Report of Colonel William F. Dowd, Twenty-fourth Mississippi Infantry.
FORD HOSPITAL, Marietta, Ga., November 9, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the report of the part taken by the Twenty-fourth Mississippi Regiment in the battle of Lookout Mountain on November 24:
We had been lying for many days among the rocks on the northwest side of Lookout Mountain without shelter, and the regiment and command was much (I may say completely) exhausted by the heavy details constantly made upon it for picket and fatigue duty. The latter details were very heavy, and had to work altogether at night to avoid the enemy's fire.
Early on the morning of the 24th, the command was ordered under arms. About daylight I sent a courier to General Walthall, informing him that the enemy in very large force were forming lines of battle across Lookout Creek in our front. I found he was already aware of the enemy's movements and had made every disposition to receive them. The enemy moved forward four guns and a strong supporting force of infantry, and placed them on the open ground between Lookout Creek and the river, so as to rake the rear of our picket line and the ground over which we must retreat. No gun was fired on them from the top of Lookout Mountain. Our breastworks of logs and loose rock ran parallel, or nearly so, to the two lines formed by the cliffs of Lookout Mountain and Lookout Creek, facing to the latter. The Twenty-fourth Mississippi was the right of the brigade and occupied the breastworks about one-half of a mile from the Craven house. The ground was covered with rocks and fallen timber to such an extent that it could not be traversed except on foot, and then with difficulty. General Walthall was on the ground very early, and before the firing began. He strengthened all the pickets and made every possible disposition to repel the impending attack. The whole command was under arms before the enemy formed line of battle, and every movement was distinctly seen.
About sunrise a heavy fire was opened on our pickets near the bridge or the crossing on Lookout Creek by infantry in front and by the battery of artillery before mentioned. The enemy were seen moving in large masses up the creek while this attack in front was made, and very soon a hot fire on our left announced that our position had been turned. The front regiments of our brigade had previous to this time been changed to meet the attack. A stubborn resistance was made on the left of the brigade and the enemy held in check for some time. General Walthall ordered me to deploy three companies as sharpshooters in my rear about 300 yards, and extending up to the cliff of rocks on the mountain. This was promptly executed. Directly after he ordered me to re-enforce them, and I sent one additional company. This left me but two companies, four having been sent the preceding night on picket down on Lookout Creek. He further ordered me to hold the position as long as possible, and then to fall back on the plateau occupied by the sharpshooters, and to hold this point to the last extremity. Captain J. D. Smith was placed in command of the sharpshooters and the two