Today in History:

765 Series I Volume XXXI-II Serial 55 - Knoxville and Lookout Mountain Part II


of any person coming from Ringgold. A section of Semple's battery of 12-pounder Napoleon guns was placed immediately in my front and masked with bushes, &c., The skirmishers were also ordered to keep concealed and not to fire until the enemy came in close range. My whole command was thus placed in the gap between the two high hills on the Ringgold and Tunnel Hill road, nearest to Ringgold and entirely concealed from view. Scarcely had these dispositions been made, when the enemy's skirmishers came in sight closely followed by a line of battle, which seemed to be composed of about two large regiments. They marched forward very confidently, and seemed to think that they had nothing more to contend with than a few scattering cavalrymen. My skirmishers opened fire when they were about 150 yards distant. This checked the skirmishers, but the line of battle continued to advance. When it was about 150 yards from the section of artillery and about 50 yards from my front skirmishers, both pieces of the artillery posted in my front opened upon them with canister. The canister seemed to strike about the center of their line, and scattered them like chaff before the wind. Seeing my skirmishers wavering at the instant that the artillery opened fire, I immediately moved a little to the left, in order to be in better supporting distance. It was this movement which Captain McGehee mistook for a retreat when he reported to the colonel commanding the brigade that I was falling back.

The enemy was so much surprised at finding infantry and artillery when he only expected a few cavalry, that he fell back in great disorder, leaving one stand of colors lying about 50 or 60 yards in front of my line of skirmishers. My men were very anxious to charge for these colors, but I, not wishing to give up the advantage of my position and fight the enemy on equal terms for a stand of colors, prohibited them from doing so.

The enemy soon advanced in line again, but was repulsed as before. He afterward advanced several times, but never succeeded in getting another line of battle as close to my position as his first had come, but he succeeded in getting a large number of sharpshooters in some houses and barns about 60 yards in my front. These endeavored to pick off the cannoneers, but I ordered the lieutenant commanding the artillery to throw canister and solid shot into these houses, which he did with such good effect that they ceased to annoy the artillerists from these position. They, however, continued to fire on the skirmishers from behind these houses. I would have kept up a constant fire of artillery on these houses had it not been for the scarcity of artillery ammunition, which rendered it necessary to use it very sparingly. After holding the enemy in check here for several hours, without receiving much injury myself, though the injury inflicted on him must have been severe, I caused the artillery, by order of major-general Cleburne, to be carried by hand to the rear until it reached a place where the limbers could be brought to it with safety. I then withdrew my command, by direction of General Cleburne, by the right flank, and left the Eighth and Nineteenth Arkansas, with some skirmishers from the Sixth and Seventh Arkansas, to hold the position.

The enemy did not get a battery into position until about the time that I withdrew my command. One was then brought up by him and posted on an eminence in the suburbs of Ringgold, which shelled us rapidly for awhile, without, however, inflicting much damage.