Report of Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, C. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade
MAY 16, 1863.--Battle of Champion's Hill, or Baker's Creek, Miss.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXIV/2 [S# 37]
HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, STEVENSON'S DIVISION,
Demopolis, Ala., July 25, 1863.
Maj. J. J. REEVE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Stevenson's Division.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken in the battle of Baker's Creek, on May 16, by the Alabama brigade--Second Brigade, Stevenson's division--consisting of the following commands, viz: Twentieth Alabama Regiment, Col. I. W. Garrett; Twenty-third Alabama Regiment, Col. F. K. Beck; Thirtieth Alabama Regiment, Col. C. M. Shelley; Thirty-first Alabama Regiment, Lieut. Col. T. M. Arringlon; Forty-sixth Alabama Regiment Col. M. L. Woods, and Waddell's battery, Capt. J. F. Waddell.
On the evening of May 15, the army, under the command of Lieutenant-General Pemberton, commenced moving toward the enemy from Edwards Depot in the direction of Raymond, my brigade occupying in the line of march the second position from the rear. The army marched during the greater part of the night, halting a short time before daylight at a point about 6 miles from Edwards Depot.
Soon after daylight on the 16th,the army commenced a retrograde movement over the same route it had taken on the preceding night, for the purpose of forming a junction on the north side of the railroad with the forces under command of General Joseph E. Johnston, General Johnston having evacuated Jackson and moved toward Canton.
About 6 a.m. Major-General Stevenson ordered me to move rapidly with my brigade and relieve Colonel [A. W.] Reynolds' brigade on the Edwards Depot and Clinton road, which was done at about 7.30 a.m.; skirmishers from Reynolds' brigade being at that time engaged with those of the enemy on two roads, one leading from Clinton and the other from Raymond.
By 8 o'clock my brigade was in line of battle and skirmishing on both roads, the position occupied by the brigade being on the extreme left of our line. At about 9 o'clock it was discovered that the enemy was massing troops on the left, evidently for the purpose of turning our left flank and getting between our army and Edwards Depot. My brigade was at once marched (under fire) by the left flank for the purpose of checking the enemy, and information of his movements and the corresponding change of my line was immediately sent to the major-general commanding, with the request that the gap on my right should be filled by other troops. Similar movements on my part were frequently made under fire throughout the day until about 2 p.m., the major-general commanding being in each case notified of my change of position, and of the continued efforts of the enemy to turn our left. Captain Waddell's battery, which had been placed in position on the Raymond road, and a section of Johnston's battery, which had been posted on the Clinton road, had during the earlier part of the day been supported by my brigade, but in consequence of my continuous movements to the left there guns were left to the right of my brigade, and were subsequently supported by General Cummings brigade.
As early as 10 o'clock in the morning it became evident that the enemy was in heavy force and determined on battle, as his skirmishers were bold and aggressive, and several divisions of his troops were visible in front of our left.
At about 2 p.m. he advanced in force on my center and left, but was handsomely repulsed by the Forty-sixth, Thirtieth, and Twenty-third Alabama Regiments, the last regiment, under the gallant Colonel [F. K.] Beck, having moved forward under a heavy fire and driven back a battery of the enemy which had been placed within 400 yards of our line.
Having checked the enemy on my center and left, and having ordered the regiments last mentioned to hold their respective positions, my attention was called to the very heavy fire on my right. Upon proceeding there, I found that Cummings brigade had been driven back by the enemy, and that the Twentieth and Thirty-first Alabama Regiments, of my brigade, had been compelled to retire, their right flank having become exposed and the enemy having gained their rear. At about the same time the enemy had advanced rapidly on my left, and had almost gained the Edwards Depot road, half a mile to the rear of my line. Under these circumstances I ordered the Forty-sixth, Thirtieth, and Twenty-third Alabama Regiments to retire about 600 yards to the rear, where my second line was formed.
These three regiments behaved with distinguished gallantry, retaining their position against heavy odds.
I at this time went to the road, about 600 yards in rear of my line, and found it filled with stragglers, and hearing that Bowen's division was re-enforcing on my right, and that Barton's brigade was going on my left, I again returned to my second line, carrying with me about 400 stragglers, most of them from the Thirty-fourth Georgia (Colonel [J. A. W.] Johnson), whom I placed on the left of the Thirtieth Alabama Regiment (Colonel Shelley).
With these re-enforcements the enemy were broken in some confusion, observing which Colonel Woods, Forty-sixth Alabama, made a most gallant charge with his regiment, moving up almost to his original position in the line of battle. Soon afterward Bowen's division, on my right, and Barton's brigade, on my left, having retreated, and the enemy having crossed the Edwards Depot road with at least three regiments, I ordered Col. D.C. Stith, of my staff, to recall the Thirtieth Alabama (Colonel Shelley) and the Forty-sixth Alabama (Colonel Woods) The order was delivered to Colonel Shelley, but the enemy having advanced very rapidly upon the right, the Forty-sixth Alabama could not be reached, and I regret to say that this excellent regiment, under its gallant field officers (Colonel Woods, Lieutenant-Colonel [O.] Kyle, and Major [James M.] HandIey), was captured.
My brigade was then rallied about half a mile from the Edwards Depot road and in rear of Buford's brigade, Loring's division, which had just arrived on the field at about 3.30 p.m. Major-General Loring soon after came up with Featherston's brigade, and recognizing him as the senior officer on the field, and not seeing my division commander (Major-General Stevenson), I reported to him for orders, and was placed on the left of Featherston's brigade. General Loring soon afterward informed me that he had received orders to retire, and directed me to commence at once the movement toward the ford on Baker's Creek. The retreat was conducted with order, and we arrived at the ford at about 6 p.m., where my brigade was halted. During the retreat, General Loring sent repeated messages to me to hasten my movements, which was done. On crossing Baker's Creek, I found that General Loring had not followed my brigade, but had halted on the opposite side. I at this time received an order from General Pemberton to move to the bridge on the Clinton road, and support the cavalry at that point under command of Colonel [Wirt] Adams: but before arriving there I found that the enemy already held the bridge with a large force, and I accordingly retreated toward the Big Black Bridge, where the brigade arrived about 10 p.m.
Notwithstanding the defeat at Baker's Creek, there were many exhibitions of personal bravery on the part of officers and men of my command.
I would particularly mention the conduct of Colonels Garrett, Beck, Shelley, and Woods; of Lieutenant-Colonels Kyle (Forty-sixth Alabama), E W. Pettus (Twentieth Alabama), and [J. B.] Smith (Thirtieth Alabama); Majors Handley (Forty-sixth Alabama) and [Thomas H.] Patterson (Thirtieth Alabama); Captains Waddell and [J. W.] Johnston (commanding batteries), and [David M.] Anderson (Thirtieth Alabama), who was killed while gallantly performing his duty; Adjutant Houston (-----Alabama). Sergeant-Majors [W. W.] Garrard (Thirty-first Alabama Regiment) and [W. K.] McConnell (Thirtieth Alabama Regiment) also particularly attracted my attention.
The above names are those of the persons who came under my personal observation. Other instances of gallantry are mentioned in the reports which are inclosed.
Of my personal staff I would particularly mention Capt. William Elliott, my assistant adjutant-general, for his conspicuous gallantry. During the latter part of the day he bore the colors of the Thirty-fourth Georgia, which he brought out of the action, the gallant color-bearer having been killed. Col. D.C. Stith acted with coolness and gallantry; also Lieut. H. N. Martin, acting aide-de-camp, and Capt. J. R. Curell and Lieutenant [S. M.] Underhill, volunteer aides-de-camp. List of casualties has already been sent in.
STEPHEN D. LEE,
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