- Aug 10, 2019
Thanks much, Limberbox for compiling this; it does seem to hang together, particularly when one recalls (as I often forget) that Wilder had some skirmishers on the southern/eastern side of the creek (not just foragers). I want to study some more before I can contribute any further. Please keep your research together; you may want to consider writing up an article/monograph for something like Civil War Times on this.All OR references are to vol. 30, part II.
Walker's Reserve Corps camped the previous night near Leet's Tan-yard and Rock Springs (e.g., OR p. 261), well to the south. Powell's Maps of Chickamauga show it marching north up the first road east of Chickamauga on the 18th, which makes sense and would be the most direct route (pp. 33-35). The map from the LOC that Jantzen provided in post #515 also shows the Confederates coming up this road and it is the only road on the various maps that has a long 45+ degree left hand turn in the right place to have caused a line of troops guiding on it to do the left wheel that threw Walthall's right hand regiments (24th & 27th MS) into such confusion that they essentially missed the fight. So that seems to settle the question of the approach road.
What caused the two regiments on the left (30th & 34th MS) to advance west of the road into the cleared field? It may be that skirmisher fire from the field drew them west or northwest. Or, it may be they continued more or less straight ahead and not only the road but the field turned to the right so that they entered the field more or less going straight ahead but continued farther north than the rest of the brigade, thus opening the interval between them and the 29th Miss., and also putting them on the left (upstream) of the bridge.
Gen. Walthall says he was ordered to form his brigade "when the head of General Walker's column reached a point about a half mile from Alexander's Bridge." (p. 271) If we take that as the point where Walthal formed, that would be a little south of where the LOC map locates Wilson and Ector's brigades at 3 pm. (Senior Capt. Smith of the 24th MS says they formed "about 1 mile from the river" (p. 277) and Col. Campbell of the 27th MS says the battle line was formed "about three-quarters of a mile from Alexander's Bridge (p. 279). The other three regimental reports do state the distance. However, since we know they formed in dense woods, it had to have been north of the field shown on the right of the road on the LOC map and therefor "about a half mile" looks right.)
Walthall formed "almost at right angle to the road, the right slightly retired," and with skirmishers 200 yards in front. (p. 271)."[A]fter advancing abut a quarter mile [i.e., about half-way to the bridge] the enemy's skirmishers were encountered in front of my left and center." That would seem to be about where the cleared field to the left of the road begins, and suggests at least the left of the left hand regiment (34th MS) became visible and began to take skirmisher fire there. Within about 100-150 yards north from that point (and about 350 yards south of the bridge) the road from the east intersects the bridge road and continues into the field, according to the LOC map. By that point perhaps the skirmisher fire had become annoying enough, or perhaps it was thought they were shielding the main enemy line, such that the left two regiments diverged leftward into the field in pursuit of the skirmishers, after which at least the 34th swung back around to the right. Or, they continued more or less straight ahead but, due to a bend in the creek, were able to advance further north than the rest of the brigade, thereby opening up the interval:
The Reports of Govan's regiments also shed light:
- Col. Benton (34th MS, on the extreme left of the brigade line): "The command moved across an old field, in which the enemy's skirmishers were encountered and driven back. Advancing toward the stream at a point above the bridge [i.e., to the left of the bridge], a destructive fire was received from the enemy's main line, under cover of a skirt of timber and dense undergrowth." (pp. 284-85)
- Maj. Johnson (30th MS, next to the 34th): "after advancing about half a mile we crossed the road which led to the bridge. This road here made an abrupt turn to the right, forming a complete right angle. [the intersection perhaps, or a dogleg in the road not shown on the maps?] The regiment advanced some 300 or 400 yards through an open field under the fire of the enemy, who were posted on a hill immediately in our front [unclear if skirmisher or artillery fire]. Here it was found that this regiment, with the 34th (the regiment on our immediate left), had become separated from the balance of the brigade, and the order was given to the men to lie down behind an abrupt hill in the field. Here Colonel Scales ordered the men to cease firing (the enemy having disappeared)[likely means the federal skirmishers have finally left and crossed the creek] and dispatched the adjutant to the brigadier-general to report the position and the situation of the regiment. The brigadier-general arriving on the ground, ordered the colonel to press forward his skirmishers and occupy the hill, which was done. The skirmishers had hardly occupied the hill when the brigadier-general ordered them to be withdrawn, and the regiment to move back and join the balance of the brigade, which was immediately done. " (pp. 282-83)
- Gen. Walthall: "The road on which my left rested in the beginning of the movement turns to the right at a point 200 or 300 yards from the bridge, forming a right angle. At this point the [34th MS and 30th MS], in advancing passed across the road into an open field, and the Twenty-ninth Mississippi Regiment, Colonel Brantley (the center regiment), being immediately opposite the bridge was stubbornly resisted for about fifteen minutes, and in the meantime the regiments to the left of this, driving the skirmishers of the enemy before them, swung round under the enemy's artillery fire through an open field until the line they formed was nearly at right angles to that formed by the other three regiments, conforming in the main to the general direction of the creek....The [34th and 30th MS], after swinging to the right as above mentioned, in the field, had been halted by their commanders and the men ordered to lie down, the enemy having disappeared in their front [i.e., the enemy skirmishers]. I then directed the skirmishers of these regiments...to be recalled and the regiments to move by the right flank until they closed up an interval between the [30th and 29th MS] near the angle in the line." (p. 272)
The LOC map provided by Jantzen (attached again below), the sketch map included with Gen. Walker's report (p. 242a, fourth attachment below (photo)), the sketch map included with Liddell's report and appearing in the O.R. Atlas (Plate 30, no. 6, fifth attachment below) (photo)), the Bragg map in the O.R. Atlas (Plate 46, no.4, sixth attachment (photo), the Ruger/Merrill map, sheet no.1, in the O.R. Atlas (Plate 46, no.1, seventh attachment below (photo)) and the more detailed map included in Baumgartner's Blue Lightning (1st & 2d attachments below), all show Walthall's brigade engaging above (i.e. to the left from the Confederate perspective) as well as at and below the bridge. The Walker sketch map may also actually show the dogleg, covered up by the right hand half of Walthall's brigade (note how the line of the road coming up from the south connects to the left center of Walthall's brigade but then emerges from near the brigade right to continue on to the bridge.) Unfortunately few maps show much topographical, road or vegetation detail on the south side of the creek (Jantzen's LOC map shows the most) and none trace the route of Walthall's individual regiments. The Baumgartner, Walker and Ruger/Merrill maps may best show regimental locations during the heaviest fighting.
- Lt. Col. Murray (5th Ark.): "[T]he regiments, with the rest of Liddell's brigade, were posted on General Walthall's left, and two companies were thrown forward as skirmishers on a line with those of General Walthal's brigade. The skirmishers were immediately pressed forward and soon became engaged with the skirmishers of the enemy, who were posted on the south side of the creek....After a spirited skirmish of abut an hour and a half,...the enemy retired to the north bank of the creek...." (p. 262-63)
- Capt. Meek (2nd Ark.): "Our skirmishers wee advance through an open field near the above-named bridge." (p. 261)
- Maj. Watkins (8th Ark.): "We were soon ordered to form on the left of Walthall's brigade and to cover the front with skirmishers. The skirmishers engaged the enemy, who were concealed in the woods on the opposite bank of the river." (p. 268)
View attachment 402346
View attachment 402350
View attachment 402419
View attachment 402420
View attachment 402430
View attachment 402431