No. 290. Report of Lieut. Col. M. A. Stovall, Third Georgia Battalion.
---- --, 1863.
[I have the honor to submit the following] report of the engagement of the Third Georgia Battalion with the enemy on December 31, 1862:
On the morning of December 31, the troops of our brigade were called up and ordered to remove the fence which had concealed us the day before to avoid the enfilading fire of artillery to which we had been subjected. This was finished just as day began to dawn. The men lay under cover of the line of fence until object became distinctly visible. The command "forward" was now given, and the Third Georgia Battalion moved rapidly about 300 yards, when "double-quick" ran along the line, and with a yell the whole sprang forward. We received the fire of the enemy's pickets, who fled. If there was any line of the enemy in front of the Third Georgia Battalion they field without firing, and we swept entirely around that which was in front of Ector's and McNair's brigades. The whole force now opposed to our battalion fled in confusion, and we pursued with a running fire for 3 miles, to their abandoned encampment. Here the line of battle, which had been broken, was reformed, and we moved rapidly by the right flank several hundred yards, then again by the left flank, our line of battle sweeping around to the pike. Crossing this, my battalion moved in advance of the remainder of the division, who had halted for ammunition. Soon after entering the wood we came upon a regiment and skirmishers, who had been engaged with the enemy. Passing the skirmishers, we found their line posted in a hollow. Though we had killed several in the pursuit, here our fighting began. We delivered our fire at a distance of 150 yards or less,killing many. At the word the battalion sprang forward down the hill, while the enemy scampered away up another and halted, and began a galling fire from under cover of a ledge of rocks and cedar thicket. The enemy in front of the Ninth and Eleventh finding no such cover, continued to give way, and while the Ninth and Eleventh swept forward my battalion was checked for a moment. We soon, however, forced our position directly in our front, and when we moved up to occupy it we were subjected to a galling enfilading fire on our right. The attention of our right wing being directed to his annoying force of the enemy, they were soon driven off. Our men were rallied and formed among the rocks, and we moved by the left flank toward the cedar swamp, where the fire was the hottest. Here we met our lines retiring in confusion before a destructive fire of artillery. We filed out of the woods, in order, to the top of the hill, where we first fired upon the enemy. Here we made a stand, until Polk's brigade was rallied, when we marched out into the field and allowed Cleburne's division to pass. Here we rested a few minutes to procure ammunition, and by order of General Cheatham marched again to the front. Finding myself entirely alone with 300 men, it was deemed imprudent to make an unsupported attack upon the enemy.
General Johnson's brigade came up about 2 p.m., and having obtained his permission, we took position on his right and co-operated with him until 4 p.m., when we again learned McCown's division was near the place we fought first in the morning. We rejoined the division and remained until night in line of battle. For the casualties, I respectfully refer you to the list* already furnished.
M. A. STOVALL,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Third Georgia Battalion.
*Embodied in No. 191, p.681.