doubtful whether it was engaged at all.
Near sundown of the 20th I met General John Beatty not far from where I had fought the enemy all the afternoon. He was entirely alone when I met him and did not seem to have any special command. I at once came to the conclusion that he had not retired from the battle-field when the bulk of the division he is attached to did. At the moment I met him I was engaged halting some troops that were crossing the valley north and west of my position, and who appeared to have straggled away from the front on which General Thomas' command had fought all day. General Beatty desired to know where I wished these troops reformed. I pointed out a position to him and desired him to reform them, which he said he would do. I then rode back to my command. It is proper that I should remark that I did not see the corps commander from about 9.30 a.m. of Sunday, the 20th, to some time after sunrise of the 21st, when I met him at Rossville.
The officers of my staff performed their duties well in the late arduous campaign, as well on the march and in camp as on the battle-field. I deem it due to them to record their names in my official report, and to thank them individually for their valuable assistance and co-operation. Capt. M.P. Bestow, assistant adjutant-general; Lieut. J. L. Yaryan, Fifty-eighth Indiana, aide-de-camp; Lieut. George Shaffer, Ninety-third Ohio, aide-de-camp; Lieut. Col. T. R. Palmer, Thirteenth Michigan, inspector-general; Surg. W. W. Blair, medical director; Capt. L. D. Myers, assistant quartermaster; Capt. James McDonald, commissary of subsistence; Capt. William McLoughlin, Thirteenth Michigan, topographical engineer; Capt. J. E. George, Fifteenth Indiana, assistant commissary of musters; Lieut. P. Haldeman, Third Kentucky, ordnance officer; Capt. M. Keiser, Sixty-fourth Ohio, provost-marshal up to the occupation of Chattanooga, when his leg was accidentally broken, since which time his duties have been well performed by Lieutenant Ehlers, of the same regiment; Capt. Cullen Bradley, Sixth Ohio Battery, who, in addition to commanding his own battery, ably performed the duties of chief of artillery.
It affords me much pleasure to mention in my official report the true courage and faithful devotion exhibited throughout the entire conflict by two members of my personal escort. Early in the conflict of Sunday my color-bearer was wounded. The colors were then taken by Sergt. Samuel W. Goodridge, Company A, One hundredth Illinois, who bore aloft my standard through the remainder of the day, remaining with me all the time. Private Robert Lemon, Company I, Fifty-eighth Indiana, a member of my escort, rode immediately in rear of me through the whole conflict of Sunday, the 20th. Whenever I called, this brave and devoted boy, a youth of not more than sixteen or seventeen years of age, responded.
I have the honor to forward herewith as accompaniments to my report: First, official report of Colonel Harker, commanding Third Brigade (with sub-reports of regimental commanders), marked A; second, official report of Colonel Buell, commanding First Brigade (with sub-reports of regimental commanders), marked B; third, return of effective force taken into action on the 10th September, 1863, marked C; fourth, return of casualties in the battles of the 10th and 20th, marked D; fifth, map showing the various positions of command in the battles of the 19th and 20th, marked E.
I cannot conclude my report of the participation of my command in the great battle of the Chickamauga--a battle in which the fate of the proud Army of the Cumberland hung trembling in the balance; in truth, a battle in whose result the great nation's life seemed involved--without returning thanks to Almighty Providence for His merciful deliverance vouchsafed to us from the hosts of our enemies. For His protection of myself through all the dangers of the bloody conflict I am humbly thankful.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
TH. J. WOOD,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
Capt. P. P. OLDERSHAW,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Twenty-first Army Corps.
Effective force of the First Division, Twenty-first Army Corps, September 19, 1863.
Command. Officers. Enlisted
First Brigade 107 1,214 1,321
Third Brigade 96 1,295 1,391
Total 203 2,509 2,712
6th Ohio Battery 5 114 119
8th Indiana Battery 5 129 134
Total 10 243 253
Grand total 213 2,752 2,965
TH. J. WOOD,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers.
CHATTANOOGA, TENN., September 30, 1863.
Report of Casualties in the First Division, Twenty-first Army Corps, Department of the Cumberland, in the engagement of September 19 and 20, 1863.
K Killed. A Aggregate.
W Wounded. C Commissioned officers.
---------C---------- -----Enlisted men.----
Command. K W M A K W M A
First Brigade, Col. G. P. Buell commanding:
100th Illinois Volunteers .... 6 2 8 23 111 22 156
26th Ohio Volunteers 4 6 2 12 23 134 43 200
13th Michigan Volunteers 2 6 2 10 11 61 24 96
58th Indiana Volunteers 2 5 1 8 14 96 24 134
Total 8 23 7 38 71 402 113 586
Third Brigade, Col. C. G. Harker commanding:
l25th Ohio Volunteers 1 2 .... 3 16 81 5 102
64th Ohio Volunteers 1 2 .... 3 5 41 16 62
65th Ohio Volunteers 3 5 .... 8 12 65 18 95
Kentucky Volunteers 1 8 .... 9 12 70 22 104
Total 6 17 .... 23 45 257 61 363
6th Ohio Battery(a) .... 1 .... 1 .... 5 3 8
8th Indiana Battery(b) .... .... .... .... 1 8 7 16
Total .... 1 .... 1 1 13 10 24
K Killed. A Aggregate.
W Wounded. C Commissioned officers.
---------C---------- -----Enlisted men.----
Command. K W M A K W M A
First Brigade 8 23 7 38 71 402 113 586
Third Brigade 6 17 .... 23 45 257 61 363
Artillery .... 1 .... 1 1 13 10 24
Aggregate. 14 41 7 62 117 672 184 973
Total killed, 131; total wounded, 713; total missing, 191. Grand total, 1,035.
HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, TWENTY -FIRST ARMY CORPS,
Chattanooga, Tenn., September 29, 1863.
TH. J. WOOD,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.
Capt. M. P. BESTOW, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Semi-weekly report of effective force of the First Division, Twenty-first Army Corps, Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood commanding.
C Commissioned officers. T Total.
E Enlisted men.
Command. C E T C E T
First Division, Brigadier-General Wood 12 66 78 .... .... ....
First Brigade, Col. G. P. Buell 10 47 57 99 1,225 1,324
Second Brigade, Brig. Gen. G. D. Wagner. 8 28 36 107 1,334 1,441
Third Brigade, Col. C. G. Harker 7 41 48 89 1,228 1,317
Artillery Battalion .... .... .... .... .... ....
Total 37 182 219 295 3,787 4,082
C Commissioned officers. A Aggregate
E Enlisted men. B Number of horses.
T Total. C Number of guns.
Command. C E T C E A B C
First Division, Brigadier-General Wood .... .... .... 12 66 78 .... ....
First Brigade, Col. G. P. Buell .... .... .... 109 1,272 1,381 .... ....
Second Brigade, Brig. Gen. G. D. Wagner .... .... .... 115 1,362 1,477 .... ....
Third Brigade, Col. C. G. Harker .... .... .... 96 1,269 1,365 .... ....
Artillery Battalion 12 309 321 12 309 321 301 18
Total 12 309 321 344 4,278 4,622 301 18
MONDAY, September 14, 1863.
TH. J. WOOD,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
Capt. M.P. BESTOW,
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
Chattanooga, October 21, 1863.
Brig. Gen. LORENZO THOMAS,
Adjutant-General, U.S. Army:
GENERAL: The following extract is taken from the official report of Maj. Gen. W. S. Rosecrans, late commander of the Army of the Cumberland, of the battle of the Chickamauga:
General Wood, overlooking the order to "close up on" General Reynolds, supposed he was to support him by withdrawing from the line and passing to the rear of General Brannan, who, it appears, was not out of line, but en échelon and slightly in rear of Reynolds' right. By this unfortunate mistake a gap was opened in the line of battle, of which the enemy took instant advantage, and, striking Davis in flank and rear, as well as in front, threw his whole division into confusion.
In the foregoing extract there is the positive statement:
First. That I overlooked the direction to "close up on" General Reynolds.
Second. There is an entire omission to state that I was positively ordered by the commanding general, in a written order, to support General Reynolds, leaving it to be inferred that the effort to support General Reynolds was a movement made on my own supposition of necessity.
Third. There is an obvious attempt to produce the impression that General Reynolds might have been "closed up on" by some other movement than by withdrawing from the line.
Fourth. Characterizing the withdrawing front the line to close up on and support General Reynolds as an unfortunate mistake, the plain intention and object of the entire paragraph are to shield General Rosecrans from the responsibility of the unfortunate mistake and its still more unfortunate consequences, and to fix the responsibility on myself.
The following statement of facts, with accompanying copy of order from General Rosecrans, will show conclusively the incorrectness of statement of the extract, as also establish the injustice of its object and intention:
At 10 o'clock and 45 minutes, on Sunday morning, the 20th of September, ultimo, the following was the position of my division in line of battle: The left of my division was closed up on and rested firmly against the right of General Brannan's division, which in turn had its left fully closed up on and resting on the right of General Reynolds' division (General Brannan assures me that his division was in line with General Reynolds' division, with his left closed on and resting firmly on General Reynolds' right); on the right of my division was General Davis' division.
At the time my division was not engaged at all--not a shot was being fired on its front. Half an hour previously there had been some skirmishing, but it had subsided. There was, however, satisfactory reason for believing that the enemy was in considerable force in my front; hence I was keenly on the alert. But while the enemy was quiescent on my front he was not so elsewhere. The roar of artillery and the rattle of musketry borne to us from the left, told unmistakably that our comrades in that direction were heavily engaged with the foe.
A few minutes, perhaps five, before 11 a.m. on the 20th, I received the following order:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Commanding Division, &c.:
The general commanding directs that you close up on Reynolds as fast as possible, and support him.
FRANK S. BOND,
Major, and Aide-de-Camp.
This order was addressed as follows: "10.45 a.m. Gallop. Brigadier-General Wood, commanding division."
At the time it was received there was a division (Brannan's) in line between my division and General Reynolds. I was immediately in rear of the center of my division at the time. I immediately dispatched my staff officers to the brigade commanders, directing them to move by the left, passing in the rear of General Brannan's division, to close up on and support General Reynolds, and as the order was peremptory I directed the movement to be made at the double-quick. The movement was commenced immediately.
As there was a division between General Reynolds and mine, it was absolutely physically impossible for me to obey the order by any other movement than the one I made. How was I to close up on General Reynolds and support him (as my division was then situated in reference to General Reynolds' division) but by withdrawing from the line and passing in rear of General Brannan's division? I maintain that I have clearly established--
First. That I did not overlook the direction to close up on General Reynolds, but moved to do so as promptly as possible after I had received the order to do it.
Second. That I was ordered to support General Reynolds, and that the movement was not made on any supposition of mine of the existence of a necessity therefor.
Third. That I moved to close up on General Reynolds to support him in the only way it was possible to do so; namely, by withdrawing my division from the line and passing to the rear of General Brannan.
Fourth. That however unfortunate the mistake was that opened a gap in the line, the responsibility for the gap rests on General Rosecrans, who gave the order which produced it, and not on the subordinate who executed it.
I respectfully request that this communication be put on file in the War Department, in conjunction with General Rosecrans' report, and that in case the Department should have the report published, this communication be published with it. I respectfully submit that this course is due to myself, due to this army, due to the country, and to the truth of history.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
TH. J. WOOD,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
February 6, 1864.
Brig. Gen. LORENZO THOMAS,
Adjutant-General, U.S. Army:
I am informed that General Rosecrans has, under date of the 12th [13th] January, filed an answer to my comments of the 23d [21st] October last on his official report of the battle of the Chickamauga. I am further informed that this communication of General Rosecrans does me great injustice. I have the honor, therefore, most respectfully to request to be furnished with a copy of it. As I will leave here in the morning to rejoin my command in the front, I ask you will address your answer to me as commanding Third Division, Fourth Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
TH. J. WOOD,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
P. S.--An early favor is respectfully requested.
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington, March 1, 1864.
Brig. Gen. T. J. WOOD, U.S. Volunteers:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication, and to inclose an official copy of the letter of General Rosecrans as requested.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. A. HARDIE,
Copy inclosed of General Rosecrans' letter addressed to the Adjutant-General, dated Cincinnati, Ohio, January 13, 1864.
HDQRS. THIRD DIV., FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
In the Field in East Tennessee, March 11, 1864.
[Col. JAMES A. HARDIE,
Assistant Adjutant-General :]
SIR: I am just in receipt to-day of your communication of the 29th ultimo [1st instant], inclosing me a copy of General Rosecrans' communication of the 13th of January last, in reply to my comments (under date of the 23d [21st] October last) on his official report of the battle of the Chickamauga.
I made my application for a copy of this communication on the 7th [6th] of last month, and I regret sincerely your letter inclosing the copy has not reached me earlier. Had it done so it would have found me possessed of the leisure to reply irrefutably to General Rosecrans' communication; now it finds me in an active campaign without leisure and with all my time and energies absorbed in looking after the enemies of the country, the Union, constitutional liberty, and free government for all mankind. My answer, therefore, to General Rosecrans' misstatement of facts and fallacies of conclusion must be delayed necessarily till the termination of the present active operations.
When these are terminated I pledge myself to make an answer which will show that General Rosecrans' communication of the 13th January last is replete with misrepresentations of facts and errors of military principles.
I request that this communication be laid before the Commander-in-Chief and the honorable Secretary of War.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
TH. J. WOOD,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.