Report of Major General George H. Thomas, U. S. Army, commanding Fourteenth Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS FOURTEENTH ARMY CORPS
Chattanooga, Tenn., September 30, 1863
Gen. JAMES A. GARFIELD
Chief of Staff, Department of the Cumberland
GENERAL: I have the honor to report the operations of my corps from the 1st September up to date, as follows, viz:
General Brannan's division crossed the Tennessee River at Battle Creek; General Baird ordered to cross his division at Bridgeport, and to move to Taylor's Store; General Negley's division to cross the river at Caperton's Ferry, and to report at Taylor's Store also.
September 2.--General Baird's division moved to Widow's Creek.
General Negley reports having arrived at Moore's Spring, 1¼ miles from Taylor's Store, and 2 miles from Bridgeport; he was ordered to cross the mountain at that point, it being the most direct route to Trenton, in the vicinity of which place the corps was ordered to concentrate.
September 3.--Headquarters Fourteenth Army Corps moved from Bolivar Springs at 6 a.m. via Caperton's Ferry to Moore's Spring, on the road from Bridgeport to Trenton. Baird's division reached Bridgeport, but could not cross in consequence of damage to the bridge; Negley's division marched to Warren's Mill, on the top of Sand Mountain, on the road to Trenton; Brannan's division reached Graham's Store, on the road from Shellmound to Trenton; Reynolds' division marched 6 miles on the Trenton road from Shellmound.
September 4.--Negley's division camped at Brown's Spring, at the foot of Sand Mountain, in Lookout Valley; Brannan's division at Gordon's Mill, on Sand Mountain; Reynolds' division at foot of Sand Mountain, 2 miles from Trenton; Baird's division crossed the river at Bridgeport, and camped at that point; corps headquarters at Moore's Spring.
September 5.--Baird's division arrived at Moore's Spring; Negley's division still in camp at Brown's Spring. He reports having sent forward a reconnaissance of two regiments of infantry and a section of artillery to scour the country toward Chattanooga, and secure some captured stores near Macon Iron-Works. They captured some Confederate army supplies. No report from Brannan's division; Reynolds' division in camp at Trenton; Brannan somewhere in the neighborhood; corps headquarters at Warren's Mill.
September 6.--Baird's division encamped at Warren's Mill; Negley's division reached Johnson's Crook; Beatty's brigade was sent up the road to seize Stevens' Gap; met the enemy's pickets, and, it being dark, did not proceed farther. The Eighteenth Ohio, of Negley's division, went to the top of Lookout Mountain, beyond Payne's Mill; met the enemy's pickets and dispersed them. The head of Brannan's column reached Lookout Valley, 2 miles below Trenton. Reynolds' division in camp at Trenton. Rumors of the enemy's design to evacuate Chattanooga. Corps headquarters at Brown's Spring.
September 7.--Baird's division closed up with Negley's in the mouth of Johnson's Crook. Negley's gained possession of the top of the mountain, and secured the forks of the road. Brannan's division reached Trenton; Reynolds' remained in camp at that place. Corps headquarters still at Brown's Spring.
September 8.--Baird's division remained in its camp of yesterday, at the junction of Hurricane and Lookout Creeks. Negley's division moved up to the top of Lookout Mountain, at the head of Johnson's Crook, one brigade occupying the pass; another brigade was sent forward and seized Cooper's Gap, sending one regiment to the foot of the gap to occupy and hold it; one regiment was also sent forward to seize Stevens' Gap, which was heavily obstructed with fallen trees. Brannan's division occupied the same position as last night. Reynolds' division headquarters at Trenton, with one brigade at Payne's Mill, 3 miles south of Trenton. Headquarters of the corps still at Brown's Spring.
September 9.--Baird's division moved across Lookout Mountain to the support of Negley. Negley's division moved across the mountain and took up a position in McLemore's Cove, near Rodgers' farm, throwing out his skirmishers as far as Bailey's Cross-Roads; saw the enemy's cavalry in front, drawn up in line; citizens reported a heavy force concentrated in his front at Dug Gap, consisting of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Brannan's division in camp same as yesterday; Reynolds' division also. The Ninety-second Illinois (mounted infantry) sent on a reconnaissance toward Chattanooga, along the ridge of Lookout Mountain. Colonel Atkins, commanding Ninety-second Illinois, reports September 9, 11 a.m., entered Chattanooga as the rear of the enemy's column was evacuating the place; corps headquarters moved from Brown's Spring to Easley's farm, on Trenton and Lebanon road.
September 10.--General Negley's in front of or 1 mile west of Dug Gap, which has been heavily obstructed by the enemy and occupied by a strong picket line. General Baird ordered to move up to-night to Negley's support. General Reynolds to move at daylight to support Baird's left, and General Brannan to move at 8 a.m. to-morrow morning to support Reynolds. Headquarters and General Reynolds' division camped at foot of the mountain; Brannan's division at Easley's.
September 11.--Baird's division closed up on Negley's at Widow Davis' house about 8 a.m. Soon afterward, Negley being satisfied, from his own observations and from the reports of officers sent out to reconnoiter, and also from loyal citizens, that the enemy was advancing on him in very superior force, and that his train was in imminent danger of being cut off if he accepted battle at Davis' Cross-Roads, determined to fall back to a strong position in front of Stevens' Gap. This movement he immediately proceeded to put into execution, and by his untiring energy and skill, and with the prompt co-operation of Baird, succeeded in gaining possession of the hills in front of Stevens' Gap and securing his trains, without losing a single wagon. For a detailed account of this movement, see reports(*) of Generals Negley and Baird, annexed, marked A and B. General Turchin, commanding Third Brigade, Reynolds' division, was pushed forward, by way of Cooper's Gap, to Negley's support, on the left, reaching his position about 10 a.m. Orders were sent to General Brannan to close up as rapidly as possible. Corps headquarters at top of Cooper's Gap.
September 12.--Brannan's division reached Negley's position by 8 a.m., and took post next on the left of Baird. Reynolds' division was posted on the left of Brannan, one brigade covering Cooper's Gap. Reports from citizens go to confirm the impression that a large force of the enemy is concentrated at La Fayette. A report from General McCook confirms that fact. A later dispatch from the same source says it is reported that Bragg's whole army, with Johnston's, is at La Fayette. Generals Brannan and Baird, with parts of their commands, went out on a reconnaissance toward Dug Gap at 1 p.m. to-day. General Brannan reports they advanced 2 miles beyond Davis' Cross-Roads without finding any enemy with the exception of a few mounted men. Corps headquarters encamped at top of Stevens' Gap.
September 13.--Negley's, Baird's, and Brannan's divisions remained in their camps of yesterday awaiting the arrival of McCook's corps, which had been ordered to close up to the left. Reynolds concentrated his division on the road from Cooper's Gap to Catlett's Gap. Two deserters from Eighteenth Tennessee state that they belong to Buckner's corps. Buckner's corps consists of eight brigades and two batteries of six guns each; were in the fight with Negley. Saw a brigade of Forrest's cavalry, commanded by Forrest in person, pass toward the fight on the 11th. Hill's and Buckner's corps were both engaged. Bragg's army is concentrated at La Fayette. Headquarters moved by way of Cooper's Gap to the foot of the mountain.
September 14.--General Reynolds took up a position at Pond Spring with his two infantry brigades, and was joined by Wilder at that place. Turchin's brigade, of Reynolds' division, made a reconnaissance to the mouth of Catlett's Gap with the Ninety-second Illinois (mounted infantry). Was opposed by rebel mounted pickets from Chickamauga Creek to mouth of Catlett's Gap, at which place he found their reserve drawn up, also a strong line of skirmishers to the right of the road; but having received instructions to avoid bringing on an engagement, he returned to camp with the brigade, leaving two regiments on Chattanooga Valley road, strongly posted on outposts. General Brannan advanced one brigade of his division to Chickamauga Creek, east of Lee's Mill, 1 mile to the right and south of Reynolds' position at Pond Spring. A mounted reconnaissance was also pushed forward to within a mile of Blue Bird Gap without encountering any of the enemy. A negro who had been taken before General Buckner yesterday and released again reports that Buckner and his corps are in Catlett's Gap preparing to defend that place. A negro woman, lately from the neighborhood of Dug Gap, reports a large force of rebels between Dug Gap and La Fayette.
September 16.--Corps headquarters and First and Second Divisions remained camped, as last reported, at foot of Stevens' Gap. Turchin's brigade, of Reynolds' division, made a reconnaissance toward Catlett's Gap. The enemy fell back as he advanced, until he came upon a force strongly posted, with two pieces of artillery, in the road. He made a second reconnaissance at 2 p.m. that day with but little further result, as he could advance but a short distance farther, the enemy being in force in his front.
September 17.--First. Second, and Third Divisions changed their positions from their camps of yesterday: Baird's (First) division, with its right resting at Gower's Ford and extending along Chickamauga Creek to Bird's Mill; Negley's (Second) division, with its right at Bird's Mill and its left connecting with Van Cleve's division at Owens' Ford; Brannan's (Third) division on the right of the First, covering four fords between Gower's Ford and Pond Spring. One brigade of the Fourth Division (Reynolds') thrown out in front of Pond Spring, on the Catlett's Gap road, covering the pass through the mountains. Wilder's brigade detached and ordered to report to department headquarters. The left of McCook's corps closed in; connected with our right near Pond Spring.
September 18.--At 4 p.m. the whole corps moved to the left along Chickamauga Creek to Crawfish Spring. On arriving at that place received orders to march on the cross-road leading by Widow Glenn's house to the Chattanooga and La Fayette road, and take up a position near Kelly's farm, on the La Fayette road, connecting with Crittenden on my right at Gordon's Mills. The head of the column reached Kelly's farm about daylight on the 19th, Baird's division in front, and took up a position at the forks of the road, facing toward Reed's and Alexander's Bridges over the Chickamauga. Colonel Wilder, commanding the mounted brigade of Reynolds' division, informed me that the enemy had crossed the Chickamauga in force at those two bridges the evening before and drove his brigade across the State road, or Chattanooga and La Fayette road, to the heights east of Widow Glenn's house.
Kelly's house is situated in an opening about three-fourths of a mile long and one-fourth of a mile wide, on the east side of the State road, and stretches along that road in a northerly direction, with a small field of perhaps 20 acres on the west side of the road, directly opposite to the house. From thence to the Chickamauga the surface of the country is undulating and covered with original forest timber, interspersed with undergrowth, in many places so dense that it is difficult to see 50 paces ahead. There is a cleared field near Jay's Mill, and cleared land in the vicinity of Reed's and Alexander's Bridges. A narrow field commences at a point about a fourth of a mile south of Kelly's house, on the east side of the State road, and extends, perhaps, for half a mile along the road toward Gordon's Mills. Between the State road and the foot of Missionary Ridge there? a skirt of timber stretching from the vicinity of Widow Glenn's house, south of the forks of the road to McDonald's house, three-fourths of a mile north of Kelly's. The eastern slope of the Missionary Ridge, between Glenn's and McDonald's, is cleared and mostly under cultivation. This position of Baird's threw my right in close proximity to Wilder's brigade; the interval I intended to fill up with the two remaining brigades of Reynolds' division on their arrival. General Brannan, closely following Baird's division, was placed in position on his left, on the two roads leading from the State road to Reed's and Alexander's Bridges.
Col. Dan. McCook, commanding a brigade of the Reserve Corps, met me at General Baird's headquarters, and reported to me that he had been stationed the previous night on the road leading to Reed's Bridge, and that he could discover no force of the enemy except one brigade, which had crossed to the west side of the Chickamauga at Reed's Bridge the day before; and he believed it could be cut off, because, after it had crossed, he had destroyed the bridge, the enemy having retired toward Alexander's Bridge. Upon this information I directed General Brannan to post a brigade, within supporting distance of Baird, on the road to Alexander's Bridge, and with his other two brigades to reconnoiter the road leading to Reed's Bridge to see if he could locate the brigade reported by Colonel McCook, and, if a favorable opportunity occurred, to capture it. His dispositions were made according to instructions by 9 a.m.
General Baird was directed to throw forward his right wing, so as to get more nearly in line with Brannan, but to watch well on his right flank. Soon after this disposition of those two divisions, a portion of Palmer's division, of Crittenden's corps, took position to the right of General Baird's division. About 10 o'clock Croxton's brigade of Brannan's division, posted on the road leading to Alexander's Bridge, became engaged with the enemy, and I rode forward to his position to ascertain the character of the attack. Colonel Croxton reported to me that he had driven the enemy nearly half a mile, but that he was then meeting with obstinate resistance. I then rode back to Baird's position, and directed him to advance to Croxton's support, which he did with his whole division, Starkweather's brigade in reserve, and drove the enemy steadily before him for some distance, taking many prisoners. Croxton's brigade, which had been heavily engaged for over an hour with greatly superior numbers of the enemy, and being nearly exhausted of ammunition, was then moved to the rear to enable the men to fill up their boxes; and Baird and Brannan, having united their forces, drove the enemy from their immediate front. General Baird then halted for the purpose of readjusting his line; and hearing from prisoners that the enemy were in heavy force on his immediate right, he threw back his right wing in order to be ready for an attack from that quarter.
Before his dispositions could be completed, the enemy, in overwhelming numbers, furiously assaulted Scribner's and King's brigades, and drove them in disorder. Fortunately, at this time Johnson's division, of McCook's corps, and Reynolds' division, of my corps, arrived, and were immediately placed in position. Johnson preceded Reynolds, his left connecting with Baird's right, and Palmer being immediately on Johnson's right, Reynolds was placed on the right of Palmer, with one brigade of his division in reserve. As soon as formed they advanced upon the enemy, attacking him in flank and driving him in great disorder for a mile and a half, while Brannan's troops met him in front as he was pursuing Baird's retiring brigades, driving the head of his column back and retaking the artillery, which had been temporarily lost by Baird's brigades, the Ninth Ohio recovering Battery H, Fifth U.S. Artillery, at the point of the bayonet. The enemy, at this time being hardly pressed by Johnson, Palmer, and Reynolds in flank, fell back in confusion upon his reserves, posted in a strong position on the west side of Chickamauga Creek between Reed's and Alexander's Bridges.
Brannan and Baird were then ordered to reorganize their commands and take position on commanding ground on the road from McDonald's to Reed's Bridge, and hold it to the last extremity, as I expected the next effort of the enemy would be to gain that road and our rear. This was about 2 p.m. After a lull of about one hour, a furious attack was made upon Reynolds' right, and he having called upon me for re-enforcements, I directed Brannan's division to move to his support, leaving King's brigade, of Baird's division, to hold the position at which Baird and Brannan had been posted, the balance of Baird's division closing up to the right on Johnson's division. It will be seen by General Reynolds' report, Croxton's brigade, of Brannan's division, reached his right just in time to defeat the enemy's efforts to turn Reynolds' right and rear.
About 5 p.m., my lines being at that time very much extended in pursuing the enemy, I determined to concentrate them on more commanding ground, as I felt confident that we should have a renewal of the battle in the morning. I rode forward to General Johnson's position and designated to him where to place his division; also to General Baird, who was present with Johnson. I then rode back to the cross-roads to locate Palmer and Reynolds on Johnson's right and on the crest of the ridge about 500 yards east of the State road. Soon after Palmer and Reynolds got their positions, and while Brannan was getting his on the ridge to the west of the State road, near Dyer's house, and to the rear and right of Reynolds, where I had ordered him as a reserve, the enemy assaulted first Johnson and then Baird in a most furious manner, producing some confusion, but order was soon restored, and the enemy repulsed in fine style; after which these two divisions took up the positions assigned them for the night.
Before adjusting the line satisfactorily, I received an order to report to department headquarters immediately, and was absent from my command until near midnight. After my return from department headquarters, about 2 a.m. on the 20th, I received a report from General Baird that the left of his division did not rest on the Reed's Bridge road, as I had intended, and that he could not reach it without weakening his line too much. I immediately addressed a note to the general commanding requesting that General Negley be sent me to take position on Baird's left and rear, and thus secure our left from assault. During the night the troops threw up temporary breastworks of logs, and prepared for the encounter which all anticipated would come off the next day.
Although informed by note, from General Rosecrans' headquarters, that Negley's division would be sent immediately to take post on my left, it had not arrived at 7 a.m. on the 20th, and I sent Captain Willard, of my staff, to General Negley to urge him forward as rapidly as possible, and to point out his position to him. General Negley, in his official report, mentions that he received this order through Captain Willard at 8 a.m. on the 20th, and that he immediately commenced withdrawing his division for that purpose, when the enemy was reported to be massing a heavy force in his front, sharply engaging his skirmishers, and that he was directed by General Rosecrans to hold his position until relieved by some other command. General Beatty's brigade, however, was sent under the guidance of Captain Willard, who took it to its position, and it went into action immediately. The enemy at that time commenced a furious assault on Baird's left, and partially succeeded in gaining his rear. Beatty, meeting with superior numbers, was compelled to fall back until relieved by the fire of several regiments of Palmer's reserve, which I had ordered to the support of the left, being placed in position by General Baird, and which regiments, with the cooperation of Van Derveer's brigade of Brannan's division and a portion of Stanley's brigade of Negley's division, drove the enemy entirely from Baird's left and rear. General Baird being still hardly pressed in front, I ordered General Wood, who had just reported to me in person, to send one of the brigades of his division to General Baird. He replied that his division had been ordered by General Rosecrans to support Reynolds' right, but that if I would take the responsibility exchanging his orders, he would cheerfully obey them, and sent Barnes' brigade, the head of which had just reached my position. General Wood then left me to rejoin the remainder of his division, which was still coming up.
To prevent a repetition of this attack of the enemy on our left I directed Captain Gaw, chief topographical officer on my staff, to go to the commanding officer of the troops on the left and rear of Baird, and direct him to mass as much artillery on the slopes of Missionary Ridge, west of the State road, as he could conveniently spare from his lines, supported strongly by infantry, so as to sweep the ground to the left and rear of Baird's position. This order General Negley, in his official report, mentions having received through Captain Gaw, but from his description of the position he assumed he must have misunderstood my order, and instead of massing the artillery near Baird's left, it was posted on the right of Brannan's division, nearly in rear of Reynolds' right. At the time that the assault just described was made on Baird, the enemy attacked Johnson, Palmer, and Reynolds, with equal fierceness, which was continued at least two hours, making assault after assault with fresh troops, which were met by my troops with a most determined coolness and deliberation. The enemy having exhausted his utmost energies to dislodge us, apparently fell back entirely from our front, and we were not disturbed again until near night, after the withdrawal of the troops to Rossville had commenced. Just before the repulse of the enemy on our left, General Beatty came to me for fresh troops, in person, stating that most of those I had sent to him had gone back to the rear and right, and he was anxious to get at least another brigade before they attacked him again. I immediately sent Captain Kellogg to hurry up General Sheridan, whose division I had been informed would be sent to me.
About 2 p.m., very soon after Captain Kellogg left me, hearing heavy firing to my right and rear through the woods, I turned in that direction and was riding to the slope of the hill in my rear to ascertain the cause. Just as I passed out of the woods bordering the State road, I met Captain Kellogg returning, who reported to me that in attempting to reach General Sheridan he had met a large force in an open corn-field to the rear of Reynolds' position, advancing cautiously, with a strong line of skirmishers thrown out to their front, and that they had fired on him and forced him to return. He had reported this to Colonel Harker, commanding a brigade of Wood's division, posted on a ridge a short distance to the rear of Reynolds' position, who also saw this force advancing, but, with Captain Kellogg, was of the opinion that they might be Sheridan's troops coming to our assistance. I rode forward to Colonel Harker's position, and told him that, although I was expecting Sheridan from that direction, if those troops fired on him, seeing his flag, he must return their fire and resist their farther advance. He immediately ordered his skirmishers to commence firing, and took up a position with his brigade on the crest of a hill a short distance to his right and rear, placing his right in connection with Brannan's division and portions of Beatty's and Stanley's brigades of Negley's division, which had been retired to that point from the left, as circumstantially narrated in the reports of General John Beatty and Colonel Stanley. I then rode to the crest of the hill referred to above. On my way I met General Wood, who confirmed me in the opinion that the troops advancing upon us were the enemy, although we were not then aware of the disaster to the right and center of our army. I then directed him to place his division on the prolongation of Brannan's, who, I had ascertained from Wood, was on the top of the hill above referred to, and to resist the farther advance of the enemy as long as possible. I sent my aide, Captain Kellogg, to notify General Reynolds that our right had been turned, and that the enemy was in his rear in force.
General Wood barely had time to dispose his troops on the left of Brannan before another of those fierce assaults, similar to those made in the morning on my lines, was made on him and Brannan combined, and kept up by the enemy throwing in fresh troops as fast as those in their front were driven back, until near nightfall. About the time that Wood took up his position, General Gordon Granger appeared on my left flank at the head of Steedman's division of his corps. I immediately dispatched a staff officer, Captain Johnson, Second Indiana Cavalry, of Negley's division, to him with orders to push forward and take position on Brannan's right, which order was complied with the greatest promptness and alacrity. Steedman, moving his division into position with almost as much precision as if on drill, and fighting his way to the crest of the hill on Brannan's right, moved forward his artillery and drove the enemy down the southern slope, inflicting on him a most terrible loss in killed and wounded. This opportune arrival of fresh troops revived the flagging spirits of our men on the right, and inspired them with new ardor for the contest. Every assault of the enemy from that time until nightfall was repulsed in the most gallant style by the whole line.
By this time the ammunition in the boxes of the men was reduced, on an average, to 2 or 3 rounds per man, and my ammunition trains having been unfortunately ordered to the rear by some unauthorized person, we should have been entirely without ammunition in a very short time had not a small supply come up with General Steedman's command. This, being distributed among the troops, gave them about 10 rounds per man.
General Garfield, chief of staff of General Rosecrans, reached this position about 4 p.m., in company with Lieutenant-Colonel Thruston, of McCook's staff, and Captains Gaw and Barker, of my staff, who had been sent to the rear to bring back the ammunition, if possible. General Garfield gave me the first reliable information that the right and center of our army had been driven, and of its condition at that time. I soon after received a dispatch from General Rosecrans, directing me to assume command of all the forces, and, with Crittenden and McCook, take a strong position and assume a threatening attitude at Rossville, sending the unorganized forces to Chattanooga for reorganization, stating that he would examine the ground at Chattanooga, and then join me; also that he had sent out rations and ammunition to meet me at Rossville.
I determined to hold the position until nightfall, if possible, in the meantime sending Captains Barker and Kellogg to distribute the ammunition, Major Lawrence, my chief of artillery, having been previously sent to notify the different commanders that ammunition would be supplied them shortly. As soon as they reported the distribution of the ammunition, I directed Captain Willard to inform the division commanders to prepare to withdraw their commands as soon as they received orders. At 5.30 p.m. Captain Barker, commanding my escort, was sent to notify General Reynolds to commence the movement, and I left the position behind General Wood's command to meet Reynolds and point out to him the position where I wished him to form line to cover the retirement of the other troops on the left.
In passing through an open woods bordering the State road, and between my last and Reynolds' position, I was cautioned by a couple of soldiers, who had been to hunt water, that there was a large force of the rebels in these woods, drawn up in line and advancing toward me. Just at this time I saw the head of Reynolds' column approaching, and calling to the general himself, directed him to form line perpendicular to the State road, changing the head of his column to the left, with his right resting on that road, and to charge the enemy, who were then in his immediate front. This movement was made with the utmost promptitude, and facing to the right while on the march, Turchin threw his brigade upon the rebel force, routing them and driving them in utter confusion entirely beyond Baird's left. In this splendid advance more than 200 prisoners were captured and sent to the rear.
Colonel Robinson, commanding the Second Brigade, Reynolds' division, followed closely upon Turchin, and I posted him on the road leading through the ridge to hold the ground while the troops on our right and left passed by. In a few moments General Willich, commanding a brigade of Johnson's division, reported to me that his brigade was in position on a commanding piece of ground to the right of the Ridge road. I directed him to report to General Reynolds, and assist in covering the retirement of the troops. Turchin's brigade, after driving the enemy a mile and a half, was reassembled, and took its position on the Ridge road, with Robinson and Willich.
These dispositions being made, I sent orders to Generals Wood, Brannan, and Granger to withdraw from their positions. Johnson's and Baird's divisions were attacked at the moment of retiring, but, by being prepared, retired without confusion or any serious losses. General Palmer was also attacked while retiring. Grose's brigade was thrown into some confusion, but Cruft's brigade came off in good style, both, however, with little loss. I then proceeded to Rossville, accompanied by Generals Garfield and Gordon Granger, and immediately prepared to place the troops in position at that point. One brigade of Negley's division was posted in the gap, on the Ringgold road, and two brigades on the top of the ridge to the right of the road, adjoining the brigade in the road; Reynolds' division on the right of Negley's and reaching to the Dry Valley road; Brannan's division in the rear of Reynolds right, as a reserve; McCook's corps on the right of the Dry Valley road, and stretching toward the west, his right reaching nearly to Chattanooga Creek; Crittenden's entire corps was posted on the heights to the left of the Ringgold road, with Steedman's division of Granger's corps in reserve behind his left; Baird's division in reserve, and in supporting distance of the brigade in the gap; McCook's brigade of Granger's corps was also posted as a reserve to the brigade of Negley on the top of the ridge, to the right of the road; Minty's brigade of cavalry was on the Ringgold road, about a mile and a half in advance of the gap.
About 10 a.m. of the 21st, receiving a message from Minty that the enemy were advancing on him with a strong force of cavalry and infantry, I directed him to retire through the gap and post his command on our left flank, and throw out strong reconnoitering parties across the ridge to observe and report any movements of the enemy on our left front. From information received from citizens, I was convinced that the position was untenable in the face of the odds we had opposed to us, as the enemy could easily concentrate upon our right flank, which, if driven, would expose our center and left to be entirely cut off from our communications. I therefore advised the commanding general to concentrate the troops at Chattanooga. About the time I made the suggestion to withdraw, the enemy made a demonstration on the direct road, but were soon repulsed. In anticipation of this order to concentrate at Chattanooga, I sent for the corps commanders, and gave such general instructions as would enable them to prepare their commands for making the movement without confusion. All wagons, ambulances, and surplus artillery carnages were sent to the rear before night.
The order for the withdrawal being received about 6 p.m. the movement commenced at 9 p.m., in the following order: Strong skirmish lines, under the direction of judicious officers, were thrown out to the front of each division to cover this movement, with directions to retire at daylight, deployed and in supporting distance, the whole to be supported by the First Division, Fourteenth Army Corps, under the superintendence of Major-General Rousseau, assisted by Minty's brigade of cavalry, which was to follow after the skirmishers. Crittenden's corps was to move from the hill to the left of the road at 9 p.m., followed by Steedman's division. Next Negley's division was to withdraw at 10 p.m.; then Reynolds, McCook's corps, by divisions from left to right, moving within supporting distance one after the other; Brannan's division was posted at 6 p.m. on the road about half way between Rossville and Chattanooga to cover the movement. The troops were withdrawn in a quiet, orderly manner, without the loss of a single man, and by 7 a.m. on the 22d were in their positions in front of Chattanooga, which had been assigned to them previous to their arrival, and which they now occupy, covered by strong intrenchments thrown up on the day of our arrival, and strengthened from day to day until they were considered sufficiently strong for all defensive purposes.
I respectfully refer you to the reports of division, brigade, and regimental commanders for the names of those of their respective commands who distinguished themselves. Among them I am much gratified to find the names of Col. F. Van Derveer, Thirty-fifth Ohio, commanding Third Brigade, and Col. John T. Croxton, Fourth Kentucky, commanding Second Brigade, Brannan's division, both of whom I saw on Saturday, and I can confirm the reports given of them by their division commander. Col. B. F. Scribner, Thirty-eighth Indiana, commanding First Brigade, Baird's division, was on the right of that division on Saturday morning, when it was attacked in flank by an overwhelming force of the enemy and driven back; yet Colonel Scribner was enabled to rally and reorganize it without the least difficulty, as soon as supported by Johnson's division.
All the troops under my immediate command fought most gallantly on both days, and were ably handled by their respective commanders, viz: Major-Generals Palmer and Reynolds, and Brigadier-Generals Brannan, Johnson, and Baird, on Saturday, and on Sunday, in the afternoon, in addition to the above, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, commanding Reserve Corps, and Brigadier-General Wood, commanding First Division, Twenty-first Army Corps, who, with two brigades of his division, under their brave commanders, Colonels Harker and Buell, most nobly sustained Brannan's left, while Brigadier-General Steedman, commanding a division of the Reserve Corps, as valiantly maintained his right. Col. Dan. McCook, commanding a brigade of the Reserve Corps, and left by General Granger near McDonald's house, in a commanding position, kept a large force of the enemy's cavalry at bay while hovering on Baird's left, and with his battery materially aided Turchin's handsome charge on the enemy, who had closed in on our left. Brigadier-General Willich, commanding a brigade of Johnson's division, on Saturday, in the attack, and especially on Sunday, nobly sustained his reputation as a soldier. Brig. Gen. John Beatty and Col. T. R. Stanley, commanding brigades of Negley's division, bravely supported Baird's left in the morning of Sunday. Colonel Stanley being struck by the fragments of a shell and disabled in the afternoon, the brigade fought with Brannan's division, under the command of Col. W. L. Stoughton, Eleventh Michigan. Col. J. G. Parkhurst, commanding Ninth Michigan Volunteers, and provost-marshal Fourteenth Army Corps, at the head of his regiment, did most valuable service on the 20th, in arresting stragglers and reorganizing the troops which had been driven from the field. His report is herewith inclosed, and special reference made thereto for particulars.
I also tender my thanks to the members of my staff for the services they rendered me. To Lieut. Col. G. E. Flynt, my assistant adjutant-general; Lieut. Col. A. J. Mackay, chief quartermaster; Lieut. Col. J. R. Paul, chief commissary of subsistence, who, although not present on the field of battle, were discharging their duties in their respective departments entirely to my satisfaction. Lieut. Col. A. von Schrader, Seventy-fourth Ohio, assistant inspector-general, who rendered most efficient service as aide-de-camp during the first day's fight, and who was taken prisoner on the afternoon of the 19th while in the discharge of his duty; Maj. W. E. Lawrence, First Ohio Artillery, my chief of artillery; Capts. J.P. Willard and S.C. Kellogg, aides-de-camp; Capt. J. D. Barker, First Ohio Cavalry, commanding my escort: Capt. W. B. Gaw, chief topographical officer Fourteenth Army Corps, as also the signal officers of the corps, who did duty on the field as aides, and were of great assistance in conducting the operations of my command. Surgs. F. H. Gross, medical director, and H. C. Barrell, medical purveyor, were untiring in their efforts to relieve the wants of the wounded. Dr. Gross was wounded early in the engagement Sunday, but continued in the discharge of his duties. Capt. G. C. Moody, Nineteenth U.S. Infantry, commissary of musters, also rendered efficient service as aide-de-camp. Captain Johnson, Second Indiana Cavalry, of General Negley's staff, and Capt. T. C. Williams, Nineteenth U.S. Infantry, of General Baird's staff, having been cut off from their respective commanders, reported to me for duty, and were of great assistance as aides.
I submit herewith annexed a consolidated report of the casualties of the Fourteenth Army Corps.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. H. THOMAS,
Major-General U. S. Volunteers, Commanding
Text Source - The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
Image Source - The Library of Congress
This page was last updated on 01/31/09
© 1998-2009 The Civil War Archive