HDQRS. 154TH SENIOR REGT. TENNESSEE VOLS.,
Camp Blythe, near Corinth, Miss., April 14, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following, report of the action of the One hundred and fifty-fourth Senior Regiment Tennessee Volunteers in the action of the 6th and 7th instant:
The regiment (about 650 strong) was posted on the right of the brigade, in line of battle, Blythe's Mississippi regiment being on our left. In this order, Brigadier-General Johnson being in command of the brigade and Col. Preston Smith in command of the regiment, we moved forward at sunrise on the morning of the 6th. We formed a part of the reserve corps to support General Clark's brigade, and marched in line of battle, following the movements of this brigade until about 8 a. m., when we were ordered to move rapidly forward into action.
Between us and the position then occupied by the enemy upon whom we were ordered to move was a large open field, and the officer who had borne to us the order, being of General Bragg's staff, directed us to march by the flank, right in front, through this field, which was done. Before marching on position, and while still marching by the flank, the enemy's battery, posted in the woods toward which we were moving, opened upon us, the first shot taking effect upon our right company, killing 1 instantly and wounding 2 others, viz, Lieut. D. E. Abbott and First Sergt. W. R. Johnson, of Company A. This threw the head of our column into some confusion, but the men were soon brought together, though the firing was continued.
We proceeded some 50 yards farther in the same order, when we filed to the right and formed our line of battle under most unfavorable circumstances, the enemy's battery and small-arms doing great execution in the ranks. As rapidly as possible, however, we opened fire, which was briskly continued for some minutes. At this juncture the fifth division of the regiment, being entirely unprotected, was moved forward some 50 paces, under cover of a ridge, and there did great execution upon the enemy's battery, which was immediately in their front.
Seeing the great danger to which the regiment was exposed the order to push forward was given by Colonel Smith, which was obeyed with alacrity, the left division being in advance and charging the battery in their front with a determination that drove the enemy before them, leaving their battery of four guns in our possession. We kept up the pursuit until we came to an open field, some 300 yards in advance, into which we moved, and were then halted by Colonel [Preston] Smith to await further orders from the brigade commander.
At this time it was ascertained that Brig. Gen. B. R. Johnson had been severely wounded and borne from the field. The command of the brigade, therefore, devolved upon Colonel [Preston] Smith, the senior colonel, and the command of the regiment upon me.
While in this position we were much exposed to the enemys sharp-shooters and suffered heavy losses, while unable to return the fire, as the enemy was unseen and the reports of their guns unheard. Waiting for some minutes for further orders, without receiving any, I deemed it proper to withdraw the regiment from the open field into the thick woods through which we had come.
After moving back on a line with our first position we were moved to the right, by order of Major-General Polk, into one of the enemy's camps, and then engaged the enemy a second time in a desperate and severe struggle. While in the field, however (above mentioned), the two left companies, under orders of Colonel [Preston] Smith, were moved to the left, to reconnoiter a body of troops in the forest to our left, as we were in doubt whether they were friends or foes. It was while on this duty that I moved the regiment under protection of the woods in our rear and right, and thereby the left division became detached and were (by order of the major) permitted to remove from the field our wounded men, who were numerous. The major then rejoined the regiment, but the greater part of these two companies, under command of Captains Moreland and Edmondson, were unable to rejoin the regiment, but did most effective service in taking prisoners and guarding them to the rear. Captain Moreland, with some of his men, also rejoined the regiment.
After engaging the battery as above stated, under the immediate command of Major-General Polk we were ordered to the support of a battery playing upon the enemy from a position near us. The name of the battery is unknown to me. Here Company L, armed with Maynard rifles, and under command of Captain Cole, was detached, by order of Colonel [Preston] Smith, and sent to the right as skirmishers, to unmask the enemy supposed to be there. They were soon briskly engaged, and continued to fire until re-enforced by some brigade, also unknown to me. The company then returned to the position from which they had been detached as skirmishers, but the battery and regiment having in the meanwhile moved forward, they were ordered by General Beauregard to fall in with a column, which he was forming, of detached companies and men. The battery to which we had been assigned having moved in towards the river, by order of General Beauregard we followed it, and again took position on the edge of a field nearest the last encampment, into which we moved on Sunday evening. The battery did fine execution here, but moved forward with the army in pursuit of the retiring enemy, and passed through the last encampment of the enemy. Here we remained with them until Major-General Polk ordered us to retire for the night to our encampment, which we did.
At daylight on Monday morning we were in line, our detached companies having rejoined the regiment the night previous. We were moved to the rear, upon the road toward the general hospital, under the lead of Major-Generals Polk and Cheatham, to meet the enemy, supposed to be advancing to cut us off in the rear; but the alarm proving false, we were counter-marched and led to the battle-field. Our first line of battle was formed in an open field in rear of the position then occupied by Captain [Smith P.] Bankhead's battery. Remaining here a few minutes we were ordered forward, the entire brigade moving in line of battle. We were repeatedly ordered by ___ Henry, of General Cheatham's staff, to oblique to the right, which we continued to do under his orders until we engaged the enemy upon our right. Here we were soon engaged in a desperate contest with the enemy's artillery and musketry, and becoming separated from the rest of the brigade (with the exception of a portion of Blythe's Mississippi Regiment of Volunteers), continued the engagement for over an hour, exposed to a deadly fire, and withdrew only when our ammunition was completely exhausted. We then retired, and were met by a staff officer, announcing that there was a general movement to the rear. We then fell in with General Wither's division and retired in order with them. It will be no disparagement of the gallant bearing of the officers and men of this regiment to mention particularly that Capt. James Moreland, of Company G, was conspicuous for his gallantry, leading the charge of the left wing upon the enemy's battery under a severe fire, and was the first to reach their guns; or to say of Capt. E. A. Cole, of the Maynard Rifles, a company but few weeks in service, that he and his gallant company bore themselves like veterans during the two days' battle.
Lieut. A. P. Dupuy, of this company, was severely, and it is thought mortally, wounded on the first day.
To Maj. Ed. Fitzgerald and Adjt. William H. Stovall my especial thanks are due for their bravery, coolness, and alacrity in all parts of the field, urging the men to be steady or leading them when necessary.
Capt. E. M. Cheairs, of Company K, fell at the head of his company, waving them on to the charge. He died the death of a gallant soldier. I must be permitted to speak in the highest terms of the bravery ot both men and officers of this regiment.
I append herewith a detailed statement of the killed, wounded, and missing, being 25 killed, 163 wounded, and 11 missing, some of whom are thought to be killed or left on the battle-field severely wounded.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
MARCUS J. WRIGHT,
Col. J. KNOX WALKER,
SOURCE: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 10, Part 1, Pages 450-452.
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