Numbers 94. Report of Colonel L. Featherston, Fifth Arkansas Infantry.
CHICKAMAUGA, TENN., July 27, 1863.
DEAR SIR: In pursuance to an order heretofore issued, I submit the following report of the engagement at Liberty Gap, Tenn., and subsequently of the part taken in the skirmish by my regiment (the Fifth Arkansas) near that gap:
The detachment consisted of the Fifth Arkansas Regiment, commanded by myself, and Fifteenth and Thirteenth Arkansas Regiments, commanded by Colonel Josey (in all, 540 men), and a section of artillery.
Liberty Gap in a narrow defile in the range of high hills on the road leading from Bellbuckle to Murfreesborough, through Old Millersburg,and 5 miles in advance of the former place. To the east of Liberty Gap, at a distance of half a mile or three-quarters, is another defile sufficient to admit infantry and cavalry. Near the residence of Mrs. Fugett, and three-quarters of a mile and at the east base of Bald Knob, is also a pass. The latter pass, by passing through a small corn-field, is sufficient to admit cavalry and artillery and infantry. Between the two extreme gaps the hills could, with the exception of 200 or 300 yards, be ascended by infantry. In rear of Liberty Gap is a succession of high hills, the base and sides of which are in a state of cultivation, the top covered with a heavy natural growth.
About noon on June 24, while I was sitting down to dinner, a courier arrived from the front and announced that there was a heavy cavalry engagement going on near Old Millersburg, and between that and the McMinnville road (Old Millersburg was 4 miles from Liberty Gap). I sent the courier direct to General Liddell, commanding at Bellbuckle. This courier had not gotten out of sight before a second courier arrived, announcing that the enemy were directly in front of Liberty Gap. He, too, was sent as the former. I immediately formed my regiment, and sent Colonel Josey orders to turn out his command and dispose of it as had been agreed by him and myself in case we were attacked. I sent Lieutenant Colonel J. E. Murray, with the left wing of my regiment, to take possession of the Bald Knob Gap, and to protect the brow of the hill between that gap and Liberty Gap with skirmishers, and left Captain [L. R.] Frisk with the right wing as a support for the section of artillery, with orders that as soon as relieved by Colonel Josey he would report to Colonel Murray, to be disposed of as he had been instructed. Having made these dispositions, I rode out to my pickets; found all the cavalry behind them. I gave them instruction to deploy as skirmishers on the brow of the hill east of Liberty Gap Pass, and, with such of the cavalry as would go (about 10), I proceeded up the road. On reaching Clark's house, 200 or 300 yards beyond my advance post, I was suddenly fired upon by a regiment of infantry. Satisfied that I had infantry to contend with, I sent a courier to inform Colonel Murray of that fact, and the cavalry (about 25 men) to the narrow pass east of the gap, with instructions to dismounted and fight at that point as skirmishers.
I returned to the church, and there met Colonel Josey, who had disposed of his forces as follows: Three companies as skirmishers on the heights east of the gap; one company as a reserve for the battery, and three companies as skirmishers on the brow of the hill immediately west of the gap. These dispositions had scarcely been made before the firing along the entire line became heavy, and from the brow of the hill east of the defile leading to the gap. I visited the rest of the gaps (one