Col. Thomas P. Dockery, Nineteenth Arkansas Infantry, Second Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS,
Enterprise, Miss.
July 29, 1863.

 

SIR: Although not the ranking officer, yet, in obedience to the order of the lieutenant-general commanding, I submit the following as the report of the action of the Second Brigade, Bowen's division, in the battle of Champion's Hill, or Baker's Creek, on May 16 last:

On May 12, the brigade was ordered into position in the ditches at Big Black, Colonel [Elijah] Gates, with his regiment (the First Missouri Cavalry) and a section of artillery, being on picket near Edwards Depot.

At 3 a.m. on the 13th, the brigade was ordered to move to Edwards Depot, and take a strong position about a mile from town, on the Port Gibson road, and hold it to the last. Accordingly, the brigade moved out and reached Edwards Depot about daylight, and proceeded out on the Port Gibson road. After marching about 2 miles, General Bowen joined General Green. At this point the First Battalion Arkansas Cavalry (dismounted), sharpshooters, was deployed as skirmishers, and the brigade ordered to countermarch. It moved back about three-quarters of a mile, and formed in line of battle on the left of the Port Gibson road. About noon General Loring sent an order to General Green to advance his skirmishers and feel of the enemy. The skirmishers and pickets were thrown forward, and soon engaged those of the enemy near Fourteen-Mile Creek. After a few minutes' skirmishing, the enemy fell back. All attempts to draw him out from the creek proved fruitless.

At 2 p.m. on the 15th, the brigade was ordered to move in the direction of Raymond, on the military road. The brigade moved back to Edwards Depot; from thence across Baker's Creek on the Clinton road. After crossing the creek, the brigade moved on a right-hand road, crossing a plantation, and about 11 p.m. bivouacked for the night in line of battle, the right of the brigade resting on the Raymond road.

About sunrise on the morning of the 16th, the pickets being engaged, the brigade was ordered to move back about 200 yards to the crest of the hill, and there form line of battle. After remaining in this position about three-quarters of an hour, General Buford took the ground occupied by the division, and the brigade was ordered to move to the rear, to be held in reserve. Accordingly, it was moved in line of battle about three-quarters of a mile, when the line was again formed. As soon as done, the brigade was ordered to advance, bearing to the left. Heavy skirmishing was heard on our left wing. After some maneuvering, the brigade recrossed the plantation and halted in the timber on a ravine. The battle at this time was raging with great fierceness on the left wing, and the brigade was ordered to move rapidly by the left flank to its support. After moving about a mile, the division of Major-General Stevenson was met, having been repulsed, and closely pursued by the enemy. The troops were formed between our retreating threes and the advancing foe, and charged the enemy. The fighting now became desperate. The enemy finally gave way.

The formation of the country was such that the troops could scarcely advance faster than a walk, and many of the hills were ascended with great difficulty; notwithstanding, the command pushed impetuously forward, driving back in confusion the many fresh lines formed to meet our gallant troops. The enemy had been driven over a mile, all the artillery captured from Major-General Stevenson's division recaptured, and several pieces taken from the enemy. I notified General Green, commanding brigade, that my ammunition was about exhausted. He replied that the ordnance train had been ordered from the field, and it would be impossible to refill the cartridge-boxes; that the men must use the ammunition of our and the enemy's killed and wounded; that the enemy must be driven as long as it were possible to advance the lines, if it had to be done with empty guns. About this time the enemy began to flank us on the right. A battery soon opened upon them.

Here I would mention and most favorably recommend to the notice of the lieutenant-general commanding Sergt. R. H. G. Gaines, of Company K, Twenty-third Alabama Infantry, of General [S. D.] Lee's brigade, who, unassisted, used with good effect a 12-pounder howitzer on the flanking column. This sergeant alone fired about 12 or 15 rounds, when, being noticed by General Green, 4 volunteers were obtained from the regiment supporting a battery a little to the right (I think it was a Georgia regiment), who gallantly assisted Sergeant Gaines in working the piece, causing the enemy to stop their advance on that particular point. The volunteers (whose names I have not been able to learn) deserve great credit for their bravery.

The enemy continued the flank movement, bearing father to the right. Captain [W. B.] Pittman, assistant adjutant-general, was sent to the lieutenant-general commanding to notify him of the movement and ask for re-enforcements to check it, and also to strengthen the right of the brigade. The Twelfth Louisiana was sent to the support of the right. No troops having been sent to oppose the flanking force, the movement was completed, and the brigade, when it was driving everything in its front from right to left., and was within 400 or 500 yards of the enemy's ordnance train, was ordered to fall back to prevent being entirely cut off. Slowly and reluctantly, although terribly cut to pieces? the brigade fell back, and moved to the ford on Baker's Creek, leaving our dead and wounded on the field, the ambulances and many of the surgeons having been ordered off previous to the commencement of the battle.

At Baker's Creek General Bowen directed that the troops take position and hold the crossing until the other troops hall crossed. Before the troops could get into position or be supplied with ammunition, the enemy crossed the creek above the ford with a battery and an infantry force, and opened a heavy fire upon us with the artillery, at the same time moving the infantry toward the road, threatening to cut off the command from Edwards Depot. The Third Missouri Cavalry (dismounted) was deployed as skirmishers on the creek. General Green moved the brigade as rapidly as possible toward Edwards Depot, leaving the road to the right and going around the force attempting to cut him off. The enemy's infantry came down between the brigade and the Third Missouri Cavalry and cut it off, with the exception of one company and a few stragglers who made their way to the brigade. The commander of the battalion finding himself cut off, made his way to Major-General Loring. The command reached Edwards [Depot] at dusk, and proceeded to the camp at Big Black, where it arrived about midnight, completely exhausted, and at, daylight next morning was ordered into the trenches at Big Black Bridge, the report of which engagement was forwarded by Brigadier-General Green previous to his death.

Lieutenant-Colonel [William H.] Dismukes, of the Nineteenth Arkansas, and Lieutenant-Colonel [H. G.] Robertson, of the Twentieth Arkansas Infantry, fell while gallantly charging the enemy's batteries, the former mortally wounded and the latter killed.

I desire to call the attention of the lieutenant-general commanding to the pre-eminently gallant conduct of Private Pudic, of the Nineteenth Arkansas, who, during the entire engagement, although frequently recalled by his company commander as well as --, kept at least 20 or 30 yards in advance of his regiment, using his gun with good effect.

I have as yet been unable to procure accurate lists of the killed and wounded. They will be forwarded as soon as obtained.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

TOM P DOCKERY,
Col. 19th Arkansas Infty., 2d Brig., 2d Div.. Army of Miss.

Major [R. W.] MEMMINGER,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Dept. of Mississippi and East Louisiana.



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