No. 17. Report of Major Horace W. Whittemore, Thirtieth Massachusetts Infantry.
HDQRS. THIRTIETH REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS VOLS.,
Baton Rouge, La., August 6, 1862.
I have the honor to report, for the information of the colonel commanding the right wing, that the Thirtieth Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Dudley commanding, received orders on the afternoon of August 4, at 3 o'clock, or thereabouts, to hold themselves in readiness to march at 6 p.m., as an attack from the enemy was anticipated.
Accordingly at the hour designated the regiment took up the line of march, proceeded to a position at the right of Nims' battery, about 1 mile from the Capitol, and immediately in rear of the camp of the Sixth Michigan Volunteers; a section of artillery, under command of Lieutenant Brown, Twenty-first Indiana, supporting our right flank. Here we bivouacked during the night. About an hour before daylight we were aroused by the drums of the enemy and immediately formed in line of action. At 4 o'clock, or thereabouts, the enemy commenced his attack near the camp of the Fourteenth Maine Volunteers, on our extreme left, and immediately thereafter the action became general along the whole line, and was particularly vigorous on our right flank, which was bravely defended by the Sixth Michigan. Immediately after the commencement of the battle Colonel Dudley assumed, by orders of the general commanding, the command of the Sixth Michigan, Nims' battery, the section of artillery under command of Lieutenant Brown, and the Thirtieth Massachusetts, leaving the command of the latter regiment to the undersigned. The regiment maneuvered constantly under a heavy fire, moving now to this point and now to that, by orders from the general commanding, wherever its services seemed to be most needed, until finally it made a stand in front of the camp of the Seventh Vermont, and directly in rear of the camp of the Twenty-first Indiana, which was then occupied by the enemy. Nims' battery was now on our right flank and the Seventh Vermont on our left. Here the contest was very severe. No sooner had we occupied the ground, immediately in front of which thick woods filled with smoke and the sun directly in our faces, than we received a most galling fire from the enemy's infantry, accompanied by messenger from their artillery. The order had been given to lie down, and thus but few casualties occurred on our side, though we were not more than 50 yards from the enemy's line, and the tents immediately in our rear were riddled with bullets.
Captain Kelty, of Company I, was ordered to deploy his company as skirmishers on the right, and in the performance of his duty fell bravely at the head of his company. No truer soldier ever drew his sword, and no words of mine in this report can do justice to his memory. In him the regiment lost a model officer, and one whose example and soldierly conduct will never be forgotten. His company immediately retired to its place in line in good order under Lieutenant Dean, and the enemy's fire was returned most vigorously by the regiment and Nims' battery on the right. This latter was most admirably handled by Lieutenant Trull, who commanded in the absence of the captain, who was prevented by sickness from being on the field. Under the management of Lieutenant Trull the battery added laurels to its already well-deserved reputation, and its terrible fire of shell and canister, together with the well-directed fire of the Thirtieth Massachusetts, soon filled the woods with the dead and dying and put the