No. 38. Report of Lieutenant Col. M. H. Cofer, Sixth Kentucky Infantry.
HDQRS. SIXTH KENTUCKY VOLUNTEER REGIMENT,
Comite River, La., August 7, 1862.
SIR: Pursuant to circular order just received I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Sixth Regiments Kentucky Volunteers in the battle of the 5th instant and the orders received from the commanding general:
This regiment occupied the extreme left of the First Brigade, Second Division, Col. A. P. Thompson commanding. At a little before daylight the troops were drawn up in line, this regiment in the open field to the left, resting about 200 yards to the right of a dense forest, in which Colonel Allen's brigade was formed.
At daylight the command forward was given by General Ruggles, and we moved forward a short distance and halted by the order of the same officer, who was present in person. We were very soon ordered forward again, when we moved, encountering rough ground, hedges, fences, ditches, and a luxuriant growth of weeds and grass, altogether rendering even tolerable alignment and steady marching impossible. Passing on over this character of ground for near 1 mile the enemy's skirmishers fired on us, doing no injury, but falling back as we advanced until we arrived immediately in front of the enemy's camp. Here he engaged us warmly from a strong position in a heavy forest, but charging forward we drove him from his position, and my regiment passed nearly through the camp, when we observed a battery on our left-say 100 yards- and a little in front. This battery was nearly silenced by an oblique fire from my left wing, and would have been easily taken but for the fact that the right of the brigade was retiring. Seeing no cause for the retreat on account of any movement or fire of the enemy my regiment was ordered back, presuming the brigade was ordered to retire, which I since learn to have been the case. This retreat enable the enemy to regain his battery, which he did promptly, and opened a furious fire with grape, canister, and shrapnel on our flank. From the nearness of the guns he did no serious damage.
We continued to move to the rear some 200 yards, where we reformed and returned to a fence in front of a grave-yard, where we halted and opened fire on the enemy, who had reformed and reoccupied his original position, from which we had first driven him. This position both parties held with great stubbornness and an almost incessant fire was kept up for one hour. At this place I sustained nearly all the loss of the day. My position was very much exposed during this time, having no shelter but a thin picket fence, and being on ground elevated some eighteen inches above any ground in front between my line and the enemy. This position was maintained until an order to charge was given and the enemy driven under his gunboats, when the regiment returned with the brigade to camp, having sustained a loss of 5 killed and 23 wounded, several mortally.
I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without returning my thanks to the officers and men of the regiment for the gallant manner in which they bore themselves during the whole engagement. From a want of commissioned officers I caused the eight companies of the regiment to be consolidated into four companies, placed respectively under Capts. Isaac Smith, Grandison Utterback, and Thomas G. Page, and First Lieutenant Frank Harned.