I ordered my command to fall back. It was a matter of doubt whether this could be accomplished successfully. Scarcely any one could enter the open field to our right and rear without being shot down either by the infantry or by the batteries of the enemy.
I should observe that from the moment we approached the elevated ground near the river, the batteries of the enemy, posted on the opposite side, poured into our ranks without intermission. As soon as he was driven from the high ground on this side, his batteries played upon it. His batteries and infantry concentrated on every spot from which he was driven. It was for this reason that after a sharp conflict of thirty minutes, and having won the position, we were forced to abandon it; and this accounts, too, for the extraordinary loss we sustained and for the fact that nearly all our wounded and killed were left on the field. Under my own observation several parties bearing off wounded officers were shot down as soon as they entered the open field. Many, therefore, of those put down as missing were killed or wounded in this affair. Out of 28 officers who went into the fight 14 were wounded, and most of them severely, and, as the event may prove, I fear mortally. This was in the Thirteenth Louisiana Volunteers, Major Charles Guillet, of whose conduct I cannot speak in terms too high.
The regiment behaved throughout like veterans. Captains Ryan, Lipscomb, King, Bishop, and [John] McGrath, and Lieutenant [D. C.] Levy displayed distinguished steadiness and courage. The loss of this regiment in two short actions, lasting both together not more than an hour, was 19 officers and 332 men killed, wounded, and missing, losing as many as some brigades.
Major Zacharie's position, taken under a mistake of orders, enabled him to drive in the skirmishers of the enemy and to hold him in check in front of our batteries for some time. After entering the woods, the fire of our own batteries, together with that of the enemy just opposite, and the immediate development of infantry in heavy force along the opposite bank below him prevented any orders of mine from reaching him or his joining us. He moved up the river, recrossed, and joined the reserve. I assembled the whole command on this line and held our position until our battery was secured, and we moved, in obedience to orders, on the right of Brigadier-General Preston's brigade.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
RANDALL LEE GIBSON, Colonel, Commanding.
Colonel T. O'HARA, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Abstract from morning report of Adams' brigade, Colonel R. L. Gibson commanding, January 8, 1863.
Present for duty.
Offic Men. Aggreg Aggreg Aggreg
ers. ate ate ate
Command. presen presen last
t. t and return
Field and staff 4 --- 4 7 7
32nd Alabama 16 180 261 643 ---
13th and 20th
Louisiana 15 381 452 834 999
16th and 25th
Louisiana 25 440 530 1,014 1,075
battalion 5 121 148 181 185
battery 5 132 138 161 162
Total. 70 1,254 1,533 2,840 2,428