O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXX/2 [S# 51]

AUGUST 16-SEPTEMBER 22, 1863.--The Chickamauga Campaign.

No. 354.--Report of Col. Samuel K. McSpadden, Nineteenth Alabama Infantry.

 

HDQRS. NINETEENTH ALABAMA REGIMENT,

Missionary Ridge, Tenn., October 5, 1863.

CAPTAIN: In obedience to orders from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to forward a report of the part taken by my regiment in the late battle of Chickamauga:

Having marched from La Fayette, Ga., on the night of the 17th and morning of September 18, we were placed in line of battle near Lee and Gordon's Mills, where we lay under occasional shelling, with skirmishing in front, until (Saturday evening, 19th) we were marched by the right flank some 2 miles across Chickamauga Creek and again placed in line of battle. Here we bivouacked during the night.

Early on Sunday morning (the 20th), we were ordered forward, and about 8 a.m. took position behind some temporary breastworks of logs, chunks, &c. My skirmishers were hotly engaged with those of the enemy at this point, while I lost several men killed and wounded by shell and canister along my line. Those works were in open woods of heavy timber, with like timber and thick undergrowth in front for some 200 yards to an open field.

About 11 a.m. we were ordered forward. Scaling our breastworks, we advanced in good order, driving the enemy from the woods and across the field, but upon rising a hill in the field some 50 to 75 yards from its farther boundary, we were met by a volley of musketry from the enemy, who had been securely placed behind breastworks in the edge of another woods. At the first fire of the enemy, so unexpected and near, my regiment exhibited a momentary hesitancy and wavering, but upon my ordering "charge," it moved at double-quick, and, with a shout, scaled the enemy's works, and pursued their panic-stricken and shattered ranks through the woods and undergrowth until, reaching the borders of another open field, the enemy were discovered behind some houses, potash-works, and rail breastworks. At this point there was not even a momentary hesitancy, but with an increased shout and rapidity of step, we drove the enemy from these works with great slaughter, and pursued them through the open field some 250 yards to an elevated skirt of heavy open woods, where we again came upon him and drove him in utter confusion from two pieces of artillery and other breastworks. There being no horses near, we were compelled to leave the pieces of artillery on the ground. Just here, the Fifteenth Alabama Volunteers, who were to the right of my rear, began a heavy enfilading fire upon me. I immediately discovered they were friends, and ordered my colors back to the edge of the open field, and waving them, discovered to the Fifteenth Alabama their error, upon which they came up by a left-oblique march in fine order, and, joining in with my regiment, we continued to pursue the enemy for some distance across fields, woods, roads, and hills, until we passed over the telegraph road of the enemy into the hills, where we passed also other pieces of artillery, and found we had utterly cut the enemy's lines asunder.

At this point, I was advised that the enemy's cavalry were flanking me on the right. I immediately ordered one or two of my right companies to wheel to the right and engage the cavalry. The first company had only time to wheel and give two volleys when the cavalry fled in a panic. Seeing Major-General Hindman some hundred yards to my left, I ran and informed him of the attempt to flank me. He ordered me to retire by the right flank to a ravine in the rear, and await the return of the other troops of the brigade, who had gained a short distance to the front during my attack on the enemy's cavalry. This charge could not have been over a less space than 1 miles, and yet so fierce and rapid was each successive assault and pursuit, the whole time occupied could not have been over one to one and a half hours. My loss was very heavy in killed and wounded, and all along the route the enemy lay dead and wounded, while scores of prisoners passed to the rear, whom I ordered to report to our provost guard.

Having been engaged with McCook's corps in the morning (as we were informed), we reformed with the other regiments of the brigade early in the evening, and were ordered to another part of the field on our right, to charge a battery of two guns, strongly supported by infantry, said to be of General Granger's command. After a desperate charge over the crest of a very steep and rocky hill, we found our number too small to contend against such great odds, and fell back to reform and gather momentary breath. Again we made a charge, determined, if possible, to carry our standard to complete victory; but just at the moment we were hoping to succeed, the troops on our right gave way, leaving my regiment alone ascending the last point within 40 or 50 yards of the enemy's cannon. Immediately I discovered my right wing falling back, squad by squad, against every effort that could be made, until finally my force was reduced to so small a number it became madness to strive longer, and we were again forced to retire across the hill. Yet again we reformed our line, and making the third advance found the enemy and their artillery had left the field to us. Thus ended the day and its terrible battle.

I was then ordered on picket with my regiment, where, during the night and next morning, we were enabled to gather about 50 prisoners, two or three wagons of rations, ammunition, &c., with one piece of artillery, and many small-arms, all of which were turned over and brought away by the proper officers.

My regiment entered into battle with about 469 guns. My loss was: Killed, 34; wounded, 158; missing, 12. Total loss, 204.

My regiment deeply mourns the loss of many gallant comrades, and especially of a good man, a consistent Christian, and excellent officer, in the person of First Lieut. Joseph B. High, Company H, who was in command of and fell while gallantly leading his company at the enemy's third breastworks.

I am much indebted to the universal gallantry and soldierly bearing of every officer in the regiment, and with the men also, with the few exceptions of stragglers, whose names I shall report in a separate communication.

While I cannot specify the many acts of gallantry and daring exhibited by the different officers and men under my command, there was one instance of valor and daring so extraordinary as to demand my attention. On the second charge in the evening, when the troops on my right gave way and my right wing began to waver, Capt. Hugh L. Houston, Company B, sprang to the colors, and, rushing with them to within 30 steps of the enemy's cannon, gallantly waved them and urged the men to follow their country's banner. But finding he was supported by only 40 or 50 men, they were compelled to retire, which they did in good order.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

SAM. K. McSPADDEN,

Colonel, Comdg. Nineteenth Alabama Volunteers.

Capt. E. F. TRAVIS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.


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