Report of Colonel Noel L. Nelson, Twelfth Louisiana Infantry, of operations July 20.
HEADQUARTERS TWELFTH LOUISIANA REGIMENT,
Before Atlanta, July 24, 1864.
CAPTAIN: In obedience to circular orders from brigade headquarters I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my regiment in the action on the 20th instant on Peach Tree Creek:
I received orders about 12 m. to hold my command in readiness to attack the enemy. Between 1 and 2 p. m. we moved to the right to the position which had been occupied by Lieutenant-General Hardee's command. About 4 p. m. we formed line of battle outside of our works and moved out to attack the enemy. We moved by the right of companies to the front until we reached our skirmishers' line, when we formed companies into line and immediately continued the advance. Very soon our skirmishers engaged those of the enemy, who were supported by two regiments. We charged them, killing and capturing almost the entire line.
Having received orders not to halt for breast-works, we continued to push forward until we were hotly engaged with the enemy. On arriving at the field near the enemy's works my three right companies (A, H, and M) moved by the right flank in order to close up on the regiment on my right, which had made a corresponding movement. The balance of the regiment continued to push forward, and did not discover the interval until so near the enemy's works that it was impossible to close it. As soon as I discovered it I made inquiries, and was told that the balance of the brigade had halted. I ordered my men to hold their position, and returned a short distance to the rear, where I met you, and learned that the balance of the brigade was moving forward. I again moved forward until very near the enemy's works, formed my line under cover of a small hill, and was preparing to charge their main works when I was ordered to retire.
A ridge running perpendicular to the main line of battle and about fifty yards to my right prevented my seeing the action of that part of the brigade to my right. All this time I was under a very heavy fire both from my front and left. Owing to the rapidity of the advance and the ruggedness of the ground my men were very much exhausted before engaging the enemy.
My loss in killed was 11, wounded 57 (some of whom have since died), and missing 4, making a total of 72 out of an aggregate engaged of 318.
About 9 p. m. we commenced falling back to our works from the position that we held a short distance in front of the enemy's lines.
I cannot close this report without paying a just tribute to the gallantry of both of officers and men of my command. Troops never fought better.
We have to mourn the loss of two gallant officers, Captain J. A. Bivin, Company B, and First Lieutenant M. S. McLeroy, Company M (who was acting adjutant), both of whom fell in front of the line.