War of the Rebellion: Serial 073 Page 0115 Chapter L. REPORTS, ETC.-ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND.

Search Civil War Official Records

to scale and to be passed only through a few narrow clefts filled with loose rocks and wide enough to admit five or six men abreast. This summit I closely scanned while forming for the attack. On either side of the pass and along the crest to John's Mountain, in addition to the natural strength of the position, were breast-works occupied by the enemy, but in what force could only be tested by attack. McGill's (Pennsylvania) battery, 3-inch Rodman guns, was placed in position in the field near Babb's house, from which they could reach the crest with their fire, and the Fifth and Sixty-sixth Ohio Volunteers and One hundred and forty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, of my First Brigade, were left as guard to the artillery. The One hundred and ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers and Thirty-third New Jersey Volunteers, of my Second Brigade, were both absent, the former as guard to the wagon train, the latter having been on picket duty. With the rest of my command I crossed the creek in front of Babb's house at 3 p.m. and advanced the One hundred and nineteenth New York Volunteers, deployed as skirmishers, up the mountain, followed by Buschbeck's brigade on the right and Candy's on the left, each disposed in two lines of battle. Knapsacks had been unslung and piled before commencing the ascent. Half way up the firing became lively. The enemy had posted skirmishers thickly across the steep face of the ridge, behind rocks, logs, and trees, and their fire was galling and destructive. Our skirmish lines, advancing rapidly, though they had to fairly clamber up the rough ascent, drove those opposed to them back with loss, and reached the foot of the palisades. Mean time my main lines pressed steadily forward, under a severe musketry fire from the top of the palisades until the advanced regiments were halted to rest and form on the ground held by our skirmishers. The general line of advance had inclined at an angle toward the Dalton road and my extreme left was now across it. The atmosphere was hot and stifling, and the ascent was one of the greatest difficulty. After a halt of fifteen minutes, the palisades were charged impetuously by portions of both brigades, Buschbeck's on the right and Candy's on both sides of the road. The attack was a most gallant one, officers and men rushing through the few narrow apertures or clambering the precipice. Many of them gained the crest, but were met by a tremendous fire from a second line of works which were invisible from below and were shot down or compelled to jump back for their lives. Here hand-to-hand encounters took place, and stones as well as bullets became elements in the combat, the enemy rolling them over the precipice, endangering our troops below. Failing to hold the crest after two separate assaults, our front line was withdrawn about 150 yards and reformed in preparation for another effort. Knowing that the enemy would hasten re-enforcements to the point attacked, I deemed it important to lose no time. One plan remained to be tried. My rifled battery (McGill's) had crossed the creek near Babb's house and taken position on a cleared knoll at the base of the ridge. By my order it now opened a steady and well-directed fire on the enemy's position. Under cover of this fire the Thirty-third New Jersey Volunteers, which had just arrived, was ordered to ascend the mountain and attempt to gain the crest, about half a mile to the right of the point of the previous attack, and at a place where the enemy did not show a strong force. In the mean time my main body was directed to keep the enemy in their front busily engaged and to support the movement promptly