1. George H. Thomas
2. Ulysses S. Grant
3. Joseph Hooker
4. William T. Sherman
5. Peter J. Osterhaus
6. August Willich
7. Henry W. Halleck
8. Braxton Bragg
9. Patrick R. Cleburne
10. Alexander P. Stewart ?
HEADQUARTERS CLEBURNE'S DIVISION.
COLONEL: On the morning of the 23d November, 1863, I was with my division at Chickamauga Station, on the Western and Atlantic Railroad, attending to the transportation of Buckner's and my own division by rail to Loudon, E. Tenn., where, with both divisions, I was ordered to report to Lieutenant-General Longstreet, then besieging Knoxville. <ar55_746>
I had sent off all of Buckner's division except Reynolds' brigade, when I received the following order from army headquarters, viz:
The general commanding desires that you will halt such portions of your command as have not yet left at Chickamauga; such as may have left halt at Charleston. Do not, however, separate brigades; if parts of brigades have gone, let the remaining portion of the brigade go, but halt at Charleston.
In compliance with the above, I sent forward the remainder of Johnson's brigade, but took a portion of Reynolds' brigade off the cars as it was about to start. I also telegraphed to Brig. Gen. Bush-rod Johnson, commanding Buckner's division, directing him to halt the division at Charleston.
I immediately after received the following dispatch from army headquarters, viz:
Order Johnson's troops at Charleston back here. Move up rapidly with your whole force.
I dispatched General Johnson accordingly.
In a few minutes after I received the following, viz:
We are heavily engaged. Move up rapidly to these headquarters.
Instructing Brigadier-General Polk to bring up the division, I galloped forward to headquarters for further instructions. I was ordered to rest for the night immediately behind Missionary Ridge, and placed my division accordingly. Returning to General Bragg's headquarters, he informed me that my division would act as reserve for the army, and would report directly to him. I ordered Reynolds' brigade, which I brought back with me from Chickamauga, to be reported directly to General Bragg, and had no further control of it.
During the night our line along the western front of Missionary Ridge was abandoned, and at early dawn I commenced to construct a new line of defense along the top of the ridge from the Shallow Ford road to General Bragg's headquarters. Before this was completed General Bragg informed me that the enemy had crossed the Tennessee River, both above and below the mouth of the Chickamauga, and directed me to send a brigade and battery to the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad bridge over the Chickamauga to guard that point. I sent Brigadier-General Polk's command and Semple's battery.
About 2 p.m. on the 24th November, I received orders to proceed with the remaining three brigades and the batteries of my division to the right of Missionary Ridge, near the point where the tunnel of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad passes through Missionary Ridge, where I would find an officer of General Hardee's staff, who would show me my position. At the same time General Bragg informed me that the enemy had already a division in line opposite the position I was intended to occupy; that he was rapidly crossing another, and had nearly completed a pontoon bridge over the Tennessee opposite my position. He also told me I must preserve the railroad bridge in my rear, where Brigadier-General Polk was stationed, at all hazards. Galloping forward ahead of my command, I found Major Poole, of General Hardee's staff, at the tunnel, who informed me he had been left by General Hardee to show me my position.
I will attempt here a description of the ground. The right of <ar55_747> Missionary Ridge, to which I was ordered, runs nearly north and south, parallel to the Tennessee River, which is about 1 ½ miles west of it. From the tunnel north along the ridge it is about a mile to the Chickamauga River, which bounds the ridge on that side, flowing thence westwardly into the Tennessee River. To simplify the description, the two rivers and the ridge may be said to form three sides of a square. The Tennessee Valley, between the rivers and the ridge, is mostly level, with a continuation of cleared fields bordering the ridge, but immediately in front of the center of my position, about 1,200 yards north and 600 yards west of the railroad tunnel, was a high detached ridge, which in a military point of view dominated over every point within cannon range.
After passing through the tunnel the railroad runs in a northeasterly direction to the Chickamauga, which it crossed on the bridge Brigadier-General Polk was guarding. From the east side of the main ridge there projected two spurs, one, on the north boundary, with its precipitous north side washed by the Chickamauga; the other, jutting out just north of the tunnel, did not run directly back, but northeasterly for 1,000 yards, forming an acute angle with the parent ridge. Opposite the right of this spur, the main ridge was intersected by a little valley, through which came a road from the Tennessee Valley, where the enemy now was. The highest point on my line, and the point of chief interest in the battle on the right, and which I shall designate in this report as Tunnel Hill, was situated on the main ridge 250 yards north of the tunnel. The position pointed out for my command by Major Poole was to occupy, with one brigade, the detached ridge in the Tennessee Valley, and with the remainder of my command to stretch from the top of Tunnel Hill to the right of Walker's division, three-quarters of a mile south of the tunnel.
I sent Major Poole to inform General Hardee that I had but three brigades, and could not cover so long a line. The head of my division, Smith's (Texas) brigade, was now at hand, and at the same moment reported to me from the detached ridge. Private Henry Smith, of the signal corps of my division, informed me he was just from that point; that the enemy was advancing on it in line of battle. I ordered Smith to move his brigade rapidly and try to get possession of it before the enemy had gained a foothold, but if he found the enemy in possession to fall back on the main ridge. General Smith moved into the valley, but was fired on from the top of the detached ridge as he approached its foot. Smith was too late. The enemy had crowned the ridge. He therefore marched by his right flank on to the main or Missionary Ridge, and formed on its top, his two left regiments facing the detached ridge, his right regiment thrown back in an easterly direction to protect his flanks. Smith had scarcely thrown out skirmishers before he was briskly attacked by the skirmishers of the enemy.
In the meantime, I had placed Lowrey's brigade in position south of the tunnel and was about placing Govan's brigade on his left so as to complete my connection with Walker's division, when my attention was attracted to the fighting on my right. It was evident the enemy was endeavoring to turn my right flank and get possession of the main ridge between my right and the Chickamauga. If he succeeded, my connection with Brigadier-General Polk and my line of retreat by the bridge he was guarding was cut, and the safety of the whole army was endangered. Instead of placing Govan's <ar55_748> brigade on the main ridge, I placed him on that spur in rear of it which jutted out just north of the tunnel and covered the valley and road before described, which led over the main ridge from the direction of the enemy. Govan rapidly threw skirmishers across this road and between it and the Chickamauga.
Lieutenant-General Hardee was soon on the ground in person. He approved my dispositions, directed the destruction of a bridge which crossed the Chickamauga close in rear of my right flank, and ordered two regiments of Lowrey's brigade and some artillery into position in rear of my right flank. Between the left of Smith's brigade and Walker's division, a distance of near a mile, there was now but two regiments of Lowrey's brigade, and it so remained all night and until 7 a.m. next day.
It was now dark; the fighting had ceased in front of Smith's; he had maintained his position. Hearing of the disaster at Lookout, I supposed our army would fall back beyond the Chickamauga, and accordingly had sent my ordnance and artillery across that river, with the exception of the two pieces of cannon planted beyond my right flank. I sent Captain Buck, my assistant adjutant-general, to headquarters of the army so as to receive any orders that might be given as quickly as possible. About midnight he returned with the information that it was determined to await the enemy's attack on Missionary Ridge. I now ordered my artillery and ordnance to join me at daylight, sent to my train for the axes belonging to the division in order to throw up some defenses, and rode out myself to make a moonlight survey of the ground and line of retreat. I found a hill on the north bank of the Chickamauga, between my right and the railroad bridge, guarded by General Polk, which completely commanded my line of retreat.
I ordered Brigadier-General Polk to occupy this hill at once with two regiments of infantry and a section of artillery. Discovering the facility which it afforded for turning me on the extreme right, I determined to immediately throw a line across the other east spur of Missionary Ridge, which jutted out from the north point of the ridge, and was washed by the Chickamauga. I placed the two regiments of Lowrey's brigade, left near the tunnel, on this line. In the meantime, Smith had thrown up some defenses in his front, but at my suggestion he now abandoned them and took up position as follows, viz, his left resting on the crest of the main ridge about 150 yards north of the tunnel, and running north along the crest for the length of one regiment, the Sixth, Tenth, and Fifteenth Texas (consolidated), Col. R. Q. Mills commanding. The right of this regiment rested close under the crest of Tunnel Hill. On the top of Tunnel Hill a space was left clear of infantry, and Swett's battery of four Napoleon guns, commanded by Lieut. H. Shannon, was placed on it so as to sweep north in the direction of Smith's old position. Northwest of the detached ridge, or west into the Tennessee Valley as occasion might require, at a point about 60 yards northeast of the right of Mills' regiment, Smith's line recommenced, but instead of continuing north, it now ran but slightly north of east down the side of the hill for the length of two regiments, the Seventh Texas, Col. H. B. Granbury commanding, and the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-fifth Dismounted Cavalry (consolidated), Maj. W. A. Taylor commanding. This formation made the angle on the apex of Tunnel Hill, where Swett's battery was planted, the weak point in Smith's line, but it <ar55_749> secured Smith's flank by throwing his extreme right back within 200 yards of Govan's left, bringing the latter officer's line nearly at right angles to his north front, thus enabling each line to assist the other if attacked. At a favorable point on Govan's line, selected by General Hardee, I placed Douglas' battery, commanded by Lieut. John H. Bingham, so as to enfilade any line attempting to charge Smith's north front. Lowrey's position, across the spur before mentioned, was en échelon about 200 paces in front of Govan. I ordered the whole of his brigade to occupy this position, and completed my line from Tunnel Hill to Chickamauga. Lowrey had no artillery, the spur being too steep to admit of its being brought up. Calvert's battery, commanded by Lieut. Thomas J. Key, I placed directly over the tunnel, and between the tunnel and left of Smith's brigade were placed three regiments of Brown's brigade, of Stevenson's division. I was determined to construct a slight work in front of my line. I was prevented for some time by an eclipse of the moon, which rendered the morning very dark, but at length, distributing our few axes, we went to work.
The day broke hazy, so that it was some time before the enemy could discover our operations. As soon as he did, he commenced a heavy fire on General Smith's working party, and prevented us from erecting any work whatever in front of the battery on the top of Tunnel Hill Up to 10.30 a.m. the enemy contented himself with severe skirmishing, and a heavy artillery fire from batteries erected by him during the night on the detached hill. About this hour he drove in Smith's skirmishers, and possessed himself of the breastworks which Smith had abandoned that morning. A heavy attack on the tunnel and on Smith's line was now imminent. General Hardee sent me directions to take my position at the tunnel, and to take charge of everything in that quarter and to the right of it. The enemy was now in sight, advancing in two long lines of battle, his right stretching far beyond my left, his left, stretching beyond Smith's right, where farther view of it was prevented by the woods that covered and bordered the detached hill. For the full understanding of the fierce conflict that followed, it would be proper for me in this place to give a statement of the force of the enemy opposite my position as ascertained at a later hour from prisoners and other sources. It consisted of the divisions of Maj. Gen. Jef. C. Davis, three divisions of the army brought by Sherman from Vicksburg, and Howard's (Eleventh) corps, of the Army of the Potomac, all under the command of Major-General Sherman.
At 11 a.m. the first serious fight of the day commenced. It was heavy along Smith's whole line, and extended some distance south of the tunnel. The right of the enemy's line, exposed to the fire of several pieces of artillery planted over the tunnel, and met by a brigade sent by General Hardee to the foot of the ridge, swayed backward and forward for some time, but did not dare to advance nearer than 400 yards, and finally lay down, contenting itself with sending forward a large body of skirmishers and sending to the rear a much larger number of stragglers. The enemy's left, however, under shelter of Smith's abandoned work of the night before, and protected by the woods on that flank, and by the precipitous, heavily wooded sides of Tunnel Hill, advanced rapidly on Smith's line, and finally made a heavy charge on Swett's battery on the apex of the hill. The artillerymen stood bravely to their guns under a terrible cross-fire, and replied with canister at short range, but still the enemy <ar55_750> advanced. When he had reached within 50 steps of the battery, Brigadier-General Smith charged him with the right of Mills regiment and the left of the Seventh Texas, Smith's north front pouring into him from the breastworks a close volley at the same tithe. The enemy was routed and driven back to his cover behind the hillside and abandoned work.
In this charge Brigadier-General Smith and Colonel Mills were both severely wounded at the head of their men. Col. H. B. Granbury, Seventh Texas, now assumed command of Smith's brigade. In less than half an hour the enemy made another desperate charge. He was met by the Texas men and artillery iii front. Douglas' battery enfiladed him from Govan's hill, and Lowrey's extreme left regiment got a long-range volley on his flank. He was driven back in confusion as before.
In these attacks Lieut. H. Shannon, commanding Swett's battery, was wounded. The command devolved on Lieut. Joseph Ashton; in a few minutes he was mortally wounded. The command then fell on Corpl. F. M. Williams. So many non-commissioned officers and men had been killed and disabled in the battery, Colonel Granbury was forced to make a detail from the infantry to work the guns. There was now a short lull in the battle, during which, at the request of Colonel Granbury, I detailed the Second, Fifteenth, and Twenty-fourth Arkansas (consolidated), under Lieutenant-Colonel Warfield, from Govan's left, and posted them immediately in rear of the battery on top of the Tunnel Hill. I sent two of Swett's 12-pounders to report to Colonel Govan, as Douglas' guns were too light to be effective in their present position. I ordered Key's battery of four light field pieces to move up and replace the guns sent off, and put Lieutenant Key in command of all the artillery on Tunnel Hill.
About 1 p.m. it was evident that another grand attack was soon to be made on my division. In a few minutes after it commenced. The enemy again lined Smith's abandoned works, and from them kept up a close, incessant fire on Smith's north front, and particularly on the artillery on top of the hill. Simultaneously a charge was made on the west face of Tunnel Hill. Warfield's regiment was thrown forward outside of the work to the crest of the hill, looking into the Tennessee Valley, to meet this charge. Key fired rapidly into the charging line as it crossed the open ground at the west foot of the ridge, but it was soon under shelter. At the steep the enemy's line now seemed to form into a heavy column on the march and rushed up the hill in the direction of the batteries. Warfield's fire stopped the head of the charging column just under the crest. Here the enemy lay down behind trees, logs, and projecting rocks, their first line not 25 yards from the guns, and opened fire. Tier after tier of the enemy, to the foot of the hill and in the valley beyond, supplied this fire and concentrated the whole on a space of not more than 40 yards, till it seemed like one continuous sheet of hissing, flying lead. This terrific fire prevented Warfield's men from moving sufficiently forward to fire with effect down the hill, but otherwise it only swept over our heads. The cross-fire from Smith's abandoned work was, however, more fatal. It took Warfield in flank and was constantly disabling men near the top of the hill.
This desperate attack had now lasted more than half an hour. Key was depressing his guns to the utmost and firing shell and canister down the hill in the face of the enemy's fire. Discovering the <ar55_751> impossibility of reaching the enemy by a direct fire, the officers of Warfield's regiment were pitching down heavy stones, apparently with effect.
General Hardee, from a hill south of the tunnel, seeing the stubbornness of the fight, had placed some pieces of artillery in position and was endeavoring to dislodge the enemy,with a flank fire, but his right flank was protected by an intervening projection of the hill he was on and this fire was not effective. General Hardee also sent a brigade to move north along the west face of the ridge to strike the enemy in flank, but this brigade returned without accomplishing anything. At this point of the fight Colonel McConnell, commanding a Georgia regiment of Cumming's brigade, came up to the threatened point, and moved his regiment forward to where Warfield's men were fighting. McConnell was shot through the head, and his regiment fell back or was withdrawn. Brigadier-General Cumming, of Stevenson's division, now reported to me with the remainder of his brigade, and was posted in rear of the threatened point. Brigadier-General Maney, of Walker's division, also reported to me with his brigade, and was posted in rear of Smith's line and parallel to it, with instructions to support the Texas brigade behind the works and the artillery at the angle.
The fight had lasted unceasingly for an hour and a half, and the enemy seemed to be constantly re-enforcing. The First and Twenty-seventh Tennessee, of Maney's brigade, Colonel Feild commanding, was moved in front of the work, and placed on Warfield's right, the latter officer and his gallant regiment, still nobly holding their exposed position, although the regiment was diminished in numbers and almost out of ammunition. It was at this critical period of the day that Lieutenant-Colonel Warfield suggested to me that our men were wasting ammunition and becoming disheartened at the persistency of the enemy, and proposed a charge down upon them with the bayonet. Brigadier-General Cumming gallantly proposed to lead the charge with two of his regiments. I immediately consented, and directed General Cumming to prepare for the charge, and went to the left to see that a simultaneous charge was made on the enemy's right flank. I now ordered the left of Mills' (Texas) regiment, being the extreme left of my division, to make the charge on the enemy's flank the moment that Cumming charged them in front, and I remained at the breastwork myself to see the execution of the order.
In the meantime, General Cumming, having placed the Fifty-sixth Georgia in line for the charge, and supported it by placing the Thirty-sixth Georgia 10 paces in rear, moved forward to the charge; twice he was checked and had to reform. Warfield's (Arkansas) regiment with empty guns, and the gallant First and Twenty-seventh Tennessee prepared to share his next effort. At the command the whole rushed forward with a cheer, Lieutenant-Colonel Sanders, simultaneously leading the left of Mills' (Texas) regiment on the enemy's flank. The enemy, completely surprised, fled down the foot, the Texas troops on the left pursuing him beyond the foot and nearly across the open ground in front. Our charging columns returned with many prisoners and stand of colors; a fresh force of the enemy, attempting to follow us as we returned from this charge, was quickly met and routed by the Fiftieth Tennessee and with troops of my division. Immediately on his last repulse the enemy opened a rapid and revengeful artillery fire on Tunnel Hill from his batteries on the detached hill, and under cover of this fire he went to work felling trees and fortifying his position. <ar55_752>
It is but justice for me to state that the brunt of this long day's fight was borne by Smith's (Texas) brigade and the Second, Fifteenth, and Twenty-fourth Arkansas (consolidated), of Govan's brigade, together with Swett's and Key's batteries. The remainder of my division was only engaged in heavy skirmishing. The final charge was participated in and successful through the timely appearance and gallant assistance of the regiments of Cumming's and Maney's brigades before mentioned.
Out of the eight stand of colors shown by me to have been captured, four were presented to me by Mills' (Texas) regiment, two were presented by the Fifty-sixth and Thirty-sixth Georgia Regiments, of Cumming's brigade; one flag was presented by the First Tennessee, of Maney's brigade, and one by the Second, Fifteenth, and Twenty-fourth Arkansas (consolidated), of Govan's brigade; in all, eight colors, six of which I herewith transmit. Among them are the flags of the Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania and Ninety-third Illinois. About 500 prisoners were captured. At a critical moment of the battle I lost two of the bravest officers of my division--Brig. Gen. J. A. Smith, commanding the Texas brigade, and Col. R. Q. Mills, the same officer who commanded it in the battle of Chickamauga, after General Deshler fell. Including these gallant officers, other noble officers and men, some of whose names are handed down to history in the reports of brigade and regimental commanders.
I suffered the following losses in the three brigades of my division engaged, viz: 42 killed, 178 wounded, and 2 missing.
Colonel Sugg, of the Fiftieth Tennessee Regiment, Maney's brigade, was dangerously wounded in the last charge. Colonel McConnell, of Cumming's brigade, and other gallant soldiers who fell in front of my works, I can but lament. I did not personally know them, but I saw and can bear witness to their gallant bearing and noble deaths.
The enemy must have suffered severely, the hillside and the valley were thickly strewn with his dead, and if we may credit his published reports of casualties in this fight, he lost 1 major-general, John E. Smith, wounded; 3 brigadier-generals, Corse, Matthies, and Giles Smith, wounded, the latter mortally, and 1 colonel commanding brigade, Colonel Raum, mortally wounded.(*)
Soon after the final defeat of the enemy in front of Smith's position. I received a dispatch from General Hardee to send to the center all the troops I could spare, as the enemy were pressing us in that quarter. I immediately ordered Generals Cumming and Maney, with their respective brigades, to report accordingly, and went myself to push them forward. Before I had gone far, however, a dispatch from General Hardee reached me, with the appalling news that the enemy had pierced our center, and were on Missionary Ridge, directing me to take command of my own, Walker's, and Stevenson's divisions and form a line across the ridge, so as to meet an attack upon my flank, and take all other necessary measures for the safety of the right wing. I ordered Brigadier-General Gist, commanding Walker's division, to form it across the ridge; ordered all vehicles, which could be spared, to cross the Chickamauga. Sent Brigadier-General Polk orders to dispatch a force to the Shallow Ford Bridge, and hold it at all hazards, and sent Govan's brigade to dispute the enemy's advance on the Shallow Ford road. <ar55_753>
Soon after night was upon us, and General Hardee ordered an immediate retreat across the Chickamauga, and that Smith's (Texas) brigade should remain in position and bring up the rear. General Lowrey attacked and drove back the enemy's skirmishers in his front and then retreated. By 9 p.m. everything was across except the dead and a few stragglers lingering here and there under the shadow of the trees for the purpose of being captured, faint-hearted patriots succumbing to the hardships of the war and the imagined hopelessness of the hour. I now ordered Smith's brigade to move in retreat. Sadly, but not fearfully, this band of heroes left the hill they had held so well and followed the army across the Chickamauga.
To Brigadier-Generals Smith, Cumming, and Maney, and Colonel Granbury, I return my thanks for the able manner in which they managed their commands. My thanks are also due to Brigadier-Generals Polk and Lowrey, and Colonel Govan, commanding brigade; although not actively engaged, they were rendering good service in holding important positions.
Swett's battery, under command of Lieut. H. Shannon, and Calvert's battery, commanded by Lieut. Thomas J. Key, were bravely fought and did great execution. Swett's battery was hotly engaged the whole day and lost some noble officers and men.
A section of Barret's battery, under command of Lieut. Isaiah Lightner, in position where the road crosses the hill, did much toward driving back the right of the enemy's line in its attempted advance across the open fields.
Brig. Gen. John C. Brown's brigade, on my left flank, was engaged in heavy skirmishing most of the day.
The following officers of my staff--Maj. Calhoun Benham, assistant adjutant-general; Maj. J. K. Dixon, assistant inspector-general; Capt. Irving A. Buck, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. Charles S. Hill, ordnance officer (whose horse was shot under him); Surg. D. A. Linthicum, Lieuts. L. H. Mangum, and S. P. Hanly, aides-de-camp; and Capt. C. H. Byrne, volunteer aide-de-camp (whose horse was shot under him)--acted with their usual gallantry and discharged their duties with zeal and intelligence.
Messrs. Henry Smith and William Rucker, of the signal corps, volunteered on my staff for the battle, and were very efficient.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. R. CLEBURNE, Brigadier-General, Provisional Army, G. S.
Col. KINLOCH FALCONER, Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS CLEBURNE'S DIVISION,
Tunnel Hill, Ga., December 9, 1863.
COLONEL: On the retreat of the Army of Tennessee from Missionary Ridge, Tenn., to Ringgold, Ga., my division covered the retreat of Hardee's corps, arriving safely on the west bank of the East Chickamauga River at 10 p.m. on November 26. At this point the river had to be forded. It was nearly waist-deep and the night was freezing cold. I therefore determined to postpone crossing until the morning, and bivouacked on the hills near by. «48 R R--VOL XXXI, PT II» <ar55_754>
At 3 a.m. on the 27th, I received the following order, viz:
GENERAL: The general desires that you will take strong position in the gorge of the mountain and attempt to check pursuit of enemy. He must be punished until our trains and the rear of our troops get well advanced. The reports from the rear are meager and the general is not thoroughly advised of the state of things there. Will you be good enough to report fully?
GEORGE WM. BRENT, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Leaving staff officers to conduct the troops across the river to the position designated, I went forward myself to examine the ground and form a plan for its defense.
The town of Ringgold, a place of 2,000 or 3,000 inhabitants, stands on a plain between the East Chickamauga River and the range of hills known as Taylor's Ridge. It is on the Western and Atlantic Railroad, about 20 miles southeast of Chattanooga. Taylor's Ridge, which rises up immediately back of the town, runs in a northerly and southerly direction. Opposite the town the ridge is intersected by a narrow gap, which admits the railroad, a wagon road, and a good sized creek, a tributary of the Chickamauga. The creek hugs the southernmost or left-hand hill as you face Ringgold. The wagon and railroad run close to the creek. At its western mouth, next to Ringgold, the gap widens out to a breadth of over 100 yards, leaving room for a patch of level wooded land on each side of the roads. The gap is about half a mile through, but the plain immediately in front of its east or rear mouth is so cut up by the windings of the creek that three bridges, or three fords, have to be crossed in the first half mile of road leading from the gap to Dalton. It will be perceived at once that this was a most dangerous position to be caught in if the enemy should succeed in turning either flank.
The gap and the hills on either hand are thinly wooded, except the base of the right-hand hill, along which, next to the town, a heavy fringe of young timber extends from the gap northward for 300 or 400 yards. Behind this fringe of trees I placed two regiments of Smith's (Texas) brigade, Col. H. B. Granbury, Seventh Texas, commanding; the Sixth, Tenth, and Fifteenth Texas (consolidated), Capt. John R. Kennard commanding, on the left; the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-fifth Texas Dismounted Cavalry (consolidated), Maj. W. A. Taylor commanding, on the right; the remaining regiment of the brigade, the Seventh Texas, Capt. C. E. Talley commanding, I sent to the top of the right-hand hill with instructions to keep out of view, but watch well the right flank of its brigade at the foot. On the precipitous hill to the left of the gap and creek I placed the Sixteenth Alabama, Maj. F. A. Ashford commanding, of Lowrey's (Alabama and Mississippi) brigade, with instructions to conceal itself and guard well the left flank. I also sent on the face of this hill fronting Ringgold three companies of the Sixth and Seventh Arkansas (consolidated), of Liddell's (Arkansas) brigade, under charge of Lieutenant Dulin, of General Liddell's staff. For the defense of the gap itself. I disposed the rest of the Arkansas brigade, under command of Col. D.C. Govan: The Fifth and Thirteenth Arkansas (consolidated), Col. John E. Murray commanding, I placed in a small ravine running across the mouth of the gap from the right-hand hill to the railroad embankment; the Eighth <ar55_755> and Nineteenth Arkansas (consolidated), under command of Lieut. Col. A. S. Hutchison, 50 paces in rear and parallel to the former regiment; the Sixth and Seventh Arkansas (consolidated), under command of Lieut. Col. Peter Snyder, and the Second, Fifteenth, and Twenty-fourth Arkansas Regiments (consolidated), under Lieut. Col. E. Warfield, at suitable distances in rear and covered as well as the nature of the ground would permit, thus giving me four short lines across the gap. From these regiments I sent a body of skirmishers to occupy the patch of woods at the mouth of the gap and left of the railroad and that portion of the bank of the creek close to the mouth of the gap. In front of the mouth of the gap, supported by Govan's foremost regiment in the ravine, I placed a section of Semple's battery, two Napoleon guns, commanded by Lieutenant Goldthwaite. I had screens of withered branches built up in front of these, so as to effectually conceal them from view, and made the artillerymen shelter themselves in the ravine close by. The remaining three regiments of Lowrey's brigade--consisting of the Thirty-second and Forty-fifth Mississippi Regiments (consolidated), under command of Col. A. B. Hardcastle; the Thirty-third Alabama, under command of Col. Samuel Adams, and the Forty-fifth Alabama, Lieut. Col. H. D. Lampley commanding--I placed in reserve in the center of the gap. The portion of Polk's Tennessee and Arkansas) brigade with me--consisting of the First Arkansas, Col. J. W. Colquitt commanding; the Second Tennessee, Col. W. D. Robison commanding, and the Third and Fifth Confederate Regiments (consolidated), under Lieut. Col. J. C. Cole--I ordered to take position temporarily near the rear mouth of the gap with directions to observe my right flank and prevent the enemy from turning me in that quarter.
I had scarcely half an hour to make these dispositions, when I was informed the enemy's skirmishers were crossing the Chickamauga, driving our cavalry before them. Immediately after the cavalry retreated through the gap at a trot, and the valley in front was clear of our troops, but close in rear of the ridge our immense train was still in full view, struggling through the fords of the creek and the deeply cut up roads leading to Dalton, and my division, silent, but cool and ready, was the only barrier between it and the flushed and eager advance of the pursuing Federal army.
Shortly after 8 a.m. the enemy's skirmishers were in view, advancing. He opened fire, and under cover of it his lines of battle were placed and moved with the utmost decision and celerity against the ridge on the right of the gap. So quick and confident was this attack, the enemy must have been acting on a concerted plan, and must have had guides who knew well the nature of the country. As the first line moved toward the ridge its right flank became exposed at canister range to my artillery in the mouth of the gap. Five or six rapid discharges broke the right of this line to pieces and caused them to run for shelter under the railroad embankment. Farther to his left, however, he continued to advance, and made a heavy attack on the right-hand ridge. He continued to advance in the face of a deadly fire from Major Taylor's regiment, with the determination to turn the right flank of the Texas brigade. Major Taylor deployed skirmishers up the hill at right angles to his line of battle, and held him in check, while he informed Colonel Granbury of the state of affairs. Colonel Granbury sent two companies of his left regiment <ar55_756> to re-enforce his right. With three companies of his own regiment Major Taylor charged down the hill upon the force attempting to turn him, and routed it, capturing between 60 and 100 prisoners and the colors of the Twenty-ninth Missouri Regiment.
In the meantime, I had ascertained that the enemy was moving another line of battle some distance beyond my present right with the view of ascending the ridge in that quarter. I instantly notified Brigadier-General Polk, stationed in the rear of the gap, to ascend the ridge and meet this attempt of the enemy. Luckily General Polk had already heard of this movement from a breathless straggler of our army who was fleeing before the enemy, and, anticipating my order, sent the First Arkansas up the hill and met the enemy's skirmishers within a few yards of the top. With the assistance of the Seventh Texas, after an obstinate fight, the enemy was driven down the hill. By this time large bodies of the enemy had crossed the Chickamauga, and it was evident that the main attack was about to be made upon the right. I ordered General Lowrey to move his command up the hill and assist General Polk in defending that position. Moving rapidly ahead of his command, General Lowrey found the First Arkansas again heavily engaged, but heroically holding its ground against great odds. Assuring the regiment that support was at hand, he brought up the Thirty-second and Forty-fifth Mississippi in double time, and threw them into the fight at the critical moment. The enemy gave way and went down the ridge in great confusion. Lowrey now brought up the two remaining regiments of his brigade and Polk up the two other regiments of his command. The enemy, constantly re-enforcing, made another powerful effort to crown the ridge still farther to the right.
A peculiarity of Taylor's Ridge is the wavy conformation of its north side. The enemy, moving up in a long line of battle, suddenly concentrated opposite one of the depressions in this wavy surface and rushed up it in heavy column. General Polk, with the assistance of General Lowrey, as quickly concentrated a double line opposite this point, at the same time placing the Second Tennessee in such a position as to command the flank of any force emerging from it. The attack was again defeated and the enemy hurled down the hill, with the loss of many killed on the spot, several prisoners, and the colors of the Seventy-sixth Ohio Regiment. The colors and most of the prisoners were captured by the First Arkansas.
In a fight where all fought nobly I feel it my duty to particularly compliment this regiment for its courage and constancy. In the battle the officers fought with pistols and with rocks, and so close was the fight that some of the enemy were knocked down with the latter missiles and captured. Apprehending another attack, General Polk rapidly threw up some slight defenses in his front.
But I must now return to the extreme left, which the enemy attempted to turn. He sent what appeared to be a brigade of three regiments to the creek upon my left, and crossed over some companies of skirmishers. These were promptly met and stopped by a detachment from the Sixteenth Alabama, posted on the left-hand hill, and the main body was for some time held in check by Dulin's skirmishers, on the face of the left-hand hill, and the other skirmishers of Govan's brigade, on the creek bank and in the patch of woods to the left of the railroad. He got possession, however, of some houses and barns opposite this point, from which he annoyed me <ar55_757> with a constant and well-directed fire of sharpshooters. At length, collecting in large numbers behind these houses, he made a charge on Govan's skirmishers on the left of the railroad. Lieutenant Goldthwaite quickly trained round his guns and swept them at quarter range with a load of canister and a solid shot. They ran back, leaving several dead and a stand of colors on the ground. Lieutenant Goldthwaite then shelled the houses, and greatly relieved us of the firing from that quarter. The stand of colors lay temptingly within 60 yards of my line, and some of the officers wanted to charge and get it, but as it promised no solid advantage to compensate for the loss of brave soldiers, I would not permit it.
About 12 m. I received a dispatch from Lieutenant-General Hardee, to the effect that the train was now well advanced, and I might safely withdraw. On consultation with Generals Breckinridge and Wheeler, both of whom were present lending me their personal assistance, I determined to withdraw from Taylor's Ridge, and take up a new position on some wooded hills 1 mile in rear.
About 1 p.m. I rebuilt the screen in front of the artillery, which had been partially blown away, and then withdrew both pieces by hand without loss. By this time the enemy had concentrated a large portion of his army at Ringgold, and was doubtless preparing to throw an overwhelming force on my flanks. He opened a rapid artillery fire down the gap and on the crest of the ridge, but showed no disposition to advance in front. I now simultaneously withdrew the brigades, leaving a few skirmishers to hold the front, which they did without difficulty.
Soon after 2 p.m. I withdrew my skirmishers, fired the bridges in my rear, and proceeded to form line of battle in my new position. The enemy was visible on the ridge in about half an hour after I had withdrawn my skirmishers. He saw my new dispositions for defense, but showed no further inclination to attack, and ceased from all farther pursuit of our army.
I took into the fight: In Polk's brigade, 545: Lowrey's brigade, 1,330; Smith's (Texas) brigade, 1,266; Liddell's brigade, 1,016 effective men, making a total of 4,157 bayonets.
My loss was 20 killed, 190 wounded, and 11 missing. I am confident the enemy's loss was out of all proportion greater than mine.
The conduct of officers and men in this fight needs no comment; every man, as far as I know, did his whole duty.
To Brigadier-Generals Polk and Lowrey and Colonels Govan and Granbury, I must return my thanks. Four better officers are not in the service of the Confederacy.
Lieutenant Goldthwaite, of the artillery, proved himself a brave and skillful officer.
The following officers of my staff have my thanks for the efficient manner in which they discharged their responsible and dangerous duties: Maj. Calhoun Benham, assistant adjutant-general; Maj. J. K. Dixon, assistant inspector-general; Capt. Irving A. Buck, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. C. S. Hill, ordnance officer; Surg. D. A. Linthicum; Lieuts. L. H. Mangum, S. P. Hanly, aides-de-camp; Capt. C. H. Byrne, volunteer aide-de-camp; also Messrs. Henry Smith and William Rucker, of the signal corps, who volunteered their services, and who I found very efficient and useful.
I forward herewith the reports of the brigade, regimental, and battery commanders. General Liddell was absent on leave, but nearing <ar55_758> of the fight returned and rendered me all the assistance in his power. He selected and reformed the new line after we withdrew from our first position.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. R. CLEBURNE, Major-General.
Col. GEORGE WILLIAM BRENT, Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of Tennessee.
No. 16.--JOINT RESOLUTION of thanks to Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne, and the officers and men under his command, for distinguished service at Ringgold Gap, in the State of Georgia, November 27, 1863.
Resolved, That the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendered, to Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne, and the officers and men under his command, for the victory obtained by them over superior forces of the enemy at Ringgold Gap, in the State of Georgia, on the 27th day of November, 1863, by which the advance of the enemy was impeded, our wagon train and most of our artillery saved, and a large number of the enemy killed and wounded.
Resolved, That the President be requested to communicate the foregoing resolution to Major-General Cleburne and his command.
Approved February 9, 1864.