Burns, Robert – December 26, 1863

Michigan Civil War Collection

Click here for this soldier’s biography: http://micivilwar.com/authors/burns-robert/
Regiment: 4th Michigan Cavalry Battles Mentioned: Chickamauga, Georgia Historical Figures: George Thomas, Gordon Granger, Horatio P. Van Cleve, James B. Steedman, James Longstreet, John M. Palmer, John Pegram, Nathan B. Forrest, Robert H. Minty, Simon B. Buckner, Thomas J. Wood, Thomas L. Crittenden Murfreesboro, Tennessee 26th December 1863 Major Sinclair A.A. Genl Sir: I [ ? ] to hand you the fol- lowing report of the operations of the 1st Brigade 2nd Cavalry Division from the 13th to the 24th Sept. and including the Battle of Chicamauga. 13th Sept., with the 4th U.S. Cav. 4th Mich. Cav. 7th Pa. Cav. and one Section Chicago Board of Trade Battery. I marched from Chattanooga to Gordons Mills and reported to Maj Genl. Crittenden Comg. 21st A. C. 14th Under orders from Maj. Genl. Crittenden. I crossed Missionary Ridge into Lookout Valley. 15th Marched back to Gordons Mills, when Genl. Crittenden ordered me to proceed to Pea Vine Val- ley and encamp at or near Letts cross roads. I crossed the Chicamauga at Reed’s Bridge and shortly before dark encamped on Pea Vine Creek near Peeler’s Factory, and sent out scouts towards Grayville Ringold, Leets & Rock Springs. Same night I reported to Major Genl. Crittenden the information brought in by these parties, and in answer received a letter from Captain Oldershaw, A. A. G. 21st A.C. of which the following is an extract – “The Major Genl. Comdg. directs me to acknowl- edge the receipt of your letter of this date informing him that Forrest is at Ringold. Longstreet at Dalton. Pegram at Leets, and Buckner at Rock Spring. All this would indicate infantry which the Maj. Genl. cannot believe.” 16th Strong scouting parties advanced towards me from Ringold and Leets. They were promptly met, driven, and followed; at the same time my pickets on the Lafayette & Harrison road, which lies between Pea Vine Ridge and Chicamauga Creek were attacked from towards Lafayette thus threatening my communications via Reed’s Bridge I immediately fell back to that road, thus securing the bridge but at the same time. I kept posses- sion of the roads in Pea Vine Valley by pick- eting strongly. My scout towards Leets ran into the rebel infantry and lost one man shot through the head. This was promptly reported to Major Genl. Crittenden whose answer was same as yesterday, “Nothing but dismounted cavalry.” 17th Slight skirmishing between my scouts and those of the enemy. The scout from Grays- ville reported that Genl. Steadman’s Brigade of the Reserve Corps had passed through that place on a reconnoisance toward Ringold. On the return of my courier from Gordon’s Mills the reported that Col. Wilder’s Brigade of Mounted Infantry was encamped on the west side of Chicamauga Creek at Alexander’s Bridge about two miles above me. 18th At 6 A.M. I sent 100 men from 4th U.S. cavalry towards Leets and 100 from 4th Mich and 7th Pa. towards Ringold. At about 7 A.M. couriers arrived from both scouts with the in- formation that the enemy was advancing in force. I immediately strengthened my pickets on the Lafayette road and moved forward with the 4th Mich and one battalion of the 4th Regulars and the section of artillery and took up a position on the eastern slope of Pea Vine Ridge and despatched couriers to Maj. Genl Granger at Rossville. Col. Wilder at Alexander’s Bridge. Genl. Wood at Gordon’s Mills and Genl. Crittenden at Crawfish Springs. The enemie’s infantry in strong force with about 200 cavalry advanced steadily driving my skirmish line back to my position on the side of the ridge. The head of a column getting into good range. I opened on them with the artillery when they im- mediately deployed and advanced a strong skirmish line. At this moment, I observed a strong column of dust moving from the direction of Grayville towards Dyer’s ford. I sent a courier to Col. Wilder asking him to send a force to hold the ford and cover my left and my train across the creek. As the force from Graysville advanced. I fell back until I arrived on the ground which I had occupied in the morning. Here Col. Miller with two regiments and two Mountain howitzers from Col. Wilder’s Brigade reported to me. I directed Col. Miller to take possession of the ford, and again advanced and drove the rebel skirmish line over the ridge and back on their line of battle in the valley when a force was in position which I estimated at 7000 men. thirteen sets of regimental colors were visible. The rebel line advanced and I was steadily driven back across the ridge. My only means of crossing the creek were Reed’s Bridge a narrow frail structure which was covered with loose boards and fence rails and a bad ford about 300 yards higher up. I masked my artillery behind some shrubs near this ford leaving one battalion of the 4th Regulars to support it and ordering the remainder of that regiment to cross the bridge holding the 7th Pa. and 4th Mich in line to cover the movement. Before the first squadron had time to cross the head of a rebel column carrying their arms at “right shoulder shift” and moving at the double quick and as steadily as if at drill came through the gap not 500 yards from the Bridge. The artillery opened on them from an unexpected quarter, evidently took them by surprise and immediately checked their advance causing them to again deploy. The 4th Mich followed the 4th Regulars and the 7th Pa. the 4th Mich one squadron of the 4th Regulars under Lieut. Davis most gallantly covering the crossing of the 7th One squadron of the 4th Mich under Lieut Simp- son on picket on the Harrison road was cut off by the rapid advance of the enemy. They made a gallant resistance and eventually swam the creek without the loss of a man. The artillery crossed the ford in safety and I placed them in position to dispute the crossing of the bridge from which Lieut. Davis’ men had thrown the greater part of the loose planking. Here I was soon hotly engaged and was holding the rebels in check when I received a note from the officer in charge of my wagons trains which I had sent back to Gordon’s Mills stating “Col. Miller has fallen back from Alexander’s Bridge. He is retreating towards Gordon’s Mills and the enemy is crossing the river in force at all points.” I sent an order to Col. Miller to join me without delay and on his arrival I feel back to Gordon’s Mills skirmishing with the enemy who followed me closely. With less than one thousand men. The old first brigade had disputed the advance of seven thousand from 7 o’clock in the morning until 5 o’clock in the evening, and during that time fell back only five miles. On arriving at Gordon’s Mills, my men were dismounted and with Col. Wilder’s brigade and a brigade from Genl. Van Cleve’s Division repulsed a heavy attack at about 8 P.M. We lay in position all night within hearing of the enemy; were without fires although the night was bitterly cold. At break of day, Genl. Palmer’s Division releived us. I then moved to the rear and procured forage for our horses and rations for the men who had been entirely without since the previous morning. 19th Moved along to the rear to the left to protect the trains moving into Chattanooga. Camped, near Rossville. 20th Under orders from Maj. Genl. Granger. I marched to the ford at Missionary Mills and sent strong patrols to Chicamauga Station and Graysville, without meeting the enemy. To- ward the afternoon I received orders from Gen. Granger to take possession of the position then occupied by him on the Ringold & Rossville road. On arriving on the ground, I found that Genl. Granger had already marched to the assistance of Genl. Thomas. Being anxious to know what was in front of me. I pushed forward towards Red House Bridge, and found Scotts Brigade of Cavalry and Mounted Infantry about 1500 strong, moving into position on our side of the Creek. I immediately attacked them, and after a spirited skirmish of about an hours duration, drove them across the creek with considerable loss. 21st During the night, Gen. Thomas fell back to the height of Missionary Ridge at Ross- ville, and this morning I found myself about two miles directly in front of his line of battle. The rebels advanced in three columns from the direction of Missionary Mills. Red House Bridge and Dyer’s ford. I skir- mished with their advance for a couple of hours and then fell back to Rossville with a loss of one officer and seven men killed and one officer and thirteen men wounded. I was then ordered to the left to watch the movements of the enemy. 22nd Under orders from Maj. Genl. Thomas the 4th Regulars moved during the night to Rossville and took possession of the gap va- cated by our retiring infantry. At 6 A.M., I heard firing in the direction of Rossville. Leaving strong pickets in the passes over the ridge I moved forward with the 7th Pa. and 4th Mich. to support the 4th Regulars but found that Capt. McIntyre had judiciously fallen back the enemy having turned his flank by advancing on the road from Gordon’s Mills. I retired to Chattanooga skirmishing sharply. 23rd With the 7th Pa. and 4th Mich. I worked in the trenches all night and at 4 A.M. I crossed the Tennessee River and camped on Opposum Creek, from whence I picketed the Tenn. from Washington to Sandy Shoals. The loss in my Brigade from the day on which I was detached from the Division, until I crossed the Tennessee river on the 24th was under 100 men of whom only fifteen were missing and of those fifteen nine are known to be either killed or wounded. While, during that time in prisoners, I took from the enemy 439. Herewith, I enclose report of officers and men deserving special mention. I am respectfully Your obedient servant R. H. G. Minty Col. 4th Mich. Cavalry late Comdg. 1st Brig. 2nd Cav. Div. [ ? ] Robert Burns (late) Capt & AAAG