Confederate Regiments, acted with great courage and judgment. I recommend both of those gallant officers to your favorable notice as deserving of promotion. I refer you to the colonels' reports of other officers who acted with great gallantry. My thanks are due Capts. W. A. King and H. S. Otey, of my staff, for the assistance they gave me upon the field.
I carried in the fight, in round numbers, 1,343. My loss in killed, 30; wounded, 298; missing, 18; total, 346.
L. E. POLK,
Capt. IRVING A. BUCK,
No. 255. Report of Lieut. Thomas J. Key, Helena Battery.
ARTILLERY CAMP, Tullahoma, Tenn., January 23, 1863.
GENERAL: On the morning of December 31, 1862, Captain [J. H.] Calvert's battery moved forward on the left wing of the Confederate Army, supporting General Polk's brigade. Skirmishing began before the shades of night had fled, and by day-dawn the rattle of musketry extended far off to our right, and at the first charge the Abolition hordes gave way, save a brigade which was concealed in a dark cedar grove and behind large rock, and to dislodge them Colonel Hill sent to my battery for one piece of artillery, which was immediately dispatched, under charge of Lieutenant Fitzpatrick. After the right wing of the enemy had been driven a mile, one of their batteries was discovered firing upon General Polk's lines, and immediately my battery rushed in advance of the brigade in open field and engaged the enemy. So soon as we opened upon the enemy's artillery it returned the fire with deadly aim, wounding 1 man and killing 3 horses. My artillery killed the Abolition captain, 1 sergeant, and 2 or 3 cannoneers, and cut down 1 of his caissons and a number of horses. The battery was silenced and mad a hasty retreat. With all possible speed the harness was cut from my dead horses, and [I] moved forward in pursuit of the enemy.
The next point of attack was near the Nashville and Franklin pike, where the Abolition infantry had ensconced themselves in a dense forest of timber, and were awaiting the advance of our forces to mow them down as they pursued over an open field. This battery began shelling the woods, and routed the Abolitionists in front, but they rallied and renewed the attack on our left, and promptly we returned our guns upon them, and they were hurled back in confusion, regiment rushing upon regiment, in disorder, into the immense cedar thickets.
The fourth place of action was, after we had pursued the enemy's batteries into the clustering cedars, near the railroad, where they were masked. At this period the sounds of the battle carnage that proceeded from that gloomy forest of cedars and towering oaks were appalling, grand, and awful as ever fell upon the ear of the "hero of a hundred battles." The contest was unequal and desperate. Their rifle guns could throw canister as far as ours could spherical case, and in order to prevent annihilation we were forced to withdraw.