HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH LOUISIANA REGIMENT,
Corinth, Miss., April 20, 1862.
COLONEL: I have the honor of hereby submitting to you a report of the action taken by the Eleventh Regiment Louisiana Volunteers in the late engagements of the 6th and 7th instant, near the Tennessee River, as nearly as it can be done, owing to the confusion into which our regiment was thrown immediately after it was brought into action on the morning of the 6th:
We left our camp, near Corinth, Miss., on Thursday, April 3, at about 6p.m., in accordance with orders previously received from headquarters, to meet the enemy. Marching slowly and halting frequently in consequence of the bad state of the roads, nothing of any note occurred worthy of a place in our report until Saturday evening, April 5, when, at about sunset, we were ordered to encamp for the night, and then for the first time took our position in line of battle in the First Brigade, First Division, Army of the Mississippi, about 3 miles south of the enemys camp. The night being a pleasant one, in connection with a fine camping ground, our officers and men, who were greatly fatigued, became somewhat refreshed from the night's rest.
Here we remained until daylight, when we were ordered to forward by column of companies. The road, however, being unpropitious for moving in this order, we were then commanded to march by the flank, in which order we continued until within about 2 miles of the enemys camp, when the command was given to form a line of battle and take our position in the brigade as assigned us the previous evening. Our position thus taken, we marched steadily forward to the scene of conflict as indicated by the report of musketry in front, occasionally halting at short intervals for the brigade in front to push forward.
Marching in this order until within half a mile of the enemys camp, it was evident, from the constant volley of musketry and heavy cannonading, that the engagement had become general, and particularly so on our right. At this juncture Lieut. John Crowley, of Company F, lost his left arm (he having lost his right arm at Belmont, November 7, 1861), from the explosion of a shell fired from one of the batteries of the enemy, which was so planted or stationed on a hill as to command the whole surrounding country.
From our position it was impossible to do any effective service, but exposed at the same time to the severity of the fire from the enemy's batteries. Then it was that the command passed along our line to charge and take the battery which was firing on us at all hazards. I am pleased to state that this command was cheerfully obeyed, and with alacrity, both by men and officers, attempted to be executed; but owing to a creek, a dense thicket of undergrowth of briers and vines and a slough through which our regiment had to pass to gain the position of this battery, but four companies (the first three on our right and one on our extreme left, whose progress had not been so greatly impeded by the creek and underbrush) had been able to make their way through and gain the summit of a hill just opposite, and about 300 yards from that upon which the battery was planted, and between which there was still this slough. As soon as that portion of our regiment had gained this hill it was discovered that this battery, which had been so advantageously planted by the enemy, was sustained by a heavy infantry force, aided by a large number of sharpshooters, who were concealed in and behind their tents, and who all together opened such a deadly and well-aimed fire as to make it impossible to hold the point gained by us, and compelled us to fall back, with a considerable loss in killed and wounded. In falling back, however, there was much confusion and disorder, and, owing to the hurried manner and the fire under which we were compelled to reform the regiment, some of the companies composing it did not take their proper positions in line of battle, and many of the men were not even in their own companies or regiments.
We then pushed forward and soon gained our former position, but found the enemy had fallen back from his first position and taken a stand with the battery about 1,000 yards in the rear of his camp.
Pushing forward we were again soon engaged, and after some considerable firing the battery was finally captured, which, we believe, proved to be the Michigan City.
Here we had wounded Major [Alexander] Mason and Lieuts. H. B. Barrow and [M.] Cunningham, together with quite a number killed and wounded.
In this second charge and on the fall of this battery our regiment became more and more divided and scattered. Some of them, as I learn, pursuing the then fleeing enemy on the right, while others went to the extreme left and center. That portion which went to the center were flanked on the left by an ambuscade of the enemy, were driven from this point with a heavy loss, and fell back to the main forces, where the order was given to fall back all along that portion of our line, which command was executed in order. After falling back the firing on this portion of our line almost entirely ceased.
Remaining at this point very nearly an hour, which was occupied in efforts to rally our men together, we were ordered forward and a little to our left, but found the enemy had fallen back.
It was not long, however, until we had again engaged the enemy, and but a short time thereafter until Colonel Marks was wounded and carried from the field. This was nearly 3 p. m. The engagement was now general; the fighting desperate; our men hurried from point to point as exigencies required, until those who had up to this time remained together were greatly cut up and divided, rendering it impossible to rally any considerable number at any one point. From this time and in this manner a large majority, if not all, our men, I believe, continued to fight throughout the day.
I was ordered toward evening by Captain [E. D.] Blake to take my position, with what men I had, on the extreme left, where I remained until the fighting of the day had ceased; after which I started back to find our hospital, hoping there to find the majority of our regiment assembled.
Not succeeding in finding it during that night, the next morning I was directed to it, where I found some 20 or 30 men, took command of them, and immediately started for the battle-field, gathering up others on my way.
On reaching the field with my command, now numbering some 60 men or upwards, I was ordered to hurry with them to the support of General Beauregard, who was then on our extreme right. This order was punctually executed. Hurried on for about a mile to the right of the enemys first encampment, was there halted, and by General Beauregard ordered to assist in sustaining a battery of three guns, which had been placed in charge of Colonel [H. W.] Allen, of the Fourth Louisiana Regiment, and to assist him in halting all stragglers.
Here I remained with my command and Capt. J. Warro and Lieut. J. H. Miller, of our regiment, moving, as ordered, to the right and gradually falling back, until at about 4 or 5 p. m. we were commanded to retire.
On Monday morning, April 7, I am informed, and have every reason to believe it to be the case, a portion of our regiment, consisting of about 200 men and the following-named officers, Adjt. J. G. White, Capts. J. H. McCann and J. E. Austin, and Lieuts. Beynon, R. L. Hughes, J. R. Hyams, Davis, A. Le Blanc, and Thomas S. Pierce, all of whom had remained on the field the previous night, formed a battalion, and attached themselves to General Anderson's brigade, under the command of Capt. J. E. Austin, Captain McCann having turned the command over to him. Why the command was thus transferred to a junior officer I am unable to state.
They were immediately ordered with the brigade of General Anderson to our extreme left and to assist General Breckinridge's command; but, just before meeting the enemy, came up with the brigade of Colonel Russell; was ordered into it; advanced with it, engaged the enemy, and under the most galling fire fell back with it, where they reformed, and, with General Anderson on their left and Colonel Russell on their right, made a desperate charge, driving the enemy from his position, capturing two of his guns, and driving him inch by inch until he became so strongly re-enforced that they were ordered to fall back.
Here Lieutenant [Thomas S.] Pierce, who had fought so bravely and gallantly throughout the previous day, and who had command of Company F, Continental Guards, fell, it is supposed, mortally wounded, as his body has not been since recovered or heard from. The loss in men was also heavy at this juncture.
From that time throughout the whole engagement that portion of our regiment, a part of the time, however, was under the immediate command of General Anderson, as the First Brigade had been greatly cut up and divided, and a portion of General Breckinridges command coming in on their right and between them and Colonel Russell's brigade.
I have every reason to believe that the men of our regiment were generally engaged in the hottest of the fight during both days, as evidenced by the loss we sustained in killed, wounded, and missing; a report of which I have already had the honor to forward to you. In conclusion, I would add what should have been set forth in the beginning of this report, viz, the number of muskets taken into the engagement, which could not have exceeded, after detailing hospital nurses, 550.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully,
ROBT. H. BARROW,
Lieut. Col., Commanding Eleventh Regiment Louisiana Vols.
Col. H. M. RUSSELL
Comdg. First Brig., First Div., Army of the Mississippi.
SOURCE: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 10(Part 1), Pages 420-422.
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