O.R.- SERIES 1--VOLUME XXX/2 [S# 511
AUGUST 16-SEPTEMBER 22, 1863.--The Chickamauga Campaign.
No. 365.--Report of Col. James F. Pressley, Nineteenth South Carolina Infantry,
commanding Tenth and Nineteenth South Carolina Infantry.
HDQRS. TENTH AND NINETEENTH S.C. VOLS.,
Missionary Ridge, Tenn., October 5,1863.
CAPTAIN : I have the honor to report the part taken by this command in the late battle of Chickamauga.
On September 18, we were first formed in line of battle on the right bank of Chickamauga Creek, a little above Lee and Gordons Mills, and having three companies in front as skirmishers our line did not become engaged, but was at times submitted to severe shelling from the enemys batteries on the opposite side of the creek, from which we lost 2 men killed and 5 wounded. We held our position till the afternoon of the 19th, when, together with the remainder of our division, we were moved to the right some 2 miles, crossing Chickamauga Creek at Hunts Ford, moving forward and taking position in the front line of the army for the night.
On the morning of the 20th, our division was transferred to the command of Lieutenant-General Longstreet, and we were placed in the Left Wing of the army. At 11 oclock we were ordered to move against the enemy. Moving forward some three-quarters of a mile, we encountered his line strongly posted, partly behind breastworks of logs and dirt and partly behind the crest of a hill. We advanced up to within about 60 or 70 yards, when the engagement between us became general and exceedingly hotly contested. Our brigade being, unfortunately, not supported on the left, and the enemys line overlapping us, the three left regiments were necessarily either forced to retire or move by the right flank for protection under some woods on their right. This entirely exposed my left, the enemy at the same time opening from that direction a most terrific enfilade fire upon us with both musketry and artillery, from the effects of which my command was suffering intensely. Notwithstanding this, the men fought with great desperation, and the left of my command, principally the Nineteenth Regiment, succeeded in pushing forward, driving the enemy from three pieces of his artillery and passing some distance beyond the captured guns. My position at this time became a critical one, being comparatively isolated, and, after having had some of my best officers disabled and many a noble soldier killed or wounded, we were forced to retire.
Just at this juncture Brigadier-General Andersons brigade came to our relief, a part of one of his regiments passing through my ranks as we were falling back, which, together with the terrible fire to which we were exposed, divided my command. In a very few minutes I succeeded in rallying a portion of my regiments, amounting to a fair representation from each, and immediately followed after the gallant Mississippians who were driving the already severely punished Abolitionists before them.
Owing to the forced retirement of the left of our brigade, I was at this time alone, but finding Major-General Hindman, he ordered me to report temporarily to Brigadier-General Deas, who was then reforming his brigade. I moved on his left for some two hours, till I again met my own brigade. We were then moved forward to attempt to dislodge the enemy from a strong position occupied by its center on very high hills near the Rossville road. His position here was well chosen, and his troops were encouraged by having repelled one attack of our troops against him. We moved upon this position about 3:30 oclock and were several times repulsed, but not discouraged; we would as often advance upon the enemys stronghold. Here the last struggle was made by our adversaries, and they brought up line after line of their reserve troops and threw them against us. But by the determination of our brave-soldiers and the firm resolve which seemed to pervade almost every breast that we would conquer or die, we succeeded about sunset in completely routing them and assisted in gaining for our artillery a signal victory. This ended the fighting in the battle.
The two regiments which I have the honor to command did their duty nobly, and where so many did their whole duty, it would be invidious in me to make distinctions. Of course, as is probably the case in all bodies of men, there were individuals who failed to act their part in the great struggle, but of those it would be out of place to particularize in this report. I am particularly indebted to and most cheerfully award the meed of praise to Lieut. Col. Julius T. Percher, Maj. J. L. White, and Adjt. J. 0. Ferrell for valuable and efficient service rendered throughout the entire battle. Our losses were heavy. We buried upon the battlefield 1 commissioned officer and 25 enlisted men, our wounded are 5 commissioned officers and 205 enlisted men. Total loss 236. A number of our wounds were mortal, and the list of dead that we have already heard of reaches over 40. I am, captain, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. F. Pressley,
Capt. C. I. Walker
Asst. Adjt. General Manigaults Brigade.