Report of Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, U. S. Army, commanding Eleventh and Twelfth Army Corps, with field dispatches and congratulatory orders.
NOVEMBER 23-27, 1863.--The Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXI/2 [S# 55]
HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH AND TWELFTH CORPS,
Lookout Valley, Tenn., February 4, 1864.
Brig. Gen. WILLIAM D. WHIPPLE,
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my command in those operations of the army which resulted in driving the rebel forces from their positions in the vicinity of Chattanooga, and of its participation, immediately afterward, in their pursuit.
In order that these operations may be distinctly understood--that the troops concerned be known and receive the honor due them--it is necessary to premise by stating that the general attack was ordered to be made on the enemy's extreme right at daylight on the 21st of November, and that preparatory orders were sent, through me, on the 18th, for the Eleventh Corps to cross to the north bank of the Tennessee River on the 20th. At this time the Eleventh, and a part of the Twelfth Corps, were encamped in Lookout Valley opposite to the left of the enemy's line.
In consequence of the non-arrival of the force mainly relied on to lead off, the attack was postponed to the following morning, and again postponed until the 24th for the same reason. Meanwhile orders were received for the Eleventh Corps to go to Chattanooga, where it reported on the 22d. This divided my command, and, as the orders contemplated no advance from Lookout Valley, application was made by me to the major-general commanding the department for authority to accompany the Eleventh Corps, assigning as a reason that it was my duty to join that part of my command going into battle. This was acceded to, and, preparatory to leaving, invitation was sent for Brigadier-General Geary, who was the senior officer in my absence, to examine with me the enemy's positions and defenses, and to be informed at what points I desired to have his troops held. This was to enable me to make use of the telegraph in communicating with him advisedly during the progress of the fight, should a favorable opportunity present itself for him to advance.
On the 23d, the commander of the department requested me to remain in Lookout Valley, and make a demonstration as early as possible the following morning on the point of Lookout Mountain, my command to consist of the parts of two divisions. Later in the day, the 23d, a copy of a telegram was received from the major-general commanding the Division of the Mississippi to the effect that in the event the pontoon bridge at Brown's Ferry could not be repaired in season for Osterhaus' division, of the Fifteenth Corps, to cross by 8 a.m. on the 24th, the division would report to me. Soon after, another telegram, from the headquarters of the department, instructed me, in the latter case, to take the point of Lookout Mountain if my demonstration should develop its practicability. At 2 a.m. word was received that the bridge could not be put in serviceable condition for twelve hours, but to be certain on the subject, a staff officer was dispatched to ascertain, and at 3.15 a.m., on the 24th, the report was confirmed.
As now composed, my command consisted of Osterhaus' division, Fifteenth Corps; Cruft's, of the Fourth; Geary's, of the Twelfth (excepting from the two last-named divisions such regiments as were required to protect our communications with Bridgeport and Kelley's Ferry); Battery K, of the First Ohio, and Battery I, First New York, of the Eleventh Corps (the two having horses for but one); a part of the Second Kentucky Cavalry, and Company K, of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry, making an aggregate force of 9,681. We were all strangers, no one division ever having seen either of the others.
Geary's division, supported by Whitaker's brigade, of Cruft's division, was ordered to proceed up the valley, cross the creek near Wauhatchie, and march down, sweeping the rebels from it. The other brigade of the Fourth Corps to advance, seize the bridge just below the railroad, and repair it. Osterhaus' division was to march up from Brown's Ferry, under cover of the hills, to the place of crossing; also, to furnish supports for the batteries. The Ohio battery was to take a position on Bald Hill, and the New York battery on the hill directly in rear. The Second Kentucky Cavalry was dispatched to observe the movements of the enemy in the direction of Trenton, and the Illinois company to perform orderly and escort duty. This disposition of the forces was ordered to be made as soon after daylight as practicable.
At this time the enemy's pickets formed a continuous line along the right bank of Lookout Creek, with the reserves in the valley, while his main force was encamped in a hollow half way up the slope of the mountain, the summit itself was held by three brigades of Stevenson's division, and these were comparatively safe, as the only means of access from the west, for a distance of 20 miles up the valley, was by two or three trails, admitting of the passage of but I man at a time, and even those trails were held at the top by rebel pickets. For this reason no direct attempt was made for the dislodgment of this force. On the Chattanooga side, which is less precipitous, a road of easy grade has been made communicating with the summit by zig-zag lines running diagonally up the mountain side, and it was believed that before our troops should gain possession of this, the enemy on the top would evacuate his position, to avoid being cut off from his main body, to rejoin which would involve a march of 20 or 30 miles.
Viewed from whatever point, Lookout Mountain, with its high palisaded crest, and its steep, rugged, rocky, and deeply-furrowed slopes, presented an imposing barrier to our advance, and when to these natural obstacles were added almost interminable, well-planned, and well-constructed defenses, held by Americans, the assault became an enterprise worthy of the ambition and renown of the troops to whom it was intrusted.
On the northern slope, midway between the summit and the Tennessee, a plateau or belt of arable land encircles the crest. There a continuous line of earth-works had been thrown up, while redoubts, redans, and pits appeared lower down the slope, to repel an assault from the direction of the river. On each flank were rifle-pits, epaul-ements for batteries, walls of stone, and abatis to resist attacks from either the Chattanooga or Lookout Valleys. In the valleys themselves were earth-works of still greater extent.
Geary commenced his movement as instructed, crossed the creek at 8 o'clock, captured the entire picket of 42 men posted to defend it, marched directly up the mountain, until his right rested on the palisades, and headed down the valley.
At the same time Grose's brigade advanced resolutely, with brisk skirmishing, drove the enemy from the bridge, and at once proceeded to put it in repair.
The firing at this point alarmed the rebels, and immediately their columns were seen filing down the mountain from their camps, and moving into their rifle-pits and breastworks; at the same time numbers established themselves behind the embankment of the railroad, which enabled them, without exposure, to sweep, with a fire of musketry, the field over which our troops would be compelled to march for a distance of 300 or 400 yards.
These dispositions were distinctly visible, and as facilities for avoiding them were close at hand, Osterhaus was directed to send a brigade, under cover of the hills and trees, about 800 yards higher up the creek, and prepare a crossing at that point. This was Brigadier-General Woods' brigade.
Soon after this Cruft was ordered to leave a sufficient force at the bridge to engage the attention of the enemy, and for the balance of Grose's brigade to follow Woods'. Meanwhile a section of howitzers was planted to enfilade the positions the enemy had taken, and Osterhaus established a section of 20-pounder Parrotts to enfilade the route by which the enemy had left his camp. The battery on Bald Hill enfiladed the railroad and highway leading to Chattanooga, and all the batteries and sections of batteries had a direct or enfilading fire within easy range on all the positions taken by the rebels. Besides, the 20-pounder Parrotts could be used with good effect on the rebel camp on the side of the mountain. With this disposition of the artillery it was believed we would be able to prevent the enemy from dispatching relief to oppose Geary, and also keep him from running away.
At 11 o'clock Woods had completed his bridge. Geary's lines appeared close by, his skirmishers smartly engaged, and all the guns opened. Woods and Grose then sprang across the river, joined Geary's left, and moved down the valley. A few of the enemy escaped from the artillery fire, and those who did ran upon our infantry and were captured. The balance of the rebel forces were killed or taken prisoners, many of them remaining in the bottom of their pits for safety until forced out by our men.
Simultaneous with these operations the troops on the mountain rushed on in their advance, the right passing directly under the muzzles of the enemy's guns on the summit, climbing over ledges and bowlders, up hill and down, furiously driving the enemy from his camp and from position after position. This lasted until 12 o'clock, when Geary's advance heroically rounded the peak of the mountain.
Not knowing to what extent the enemy might be re-enforced, and fearing from the rough character of the field of operations that our lines might be disordered, directions had been given for the troops to halt on reaching this high ground, but, fired by success, with a flying, panic-stricken enemy before them, they pressed impetuously forward. Cobham's brigade, occupying the high ground on the right, between the enemy's main line of defense on the plateau and the palisades, incessantly plied them with fire from above and behind, while Ireland's brigade was vigorously rolling them up on the flank, and both being closely supported by the brigades of Whitaker and Creighton, our success was uninterrupted and irresistible.
Before losing the advantages the ground presented us, the enemy had been re-enforced. Meantime, after having secured the prisoners, two of Osterhaus' regiments had been sent forward on the Chattanooga road, and the balance of his and Cruft's divisions had joined Geary. All the rebel efforts to resist us only resulted in rendering our success more thorough. After two or three short but sharp conflicts, the plateau was cleared. The enemy, with his re-enforcements, driven from the walls and pits around Craven's house (the last point at which he could make a stand in force), all broken and dismayed, were hurled in great numbers over the rocks and precipices into the valley.
It was now near 2 o'clock, and our operations were arrested by the darkness. The clouds, which had hovered over and enveloped the summit of the mountain during the morning, and to some extent favored our movements, gradually settled into the valley and completely veiled it from our view. Indeed, from the moment we had rounded the peak of the mountain, it was only from the roar of battle and the occasional glimpse our comrades in the valley could catch of our lines and standards that they knew of the strife or its progress; and when, from these evidences, our true condition was revealed to them, their painful anxiety yielded to transports of joy which only soldiers can feel in the earliest moments of dawning victory.
Deeming a descent into the valley imprudent, without more accurate information of its topography, and also of the position and strength of the enemy, our line was established on the east side of the mountain, the right resting on the palisades, and the left near the mouth of Chattanooga Creek, and this we strengthened by all the means at hand, working until 4 o'clock, when the commander of the department was informed that our position was impregnable.
During all of these operations the batteries on Moccasin Point, under Captain Naylor, had been busily at work from the north bank of the Tennessee River, and had contributed as much to our assistance as the irregularities of the ground and the state of the atmosphere would admit of. From our position we commanded the enemy's lines of defense, stretching across Chattanooga Valley, by an enfilading fire, and also by a direct fire, many of his camps, some of which were in our immediate vicinity. Also direct communication had been opened with Chattanooga, and at a quarter past 5 o'clock Brigadier-General Carlin, Fourteenth Corps, reported to me with his brigade, and was assigned to duty on the right of the line, to relieve Geary's command, almost exhausted with the fatigue and excitement incident to their unparalleled march.
To prevent artillery being brought forward, the enemy had undermined the road and covered it with felled timber. This was repaired and placed in serviceable condition before morning.
During the day and until after midnight an irregular fire was kept up along our line, and had the appearance at one time of an effort to break it. This was on the right, and was at once vigorously and handsomely repelled. In this, Carlin's brigade rendered excellent service. His report is herewith forwarded.
Before daylight, anticipating the withdrawal of the rebel force from the summit of the mountain, parties from several regiments were dispatched to scale it, but to the Eighth Kentucky must belong the distinction of having been foremost to reach the crest and at sunrise to display our flag from the peak of Lookout, amid the wild and prolonged cheers of the men whose dauntless valor had borne it to that point.
During the night the enemy had quietly abandoned the mountain, leaving behind 20,000 rations, the camp and garrison equipage of three brigades, and other matériel.
An impenetrable mist still covered the face of the valley. Prisoners reported that the enemy had abandoned it, but, deeming it imprudent to descend, a reconnaissance was ordered, and soon after 9 o'clock report came in that the rebels had retired, but that their pickets still held the right bank of Chattanooga Creek, in the direction of Rossville. Soon after the fog vanished, and nothing was to be seen in the valley but the deserted and burning camps of the enemy.
Among the fruits of the preceding operations may be enumerated the concentration of the army, the abandonment of defenses upward of 8 miles in extent, the recovery of all the advantages in position the enemy had gained from our army on the bloody field of Chickamauga, giving to us the undisputed navigation of the river and the control of the railroad, the capture of between 2,000 and 3,000 prisoners, 5 stand of colors, 2 pieces of artillery, upward of 5,000 muskets, &c.
Of the troops opposed to us were four brigades of Walker's division, Hardee's corps, a portion of Stewart's division of Breckinridge's corps, and on the top of the mountain were three brigades of Steven-sons division.
In conformity with orders, two regiments were dispatched to hold the mountain, Carlin's brigade directed to await orders on the Summertown road, and at 10 o'clock my column, Osterhaus (being nearest the road) leading, marched for Rossville.
On arriving at Chattanooga Creek it was discovered that the enemy had destroyed the bridge, and, in consequence, our pursuit was delayed nearly three hours. As soon as the stringers were laid, Osterhaus managed to throw over the Twenty-seventh Missouri Regiment, and soon after all of his infantry. The former deployed, pushed forward as skirmishers to the gorge in Missionary Ridge, and drew the fire of the artillery and infantry holding it, and also discovered that the enemy was attempting to cover a train of wagons loading with stores at the Rossville house.
As the position was one presenting many advantages for defense, the skirmishers were directed to keep the enemy engaged in front, while Woods' brigade was taking the ridge on the right, and four regiments of Williamson's on the left. Two other regiments of this brigade were posted on the road leading to Chattanooga to prevent surprise. In executing these duties the troops were necessarily exposed to the enemy's artillery, but as soon as it was discovered that his flanks were being turned and his retreat threatened, he hastily evacuated the gap, leaving behind large quantities of artillery and small-arm ammunition, wagons, ambulances, and a house full of commissary stores. Pursuit was made as far as consistent with my instructions to clear Missionary Ridge.
Meanwhile the bridge had been completed and all the troops over or crossing. Osterhaus received instructions to move, with his division, parallel with the ridge on the east, Cruft on the ridge, and Geary in the valley, to the west of it, within easy supporting distance. The batteries accompanied Geary, as it was not known that roads could be found for them with the other divisions without delaying the movements of the column.
General Cruft, with his staff, preceded his column in ascending the ridge to supervise the formation of his lines, and was at once met by a line of the enemy's skirmishers advancing. The Ninth and Thirty-sixth Indiana Regiments sprang forward, ran into line under their fire, and instantly charging, drove back the rebels, while the residue of the column formed their lines, Grose's brigade, with the Fifty-first Ohio and Thirty-fifth Indiana, of Whitaker's, in advance, the balance of the latter closely supporting the front line. It was, however, soon found that the ridge on top was too narrow to admit of this formation, and the division was thrown into four lines. By this time the divisions of Geary and Osterhaus were abreast of it, and all advanced at a charging pace.
The enemy had selected for his advance line of defense the breastworks thrown up by our army on its return from Chickamauga, but such was the impetuosity of our advance that his front line was routed before an opportunity was afforded him to prepare for a determined resistance. Many of the fugitives, to escape, ran down the east slope to the lines of Osterhaus, a few to the west, and were picked up by Geary. The bulk of them, however, sought refuge behind the second line, and they, in their turn, were soon routed, and the fight became almost a running one. Whenever the accidents of the ground enabled the rebels to make an advantageous stand, Geary and Osterhaus, always in the right place, would pour a withering fire into their flanks, and again the race was renewed. This continued until near sunset, when those of the enemy who had not been killed or captured gave way, and in attempting to escape along the ridge, ran into the arms of Johnson's division, of the Fourteenth Corps, and were captured.
Our enemy, the prisoners stated, was Stewart's division. But few escaped. Osterhaus atone captured 2,000 of them. This officer names the Fourth Iowa, Seventy-sixth Ohio, and Twenty-seventh Missouri Regiments as having been especially distinguished in this engagement. Landgraeber's battery of howitzers also rendered brilliant service on this field.
Here our business for the day ended, and the troops went into bivouac, with cheers and rejoicings, which were caught up by other troops in the vicinity and carried along the ridge until lost in the distance.
Soon after daylight every effort was made, by reconnaissance and inquiry, to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy, but to no purpose. The field was as silent as the grave. Knowing the desperate extremities to which he must be reduced by our success, with his retreat seriously threatened by the only line left him with a hope of success, I felt satisfied the enemy must be in full retreat, and accordingly suggested to the commander of the department that my column march to Graysville, if possible, to intercept him. This was approved of, and, re-enforced by Palmer's corps, all moved immediately in that direction, Palmer's corps in advance.
On arriving at the west Fork of the Chickamauga River, it was found that the enemy had destroyed the bridge. To provide for this contingency, Major-General Butterfield, my chief of staff, had in the morning prudently requested that three pontoons, with their balks and chesses, might be dispatched for my use, but as they had not come up, after a detention of several hours, a bridge was constructed for the infantry, the officers swimming their horses. It was not until after 3 o'clock the regiments were able to commence crossing, leaving the artillery and ambulances to follow as soon as practicable; also a regiment of infantry as a guard, to complete the bridge, if possible, for the artillery, and also to assist in throwing over the pontoon bridge as soon as it arrived. Partly in consequence of this delay, instructions were given for Palmer's command to continue on to Graysville on reaching the La Fayette road, and for the balance of the command to proceed to Ringgold (Cruft now leading), <ar55_320> as this would enable me to strike the railroad 5 or 6 miles to the south of where it was first intended. Palmer was to rejoin me in the morning.
Soon after dark word was received from Palmer, through a member of his staff, that he had come up with the enemy, reported to be a battery and 2,000 or 3,000 infantry. Instructions were sent him to attack them at once, and while forming his lines to the left for that purpose, the remaining part of the column was massed as it came up, to the right of the road, and held awaiting the movements of Palmer. His enemy was discovered to be a battery of three pieces, with a small escort, and was the rear of the rebel army on the road from Graysville to Ringgold. Three pieces of artillery were captured, and subsequently an additional piece, with, I believe, a few prisoners. I have received no report from this officer of his operations while belonging to my command, although mine has been delayed six weeks in waiting.
We were now fairly up with the enemy. This at 10 o'clock at night. Cruft's division advanced and took possession of the crest of Chickamauga hills, the enemy's abandoned camp fires still burning brightly on the side; and we all went into bivouac.
My artillery was not yet up, and in this connection I desire that the especial attention of the commander of the department may be called to that part of the report of General Osterhaus which relates to the conduct of the officers who had the pontoon bridge in charge. I do not know the names of the officers referred to;was not furnished with a copy of their instructions, nor did they report to me. The pontoons were not brought forward to the point of crossing at all, and the balks and chess-planks only reached their destination between 9 and 10 p.m.; distance from Chattanooga 10 miles, and the roads excellent.
Then trestles had to be framed, and the bridge was not finished until 6 o'clock the following morning.
The report of Lieut. H. C. Wharton, of the Engineers, and temporarily attached to my staff, who was left behind to hasten the completion of the bridge, is herewith transmitted. No better commentary on this culpable negligence is needed than is furnished by the record of our operations in the vicinity of Ringgold.
The town was distant 5 miles. At daylight the pursuit was renewed, Osterhaus in advance, Geary following, and Cruft in the rear. Evidences of the precipitate flight of the enemy were everywhere apparent; caissons, wagons, ambulances, arms, and ammunition were abandoned in the hurry and confusion of retreat. After going about 2 miles, we came up with the camp he had occupied during the night, the fires still burning. A large number of prisoners were also taken before reaching the East Fork of the Chickamauga River.
We found the ford, and also the bridge to the south of Ringgold, held by a body of rebel cavalry. These discharged their arms and quickly gave way before a handful of our men, and were closely pursued into the town.
I rode to the front on hearing the firing, where I found Osterhaus out with his skirmishers, intensely alive to all that was passing, and pushing onward briskly. He informed me that four pieces of artillery had just left the rebel camp, weakly escorted, and ran into the gorge, which he could have captured with a small force of cavalry. The gorge is to the east of Ringgold, and we were approaching it from the west. A little firing occurred between our skirmishers, as they entered the town, and small parties of the rebel cavalry and infantry, the latter retiring in the direction of the gap. This is a break in Taylor's Ridge of sufficient width for the river to flow and on its north bank room for an ordinary road and a railroad, when the ridge rises with abruptness on both sides 400 or 500 feet, and from thence, running nearly north and south, continues unbroken for many miles. Covering the entrance to it is a small patch of young trees and undergrowth.
It was represented by citizens friendly to our cause, and confirmed by contrabands, that the enemy had passed through Ringgold, sorely pressed, his animals exhausted, and his army hopelessly demoralized. In a small portion of it only had the officers been able to preserve regimental and company formations, many of the men having thrown away their arms. A still greater number were open and violent in their denunciations of the Confederacy.
In order to gain time, it was the intention of the rear guard to make use of the natural advantages the gorge presented to check the pursuit. The troops relied on for this were posted behind the mountain and the trees, and the latter were also used to mask a couple of pieces of artillery. Only a feeble line of skirmishers appeared in sight.
The only way to ascertain the enemy's strength was to feel of him, and, as our success, if prompt, would be crowned with a rich harvest of matériel, without waiting for my artillery (not yet up, though after 9 o'clock), the skirmishers advanced. Woods deployed his brigade in rear of them under cover of the embankment of the railroad, and a brisk musketry fire commenced between the skirmishers. At the same time the enemy kept his artillery busily at work. Their skirmishers were driven in, and as we had learned the position of the battery, the Thirteenth Illinois Regiment, from the right of Woods' line was thrown forward to seize some houses, from which their gunners could be picked off by our men. These were heroically taken and held by that brave regiment. Apprehensive that he might lose his artillery, the enemy advanced with a superior force on our skirmishers, and they fell back behind Woods' line, when that excellent officer opened on the rebels and drove them into the gorge, they leaving, as they fled, their dead and wounded on the ground. Our skirmishers at once re-occupied their line, the Thirteenth Illinois all the time maintaining its position with resolution and obstinacy. While this was going on in front of the gorge, Osterhaus detached four regiments, under Colonel Williamson, half a mile to the left, to ascend the ridge and turn the enemy's right. Two of these, the Seventy-sixth Ohio, supported by the Fourth Iowa, were thrown forward, and as the enemy appeared in great force, when they had nearly gained the crest, Geary ordered four of his regiments still farther to the left, under Colonel Creighton, for the same object, where they also found an overwhelming force confronting them. Vigorous attacks were made by both of these columns, in which the troops exhibited extraordinary daring and devotion, but were compelled to yield to numerical superiority. The first took shelter in a depression in the side of the ridge about 50 paces in rear of their most advanced position, and there remained. The other column was ordered to resume its position on the railroad.
All the parties sent forward to ascertain the enemy's position and strength were small, but the attacks had been made with so much vigor, and succeeded so well in their object, that I deemed it unwise to call up the commands of Palmer and Cruft, and the remaining brigades of Geary, to deliver a general attack without my artillery. I therefore gave instructions for no advance to be made, and for the firing to be discontinued, except in self-defense. These orders were conveyed and delivered to every officer in command on our advance line.
Word was received from General Woods that appearances in his front were indicative of a forward movement on the part of the enemy, when Ireland's brigade, of Geary's division, was sent to strengthen him. Cobham's brigade, of the same division, took a well-sheltered position behind the knoll, midway between the depot and the opening to the gap. These officers were also ordered not to attack or to fire unless it should become necessary.
I may here state that the greatest difficulty I experienced with my new command, and the one which caused me the most solicitude, was to check and curb their disposition to engage, regardless of circumstances, and, it appears, almost of consequences. This had also been the case on Lookout Mountain and on Missionary Ridge. Despite my emphatic and repeated instructions to the contrary, a desultory fire was kept up on the right of the line until the artillery arrived, and you will see by the reports of commanders that, under cover of elevated ground between my position and our right, several small parties advanced to capture the enemy's battery and harass his flank at the gap. It is with no displeasure I refer to these circumstances in evidence of the animation of the troops, neither is it with a feeling of resentment, for of that I was disarmed by an abiding sense of their glorious achievements. It has never been my fortune to serve with more zealous and devoted troops.
Between 12 and 1 o'clock the artillery came up, not having been able to cross the West Fork of the Chickamauga until 8 o'clock on the morning of the 27th. Under my acting chief of artillery, Major Reynolds, in conjunction with Generals Geary and Osterhaus, one section of 12-pounder howitzers was placed in position to bear on the enemy in front of our right and to enfilade the gap; another section of 10-pounder Parrotts was assigned to silence the enemy's battery, and one section farther to the left, to bear on some troops held in mass in front of Geary's regiments. At the same time a regiment from Cruft's division had been sent around by the bridge to cross the Chickamauga, and, if possible, to gain the heights of the ridge on the south side of the river, the possession of which would give us a plunging fire upon the enemy in the gorge. Two companies had nearly gained the summit when they were recalled. The artillery had opened with marked effect, the enemy's guns were hauled to the rear, his troops seen moving, and before 1 o'clock he was in full retreat. Williamson's brigade followed him over the mountain, while skirmishers from the Sixtieth and One hundred and second New York Regiments pursued him through the gap. Efforts were made to burn the railroad bridges, but the rebels were driven from them and the fires extinguished.
During the artillery firing the major-general commanding the Division of the Mississippi arrived, and gave directions for the pursuit to be discontinued. Later in the day, soon after 3 o'clock, I received instructions from him to have a reconnaissance made in the direction of Tunnel Hill, the enemy's line of retreat, for purposes of observation, and to convey to the enemy the impression that we were still after him. Grose's brigade was dispatched on this service. About 2 miles out he ran upon a small force of rebel cavalry and infantry, and pursued them about a mile and a half, when he fell upon what he supposed to be a division of troops, posted on the hills commanding the road. The brigade returned at 8 o'clock, and went into bivouac. Colonel Grose's report in this connection concludes by saying that "we found broken caissons, wagons, ambulances, dead and dying men of the enemy strewn along the way to a horrible extent."
As some misapprehension appears to exist with regard to our losses in this battle, it is proper to observe that the reports of my division commanders exhibit a loss of 65 killed and 377 wounded, about one-half of the latter so severely that it was necessary to have them conveyed to the hospital for proper treatment.
They also show of the enemy killed and left on the field 130. Of his wounded we had no means of ascertaining, as only those severely hurt remained behind, and they filled every house by the wayside as far as our troops penetrated. A few of our wounded men fell into the enemy's hands, but were soon retaken. We captured 230 prisoners and 2 flags, to make no mention of the vast amount of property and matériel that fell into our hands. Adding to the number of prisoners and killed, as above stated, the lowest estimated proportion of wounded to killed usual in battle would make the losses of the enemy at least three to our one.
From this time the operations of the Right Wing, as it was now called, became subordinate to those of the column marching to the relief of the garrison of Knoxville.
Instructions reached me from the headquarters of the military division to remain at Ringgold during the 29th and 30th, unless it should be found practicable to advance toward Dalton, without fighting a battle, the object of my remaining, as stated, being to protect Sherman's flank, with authority to attack or move on Dalton should the enemy move up the Dalton and Cleveland road.
In retreating, the enemy had halted a portion of his force at Tunnel Hill, midway between Ringgold and Dalton, and as he evinced no disposition to molest Sherman, my command rested at Ringgold. I was kept fully advised of the rebel movements through the activity and daring of the Second Kentucky Cavalry, which had joined me on the 28th.
In obedience to verbal directions given me by the commander of the division, the railroad was thoroughly destroyed for 2 miles, including the bridges on each side of Ringgold, by Palmer's and Cruft's commands; also the depot, tannery, all the mills, and all matériel that could be used in the support of an army. We found on our arrival large quantities of forage and flour. What was not required by the wants of the service was either sent to the rear or burned.
Our wounded were as promptly and as well cared for as circumstances would permit. Surgeon Moore, the medical director of the Army of the Tennessee, voluntarily left his chief to devote himself to their relief, and under his active, skillful, and humane auspices, and those of the medical directors with the divisions, they were comfortably removed to Chattanooga on the 28th. My sincere thanks are tendered to all the officers of the medical staff for their zealous and careful attentions to the wounded, on this as well as our former fields. Especially are they due to Surgeon Ball, medical director of Geary's division, and to Surgeon Menzies, medical director of Cruft's division.
On the 29th, Major-General Palmer returned to Chattanooga with his command, having in charge such prisoners as remained in Ringgold. On the 30th, the enemy being reassured by the cessation of our pursuit, sent a flag of truce to our advanced lines at Catoosa, by Maj. Calhoun Benham, requesting permission to bury his dead and care for his wounded, abandoned on the field of his last disaster at Ringgold.
Copies of this correspondence have heretofore been forwarded. Also, on the 30th, under instructions from department headquarters, Grose's brigade, Cruft's division, marched for the old battle-field at Chickamauga, to bury our dead; and on the 1st December, the infantry and cavalry remaining left Ringgold, Geary and Cruft to return to their old camps, Osterhaus to encamp in Chattanooga Valley.
The reports of commanders exhibit a loss in the campaign, including all the engagements herein reported, in killed, wounded, and missing, of 960. Inconsiderable, in comparison with my apprehension, or the ends accomplished; nevertheless, there is cause for the deepest regret and sorrow.
Among the fallen are some of the brightest names of the army. Creighton and Crane, of the Seventh Ohio; Acton, of the Fortieth Ohio; Bushnell, of the Thirteenth Illinois; Elliott, of the One hundred and second New York, and others, whose names my limits will not allow me to enumerate, will be remembered and lamented as long as courage and patriotism are esteemed as virtues among men. The reports of commanders also show the capture of 6,547 prisoners (not including those taken by Palmer at Graysville, of which no return has been received), also 7 pieces of artillery, 9 battle-flags, not less than 10,000 stand of small-arms, 1 wagon train, and a large amount of ammunition for artillery and infantry, forage, rations, camp and garrison equipage, caissons and limbers, ambulances, and other impedimenta. The reports relating to the capture of the flags are herewith transmitted.
In the foregoing, it has been impossible to furnish more than a general outline of our operations, relying upon the reports of subordinate commanders to give particular and discriminating information concerning the services of divisions, brigades, regiments, and batteries. These reports are herewith respectfully transmitted.
The attention of the major-general commanding is especially invited to those of the division commanders. As to the distinguished services of those commanders, I cannot speak in terms too high. They served me day and night, present or absent, with all of the well-directed earnestness and devotion they would have served themselves had they been charged with the responsibilities of the commander. The confidence inspired by their active and generous co-operation, early inspired me to feel that complete success was inevitable. My thanks are due to General Carlin and his brigade for their services on Lookout Mountain on the night of the 24th. They were posted in an exposed position, and when attacked repelled it with great spirit and success.
I must also express my acknowledgments to Major-General Palmer and his command for services rendered while belonging to my column. Lieutenant Ayers, of the signal corps, with his assistants, rendered me valuable aid in his branch of the service during our operations.
Major Reynolds, the chief of artillery of Geary's division, proved himself to be a skillful artillerist, and requires especial mention for his services. His batteries were always posted with judgment and served with marked ability. The precision of his fire at Lookout and Ringgold elicited universal admiration.
To my staff more than ever am I indebted for the assistance rendered upon this occasion. Major-General Butterfield, chief of staff, always useful in counsel, was untiring and devoted on the field; Capt. H. W. Perkins, assistant adjutant-general; Col. James D. Fessenden, Maj. William H. Lawrence, Capt. R. H. Hall, Lieuts. P. A. Oliver and Samuel W. Taylor, aides-de-camp, bravely and intelligently performed all their duties.
Lieut. H. C. Wharton, a promising young officer of Engineers, reported to me from the staff of the major-general commanding the department, and was unwearied in his assistance, both as an engineer and as an officer of my personal staff.
Major-General Howard has furnished me, for transmittal, his able report of the operations and services of the Eleventh Corps, from the time it passed from my command, November 22, to that of its return, December 17. As it relates to events of which I had no personal knowledge, it only remains to comply with his wishes, with the request that the major-general commanding the department will give it his especial attention.
I may add, that the zeal and devotedness displayed by this corps and its commander, in performing all the duties assigned them, and in cheerfully encountering its perils and privations, afford me great satisfaction.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
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