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Battle of Chickamauga-  Brigade Commander Colonel George P Buell's Report
  Source:  Official Record, VOL XXX, IV, 53
HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., FIRST DIV., 21ST ARMY CORPS,
September 27, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the movements of this brigade since crossing the Tennessee River:

My command commenced crossing the Tennessee River about 11 p.m. of the 2d instant. The crossing was completed and the brigade in camp near Shellmound, on the south side of the river, by 6 a.m. of the 3d instant.

We remained in this camp until 2 p.m. of the 5th instant, when, by order of General Wood, we took up the line of march toward Chattanooga, my command following Colonel Harker's brigade till dark, when we encamped for the night at Whiteside's Junction, on the railroad leading from Nashville to Chattanooga. We again marched, on the morning of the 6th instant (with slight skirmishing in front), till we reached the junction of the Nashville, Chattanooga and Trenton Railroad. At this point we took position in line of battle at about 4 p.m. Colonel Harker formed on the right and my brigade on the left. On minute examination of this position we found that we were liable to be flanked, and knowing that there was no support near, we fell back about 2 miles, early in the night, to a point we could far easier defend. During the next day (7th instant) we remained in this camp, while Colonel Harker, commanding Third Brigade, made a reconnaissance to the front, finding the enemy in strong force on the point of Lookout Mountain nearest the river.

My brigade remained in this camp until the morning of the 9th instant, when, by order of General Wood, it led the advance on Chattanooga. At the point of Lookout Mountain we met a small picket force of the enemy which we soon dislodged, and marching on entering Chattanooga about 12 o'clock of the 9th instant. My brigade was the first that entered the city.

About 9 a.m. of the 10th instant I received orders from General Wood to march my command out on the Rossville road, following Colonel Harker's brigade, which I did, and encamped the same night on the east side of the Chickamauga, on the road leading from Rossville to Ringgold. Soon after we had encamped on the night of the 10th a dash was made on my right flank by a small squad of cavalry, but to no avail. My command was immediately called to arms, skirmishers deployed, and the enemy dispersed. Just here 2 stragglers of my command were captured.

Early on the morning of the 11th instant Colonel Harker's brigade was detached for the purpose of making a reconnaissance on the La Fayette road. In order that our small force (one brigade) might not be surprised, a commanding position was chosen about 1 mile to the front where all preparations were made for defense under General Wood's immediate supervision. Here my command remained until about 4 p.m., when, by order of General Wood, we took up the line of march for the La Fayette road, by way of Reed's Bridge, a distance of 8 miles, thence south on this road to Gordon's Mills, on the Chickamauga River, where we rejoined Colonel Harker's command, my brigade taking position on the right. It was now Generally conceded that the enemy were in strong force in our front and that we should probably fight a battle somewhere in the vicinity of Gordon's Mills, hence all preparations were made for a strong defense at this point to prevent the enemy's getting north of the Chickamauga. We remained quietly here without anything of importance transpiring until the morning of the 18th instant, when the enemy was seen approaching us in heavy force on the La Fayette road, and when within 1 mile filing off as if to pass round our left.

Although various demonstrations were made by the enemy in my front, lines of battle formed, &c., there was nothing more than slight skirmishing and some little cannonading during the afternoon of the 18th instant.
The 19th day of September opened with a severe battle on our left, which continued throughout the day. About 2.30 p.m. of this day (19th instant) I received orders to move my command at the double-quick up the La Fayette road toward the scene of action. After marching about 2 miles I was directed by General Wood to form my command fronting to the east and parallel to the road. My brigade was formed in two lines, the front line east of and the rear line on the west side of the road, with a distance of about 75 yards between the two; the Eighth Indiana Battery in the front line, with the Twenty-sixth Ohio, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Young, on the left, and the One hundredth Illinois Regiment, Col. F. A. Bartleson, on the right. The rear line was composed of the Fifty-eighth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Embree, on the right, and the Thirteenth Michigan, Colonel Culver, on the left.

With my command formed thus, the Twenty-sixth Ohio and a part of the battery were in heavy timber, while the other regiments and remainder of the battery were in open ground. Just in front of the One hundredth Illinois was another battery, already engaged with the enemy.

While my troops were being formed the enemy's balls were whistling about our ears, and the battle, raging most fiercely, seemed approaching nearer, although I had been informed several times by staff officers that we were driving the enemy, and that our force was only needed to finish the rout. I was not yet informed as to the positions of troops around me, whether we had troops in front and on my left flank. The formation of my command was not yet complete, when everything on my immediate front and left gave way, and hundreds of our own men ran through my ranks crying, "Fall back! Fall back!" they themselves were in shameful rout toward the rear. My command was cautioned particularly to lie down, hold fire, and countercharge the enemy. Immediately following the mass of panic-stricken men of our own army and parts of two batteries (all of which passed through and over my men) came the enemy in heavy force on my front and left flank. Knowing my front regiments could not long withstand such a shock, I ordered a charge bayonet with my rear regiments.

The attempt was manfully made. They met hundreds of our own men on the fence in front of them; they met artillery and caissons, besides the enemy's fire, so that it was impossible to keep any kind of a line, but notwithstanding such obstructions, they gained some distance to the front. At this period my brave men, both front and rear lines, strove desperately to hold their ground. The Twenty-sixth Ohio and One hundredth Illinois, being in front, had already lost nearly one-half. Just here the slaughter was completed; the Fifty-eighth Indiana and Thirteenth Michigan men fell by scores. Colonel Culver, Thirteenth Michigan, stunned by a shell; Lieutenant-Colonel Waterman, of the One hundredth Illinois, fell wounded; Captain Ewing, acting major of the Twenty-sixth Ohio, fell wounded; Captains Davis and Bruce, Fifty-eighth Indiana, Captains Fox and Hosmer,  Thirteenth Michigan, Captain Ross, Lieutenants Burbridge and Williams, Twenty-sixth Ohio, all fell pierced with bullets. Overpowered on both front and flank, my men faltered and finally fell back about 200 yards across a field in our rear. Here my men were rallied, and again they charged forward, retook the ground, and also three pieces of artillery that were lost in the first part of the action.

Again the enemy came forward like an avalanche, and forced my men back a short distance; again my men rallied, and retook the same position they had formerly held. The enemy came forward a third time, but were effectually repulsed, and the sun went down with my command holding the field a short distance in advance of its original position. My command had been engaged since about 3 o'clock and had lost most heavily. During the whole of these three hours' fighting, the Eighth Indiana Battery, Captain Estep, had done fine execution, and had suffered severely, the captain himself slightly wounded in the neck and arm. The wounded of my brigade were all gotten off the field by 10 p.m. Over 100 wounded men were taken out of a ditch in the field where we had fought.

The whole of this afternoon's fighting was done under the eye of General Wood, who was ever present.
When night finally closed the scene the position of my command was as follows: The Fifty-eighth Indiana on the left and the Twenty-sixth Ohio on the right in the front line; the Thirteenth Michigan and One hundredth Illinois were placed in reserve, and the Eighth Indiana Battery still farther in reserve, undergoing repairs. The troops on my immediate left and rear were. I believe, of General Sheridan's command. Colonel Barnes' brigade of General Van Cleve's division was on my immediate right.

The men of my brigade lay on their arms in this position until about 3 a.m. of the 20th instant, when, by order of General Wood, my brigade was moved (leaving the skirmishers to follow at daylight) to the left about l ˝ miles. Here we were permitted to make coffee and draw rations.

At about 9 a.m. of the 20th instant, by order of General Wood, my brigade was moved forward and put in position behind some temporary works of rails and logs, my brigade being on the immediate right of Colonel Harker. About this time I was informed that General McCook's corps would join me on my right. My brigade at this time was formed in two lines of battle with skirmishers about 75 yards to the front. I soon learned that the enemy was massing immediately in my front and perhaps on my right. Staff officers were immediately sent off to my right with a heavy line of skirmishers, for the purpose of learning if there were yet any of our own troops on my immediate right. Soon the report came there were none as yet. My two reserve regiments, Fifty-eighth Indiana and Thirteenth Michigan, were immediately deployed on my right with a heavy line of skirmishers, so that my right might not be turned without timely knowledge of the fact. My battery (Eighth Indiana) was placed so as to sweep the crest of a low ridge in my front. Very soon after this, perhaps 10.30 a.m., one brigade of General Davis' division reported to join me on the right. I immediately drew in two regiments from the right, so that my brigade would have but two regimental fronts, allowing General Davis' left to rest against the right of the Twenty-sixth Ohio, which was my right front battalion, the one hundredth Illinois the, left front, the  Fifty-eighth Indiana left rear, and Thirteenth Michigan right rear battalions.

At this time the enemy was making bold demonstrations in my front, so much so that whenever one of my skirmishers moved or rose to his feet he was shot at. Now that my right flank was protected I felt confident that we could hold our position.

About this time I received notice from a staff officer that the One hundredth Illinois, Col. F. A. Bartleson, had charged to the front, and that the colonel asked to be supported. Thinking perhaps a general charge had been ordered by General Wood and that the left of my brigade was moving to the front with Colonel Harker's, and that the officer bearing me the order might have fallen (I then being at the extreme right of my brigade), I ordered the Twenty-sixth Ohio to charge as far as the crest of the low ridge or bench in front, but to go no farther without further orders until I could investigate the cause of the One hundredth Illinois being in front of the position assigned it by me. The Twenty-sixth Ohio had hardly gotten to the front as ordered when the One hundredth Illinois came back without its colonel and resumed its former position. Colonel Bartleson leading his regiment had run into a masked battery and heavy line of the enemy, and is supposed was himself wounded and captured. In him we lost a most gallant and efficient officer and gentleman; his brigade and regiment will ever mourn his loss.

About half past 11 a.m. of the 20th instant I received orders to move my brigade by the left flank at the double-quick, following Colonel Harker's brigade, for the purpose of supporting some portion of the line to our left. The orders for this purpose were immediately issued; before moving the brigade, however, orders were issued for the skirmishers to remain and hold their position until relieved by the command still on my right, and to be certain that this would be done without a doubt I sent two staff officers to attend personally to it. Orders were also issued to my battery commander. Captain Estep, to move its battery around on my left flank, which would be in my rear when facing the enemy. I was fearful of making the movement, with the enemy not over 200 yards distant, closely watching every maneuver.

Two brigades on my left had already moved off, and of course my command must move by the gap left )y them. Having my line of skirmishers secure, and, as I thought, my battery safe, the movement was commenced, myself leading the direction.

We had scarcely moved one brigade front when the shock came like an avalanche on my right flank. The attack seemed to have been simultaneous throughout the enemy's lines, for the entire right and part of the center gave way before the overpowering numbers of the foe. My own little brigade seemed as if it were swept from the field Captain Estep with all speed moved his battery about 400 yards to the rear, on the crest of a hill, where he opened on the enemy with great effect. The greater portion of my brigade was cut off from me and driven to tĄ1e rear. My staff, who were executing orders at this time, were also cut off; the orderly carrying my headquarters flag, who was in the rear at the time, was captured. That portion of my command that was near me, the Fifty-eighth Indiana and some stragglers of other regiments that were rallied, remained on the field, and while we were still in front of and to  the left of the battery the enemy came around my right flank and shot down 35 horses of my battery, thus capturing the same..

I retreated with a  portion of my command to the left oblique, fighting at the crest of every hill for a distance of at least three-fourths of a mile. At one point we advanced again from one hill to the next in front, and fought the left flank of a long line of battle (all of which was in full view) until we were almost surrounded and flanked on our right. Just here Lieutenant-Colonel Embree was cut off from his command and very nearly captured, which left Major Moore, of the Fifty-eighth Indiana, the next in rank to myself.

About this time I discovered General Wood with Colonel Harker's brigade, several hundred yards to my left, also on the retreat. I continued to retreat with the remnant of my brigade until we came up to the right flank of General Brannan's division, which was in position on the top of a high hill. Here I reported to General Brannan, and we remained in this position until the sun went down. The remainder of my brigade, being unable to find me, went to the rear with thousands of others who had not even fired a gun, nor had their lines been broken. If my battery commander had done as I saw several other batteries doing, he would have saved his battery, but as long as there was any chance to fight he fought, and then it was too late to start for Rossville.

During the afternoon of the 20th instant my command was on the right of General Brannan, while Colonel Harker's was on his left. About 4. 30 o'clock our ammunition entirely failed; we had already taken all from the dead and wounded around us. Just at this time Colonel Stout, of the Seventeenth Kentucky, came up with about 100 men, having 60 rounds each. He gladly relieved my men, while they remained in his rear with fixed bayonets to help hold the hill; this, as a last resort. Soon after 4 p.m., as the enemy was again coming round our right flank, General Steedman's division, of General Granger's corps, came up on the right. Happy were we to see them. They held the right till-night. As night closed the scene, the whole rebel army, then almost surrounding us, gave one long and exultant cheer. Our few thousand exhausted men, who, without ammunition, had so long struggled and held the trying position, being by no means disheartened, answered their cheers with bold and defiant shouts. Soon after dark I was ordered to follow Colonel Harker's command with mine. We marched to the rear, and reached Rossville about 11 p.m.

Early in the morning of the 21st instant my brigade took position on Missionary Ridge on the left of Colonel Harker's brigade. The Seventeenth Kentucky reported to me, and occupied my extreme left. We remained in this position till 10 p.m., when we retreated and took up our present position around the city. We are intrenched and can hold our works forever.

I take pleasure in commending to their superiors Colonel Culver, Thirteenth Michigan; Lieutenant-Colonel Young, Twenty-sixth Ohio; Lieutenant-Colonel Embree, Fifty-eighth Indiana; Lieutenant-Colonel Waterman, One hundredth Illinois; Major Moore, Fifty-eighth Indiana; Major Eaton, Thirteenth Michigan; Major Hammond, One hundredth Illinois, and Captain Estep, Eighth Indiana Battery, for their endurance and bravery throughout the whole conflict.

In Col. F. A. Bartleson, One hundredth Illinois, and Captain Ewing, Twenty-sixth Ohio (acting major), our country lost two most valuable officers. My personal staff,  Capt. James G. Elwood, acting  assistant adjutant-general; Lieuts. J. C. Williams and Zach. Jones, aides-de-camp; Capt. William Baldwin, assistant inspector-general; Captain Gardner, provost-marshal, and Lieutenant Ludden, topographical engineer, and Horace A. Hall and John Scheck, two of my orderlies, were ever efficient and ready, being in the hottest of the fight. Lieut. Zach. Jones and Orderly Hall were both slightly wounded. Captain Warner, acting commissary of subsistence, and Lieutenant Sterne, are also entitled to much credit for the faithful discharge of their respective duties. For more minute particulars I respectfully refer you to regimental and battery reports accompanying this.

I herewith submit a list of casualties in this brigade, which is over 40 per cent. The command entered the action with:

O Officers. K Killed.
E Enlisted men. W Wounded.
T Total. M Missing.

                                             -----Officers.------ ----Enlisted men.-----
                Command. O E T            K W M T       K W M T
          
          100th Illinois  26 313 339        .... 6 2 8      23 111 22 156
13th Michigan          25 195 220        2 6 2 10       11 61 24 96
26th Ohio                26 336 362        4 6 2 12       23 130 39 192
58th Indiana            30 370 400          2 5 1 8        14 96 24 134
8th Indiana Battery     5 119 124     .... .... .... ....      1 9 7 17
Aggregate               112 1,333 1,445  8 23 7 38     72 407 116 595

Command. Killed. Wounded. Missing. Total
   
Officers  8 23 7 38
Enlisted men  72 407 116 595
Total loss      80 430 123 633

All of which is respectfully submitted.
GEO. P. BUELL,
Colonel Fifty-eighth Indiana Vols., Comdg. Brigade.
Capt. M.P. BESTOW,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division.
-----
HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., FIRST DIV., 21ST ARMY CORPS,
Chattanooga, Tenn., October 5, 1863.

SIR: I respectfully request to make the following additions to my report of the actions of the 19th and 20th September, the facts of which have come to my knowledge since the date of that report:
On Saturday night nearly every wounded man of my brigade was removed from the scene of battle to the division field hospital and left there in charge of Surgeon Ewing. Thirteenth Michigan: Assistant Surgeons Holtzman and Downey, Fifty-eighth Indiana: Surgeon McGavran, Twenty-sixth Ohio, and Asst. Surg. H. T. Woodruff,  One hundredth Illinois. From the wounded men that have arrived from that hospital I am pleased to learn that these officers have conducted themselves in the execution of their duties with great credit and honor. Through no fault of theirs these officers are now in the hands of the enemy awaiting exchange.

Your acceptance of this short tribute to them as faithful and efficient officers, will be but conferring upon them what is justly their due.

I would respectfully request that this may be attached to my report forwarded September 28, 1863.
I have the honor to remain, respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. P. BUELL,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Capt. M.P. BESTOW,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division.