Report of Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, U.S. Army, commanding Second Division.
NOVEMBER 23-27, 1863.--The Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXI/2 [S# 55]
HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
Loudon, Tenn., February 20, 1864.
Lieut. Col. J. S. FULLERTON,
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit to the general commanding the following report of the operations of my division in the Valley of Chattanooga, embracing the storming of Mission Ridge and the pursuit of the enemy to the crossing of Chickamauga Creek, at Bird's Mill:
On the morning of November 23, my division lay inside of the fortifications at Chattanooga, its right resting on Fort Negley; the left well over toward Fort Wood; the front parallel to Missionary Ridge. This ground I had occupied for a long time. The right of my picket line commenced on the direct road from Chattanooga to Rossville, swept around on the arc of a circle, crossing Moore's road, and in front of an elevation on my front, known as Bushy Knob--now designated the National Cemetery--and joining on to the picket line of General Wood, nearly in front of Fort Wood. The division of General Baird was on my right; that of General Wood on my left.
My division consisted of three brigades, the First, commanded by Col. Francis T. Sherman, composed of the following regiments: Second Missouri, Fifteenth Missouri, Twenty-second Indiana, Thirty-sixth Illinois, Forty-fourth Illinois, Twenty-fourth Wisconsin, Seventy-third Illinois, Eighty-eighth Illinois, and Seventy-fourth Illinois.
The Second, commanded by Brig. Gen. G. D. Wagner, embracing the following regiments: Fifteenth Indiana, Fortieth Indiana, Fifty-seventh Indiana, Fifty-eighth Indiana, Twenty-sixth Ohio, Ninety-seventh Ohio, and One hundredth Illinois.
The Third, commanded by Col. C. G. Harker, Sixty-fifth Ohio Infantry, consisting of the following regiments: Twenty-second Illinois, Twenty-seventh Illinois, Forty-second Illinois, Fifty-first Illinois, Seventy-ninth Illinois, Third Kentucky, Sixty-fourth Ohio, Sixty-fifth Ohio, and One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio, in all, twenty-five regiments; the effective force about 6,000 officers and men.
The command had been prepared for an offensive movement for some days. About 12 m. of the 23d, I was notified by Major-General Granger that General Wood would make a reconnaissance to an elevated point on his (Wood's) front, known as Orchard Knob, and I was directed to support him with my division and prevent his right flank from being turned by an advance of the enemy on Moore's road and from the direction of Rossville. In obedience to these instructions, I marched my division from its camp at about 2 p.m., placing Wagner's brigade on the northern slope of Bushy Knob, Harker's brigade on the southern, and Sherman's in reserve.
Immediately upon taking this position, I was joined by two batteries of the Fourth Regular Artillery, from the Eleventh Army Corps, under command of Major Osborn. These were placed in position, one on Bushy Knob; the other in a small lunette, which I had previously constructed.
Shortly after this disposition had been made the division of General Wood passed my left flank on its reconnaissance, attacked the enemy's pickets, drove in their line, and took possession of Orchard Knob. Wagner's brigade followed up the movement en échelon with Wood's right, Harker moving forward en échelon with Wagner's right, and Sherman following in reserve. In this forward move the skirmishers of Wagner and Harker encountered those of the enemy and drove them in. After the two brigades had reached a slight ridge on the front, 300 yards in advance, they were halted, and, by direction of Major-General Thomas, a line of rifle-pits was constructed covering the front, making the position a very strong one.
Shortly after dark, General Wood, feeling uneasy about his right flank, by direction of General Granger, I moved closer to him, at the same time ordering Battery G, Fourth Artillery, to a position on the left of Wagner, so as to give entire security to General Wood's right. Strong lines of pickets had already been thrown out on my front, and I advanced scouts to watch any movements of the enemy during the night.
Next morning and next day found me in the above described line, without any inconvenience, except being at several times subjected to a very heavy artillery fire from rebel batteries on Mission Ridge.
During the day I was joined by Captain Guenther's battery, Fourth [Fifth]Artillery, which I placed on Bushy Knob.
On the morning of the 25th, I directed Colonel Harker to drive in the rebel pickets on my front, so as to enable me to prolong my line of battle on that of General Wood's, the necessity of refusing my right having been obviated by the capture of Lookout Mountain. The enemy's pickets retired without resistance, and Wagner, Harker, and Sherman were advanced on the prolongation of Wood's line, and lay down upon their arms in front of Mission Ridge. Battery G, Fourth Artillery, was moved to a position in front of Wagner's left, and Guenther's battery to a position in front of Harker's center. I would here state that the division of General Baird had been moved from my right during the morning.
Shortly after this disposition had been completed, about 2 p.m., orders were received from General Granger to prepare to carry the enemy's rifle-pits at the base of Mission Ridge, to report when ready, and that the signal for attack would be six guns fired from Orchard Knob in quick succession. I had few changes to make. Wagner was in two lines, connecting with Wood's right; Harker also on two lines, and closed on Wagner. Sherman I had directed to form with his brigade a column of attack, with a front of three regiments, and to throw out a heavy line of skirmishers on his front, covering the right flank of his column, as the troops on my right did not close onto me or were en échelon. Wagner and Harker were also directed to cover their fronts with heavy lines.
After this disposition for attack had been made, my right rested some distance to the right of Moore's road; my left joined Wood well over toward Orchard Knob.
A small stream of water ran parallel to my front. The center of my division was opposite to Thurman's house, on Mission Ridge, the headquarters of General Bragg. The ground in my front was, first, open timber, then an open, smooth plain, the distance across varying from 400 to 900 yards to the first line of the enemy's rifle-pits; next, a steep ascent of about 500 yards to the top of the ridge, the face of which was rugged and covered with fallen timber; lastly, the rifle-pits on the ridge, about 250 yards from the first line of rifle-pits; at the base of the ridge was a second line of pits, commencing at a point about opposite my right center, and extending to the right.
While making my dispositions for attack, the enemy in plain view of the whole division, was making his dispositions for resistance. He marched regiments from the right, waving their blue battle-flags, and filled up the spaces in his rifle-pits not already occupied.
I had Wagner, Harker, and Sherman. Their men were veterans; they had been at Pea Ridge, Shiloh, Perryville, Stone's River, Chickamauga.
While riding from right to left, and closely examining the first line of pits occupied by the enemy, which seemed as though they would prove untenable after being carried, the doubt arose in my mind as to whether I had properly understood the original order, and I dispatched Captain Ransom, of my staff, to ascertain from General Granger whether it was the first line that was to be carried or the ridge. He had scarcely left me when the signal was given, and the division marched to the front under a most terrible tornado of shot and shell. It moved steadily on, and, emerging from the timber, took up the double-quick and dashed over the open plain and at the enemy's first line with a mass of glistening bayonets which was irresistible. Many of the enemy fled; the balance were either killed or captured. The front line of the three brigades reached the first line of pits simultaneously, passed over them, and lay down on the face of the mountain.
The enemy had now changed from shot and shell to grape and canister and musketry. The fire was terrific. About this time Captain Ransom, who had been dispatched to General Granger, as heretofore mentioned, reached the left of my division and informed General Wagner that it was the first line which was to be carried. Wagner withdrew his men to that line with severe loss. One of Harker's demi-brigades was also retired to the rifle-pits.
Captain Ransom then found me about the center of the line, and confirmed the original order; but believing that the attack had assumed a new phase, and that I could carry the ridge, I could not order those officers and men who were so gallantly ascending the hill, step by step, to return.
I rode from the center to the left, saw disappointment in the faces of the men, told them to rest for a few moments, and that they should go at it again. In the meantime the right and right center were approaching the second line of pits, led by twelve sets of regimental colors; one would be advanced a few feet, then another would move up to it, each vieing with the other to be foremost, until the entire twelve were planted on the crest of the second line of pits by their gallant bearers.
Looking to the left I saw a single regiment far over in Wood's line dash up the hill and lay down below the crest. General Hazen's men also commenced the ascent. Captain Avery, of General Granger's staff, here came up and informed me that the original order was to carry the first line of pits, but that if, in my judgment, the ridge could be taken, to do so. My judgment was that it could be carried, and orders were given accordingly, obeyed with a cheer, and the ridge was carried. The right and right center reached the summit first, being nearest to the crest, crossing it to the right of General Bragg's headquarters.
The contest was still maintained for a few minutes, the enemy driven from their guns, and the battery captured. Two of the pieces taken were designated, respectively, "Lady Buckner" and "Lady Breckinridge." The adjutant-generals of Generals Breckin-ridge and Bate, and many other staff officers, were taken prisoners, the generals themselves barely escaping, General Bragg having left but a few moments before. The whole division had now reached the crest. The enemy was retiring, but had a well-organized line covering his retreat.
His disorganized troops, a large wagon train, and several pieces of artillery could be distinctly seen fleeing through the valley below within a distance of half a mile.
I at once directed Wagner and Harker to press their rear guard, and capture the wagon train and artillery if possible. The right of Wagner s and the left of Harker's brigade moved along the road leading to Chickamauga Station (Moore's road), their brigades being deployed to the left and right of the road.
Both brigades skirmished with the enemy in this advance. Wagner's brigade drove the enemy from, and took nine pieces of artillery. On reaching a point about I mile from Missionary Ridge, the road ran on a high, formidable ridge, on which the enemy had posted eight pieces of artillery, supported by a heavy force, notwithstanding which, these gallant brigades, without artillery, did not hesitate to attack him.
I immediately rode toward the front, and met a staff officer of Colonel Wood, commanding "demi-brigade," who informed me that the command was hard pressed, and that two regiments were on the left of the road with captured artillery. I repaired at once to the regiments, Twenty-sixth Ohio and Fifteenth Indiana, and ordered them to advance, at the same time hastening forward myself to the front, where I found Colonel Wood contending bravely against overwhelming numbers of the enemy, his men clinging to the face of the hill, as they had done but a few hours before on Mission Ridge. It was dusk, and the two regiments above referred to were about flanking the enemy, but in order to accomplish this a high bluff, where the ridge on the left terminated, had to be carried. General Wagner here joined me, and I designated to him the point to be carried, and directed him to accompany the regiments in person. Colonel Harker, who had also joined me, was directed to push forward the "demi-brigade," of Colonel Opdycke, on the right.
But a few moments elapsed ere the Twenty-sixth Ohio and Fifteenth Indiana carried the crest.
When the head of the column reached the summit of the hill, the moon rose from behind, and a medallion view of the column was disclosed as it crossed the moon's disk and attacked the enemy, who, outflanked on the left and right, fled, leaving two pieces of artillery and many wagons. This was a gallant little fight. While we were thus pushing the enemy and forcing him to abandon his artillery, wagons, and stores, the division of General Wood remained on Mission Ridge, constructing rifle-pits, and General Hazen and his brigade employed themselves in collecting the artillery from which we had driven the enemy, and have claimed it their capture. General Wood, in his report to General Thomas of artillery taken, claims many pieces which were the prizes of my division, and when told by me that the report was untruthful, replied "that it was based upon the report of General Hazen, who, perhaps, will in time base his on those of the regiments." But whether Wood, Hazen, regimental or company commanders are responsible, the report is untrue. Eleven of these guns were gleaned from the battle-field and appropriated while I was pushing the enemy on to Chickamauga Station.
I beg pardon for this unpleasant digression. After the ridge was captured General Wagner and Colonel Harker went into bivouac.
About 12 o'clock at night, being ordered with my division to press the enemy, I drove him over Chickamauga Creek, capturing very many prisoners, caissons, limbers, and wagons; also a large quantity of artillery, ammunition, and small-arms. I reached the creek at about 2 o'clock of the morning of the 26th of November, and in the afternoon of the same day returned to camp at Chattanooga, and was ordered to prepare to march on Knoxville to raise the siege.
To recur again to the assault on Missionary Ridge and the positions taken for the attack, I would make mention of the most terrible cross-fire of artillery and musketry to which my troops were subjected for a distance of at least 1 1/8 miles, while in and emerging from the timber, and during the time occupied in crossing the open plain to the first line of rifle-pits. In justice to my gallant officers and men, I must say that their conduct was more than heroic, It was the prompting of a brave heart in a just cause, and an inspiration caused by the sight of the old flag which had been borne by them through many battles. The gallant color bearers, officers and men, who planted their flags upon Mission Ridge are the true heroes of the battle.
In giving praise I cannot, nor will our country, forget that 123 officers and 1,179 men of this division bathed the face of Missionary Ridge with their loyal blood. The living have a monument, the dead a glorious grave in the National Cemetery in the Valley of Chattanooga, at the base of Mission Ridge.
I am pleased to recommend to the attention of the major-general commanding, and to my country, General G. D. Wagner and Colonels Harker and Sherman, commanding, respectively, the Second, Third, and First Brigades. Colonels Harker and Sherman accompanied the colors of their regiments, and inspired the men by their coolness and gallant bearing. I take great pleasure in recommending these officers for promotion to brigadier-generals, a position which they have fairly won on this and other fields, and which they are fully qualified by ability and long experience to fill. Of Colonels Laiboldt, Second Missouri; Miller, Thirty-sixth Illinois; Wood, Fifteenth Indiana; Walworth, Forty-second Illinois; Opdycke, One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio, each of whom commanded demi-brigades, I would say much in approbation; they are well worthy of any compliment their country can confer.
Of the regimental commanders, Colonel Jaquess, Seventy-third Illinois; Barrett, Forty-fourth Illinois; Marsh, Seventy-fourth Illinois; Conrad, Fifteenth Missouri; Lieutenant-Colonel Chandler, Eighty-eighth Illinois; Olson, Thirty-sixth Illinois; Beck, Second Missouri; Colonels Dunlap, Third Kentucky; Buckner, Seventy-ninth Illinois; McIlvain, Sixty-fourth Ohio; Miles, Twenty-seventh Illinois; Lieutenant-Colonel Bullitt, Sixty-fifth Ohio; Swanwick, Twenty-second Illinois; Major Davis and Captain Tilton, Fifty-first Illinois; Captain Swain, Forty-second Illinois; Major Davidson, Seventy-third Illinois; Lieutenant-Colonel Neff, Fortieth Indiana; Moore, Fifty-eighth Indiana; Barnes, Ninety-seventh Ohio; Young, Twenty-sixth Ohio; Major Hammond, One hundredth Illinois; Major White, Fifteenth Indiana, many of whom were wounded, I would speak in the highest praise. By their brilliant example, at the heads of their respective regiments, men were inspired to the perfection of deeds of valor and heroism.
To the skirmish line, composed of the Eighty-eighth Illinois, Fifty-seventh Indiana, and Forty-second Illinois, great credit is due for the gallant manner in which it charged the enemy's lines. Lieuten-ant-Colonel Lennard, Fifty-seventh Indiana, Major Sherman, Thirty-sixth Illinois, and Captain Swain, Forty-second Illinois, in charge of the skirmishers of their respective brigades, are brave and efficient officers and well deserving of promotion. With such officers to lead success is inevitable.
In my special mentions must be included Captain Guenther, commanding a battery, temporarily assigned to me, and also the officers of Battery G, Fourth Artillery, to whom I am indebted for valuable services rendered, and regret that I am unable to particularize by name.
I wish also to bring to the notice of the major-general commanding the officers of my staff, my aides, Capt. J. S. Ransom, Lieuts. Frank H. Allen, M. V. Sheridan, and T. W. C. Moore, my faithful assistants; assiduous in the discharge of their duties, always ready and prompt to carry orders. Surg. D. J. Griffiths, medical director; Capt. George Lee, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. Warren P. Edgarton, chief of artillery; Capt. W. L. Mallory, commissary of subsistence; Capt. P. U. Schmitt, acting assistant quartermaster; Maj. Francis Mohrhardt, topographical engineer; Capt. H. N. Snyder, commissary of musters, all of whom discharged their duties with fidelity.
In summing up, I make the following statement of casualties: Officers killed, 12; men killed, 119; aggregate, 131. Officers wounded, 111; men wounded, 1,060; aggregate, 1,171. Men missing, 2. Total officers killed, wounded, and missing, 123. Total men killed, wounded, and missing, 1,131. Grand aggregate, 1,304.
The following captures were made by my division: Seventeen pieces of artillery. Six of these, with caissons complete, were turned over and receipts obtained therefor. The eleven were hauled off the field and appropriated, as heretofore mentioned, while the division was pushing the enemy back on Chickamauga Creek.
The number of prisoners taken are as follows: First Brigade, 470; Second Brigade, 762; Third Brigade, 530; in all, 1,762.
I have the honor to be, colonel, your obedient servant,
P. H. SHERIDAN,
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