The Alabama Department of History and Archives describes the source of this manuscript as follows: “John Witherspoon DuBose and Joel DuBose wrote manuscripts in the early 1900s on many regiments using official records and sometimes first-hand accounts. None of these were published and are in the original hand written form.”
The following is a transcription of this document. I have endeavored to make as an exact transcription as possible — allowing for a few minor changes to enhance reading when needed. Now commonly known as the Official Records or OR, DuBoses refer to The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies as the “O. W. R.”
DuBose indicated their omissions from the OR with “x x x x.” Where appropriate, I elected to include the deleted OR information. This is additional information is in Italics within brackets. When quoting the Official Records, DuBose's often placed a quotation mark only at the beginning of the paragraph; I followed their convention herein. DuBose frequently used the Latin reference of ib. — an abbreviation for "ibidem" meaning in the same place.
The first reference to this brigade as an organization is found in O.W.R. Serial 35, vol. 23, p. 829. Its composition is not given then which was May 10th 1863; but its strength was - present for duty 140 officers, 2,380 men (infantry), cavalry 3 officers and 24 men; artillery 5 officers and 137 men making an effective total of 2,495, aggregate present 3,137; present and absent 3,750. The organization had but recently been effected, and on the first of April, Clayton was in Deas' brigade, see p. 735 ib., and he was only appointed a brigadier-general on the 25th of April, 1863. See memorandum of Officers, p. 25.Please contact me about corrections, broken links, and additions. firstname.lastname@example.org
On July 31, 1863, the brigade was composed of:
18th Ala. Lieut. Col.. R. F. Inge
36th Ala. Col. L. T. Woodruff
38th Ala. Maj. O. S. Jewett
Arkansas Battery, Capt. J. T. Humphries, p. 943, ib.
The composition is the same as on Aug. 10th but Col. J. T. Holtzclaw is in command of the 18th Ala. Lieut. Col. Thomas A. Hernden of the 36th, and Lieut. Col. A. R. Lankford of the 38th. See p. 943 ib. It was in Maj. Gen. A. P. Stewart's division, Lieut. Gen. D. H. Hill's corps. formerly Hardee's.
Its first contact, after formation, with the enemy was in the engagements with them about Hoover's Gap from June 24th to 25th. It had no considerable part in that. No report appears from Layton, and its part will be learned in an extract from the report of Brig. Gen. Bushrod R. Johnson found in O.W.R. Serial 32, vol. 23, p. 603 and 610. He Says, " Brigadier-General Clayton's brigade arrived in rear of my line about 10 p. m., and with Captain J. w. Green, of the Engineers, and Brigadier-General Clayton I was engaged most of the night in selecting the excellent positions on my right which that brigade occupied before the dawn of day." * On page 610 ib. he says.
"On the night of July 4, we bivouacked on Battle Creek. On July 5 and 6, the brigades of Generals Clayton and Liddell occupied in succession the position of rear guard." This is all that is found touching the brigade in the action. This was a master stroke by which he turned the flank of General Bragg, and drove him out of his two strongly fortified positions, giving the possession of Middle Tennessee to the Federals, with but slight loss to either army. General Rosecrans reports his loss at 85 killed, 462 wounded, 13 missing; a total of 560. He says, "The killed and wounded of the enemy is unknown, but we took 1,634 prisoners, of which 59 were commissioned officers. We captured six pieces of artillery, many small-arms, considerable camp equipage, and large quantities of commissary and quartermaster's stores." O.W.R. Serial 34, vol. 23, p. 10.
On page 414 ib., the Confederate report shows 19 killed, 126 wounded; a total of 145; prisoners not stated.
The brigade from early in July 1863 was in the vicinity of Chattanooga, without incident of note until the gathering of the storm which burst forth in the battle of Chicamauga September 19th and 20th. Rosecrans much strengthened from Grant's forces in Mississippi, and Bragg strengthened by Longstreet's Corps from Virginia met in the death grapple known as the battle of Chicamauga, where the troops of both armies fought with desperate valor and determination as attested by the fearful losses on both sides. It was a complete victory for the Confederates by which the enemy ware drivers and huddled upon the bank of the Tennessee River. But that was all. No advantage was taken after the fearful cost at which the opportunity occurred.
The report of General Clayton is the best statement of the part his brigade took in the ever memorable battle of Chicamauga and the correctness of statements as to its courage and gallantry is fully sustained by a number of other official reports. It is found in O.W.R. Serial 51, Vol. 30, pages 400-3. It says:
“On Thursday, September 17, this brigade consisting of the Eighteenth, Thirty-sixth, and Thirty-eighth Alabama Regiments, commanded, respectively , by Vols. J. T. Holtzclaw, L. T. Woodruff, and Lieut. Col. A. R. Lankford, and Humphrey’s battery, took up the line of march from LaFayette, Walker County, Ga., where it had been bivouacked a few days, toward the battle field.
“Resting the night of the 17th near rock Spring, it proceeded the next day to Thedford’s Fords, on the Chicamauga Creek. Brigadier General Bate’s brigade proceeding down the creek a short distance, his artillery engaged the enemy, who were then near Alexander’s bridge, amy brigade being exposed to the fire, by which I lost 1 man killed. I advanced three companies from the Eighteenth Alabama Regiment across the creek as skirmishers, under command of Major Hunley, of that regiment, and rode over myself for the purpose of making observations. Placing the three companies as pickets in a piece of woodland, I crossed my whole brigade over the creek (the men wading) soon after nightfall, at a point a short distance above the Thedford’s Ford, being the first troops to cross the creek in that vicinity. I put the batterY in position in on the left, supported by the Thirty-eighth Alabama Regiment, and directed the other regiments to bivouac immediately upon the bank of the creek.
“On the morning of the 19th, the other brigades (Brown’s and Bate’s) of the division (Stewart’s) having crossed the creek and formed in my rear, my brigade moved forward in line of battle at an early hour a distance between 1 and 2 miles, until it reached a position from which the enemy could be seen upon the distant hills. The brigade, and, so far as I could learn, the whole army, except upon the extreme right, where the engagement had already begun, halted until 1.30 p.m. when it was ordered to the right about 1 mile.
“Having received instructions as to the point upon which I should direct my brigade, with the further admonition that after having more definitely located the enemy I would have to act for myself and be governed by circumstances, I moved forward in line of battle with skirmishes in front. Having proceeded a few hundred yard through a dense undergrowth, and being about to enter a cultivated field, I halted for the purpose of correcting the alignment, when Col. John C. Carter, of the Thirty-eighth Tennessee Regiment, Wright’s brigade, Cheatam’s division, came on foot from my left in great haste and informed me that my brigade was marching in the wrong direction, and that unless I changed my direction nearly perpendicularly to the left, my brigade would soon be in range of the enemy's small-arms and artillery, which would enfilade my lines, and that as I then stood the right of the enemy was in rear of my left. I immediately changed my directions, and marching by the left flank and filing obliquely to the left and rear (the nature of the ground not admitting any other movement), had scarcely changed for the purpose of moving forward in the new direction when the enemy opened fire upon us, which was promptly returned. The firing seeming to be too much at random, I passed down and up the line, calling the attention of officers to the fact. I then directed my staff to inform regimental commanders that I was about to order a charge. Passing again down the line, I was informed by several officers that their ammunition was expended, and I therefore reconsidered my first intention to charge the enemy, being unable on account of the thick undergrowth to form a satisfactory idea of his strength, and withdrew for the purpose of replenishing the ammunition. This was done in good order and with little loss, the enemy having almost simultaneously ceased firing.
“In this engagement the brigade lost near 400 officers and men killed and wounded. It began about 2.30 o'clock and lasted one hour. The enemy was formed in a semi-circle around and over a slight elevation or hill, which gave him great advantage in position, and the manner in which both ends of my line were cross-fired upon induces the opinion that we were greatly outnumbered.
“I again moved forward about 4 o'clock, the brigades of Generals Brown and Bate having successively advanced and engaged the enemy. Passing Bate's brigade, then in front, my line continued steadily forward with promptness and spirit, accompanied nearly to the Chattanooga road by the Fifty-eight Alabama Regiment, Colonel Bushrod Jones (which attracted my attention by the excellent order in which it moved), and a small portion of another regiment which I did not recognize, both of Bate's brigade.
“The enemy continued to retreat to and beyond the Chattanooga road, near which my brigade captured two pieces of artillery, which were brought off in the manner stated by my regimental commanders, whose reports accompany this. My brigade continued the pursuit of the enemy one-half mile beyond the road, when a staff officer reporting the enemy advancing in strong force from the right, and it also having been reported to me, through my assistant adjutant-general by a staff officer whom he did not recognize, that the enemy's cavalry had been seen in force upon the left as if preparing to advance, my brigade fell back across the road at leisure, where I halted and reformed it in connection with the portion of General Bate's brigade already referred to.
“I take pleasure in mentioning that Captains Crenshaw and Lee, with their companies from the Fifty-eighth Alabama Regiment, of Bate's brigade, accompanied mine beyond the road. They are gallant officers.
“In this charge my brigade captured 50 or 60 prisoners besides the two pieces of artillery, and I have reason to believe that the loss in killed and wounded inflicted upon the enemy to some extent compensated for out own in the earlier engagement.
“Changing the direction of my line by a front forward upon the right, and the other two sides of a triangle being formed by Generals Brown and Bate, night coming on, the troops slept upon their arms within a few hundred yards of the enemy, who could be distinctly heard erecting breastworks. During the night my pickets brought in about 40 prisoners, among whom were several officers of the lower grades.
“Early on the morning of the 20th, the brigade was moved to the right and in a position about 300 yards from and parallel to the Chattanooga road. Here it remained until 11 o'clock subjected the most of the time to a severe fire from the enemy's artillery, by which several men were wounded.
“About 11 o'clock, General Brown being in front and General Bate on my right, the whole division advanced under a most terrible fire of grape and canister from the enemy's artillery, before which several most gallant officers fell bravely leading their men, among whom I cannot forbear to mention the name of the chivalrous and accomplished Lieutenant Colonel R. F. Inge, of the Eighteenth Alabama Regiment. Notwithstanding this, the brigade pressed forward through a narrow corn-field to the first pieces of artillery by the road side, when two other batteries, one in front and one upon the right assisted by small-arms, began a most murderous fire, before which all were compelled to retire. I was myself struck by a grape-shot and compelled to dismount for a short time. The Thirty-eighth Alabama Regiment, scarcely breaking its line, fell back only a short distance. The other regiments promptly reformed near the position originally occupied by them and moved forward to rejoin it. General Brown's brigade was reformed by Colonel Cook (General B[rown] having been wounded) on my left, and General Bate's brigade upon my right. My own and General Brown's brigade soon moved forward again to the road, and then to the right toward the enemy, who were ascertained to be there in strong position. General Bate was formed in my rear, and in this position the commands remained until about 5 p.m., when I again moved my brigade forward. Soon coming upon the enemy behind breastworks, they were gallantly charged by my whole line with great spirit; the enemy fleeing in wild disorder across a large open field, upon the edge of which I ordered a halt, and the brigade continued to fire as long edge of which I ordered a halt, and the brigade continued to fire as long as the enemy could be seen. Many taking refuge in and around a hospital [Kelly's house], I sent forward first the Thirty-eighth and afterward the Eighteenth Alabama Regiments, which together captured about 300 prisoners, beside near the same number of wounded. Thus terminated the part taken by this brigade in the battle of Chicamauga.[Included in the OR but not in the ADAH manuscript: “I have omitted to say anything about the battery, because it was under the chief of artillery for the division, except a short time, during which I had no opportunity of using it. I suppose the report in regard to it will more properly be made through the chief of artillery.”]“The brigade went into action on the 19th with 1,352 total effective and 94 officers. It lost in the two days 12 officers killed upon the field and 89 men; 30 have since died [Oct. 3]: 34 officers and 449 men were wounded and 15 missing, making the aggregate killed, wounded, and missing 629. This does not include many who were slightly wounded and did not leave the field.
“The brigade captured two pieces of artillery, 396 prisoners, beside about 250 wounded in hospital. It collected 1,249 muskets and rifles, 640 sets of accouterments, and 20,000 cartridges. x x x x[Included in the OR but not in the ADAH manuscript: The greater portion of the guns and ammunition were carried off the field by my own ordnance wagons.]“I claim for my brigade that it was the first and last in the division to encounter the enemy — the first in the army to pierce the enemy's center and cross the Chattanooga road, which was done on Saturday evening near Brotherton's house.”[Included in the OR but not in the ADAH manuscript: I conclude this report by tendering my cordial thanks to and testifying in behalf of the gallant men composing this brigade - in all whose ranks there appeared not a single coward - and to the officers, worthy of such men, leading them in every charge. My thanks are particularly due to Captain J. M. Macon, assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenant John Vidmer, assistant inspector-general, and Lieutenant W. N. Knight, aide-de-camp, who rendered me prompt and valuable services throughout the whole engagement, never once shrinking from their duty.The following from the pen of Ben Lane Posey is copped because written so close tot he time of action that it comes with a freshness of relish. Besides it gives an insight into some things that do not often get into official reports:
To the commanders of regiments I also make my acknowledgments for the efficient manner in which they directed and kept their commands together, the most difficult of all duties upon the field.
I also tender my thanks to Major-General Stewart, who was everywhere under all circumstances present with his command. To the gallant dead, a contemplation of the long list of whom saddens our hearts, we give our tears and a hearty well done. May the God of Battles give us courage to emulate their heroic examples, and when the time shall come bravely to share their fate.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Stewart's Division.]
In the report of Maj. Gen. A. P. Stewart, commanding the division, in O.W.R. Serial 51, Vol. 30, p. 360-6, he says of what occurred in the initiative of the battle, on page 361-2:
“Accordingly, Brigadier-General Clayton was directed to advance, and it is but just to this excellent officer and his fine brigade to say that they moved forward to this, their first engagement, with great spirit and alacrity, and in admirable order. x x x x
“After a severe engagement of near an hour, during which he sustained a loss of nearly 400 officers and men, General Clayton withdrew to replenish his exhausted ammunition and his place was supplied by General Brown.
x x x x
Again on page 364 he says, (at a later period in the battle): “His center and left, however, followed by the gallant Clayton and indomitable Bate, pressed on, passing the corn-field in front of the burnt house and to a distance of 200 to 300 yards beyond the Chattanooga road, driving the enemy within his line of intrenchments (sic) and passing a battery of four guns, which were afterward taken possession of by a regiment from another division.
The division (Stewarts) of which Clayton's was a part was mainly composed of Alabamains, Georgians, and Tennesseeans, so it may be said this division was fighting on its native soil and for home indeed, for Alabama Tennessee, and Georgia all meet at Chattanooga.
The brigade with the army remained around Chattanooga, without incident of much not occurring to it. By Special Orders No. 294, issued by General Bragg Nov. 12th, 1863 The Thirty-second Alabama Regiment was transferred from Adam’s to Clayton's brigade; and the Fifty-eighth Alabama Regiment from Bate’s to Clayton’s brigade, O. W. R. Serial 56, Vol. 31, page 686. It was, on Nov. 20th, 1863, as shown in Serial 55, vol. 31, page 661:
18th Alabama, Maj. Shep. Ruffin.
32nd Alabama, Capt. John W. Bell.
36th Alabama, Col. Lewis T. Woodruff
38th Alabama, Co. Charles T. Ketchum.
58th Alabama, Lieut. Col. John W. Inger.
On the 24th of November 1863, General hooker, taking advantage of the heavy cloud hovering around Lookout Mountain, succeeded in getting advantage of Walthall who was picketing the west side of the Mountain, and whose headquarters were at the Craven house, and captured a large part of Walthall’s command and scattered the others. Pettus’ brigade was sent from the top of the Mountain to his relief, and succeeded in checking the enemy’s advance so as to save possession of the road leading down from the mountain to the valley below, and saved the other troops on the Mountain from being cut off from the army. This was well done, and the remnant of Walthall’s brigade were united with Pettus’ through the remainder of the day from about noon in holding the enemy back from further advance.
About 8 p. m. Clayton’s brigade, commanded by Co. James T. Holtzclaw, was sent up for the relief of General Pettus, who retired with the remnant of Walthall’s brigade, and two regiments of his own. Clayton’s command was not sufficient to hold all the line which had been occupied by Pettus, so the 46th Alabama regiment of his brigade had to remain in line with Clayton’s to cover the part it had held through the day. After Holtzclaw took position the enemy advanced again, and for a time there was a sharp firing along ht line, and so close were the enemy that the fold muskets, charged with buck and ball, which about half the 46th were armed, were more effective the Enfield rifles, each shot being equal to four. The heavy cloud still hung around the contestants but one could see further into its tenseness by the bright moonlight than in the day time. About 2 a.m. the Mountain was quietly abandoned by the Confederates who reached the valley at its foot about light. The Soldiers eat breakfast, and [after this text there is a line drawn with the following: O. W. R. Serial 55, vol. 31, p. 731-2. ] marched to the crest of Missionary ridge on the morning of the 25th, Pettus’ going to the right, Clayton’s to the left.
No report from any office of the command can be found of the part taken by the brigade in the battle of Missionary Ridge on the 25th of November, nor it its action referred to in the reports of the superior officers. In a private history of the 18th Alabama, which was a part of the brigade, written years after the war, the writer says:
“On the 25th the federal made a general advance on our [Confederate] lines. For hours the battle raged furiously for miles. The Federals were time and again repulsed, but would reinforce and come again. There seemed no exhausting the supply of blue coats. The ground was literally strewn with the dead and wounded, but still they cam on again. The Confederates did not have more than one man to ever three feet, and yet the held in check and repulsed an enemy coming three and four columns strong for hours, driving them back repeatedly. The valley was literally covered with the dead and dying. The Eighteenth occupied a position on the line that was not engaged, and when the line gave way on our right the Eighteenth retreated somewhat hurriedly, because they remained too long and were almost cut off before they were aware of it.”
This must have been thus of the brigade that it had no active participation in the conflict, and the destruction to the enemy’s forces alluded to has reference to the conditions on the right and a part of the centre. In the left center the break was made, and as General Bragg intimates without any excuse. There does appear more to an observer who overlooks the grounds of advance and defense. The only excuse is in the faulty formation of the main body of the troops where the breach was made, leaving the main force at the foot of the ridge until the enemy came near — pour in a volley — the retreat to the top and reform. It seems that a mere tyro would have seen that he enemy in such a case would clamber up the very steep sides of the mountain with the Confederates, without either side having an opportunity to fight where every exertion would have to be put forth to succeed in climbing; and the Confederates on the Ridge could not shoot into the enemy without shooting into their own men. And yet it would seem that the number on top ought to have held against the exhausted Federal who had climbed such steeps for 700 or 800 yards.
While no reference is made in the Confederate reports to the brigade, Thomas Curly, Col. commanding the 27th Missouri Regiment, in O. W. R. Serial 55, vol. 31, p. 611, says:
“We moved forward the distance of 1 1/2 miles, when we encountered and captured the greater part of Clayton’s reel brigade, with one piece of artillery. Our division suffered but little in this engagement. x x x x
The Twenty-seventh captured at Rossville Gap large quantities of arms, fixed ammunition for artillery and infantry, and a large supply of commissary and quartermaster supplies. Later in the day we captured several horses, mules, and wagons, one of the wagons loaded with ammunition for Clayton’s rebel brigade, the remainder with baggage. x x x We captured 160 prisoners, including 1 surgeon and one chaplain, making a total of 400 captured by the Twenty-seventh during the two days engagements — on for each main in the regiment and 150 over."
In O. W. R. Serial 56, vol. 31, p. 801, W. W. Mackhall in correspondence with general J. E. Honstons say “loosing a large portions of Clayton’s brigade.” The list of casualties in Clayton’s brigade for the 24th and 25th of November 1863, is 21 killed, 70 wounded, 679 missing; Total 827. O. W. R. Serial 56, vol. 31, p. 745.
The remainder of the brigade, with the rest of the army, fell back to Dalton, General Cleburne inflicting a sever flow upon the enemy at Ringghold as he guarded the rear of the retreating army. At Dalton the army spent the unusually sever winter in winter quarters where the troops fared well for soldiers. They had good huts or tents and to these they had arranged chimneys, and there was an abundance of good furl furnished by the woodland in which they were encamped.
General Joseph E. Johnston had superseded General Bragg, in whom the army both men and officers had confidence. The winter was spent in organizing, equipping and recruiting — a liberal system of furloughs was stopped — friends visited the camps from home — boxes of provisions and clothing came from home — there was much religious service enjoyed conducted by chaplains and a number of visiting army missionaries together with ministers who were soldiers. Altogether it was the most pleasant time the army had experienced, and by the time spring dame on loom had been largely dissipated — cheerfulness beamed from the faces of men — and a general feeling of coming suc[cess] was entertained — and in addition to confidence in, love for the commander had obtained in the hearts of men. Strict discipline had been enforced without harshness, except in the execution of some 14 deserters. It is doubtful is this had a happy effect. They had been given a fair trial before a regular court-martial, and the court had passed the sentence of death.
On the 10th of December 1863 the brigade was the same, except some change in commanders; general Clayton had returned to the command of the brigade; Col. J. T. Holtzclaw was with the 18th; Col. Bush Jones was commanding he conjoined 32nd and 58th; and Col. L. T. Woodruff the united 36th and 38th. O. W. R. Serial 56, vol., 31, p. 805.
It is learned from here page 825 ib., that the
18th Ala. had effective 304; present 373; present and absent 827
32d and 58th had effective 304; present 373 present and absent 1,045
36th had effective 288; present 353; present and absent 909
38h had effective 208; present 272; present and absent 875
On page 887 ib., the 36th and 38th are again individual commands with Captain John Libmer commanding the 36th, and Lieutenant Colonel A. R. Lankford the 38th, on December 31st, 1863.
The quite of the camp was broken in the latter part of February 1864, by the advance of a part of General Thomas forces as far south as Ringgold and Crow Valley lying on the east side of Rock Fact Ridge. Of this movement General J. E. Johnston in his report of the Atlanta Dalton Campaign, O. W. R. Serial 74, vol. 38, page 613 says: “The force detached was probably exaggerated to Major-General Thomas, for on the 23 [February] the Federal army advanced to Ringgold, on the 24th drove in our outposts, and on the 25th skirmished at Mill Creek Gap and in Crow’s Valley, east of Rock Face Mountain. We were successful at both places. At the latter, Clayton’s brigade after a sharp action of half an hour, defeated double its number.”
In the absence of official reports from General Clayton, the following from reliable private sources are introduced to aid in a more detailed account of the affair.
By consulting O. W. R. Serial 74, vol. 38, page 641, it will be seen that the brigade now, April 30th, 1864, as the campaign of 1864 is about to open, remains the same with the exception that Lieut. Col. Thomas H. Herndon has returned to the command of the 36th Alabama. Its numerical strength is not given.
The campaign was introduced by commands taking positions confronting the advancing enemy which began about the 7th of May, 1864 when the two armies were to be in more or less close grapple for nearly one hundred days. A campaign waged with masterly skill on the part of both commanders, and fought with unusual determination and courage on the part of officers and men.
The scenes of blood and carnage that were to follow began with the movement of Clayton’s brigade with had its winter quarters in Crow’s Valley, and not the namely were coming upon him. His action will be given from his own report found in O. W. R. Serial 74, vol. 38, pages 831-4. [No. 663. Report of Brig. Gen. Henry D. Clayton, C. S. Army, commanding brigade, of operations May 7-27. Headquarters Clayton's Brigade, Near New Hope Church, May 29, 1864.] He says: “Being in winter quarters in Crow's Valley, near Dalton, Ga., early in the day on the 7th of May I received orders to hold my brigade in readiness for action. At 9 a. m. I took position with two regiments on Rocky Face Mountain, placing the other two in the railroad (or Mill Creek) gap, on the left. At 11 a. m. this brigade, with the balance of the division, was ordered to take position in front of the gap for the purpose of developing the enemy. The enemy, now appearing on Tunnel Hill Ridge, opened upon my line with artillery, which was continued at irregular intervals until night. At 10 p. m. the brigade was withdrawn to its original position on the mountain and in the gap.
“On the evening of the 8th Colonel Lankford, commanding Thirty-eighth Alabama Regiment, occupying the rifle-pits on the south side of the mountain, extending toward the railroad, was repeatedly and vigorously assaulted by the enemy. The Thirty-eighth Tennessee Regiment (Colonel Gwynne), of Wright's brigade, having been sent to his support, the enemy was handsomely repulsed with considerable loss. In these repeated and protracted engagements both regiments behaved well.
“Near the close of these engagements, learning that the ammunition of the two regiments named was nearly exhausted, I ordered Colonel Woodruff to take his regiment (the Thirty-sixth Alabama) to their support. This he did promptly, though events showed it was unnecessary. The enemy made frequent demonstrations at various points along my line, but were promptly repulsed, each time with a loss far greater than that inflicted upon my command.
“With various but immaterial changes the brigade retained its position until 8.20 p. m. on the 12th, when it was withdrawn, leaving a line of pickets, and took up the march toward Resaca.
“Early on the morning of the 14th the brigade went into line of battle near Resaca on the left of the division and connecting with Stevenson's division. At 6 p. m. the brigade, moving by the right flank and by file left, with position at right angles to that previously occupied, advanced upon the left flank of the enemy, who were quickly routed, in their haste leaving their knapsacks, &c., upon the field. The pursuit was continued about one mile, when, night coming on, the whole command was halted. Subsequently the division was withdrawn to its original position.
“On the morning of the 15th the line was advanced about half a mile to conform to the new line of General Stevenson's division on the left. At 4 p. m., having received very particular instructions from the major-general commanding as to a movement about to take place, I communicated them to my regimental commanders with the same particularity. I ordered the regiments to move out successively, beginning on the right, and advance with a left half-wheel, guiding to the left. To make the matter doubly sure, I moved out the Eighteenth Alabama Regiment, Colonel Holtzclaw, on the right, and then the Thirty-second and Fifty-eighth Alabama Regiments, Colonel Jones, and executing a left half-wheel, halted them in that position, with the left overlapping the next regiment by 100 yards or more. I then sent a staff officer to direct the two regiments still behind the breast-works to move out promptly on the new line, took my position near the center of the brigade to superintend its movements, and gave the command to forward. Although a portion of the line was subjected to a heavy fire so soon as it left the breast-works, overlapping Reynolds' brigade upon the left, it moved promptly forward between 200 and 300 yards, when the fire became very heavy and destructive, as my thinned ranks attest. Being at the moment with the Thirty-second and Fifty-eighth Alabama Regiments, their unexceptional conduct came under my immediate observation. The line becoming somewhat confused, I directed that the alignment should be corrected about fifty yards in rear of the most advanced position and hastened forward; but General Stovall's brigade having abandoned my right, and Reynolds' brigade, upon my left, having failed to advance altogether, I saw no alternative but to fall back to my position behind the breast-works, which was deliberately done, and the dead and wounded, as far as practicable, removed to the rear.
“In this affair I think my officers and men entitled to the very highest commendation, whether regarding the impetuous advance of the Thirty-sixth and Thirty-eighth Alabama Regiments through the open field under a heavy fire from the moment of leaving the breastworks, or the more steady step of the Eighteenth and Thirty-second and Fifty-eighth Alabama Regiments, all of whom pushed up to within a few paces of the enemy's works without hesitation, though they knew what was before them and the fate they would certainly encounter.
“After having two color-bearers killed, Colonel Lankford, of the Thirty-eighth Alabama Regiment, was last seen with his colors in his hand. Whether he was killed or wounded I have been unable to learn, as he fell into the hands of the enemy. x x x x[Omitted text: "Without doing injustice to others, I feel that I ought particularly to mention the names of Lieut. John R. Hall, of Company F, Thirty-sixth Alabama Regiment, and Lieut. J. M. Walker, of Company D, and Lieut. J. T. Jackson, Company A, same regiment, and Lieut. Joseph Flant, Company K, and Lieut. L. F. Irwin, Company G, Thirty-eighth Alabama Regiment, the first of whom was killed on the field, and the others wounded and have since died, except Lieutenant Irwin. Nor must I omit to mention the gallant T. J. Stanford, whose battery was posted along my line, and who fell during the charge of my brigade. This battery rendered valuable assistance in enabling me to regain my position, and it was under these circumstances I learned, with the deepest grief, that its brave captain had yielded up his life.“Soon after night the brigade was withdrawn from its position, and with the balance of the division took up a line about one mile in rear, covering the movement of the army in crossing the Oostenaula River. Later in the night the march was resumed in the direction of Cassville, where on the 17th the line of battle was again formed, but nothing of interest transpired beyond the capture of a portion of my line of skirmishers by a sudden dash of the enemy's cavalry through the line.
In this connection I take pleasure in mentioning a circumstance which attracted my attention. The gunners of the gun at which Captain Stanford fell having been ordered to bear his body to the rear, Private John S. McMath, of Stanford's battery, continued to serve the gun alone until the infantry began to retire to the breast-works, when at his solicitation they aided him, and I am informed by officers who witnessed the firing that it was done with fine effect."]
In O. W. R. Serial 73, vol. 38, p. 29, Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams, commanding First Division of Twentieth Army Corps, Federal, in his report in speaking of the battle of Resaca, says: [No. 179. Report of Brig, Gen. Alpheus S. Williams, U. S. Army, commanding First Division, of operations May 1 - July 28 and August 28 - September 8. Hdqrs. First Division, Twentieth Army Corps, Atlanta, Ga. , September 12, 1864. ] The colors and colonel, with other officers and men, of the Thirty-eighth Alabama were captured by the Twenty-seventh Indiana Volunteers, Colonel Colgrove, of Ruger's brigade, and the division took about 125 prisoners. In front of one brigades officers and 80 [men] of the enemy's dead were buried. x x x x ["Our early march on the following day made it necessary to leave much the greater number to be buried by details from other commands."] The casualties of my division - 48 killed, 366 wounded, and 3 missing; aggregate, 417.”
On page 752 ib. Colonel E. M. McCook First Cav. Div. Dept. of the Cumberland says in his report that on the 19th of May: “The Second Indiana in a sabre (sic) charge captured one entire company of Eighteenth Alabama.”
On page 785 ib., Maj. David A. Briggs, Second Indiana Cavalry, in his report says: [the regiment crossed the Coosawattee River, and] marched in direction of Cassville, Ga., near which place we encountered the enemy in force. The Second Indiana Cavalry was ordered to advance in line of skirmishers. In this the regiment lost 1 man, W. H. Underwood, wounded severely in the arm. We were then ordered to retire from our position and move around to the right to take possession of a gap in the mountain. Here the enemy were in force; infantry were formed along the road leading to the gap. Here the regiment made a bold and desperate charge, breaking the rebel lines of infantry, and killing and wounding several of them, and captured 35 rebels of Company C, Eighteenth Alabama (rebel) Infantry. In this charge the regiment did not lose a man.”
The expected battle near Cassville was not fought through the battle order had been issued, and it was confidently expected. Such remarks as “boys we’ve got to fight tomorrow for “old Joe” has said so,” such was the reliance put in whatever General Johnston said. The expression “Old Joe” was not derisive but rather as spoken by the men meant affectionate regard. General Johnson in his report as afterward made expressed regret that he did not adhere to his purpose to fight, and only gave it up because Generals Hood and Polk, in a council held after night, said they could not hold their part of the line.
During the campaign by the greatly superior numbers of the enemy they had enough to confront the Confederates in line, and yet spare a large force to move around the Confederate flank. This was the plan pursued by General Sherman; and it made it necessary for the Confederates to frequently fall back from their positions to meet the flankers and save the rear. In this way the army had reached the New Hope line by the 25th of May 1864.
Here General Clayton’s report will give the information about his brigade. [No. 663. Report of Brig. Gen. Henry D. Clayton, C. S. Army, commanding brigade, of operations May 7-27. Headquarters Clayton's Brigade, Near New Hope Church, May 29, 1864.] He says: About 10 a. m. on the 25th the command was halted near New Hope Church and rapidly placed in position. I was informed that the enemy was near by and advancing from the right, and a regiment [was] called for by the lieutenant general commanding to advance up the road in the direction from which the enemy was said to be approaching. I accordingly ordered Col. Bush. Jones, commanding Thirty-second and Fifty-eighth Alabama Regiments, who moved forward promptly and soon engaged the enemy. For further particulars refer to his report, * accompanying this. My remaining three regiments hastily threw up log breast-works and awaited the approach of the enemy. Gibson's brigade, which had been subsequently ordered forward, and Colonel Jones' regiments having both been withdrawn, I ordered Captain Darby, of the Eighteenth Alabama Regiment, a gallant and zealous officer, to move forward with a line of skirmishers. A little before 5 p. m. my skirmish line was driven in, and the enemy soon made his appearance in force, engaging my whole line. Three lines of battle of the enemy came forward successively and in turn were successively repulsed. Men could not have fought better or exhibited more cool and resolute courage. Not a man except the wounded left his position. The engagement lasted uninterruptedly until night, or more than two hours, and when the enemy finally withdrew many of my men had their last cartridges in their guns.
“For its conduct in this engagement too much praise cannot be awarded to Fenner's battery, which occupied a position along my line. Although the enemy came to within fifty or sixty yards of their guns, every officer and man stood bravely at his post.
“On the 27th the enemy again attacked my brigade in the same position, but were again promptly repulsed.
“On the morning of the 28th the brigade, with the balance of the division, was withdrawn and moved to another part of the field.”
The brigade had lost from May 7th to May 27th, 62 killed, 373 wounded, 167 missing; total 602.
In the further operations of the campaign through June and July up to the siege of Atlanta Clayton’s brigade probably had no important part, although skirmishes and even heavier engagements were frequently taking place. Nothing in official records show a report of anything, and even in the voluminous history of the 18th no special mention is made of any important event. The brigade shared with the retreat of the army in the numerous night marches in rain and mud. It was a remarkably raining summer. It was march by night to meet the flanking enemy, and intrench (sic) and fight by day. Yet great cheerfulness prevailed, and but little grumbling unless one stumbled in an unusually deep mud hole as he plodded along in the darkness.
On July 8th, 1864, General Clayton was made a Major-general, and assigned to Stewart’s Division; while Stewart was made a Lieutenant-General and assigned to Polks Corps. Colonel James T. Holtzclaw was made a BrigadierGeneral in the same day, July 8th 1864, and assigned to the command of the brigade.
General Henry D. Clayton who gave name to the brigade was a native of Georgia, but from early in life an Alabamaian of Barbour county. He was a lawyer and a planter. He represented Barbour county in the legislature from 1857 to 1860. He went with the first troops to Pensacola and took possession of the public property of the government for the state of Alabama. He was made Colonel of the First Alabama regiment. Afterward raised the thirty-ninth Alabama. He was made a brigadier-general April 25th 1863. On July 8th, 1864 he was made a major-general, and continued such to the end of the war. He was paroled at Greens borough, N.C. Memorandum of General Officers, pages 12 and 25 and Brewer’s Alabama page 133. He was elevated to the Circuit Bench as Judge after the war. Hew as respected and loved by his officers and men as a soldier; and was held in high esteem as a citizen and christian (sic) gentleman. His reports as an army officer always closed the reverent recognition of God’s providence.
On July 10th, 1864, it is learned the brigade was under the command of General Holtzclaw, and Leiut.. Col. Peter F. Hunley in command of the 18t Alabama; Col. Bush. Jones commanding 32nd and 58th Alabama; Lieut. Col. Thomas H. Herndon commanding the 36th Alabama; and Maj. Shep. Ruffin commanding the 38th Alabama; on July 31st at, Captain Ben Lane Posey is commanding. O. W. R. Serial 74, vol. 38, pages 657 & 664. It is in Clayton’s division, and Hood’s Corps. From July 17th, Hood having been given command of the Army of the Tennessee, Maj. Gen. Cheatham was placed in command of Hood’s Corps until Lieutenant-General Stephen D. Lee was placed in command July 27th, 1864.
The strength by brigades is not often shown in the campaign of 1864.
For information of the part taken by the brigade in the battles around Atlanta resort must be had to reports of officers commanding division, corps, &c. as the direct officers failed largely to make reports.
The author of the history of the 18th Alabama Regiment says: “The Eighteenth regiment was in this desperate battle of Peach Tree Creek, July 20th for many hours. The loss in killed and wounded was very heavy, the regiment being cut to pieces.” This must be a mistake as not a published official report shows any part of Clayton’s division connected with any action until the 22d of July.
The change of commanders from Johnston to Hood was deeply regretted by the army from the first, and each event following deepened the regret. There was first the battle of Peach Tree Creek on the 20th of July in which the slaughter was great without any compensating result. Then cam that of the 22nd still more destructive, both reflecting honor upon the bravery of the Confederate soldiers, but that was the sum of the reward. In these engagements the Confederate loss was about double that of the enemy while the South did not have the men to spare there being none to take their place. Then came the other great slaughter on the 28th of July where even the bravery of some f the Confederate soldiers, and amount them Alabamains, was discounted by our on General Stephen D. Lee.
And last, blanked out of Atlanta and rushed into battle on the 31st of August, at Jonesborough, after an all night’s march to confront a flushed enemy, exhausted and without time to the morning’s meal, which resulted only in the Confederates holding their line for the following night, followed by the evacuation of Atlanta on the 1st of September, and the loss of all the army stores there.
The following statements are extracted from the few reports to be found showing what part Clayton’s brigade had in the deeply saddening events. In O. W. R. Serial 74, vol. 38, page 819, [No. 655. Reports of Maj. Gen. Henry D. Clayton, C. S. Army, commanding division (formerly Stewart's) of operations July 22, 28, and August 31. Headquarters Clayton's Division, Near Atlanta, GA., August 27, 1864.] General Clayton says in his report: “[MAJOR:] I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of the 22d July, 1864: This division, composed of Stovall's brigade (Col. A. Johnson commanding), Baker's brigade (Col. J. H. Higley commanding), Gibson's brigade (General R. L. Gibson commanding), and Holtzclaw's brigade (Col. Bush. Jones commanding), being in the trenches on the northeast of Atlanta, about 4 p. m. I was ordered to close to the right, my extreme right remaining fixed, and forming in two lines to begin the attack upon the enemy in my front and upon the left of Hindman's division, already engaged. I placed Baker's and Stovall's brigades in the front line, and Gibson's and Holtzclaw's in the rear. I then ordered Colonel Johnson to move forward and make the attack, forming a connection with Hindman's division upon his right, and that Colonel Jones should follow at a given interval. Observing a considerable force of the enemy moving down his lines from my left to the right, I ordered Major Eldridge, commanding the artillery battalion attached to the division, to move out and open fire. This was done, but with what effect I was unable to judge. At the same time I ordered Colonel Higley to move his brigade forward, but deeming it important to meet this movement of the enemy and at least check it, I ordered him to change his front obliquely to the left and attack. This he did in good style, and, together with the artillery, checked the movement from that direction. General Gibson's brigade was moved to the right in support of Hindman's division, which had now been repulsed, but the enemy failing to pursue, it did not become engaged. Stovall's and Holtzclaw's brigades, after having made gallant assaults and driven the enemy from their works, were also in turn driven back with considerable loss, the enemy moving from the front of Hindman's division upon their right. Colonel Jones still held his brigade together, when, riding out upon his right, I discovered the enemy moving upon that flank. I ordered him to change his direction and move back about 100 yards to an advantageous position, where I also found General Manigault and a portion of his brigade, whom I ordered to form upon Colonel Jones' left. All the other troops having left the field except Colonel Higley, who was a few hundred yards to my left and still skirmishing with the enemy, I ordered him to withdraw, retaining General Manigault and Colonel Jones in position until night, when I received orders to withdraw them also.
“In this engagement I lost many brave men and officers. Conspicuous among the latter were Lieutenant-Colonel Brown, of First Georgia State Line, Stovall's brigade; Lieutenant-Colonel Greene, Thirty-seventh Alabama, Baker's brigade; and Maj. Shep. Ruffin, of the Eighteenth Alabama, then commanding the Thirty-eighth Alabama, Holtzclaw's brigade.
For the part taken in the next engagement Clayton’s report found on page 821 ib. will be again used.: [Headquarters Clayton's Division, In the Field, September 16, 1864.] He says: “[MAJOR: I have the honor to report as follows:] Early on the morning of the 28th of July this division, with the exception of Stovall's brigade, was ordered to move from its position in the trenches on the northeast of Atlanta through the city to the west. Here it was halted until near the middle of the day, when, having been preceded by Brown's division, it moved out upon the Lick Skillet road about a mile
and went into line of battle on the right of the road, facing to the north. I had placed Gibson's brigade on the left, and was superintending the formation of Holtzclaw's brigade upon the right - having directed Brigadier-General Baker to form his brigade in rear as a reserve - when I learned that without the knowledge of Brigadier-General Gibson or myself, his brigade had been ordered forward by Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham, assistant inspector-general of the corps. This brigade soon struck the enemy, whose skirmishers, with the line supporting them, were promptly driven back on the main line. Moving Holtzclaw's brigade forward, with instructions to look well to the right (my formation having been from the left on Brown's division), I hastened to where Gibson's brigade was engaged. This brigade had struck the salient in the enemy's works and had suffered severely. I was informed by Brigadier-General Gibson that he needed support. The troops on his left had been driven back in confusion. I immediately ordered up Baker's brigade, which renewed the attack with spirit, but was in time driven back with great loss. I then ordered Holtzclaw's brigade to move by the left flank and take a position out of view of the enemy, but near their works, and covering the ground over which the other two brigades had passed, in order to meet an advance of the enemy should one be made. Hastily forming Gibson's and Baker's brigades (both of which had fought with gallantry and lost one-half of their original numbers) in rear, the firing upon my left having ceased, I notified Lieutenant-General Lee, commanding corps, of my position, and awaited orders. I had found the enemy in strong works and upon ground well chosen. Had my right brigade advanced to the attack it would have done so by changing direction to the left and moved through an extensive open field. I had also been instructed not to make the attack beyond the branch in my front, and which this brigade had then crossed. Soon after dark the troops were moved back through the breast-works near the city, and to a new position on the left of the army.
General S. D. Lee in his report on page 763 ib., speaking of what occurred in the two weeks following the battle of the 28th, says: [“]The skirmishing along Patton Anderson’s formally (sic) Hindmen’s and Clayton’s divisions amounts almost to an engagement for a week.”
Sherman quietly withdrew the larger part of his forces from around Atlanta bout the 26th or 27th of August, and a remarkable stillness as compared with the noised of more than a mouth prevailed; and the question in the mind of the besieged was as to what it meant. On the 30th it was discovered that these forces had made quite a detour west and south and then eastwardly and had nearly reached the only road open to the Confederates leading south, the Macon and Western. Hardee’s and Lee’s corps were hurried that night from Atlanta to Jonesboro, reaching here exhausted from marching, and without time to east were hurried into such formation as the exigencies permitted, and once more were in a death grapple with the enemy. The enemy were beaten off from the possessions of the road, the Confederates simply holding the ground on which they entered. The night of the 31st, after the battle, Lee’s corps was hurried up toward Atlanta to aid General Hood in getting out of the city. Sherman lost his opportunity. Hood with one corps in Atlanta; one at Jonesborough, one between the two places, 30 miles apart, he could have annihilated the army in detail. A kind providence delayed the fatal blow to a later period and a much larger offering to be laid upon the sacrificial alter of our dying Confederacy.
On the battle of August 31st, 1864 the part taken by this brigade can best be shown by the report of Colonel Bushrod Jones, commanding the brigade, found on page 835 ib. [No. 664. Report of Col. Bushrod Jones, Fifty-eighth Alabama Infantry, commanding Holtzclaw's (formerly Clayton's) brigade, of operations August 31. Headquarters Holtzclaw's Brigade, September 16, 1864. Captain:] “I have the honor to submit the following report of the action of Holtzclaw's brigade in the battle of Jonesborough, August 31:
“About 3 p. m. the brigade was in line of battle in the edge of the woods, being the right brigade of the second line, and overlapping the front line nearly the entire brigade front. The right wing of the brigade and its right flank were protected by a line of skirmishers. At the appointed signal for the advance, the order of the major-general, the men and officers generally moved forward with spirit and enthusiasm and in very good order. After advancing about 200 yards I met the first line, repulsed with disorder and confusion after a very short contest, and then an open space of about 300 yards intervened between the brigade and the works of the enemy. The line continued to advance with good order and much enthusiasm. Unfortunately, just as the line arrived at a line of rail piles, about forty yards in front of the enemy's line, the line halted without orders, and the men sought shelter behind these piles, throwing the line in disorder. In a few minutes I saw the line on my left give way and retire in disorder. The men were in the regiment immediately on my left. I hastened to the left, fearing the example would cause the left regiment of the brigade to retire also, but soon saw they maintained their position without any encouragement from me. I then used every effort in my power to reform the line and to urge the men forward to take the works in front, but without effect. I held this advanced position until all the troops within sight on my left had been repulsed, and until I saw that it was useless to make any more efforts to carry the position probably about a half hour. I then ordered the brigade to retire in order, and reformed the line at the first line of works from which we advanced at the beginning of the battle. x x x x[I regret to say that the conduct of the brigade after halting at the picket-line of the enemy was not satisfactory. The men seemed possessed of some great horror of charging breast-works, which no power, persuasion or example could dispel, yet I must say that the officers generally did their duty.“The brigade went into action with 58 officers, 645 guns. Casualties 11 killed, 67 wounded, 30 missing.
My own personal obligations are especially due to the staff officers - Lieuts. R. P. Baker and John Holtzclaw and Capt. J. H. Pickens - each of whom had his horse shot in the action.]
Nothing of special interest occurred in the time elapsing between Jonesborough battle and the start into Tennessee about the 1st of October. It was Hood’s plan to go to the rear of Sherman and destroy his source of supplied by destroying the railroad over which they came. He succeeding in making the road inoperative for Sherman; but that general had nothing between him and the seaboard where he could again be in tough with his sources of supply, a comparatively short distance through a good country full of grain just matured, and abounding in fat hogs and cattle to the appropriation of which he had no scruples, but which would rather minister to this pleasure. So that he did __ care. His watchword was “Onward to the Sea;” and he went.
The march of several hundred miles was made in a zigzag course through Georgia to near Rome — from there to Gadsden southwest — from there to Florence northwest, near the western corner of Alabama, and from there to Columbia, Tenn. northwesterly. the time occupied was from Oct. 1st to Nov. 27th 1864, when Federals and Confederates as organized armies again cam in contact.
The strength of the brigade as such has not been found but that of the division on Nov. 6th 1864, was, present for duty 260 officers, 2,171 men; aggregate present 3,247; aggregate present and absent 8,978.
Upon the near approach of the Confederates the Federals evacuated Columbia, burning the brigade across Duck River, and entrenched themselves on the hill which gradually sloped from the river for more than half a mile. They had a strong picket force on the immediate bank of the river. The river at Columbia approaches the city from the north, but the bluff upon which the town is built it turns almost duly west. This made the main line of the enemy subject to be enfiladed from its left by a force on the opposite side higher up the river.
The Confederates entered and took possession on the 27th the only action being some skirmishing along the river. On the 29th, early, General Hood took all the army with the exception of Stevenson's and Clayton's divisions of Lee's corps left to keep the attention of the enemy while Hood should reach his rear at Spring Hill. The movement was successfully made, Hood crossing the river some three miles above Columbia, and was successfully planted in rear of the foe. Late on the evening of the 29th three regiments of Pettus brigade, crossing the river in a pontoon boat, succeeded in killing, capturing and driving the picket from the river so that a pontoon bridge could be laid over which the remainder of Lee's corps could cross with the artillery and trains, and pursued after the retreating forces of Schofield who abandoned his works just after night. Stevenson's and Clayton's division followed on after getting across before midnight, marching the remainder of the night in constant and fond expectation of strikiing a square hard blow in the back of the enemy while Hood held them in front. The only fear was that the desperation of the situation would force the enemy to surrender before they could get in to take part in the play. But about light as they reached Spring Hill they were filled with amazement at having heard no firing, a calm fall morning greeting them -- the campfires of the Confederates burning fr miles quite near the pike over which the enemy had passed. The bird had flown becuase the set trap had been left standing open. A sadder disappointment could hardly have occurred. The only sound braking the stillness of the morning of Nov. 30th outside of what was made by the division in their tramp, tramp, tramp, was an occasional very distant sounding artilery (sic). After moving on some miles broken down wagons and dead horses were found occasionally where the pursuing calvary would overtake and destroy some of the enemy’s transportation. Occasionally there would be the dying boom of a distant cannon. As the pressed on, late in the afternoon, there was a change of sound from an occasional to a frequent and more frequent roar of cannon, and then and incessant din of small arms. the fearful tragedy of Franklin was being played in lieu of the comedy of Spring Hill. Fortunately, for Clayton’s and Stevenson’s divisions they reached the vicinity too late to be shares in its horrors. They were formed for it and started, but before entering the scene of carnage they were fated, for the tragedy was ending hopelessly. A merciful God had saved them.
The failure was not the result of cowardice, it was the daring reckless fight of desperation on the part of Scholfield’s men behind splendid fortifications and the persistent effort f brave soldiers to retrieve a shameful blunder, and was victory at any cost. There was perhaps, if not certainly, no battle in the four years of battles were more daring and determined deeds of valor were displayed by both sided not of a few of both armies.
The lines were arranged for a renewal of the battle when the morning came. But during the night the enemy had left for Nashville. The Confederates spent much of the day in deepest sadness as the dug the graves and laid away in their last sleeping place the thousands of their dead officers and comrades in the ranks. The dead were found in plies of two, three, and even four lying on each other. There were 20, 30, and even ad many as forty balls found to have struck some of the men. Blood actually ran in places. See Reports of O. W. R. Serial 93- [vol.] 45 - Clayton page 697: Stevenson, 693; S. D. Lee, 686; A. P. Stewart, 707.
In the latter part of the day, the army stared in pursuit toward Nashville which was reached Decr.(sic) 1st and 2nd. At Nashville, instead of strking the foe on the run, the army settled down into intrenchments about the place until the 15th of December, giving Thomas all the time he needed for making his army as strong as he wished it, when he came out and attacked the Confederates. They had been enjoying tolerably fair rations; protecting themselves against the intense cold by digging holes some four feet deep, with fire places cut in the clay and barrel chimneys to carry out the smoke; they were tolerably confortable. There was some light skirmishing occasionaly and much entrenching.
On the 15th the enemy made a strong demonstration on the right of the line, but the real assault was on the left which they broke, compelling the Confederates to Fall back and establish a new line during the night, a mile or two back toward Franklin. The remainder of the night and morning hours were spent in thorwing up new works, and they were good for the time spent upon them. The brigade was not in the actual fighting of the 15th but in line, and moved occasionally as changes were apparently needed.
In O. W. R. Serial 93, vol. 45, pages 697-700, is the account of the engagement covering the part taken by Clayton’s division which embraces the part of the brigade. The attack was made on the morning of the 16th with a strong force preceded by heavy artillery firing. Three different times the enemy with great daring attempted to break through the lines but were repelled each time with heavy loss estimated in killed and wounded at from 1,500 to 2,000. So enthusiastic did the men of the division become that the General says “it was difficult to restrain them from going over the works in pursuit of the enemy. Five color bearers with their colors were shot down in a few stapes of the works, one of which, having inscribed on its folds ‘Eighteenth regiment U. S. Colored Infantry; presented by the colored ladies of Murfreesborough’ was brought in.”
Soon after this, and having orders just about this time to withdraw in order, seeing the left giving way in great disorder General Clayton gave the command the order to retire. He says: “The whole army - except this division, Pettus' brigade, of Stevenson's division, and the Thirty-ninth Georgia Regiment, of Cumming's brigade, also of Stevenson's division, which had a short time before been sent to me as a support and held in reserve - was then in complete rout. Some confusion existed even in these commands, though scarcely perceptible in Stovall's brigade and the Thirty-ninth Georgia Regiment, above referred to, which latter deserves great credit for the manner in which it responded to my appeal to halt and check the advance of the enemy's skirmish line, which had then reached the top of the hill.”
About 2 a.m. on the 18th of Decr.(sic) the division was halted about seven miles from Franklin and rested until 5 a.m. when it was again put in motion to the south. About daylight in the morning Stovall’s brigade was placed on the right of the pike at Hollow Tree Gap, facing north, and Pettus’ Brigade on the left facing north. Here the pike runs through a narrow gap, while the large hill on each side rose with steep timbered sides curing toward the north forming a crescent opening northward. Bledoe’s battery was on the pike. The cavalry that had passed the infantry before light going toward Nashville were facetious, twitting the retreating infantry with their running on the evening before, and saying “We are going out to show you how to fight yankees.” But the sun had not been long risen when, after only a short fight judging by the sound of the firing, they came back on the run chased by the enemy, a number of whom had passed the battery before they discovered the line of Confederates, who poured a volley into them and they made a rapid retreat leaving 22 dead and wounded, and 63 prisoners in the hands of the Confederates. In a short time the battery and infantry renewed the retreat, and after going a mile or more to the rear they passed behind a part of Clayton’s division formed across the pike. This division, much depleted, met and drove back the next attack of the enemy, and fell back behind the line of Stovall and Pettus again formed across the pike, and who met and repelled the next attack. Thus by alternate lines these two commands covered the retreat of the fleeing army.
After crossing Harpeth River at Franklin, deeming the swollen river a protection, the division of Clayton moved on toward Spring Hill, but toward dark, hearing such heavy firing, Clayton decided the enemy was pressing Stevenson who with Pettus’ brigade and Cummings, commanded by Col. E. T. Watkins, halted his division and awaited the issue, to render help if needed. It was for Stevenson a happy thing, for while he was contending with the heavy force and bravest of cavalry seemingly determined to crush him, another cavalry force had made a detour, and coming into the Franklin and Columbia pike through a gap in the hills to the rear of Stevenson, would doubtless have led to the capture of the brave rear-guard had not Clayton so opportunely met and drove back this flanking column. See reports in O. W. R. Serial 93, vol. 45, Clayton pages 697-700; Stevenson, 693-7; S. D. Lee, 686-90.
From the 18th, without farther incident of note, the retreat was continued in cold ruins, sleet, and over frozen ground’ many even with bare and bleeding feet, thinly clad; many without blankets; rations scarce; through Columbia, Pulaski, to near Bainbridge where they crossed the Tennessee river on a pontoon bridge December 26th and 27th; and from there on to Tupelo, Miss. which was reached by Jany. 6th, 1865.[On page 700 Clayton described this: “After moving back a few miles the division bivouacked for the night and resumed the march on the following day for the Tennessee River, which it reached at Bainbridge on the 25th of December, after a most painful march, characterized by more suffering than it had ever before been my misfortune to witness.”]Both Generals Clayton’s and Stevenson’s divisions are highly commended by General Lee in his report of the campaign found in O. W. R. Serial 93, vol. 45, page 686-90.[See, e.g., page 688: “About 9 a. m. on the 16th the enemy, having placed a large number of guns in position, opened a terrible artillery fire on my line, principally on the Franklin pike. This lasted about two hours, when the enemy moved to the assault. They came up in several lines of battle. My men reserved their fire until they were within easy range, and then delivered it with terrible effect. The assault was easily repulsed. It was renewed, however, several times with spirit, but only to meet each time with a like result. They approached to within thirty yards of our line, and their loss was very severe. Their last assault was made about 3.30 p. m., when they were driven back in great disorder. The assaults were made principally in front of Holtzclaw's (Alabama), Gibson's (Louisiana), and Stovall's (Georgia) brigades, of Clayton's division, and Pettus' (Alabama) brigade, of Stevenson's division, and too much credit cannot be awarded Major-General Clayton and these gallant troops for their conspicuous and soldierly conduct.”]On December 18th 1864, before taking leave of the corps, General S. d. Lee issued a General Order No. 67 found in O. W. R. Serial 94, vol. 45, pages 706-7 as follows:
[General Orders, Headquarters Lee's Corps, Numbers 67. In the Field, December 18, 1864.] “Before taking temporary leave of this corps, I desire to express to the officers and men of my command my high appreciation of the good conduct and gallantry displayed by them at Nashville in the engagement of the 16th instant, and to assure them that they can be held in no manner responsible for the disaster of that day. I extend to them all my thanks for the manner in which they preserved their organization in the midst of temporary panic, rallying to their colors and presenting a determined front to the enemy, thus protecting the retreat of the army. I would also respectfully thank the officers and men of Holtzclaw's and Gibson's brigades, of Clayton's division, and of Pettus' brigade, of Stevenson's division, for the gallantry and courage with which they met and repulsed repeated charges of the enemy upon their line, killing and wounding large numbers of the assailants and causing them to retreat in confusion. I desire also to tender my heartfelt thanks to Major-General Stevenson and the officers and men of Pettus' and Cummings' brigades, of his division, for their skillful, brave, and determined conduct while protecting the retreat of the army from Franklin yesterday; constantly attacked in front and on either flank, these brave troops maintained an unshaken line, repulsed incessant attacks, and inflicted heavy loss upon the enemy.
In conclusion, my brave comrades, I beg to assure you that I am not only satisfied with your conduct in the recent campaign, but that I shall repose unalterable confidence in you in the future - a future which, despite the clouds which seem to lower around us, will yet be rendered bright by the patriotic deeds of our gallant army, in which none will gain prouder laurels or do more gallant deeds than the veterans whom I have the honor to command.” To deserve this tribute is indeed to be immortal.
The brigade, with the army, tarried at Tupelo until the 20th of January 1865, when the army began to send its worn veterans to the Carolina’s to participate in the last scene of the great tragedy. On the way quite a number blurred their bright escutcheon by leaving the trains as they passed near their homes, not with the intention of deserting on the part of may, but to take a voluntary furlough home for a few days to see the loved ones and then follow on to take place in rank again. There can be no justification for such a course, as it imperils the life of comrades and the life of the course itself, and exposes the homes, the women, and the children in the pathway of the enemy to whatever depredations or miseries they may choose to inflict in an unobstructed advance. If excuse could be offered they had it, for some of them had not been home in all these years of hardship and danger; they felt the government had bought disaster upon them in removing a wise and loved chieftain from them, and placing over them one incompetent for the position and thus suffered them robbed of their beloved comrades who had been uselessly sacrificed, and had destroyed hope from almost every breath of success to the Southern cause. Some got back to their commands who made their stay very short, but by far the most of them were prevented from rejoining in because the enemy was between them and the Confederate army.
On the 20th of January 1865, by order of General Richard Taylor, commanding Department, Holtzclaw’s brigade was order to Mobile to take the place of Baker’s brigade. O. W. R. Serial 94, vol. 45, page 801.
In O. W. R. Serial 103, vol. 49, pages 313-18 by the report of General R. L. Gibson commanding. It is shown that after having been on duty about Mobile and Blakely the brigade of General Holtzclaw, commanded by Col. Bush Jones, was made a part of the forces holding Spanish Fort against the advancing forces who were beleaguering Mobile and the surrounding coast. General Holtzclaw was present but in command of one wing of the forces. They were attached to this command in the latter part of March and about the time the enemy began the investment. This continued about two weeks, almost constant shelling from land and boats, and sometimes strong and vigorous attacks, none of which succeeded in getting possession of the Confederate lines. The enemy by steady intrencing (sic) drawing nearer and nearer on the Confederate lines until the lines were quite near; and eventually the enemy had so intrenched (sic) as to really be in the rear of the Confederate lines at a vital point and in command of the only way of retreat. General Givson, who had command, had been instructed to evacuate before inevitable capture became apparent. He now saw that as soon as the enemy learned the real advantage he had obtained, and it was not probable that more than a day would pass before the discovery, the General decided to vacate the Fort and lines during the following night. By quite movement the escape was effected April 8th 1865 except a part of the picket force who, nothing having been properly notified were captured. The main body, however, made their way safely to Blakely and from there to Mobile. General Gibson commends very highly the soldierly bearing of both General Holtzclaw and Col. Bush. Jones and their commands.
The loss of the brigade is not given, but that of the troops occupying the works around Spanish Fort was 93 killed, 395 wounded, 250 missing out of a force of 2,000. Page 318 ib.
On the 11th of April Mobile was evacuated by the Confederates, and on the 12th the Federals took possession. Nothing of importance in the way of military operations follow. Lee had surrendered in Virginia. Johnston was in correspondence with Sherman for surrender in North Carolina; and soon negotiations between Generals Richard Taylor and Canby began, terminating by the surrender of Taylor on the 4th of May 1865, thus ending the long and bloody war between the States where brother fought brother; father fought son; and sacred ties had been broken. But like other things that are unique in the United States, the severed bonds were reunited, and those who had stood in deadly array against each other have since fought side by side under the same flag with her stars floating over them.
Updated frequently and usually too late at night for civilized folk so check back often. Last updated: 16 Juny 2001
© 2000 - 2001 DABF