Monday, September 23, 2013

Chickamauga, The Report of Col. Stout, 17th Ky. Vol. Inf.

Courtesy of Ohio State's eHistory Online

Official Records Extract, Volume XXX Part 1, Chapter XLII, pages 815 - 817

Numbers 183.

Report of Colonel Alexander M. Stout, Seventeenth Kentucky Infantry.

HDQRS. 17TH REGIMENT KENTUCKY VOLUNTEERS, Chattanooga, Tenn., September 24, 1863.

CAPTAIN: The following report of the operations of the regiment which I have the honor to command, from the 18th instant, when your brigade left Crawfish Spring, Ga., to the 22nd instant, when my regiment rejoined the brigade at this place, is respectfully submitted:

You will recollect that, on the evening of the 18th, we took position on the north bank of Chickamauga Creek, and heard heavy skirmishing on our left during the evening and next morning until near the middle of the day. It became evident from the roar of firearms not only that the battle had begun in earnest, but from the change in the direction that our forces were yielding ground.

Then, by your order, we moved quickly to the scene of conflict, near 2 miles distant. Arrived there, the brigade was formed in two lines, the Seventy-ninth Indiana Volunteers on the right in the first line, and the Nineteenth Ohio Volunteers on the left, the Seventeenth Kentucky Volunteers on the left. The first line at once engaged the enemy. The Seventy-ninth Indiana [Colonel Knefler], finding a battery of the enemy in its front, charged upon it and silenced it, but was almost immediately repulsed by the enemy and driven back through my regiment, which at once opened upon the enemy, who was partially concealed by a dense cover of underbrush. The firing on both sides was very severe, and continued for near a half hour, when the enemy fell back, still leaving the battery. We here captured 5 prisoners, and the company skirmishers which I had thrown out on my right captured 3 more. An order was then received from General Van Cleve, as I understood it, to advance. And I did advance to within 50 paces of the battery, when seeing that the regiment on my left had halted, my own was halted also. But a little before this advance, and after the firing had ceased, some officers and men of the Seventy-ninth Indiana advanced to take the captured artillery to the rear, when a portion of my command did likewise, and wheeled two of the pieces with the flag of the battery to the rear through my lines. The detachments from the Seventy-ninth Indiana wheeled the other two or three pieces through in the same way. In the meantime, the enemy were seen and heard moving to my right, as if to turn it; and two or three regiments from some other brigade moved from our rear to my right, when the enemy attacked them with great fury, and almost immediately turned their right, advancing and firing with great rapidity; they broke to the enemy's fire upon the right flank and rear, and to escape capture fell back to the left and rear by companies; the first company first, then the second, and so on, until all were in retreat to the left and rear, the enemy in greatly superior numbers advancing and firing with great rapidity.

It was here that First Lieutenant John D. Millman, a faithful and gallant officer, was killed, and Captain J. W. Anthony was shot through the right hand. We fell back through a dense wood to a small open field of high ground, from which one of our batteries was playing upon the advancing enemy, and there we ourselves confronted him in support of the battery. We, with the aid of others, succeeded in checking his advance in our front, but we hardly had time to become aware of this success before we felt the fire right across the battery upon our right and rear.

Being again compelled to retire, we pursued the same course as before, until we reached a high and commanding ridge about 1 mile from the battle-field, where the brigade formed again and we rested for the night. By 7 o'clock on the morning of the 20th, we became aware that some of our troops had moved in our front at least a mile distant, and had engaged the enemy. The firing increased in intensity, and by 9 o'clock it became manifest that our forces were being driven. We were moved down the slope, by the general's order, in double columns, the Nineteenth Ohio on the right, and the Seventy-ninth Indiana on the left, in the first line, the Ninth Kentucky on the right, and the Seventeenth Kentucky on the left, in the second line

.When we reached a road in the valley running parallel with our line, we were quickly deployed into line of battle; the first line came at once under fire, while the second, being only about 40 paces to the rear, became almost equally exposed. The enemy in overwhelming numbers were advancing and firing rapidly, and at the same time turning our right. Our retreating forces in our front where running turning our right. Our retreating forces in our front were running over us; we were between the enemy and open ground, while they were concealed by a dense cover of underbrush. The Nineteenth Ohio soon broke to the left and rear across my right, while the shots of the enemy began to pour into my right and rear directly down the road. It was impossible then to change my front, for a battery of our artillery was passing through my line to the rear, and the uproar was so great, and the dust and smoke so dense, that the officers could scarcely be seen or heard. We were compelled to fall back or be captured, as we were without support. Here Lieutenant-Colonel Vaughan received a shot through the leg, while gallantly doing his duty, and was carried off the field. Sergeant-Major Duncan was here shot through both legs, and was saved. With the major, adjutant, and colors, and about 100 men I moved to the left and rear, several times halting and firing a volley at the enemy, but in every instance outflanked until we reached the crest of a high ridge running from north to south and then turning at right angles and running westward. There we found fragments of various commands, including a small portion of General Brannan's division. These were hastily formed along the crest and preparations made to hold the position. It was immediately between the battle-ground and this place. The enemy soon appeared, when our little force opened fire upon him with great spirit-the most of the company officers of my regiment were with me. Captain Nall and several others, who had picked up guns, fought with their men. The men as well as officers seemed to be sensible of the importance of holding the position. Our little force, increased to some 1,500, Colonel Cram and Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey, of the Ninth Kentucky, with a small portion of that regiment, took a position and held it until dark. A few men of the Nineteenth Ohio and Seventy-ninth Indiana were also with my small command. By hard, determined fighting, the enemy was held back until late in the evening, when a part of General Granger's command arrived and took position on our right and engaged the enemy just as he was about to turn our right. A desperate fight ensued and lasted until nearly dark. Our little fight on the crest I must consider as the most brilliant of the two day's battle. Thousands of the enemy were there driven against us.

Colonel Walker, of General Brannan's command; Colonel George P. Buell, of the Fifty-eighth Indiana, commanding First Brigade, First Division, Twenty-first Ohio, and Major D. M. Claggett, of my own regiment, attracted my attention and excited my admiration by the fearless manner in which they encouraged and directed officers and men along our line. Colonel Walker had no command of his own, Colonel Buell a very small one, but rendered great service to all commands by their confidence and enthusiasm. Of my own regiment, I am unwilling to single out by name any company officers when all did so well during the two days. I cannot name one of them who acted badly. The men fought gallantly when they had a chance to fight, as I knew they would. While fighting for the rebel battery, they stood without flinching under a most deadly fire. There one company [D, Captain Gist], of 41 men, had 11 wounded.

We went into battle on both days under great disadvantages. Each day we were thrown suddenly under fire to support troops who were being driven pell-mell over us by the enemy in superior numbers and flushed with success, and always outflanked. 

The firing having ceased, at night on the 20th, not knowing where to find our brigade, I reported to Brigadier General T. J. Wood, commanding First Division, Twenty-first Army Corps, who had moved his command near us. At his instance I joined myself to his First Brigade, commanded by Colonel Buell. In a few minutes we commenced to move in this direction, and bivouacked near Rossville that night.

Next morning we moved to the left up and along the mountain range bounding the Chattanooga Valley on the east; took position and remained until 11 o'clock that night, when we moved within a mile of this place and camped.

On the morning of the 22nd, we joined you here. I had sent out an officer on the 21st to find you, and he returned after night with an order from you to join the brigade at once, but General Wood detained us. General Wood and Colonel Buell treated us with great kindness. My men had shot away their 60 rounds of ammunition.and were out of rations. They bountifully supplied us with both, and made us feel at home. 

My losses are as follows: Our officer killed; 2 wounded severely. Of enlisted men, 7 killed, 95 wounded, and 16 missing. Total casualties, 121. I send herewith a list of them.*

Colonel, Commanding.

Captain O. O. MILLER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Brigade.

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