War of the Rebellion: Serial 072 Page 0629 Chapter L. REPORTS, ETC.-ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND.

Search Civil War Official Records

by dark Morgan had driven in the enemy's skirmishers and formed his entire brigade on the Alabama road close up to the enemy's works. McCook and Mitchell reported the enemy repulsed on their fronts, and I ordered a strong skirmish line to be thrown out, with instructions to force those of the enemy back into his works, behind which his main force had taken refuge. This was handsomely done, and out main lines established upon the most advantageous ground that could be selected. My lines as now established completely invested the enemy's works on the west bank of the river, my left being so near the Oostenaula and my right so near the Coosa, as to prevent my flank from being turned from either direction. My loss in killed and wounded did not exceed 150 men. Lieutenant-Colonel Wiles and Major Shead, of the Twenty-second Indiana Regiment, were both seriously wounded.

Notwithstanding the long march of eighteen miles and the fatigue of the field maneuvers and fighting during the day, the troops stacked their arms and went vigorously to work building breastworks, and by morning the entire line was well fortified. The dense fog which prevailed in the morning prevented any movement, under the circumstances, until 9 a. m., at which time it began to rise, and I ordered the works to be vigorously attacked in front of each brigade with a strong line of skirmishers. This was done and the works soon taken possession of, having been abandoned during the night, except by a skirmish line, which fled rapidly across the river, burning the bridges behind them. His rear guard was pursued so closely by our skirmishers that their attempts to destroy the pontoons across the river were only partially successful. A few troops advanced into the works on De Soto Hill were sufficient to draw the enemy's artillery fire from the two formidable field-works, one situated on the east bank of the Oostenaula and the other on the south bank of the Coosa. The works were situated on two high hills, and completely commanded all approaches to them from the opposite side of the river, as well as the works just abandoned by the enemy and now held by us. In order to test the full strength of the enemy, I ordered Barnett's and Gardner's batteries to be put into position on De Soto Hill and to open fire. This was done,and after half an hour's practice the superiority of our batteries was gratifyingly manifested by an almost complete silence of the enemy's guns. While these movements were being made, the skirmish line had gradually closed to the river-bank, and was sharply engaged with the enemy on the opposite side. The city was now completely at our mercy. This fact, considered in connection with the best information I could obtain, convinced me that the enemy intended to evacuate the city, and was only prolonging his resistance in order to remove, as much as possible, his public stores. To complete the capture of the city it was necessary to throw troops across the Oostenaula. A point some distance above the enemy's works, near McCook's left during the engagement of the previous evening, was selected, and his brigade designated to execute the movement. The hazardous enterprise of effecting the first crossing was gallantly accomplished by the Eighty-fifth Illinois Regiment, commanded by Colonel Dilworth, on rafts built of rails and logs hastily collected on the bank. This regiment was crossed in an astonishingly short space of time, and soon began to drive in the enemy's pickets in the direction of the city. The enemy,finding himself unexpectedly attacked from a direction which soon must result in his capture, retreated in the most precipitate manner over the Etowah River.