Numbers 157. Report of Brigadier General Bushrod R. Johnson, C. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.
COLUMBUS, MISS., April 12, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the First Brigade, Second Division, First Army Corps, Army of the Mississippi, in the action of the 6th instant, during the first three hours it was in the battle, the period which I remained upon the field:
This brigade arrived from Purdy, within about two miles and a half of the enemy's encampment, after dark on the evening of the 5th instant.
At daylight on the following morning it was put in motion in the rear of the left brigade of General Clark's division, with orders to deploy at a point to be designated in line of battle on the left of General Clark's command. The formation of the brigade was in the following order, from right to left: One hundred and fifty-fourth Senior Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Preston Smith; Mississippi regiment, commanded by Colonel A. K. Blythe; battery of artillery (six pieces), commanded by M. T. Polk; Fifteenth Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel R. C. Tyler; Second Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, commanded by Colonel J. Knox Walker.
At 8.30 a.m. this brigade came under fire of the enemy's artillery. From this position, by order of the commanding general of the First Army Corps, it moved first obliquely to the left, with the view of supporting the left flank of the forces already in action, then by the right flank to support the extreme right; it being stated, in connection with the order for this movement, that the enemy had given way on the left and were heavily pressing our troops on the right. After marching for a quarter of an hour in this direction orders were received to move in line of battle to the front and to come immediately into action.
At this point the ground was broken and marshy, and our movement was obstructed by a small stream, which caused some delay in passing the artillery and the infantry of the left wing. Having passed this obstacle, the infantry of the left wing was reformed into line of battle. Captain Polk's battery of artillery was moved forward and placed in position, and it was found that the right wing, composed of the One hundred and fifty-fourth Senior Regiment Tennessee Volunteers and Colonel Blythe's Mississippi Regiment Volunteers, had become detached from the rest of the command. From an aide, whom I sent to ascertain the cause of this movement, I learned that three regiments had been placed in action on the right by an order from Major-General Bragg. Colonel Blythe's regiment had advanced obliquely to the left and attacked the enemy in position near an encampment. It afterward wheeled to the right, and drove a battery, with its support, from its position, and was advancing upon the enemy, under cover of a woods, when Colonel Blythe was shot dead from his horse, while leading his regiment. Within ten minutes after his fall Lieutenant Colonel D. L. Herron, of the same regiment, was mortally wounded. This occurred between 11 and 12 o'clock.
The One hundred and fifty-fourth Senior Regiment Volunteers continued to advance by the right flank, and was brought into action at a considerable distance to the right of Colonel Blythe's regiment. Of the movements of this regiment I have no further report to make.
The infantry of the left wing, after being reformed in line of battle, as previously stated, was moved forward, and came immediately under