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Cleburne's Pickett's Mill Battle Report

O.R.– SERIES 1–VOLUME XXXVIII/3
May I-September 8, 1864. – THE ATLANTA (GEORGIA) CAMPAIGN
No. 608.–Report of Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne, C. S. Army, commanding division, of operations May 7-27.

About 16.30 p.m I received orders to bivouac until 4 a.m and then move to Paulding, on the Dallas-Atlanta road. I reached Paulding next morning (26th) at 6.30. Later in the day I moved to the right of the army to support Hindman. I got into position before sundown. I was now reporting to Lieutenant-General Hood. For an account of my operations while under command of General Hood, I submit the following report, made to that officer at that time:

HEADQUARTERS CLEBURNE'S DIVISION,
Paulding County, Ga., May 30, 1864

COLONEL: In compliance with orders, I submit the following account of the operations of my division on the afternoon and night of the 27th instant:

About 2 or 3 o'clock of the afternoon of the 26th I arrived with my division on the extreme right of the then line of the army, when I was sent to support Major-General Hindman. At that point our lines, the general bearing of which was north and south, retired for a few yards to the east. In continuation of this retiring line I placed Polk's brigade (of my division) in and diagonally across it, upon a ridge in echelon by battalion to avoid an artillery enfilade from a neighboring position held by the enemy. Resting on Polk's right as placed Hotchkiss artillery, consisting of four Napoleons, four Parrott guns, and four howitzers. Supporting Hotchkiss on the right was one regiment of Govan's, of my division. The remainder of my division was disposed in rear as a second line in support of Hindman's right brigades and my first line. Intrenchments were thrown up in the afternoon and night of the 26th and in the morning of the 27th. The position was in the main covered with trees and undergrowth, which served as a screen along our lines, concealed us, and were left standing as far as practicable for that purpose. On the morning of the 27th, at about 7 o'clock, Govan was sent to the north front on a reconnaissance, with directions to swing to the left in his advance. From time to time, while engaged in this reconnaissance, Govan sent me word that the enemy was moving to the right–his own left. At 11 a.m., upon my order to that effect, Govan came in, leaving his skirmishers about three-quarters of a mile in front. I at once placed him on the right of Polk, where he covered himself in rifle-pits. About 4 p.m., hearing that the enemy's infantry in line of battle were pressing the cavalry on my right (they had already driven in my skirmishers), I placed Granbury on Govan's right. He had but just gotten into position, and a dismounted cavalry force, in line behind a few disconnected heaps of stones loosely piled together, had passed behind him when the enemy advanced. He showed himself first, having driven back my skirmishers, in the edge of an open field in front of Govan, about 400 yards across, where he halted and opened fire. From the point on the ridge where Govan's right and Granbury's left met, there made off a spur, which, at about 100 yards from it, turned sharply to the northeast, running then in a direction almost parallel with it and maintaining about an equal elevation. Between this spur and the parent ridge beginning in front of Granbury's left, was a deep ravine, the side of which next to Granbury was very steep, with occasional benches of rock up to a line within thirty or forty yards of Granbury's men, where it flattened into a natural glacis. This glacis was well covered with well grown trees and in most places with thick undergrowth. Here was the brunt of the battle, the enemy advancing along this front in numerous and constantly re-enforced lines. His men displayed a courage worthy of an honorable cause, pressing in steady throngs within a few paces of our men, frequently exclaiming, "Ali! damn you, we have caught you without your logs now." Granburys men, needing no logs, were awaiting them, and throughout awaited them with calm determination, and as they appeared upon the slope slaughtered them with deliberate aim. The piles of his dead on this front, pronounced by the officers in this army who have seen most service to be greater than they had ever seen before, were a silent but sufficient eulogy upon Granbury and his noble Texans. In the great execution here done upon the enemy, Govan with his two right regiments, disdaining the enemy in his own front, who were somewhat removed, and Key with two pieces of artillery ran by hand upon my order to a convenient breach made in our breast-works, materially aided Granbury by a right-oblique fire which enfiladed the masses in his front. In front of a prolongation of Granbury's line and abutting upon his right was a field about 300 yards square. The enemy, driving back some cavalry, at this point advanced completely across the field and passed- some forty or fifty yards in its rear. Here, however, they were confronted by the Eighth and Nineteenth Arkansas (consolidated), commanded by Colonel Baucum, hastily sent by Govan upon Granbury's request and representation of the exigency. In a sweeping charge Bauwm drove the enemy from the ridge in his front, and with irresistible impetuosity forced him across the field and back into the woods, from which he had at first advanced. Here he fixed himself and kept up a heavy fire, aided by a deadly enfilade from the bottom of the ravine in front of Granbury. When Baucm was about to charge, Lowrey, of my division, who had been hastened up from his distant position upward of a mile and a half from my right as finally established, came into line, throwing his regiments in successively, as they unmasked themselves by their flank march. His arrival was most opportune, as the enemy was beginning to pour around Baucum's right. Colonel Adams, with the Thirty-third Alabama, which was the first of Lowreys regiments to form into line, took position on Baucuni's right and advanced with him, his seven left companies being in the field with Baucum, and his other four in the woods to the right. Baucum and Adams, finding themselves suffering from the enernys direct and oblique fire, withdrew, passing over the open space of the field behind them. The right companies of Adams, which were in the woods, retired to a spur which rises from the easterly edge of the field about 200 yards from its southerly edge, where Baucum's and Adams' left companies rested. Here they halted. Captain Dodson, with fine judgment perceiving the importance of the position–it would have given the enemy an enfilading fire upon Granbury, which would have dislodged him–and making his company the basis of alignment for the remainder of Lowreys, now coming into position. This retrogade movement across the field was not attended with loss as might have been expected, the enemy not advancing as it was made. It was mistaken, however, for a repulse, and some of my staff officers hearing that my line had broken hastened forward Quarles' brigade, of Stewart's division, just then providentially sent up by General Hood to re-establish it. Lowrey, being under the same impression, detached his two right regiments (which had not been engaged) under Colonels Tison and Hardcastle, and had them quickly formed in support of Baucum and Adams. The error, however, was soon discovered, and my line being ascertained to remain in its integrity, Quarles' brigade was conducted to the rear of Lowrey, and formed as a second line. The Fourth Louisiana, Colonel Hunter, finding itself opposite an interval between the two regiments of Lowreys line (caused by Baucum's resting closer upon Granbury on his return from the advance, than he had done at first), under the immediate superintendence of General Quarles, advanced with great spirit into the field, halted, and delivered a very effective fire upon the enemy in his front. After some minutes Quarles withdrew this regiment and formed it behind the field, where they continued their fire across it. General Quarles and his brigade have my thanks. During these movements the battle continued to rage on Granburys front, and was met with unflagging spirit. About the time of Quarles getting into position night came on, when the combat lulled. For some hours afterward a desultory dropping fire, with short, vehement bursts of musketry, continued, the enemy lying in great numbers immediately in front of portions of my line, and so near it, that their footsteps could be distinctly heard. About 10 p.m. I ordered Granbury and Lowrey to push forward skirmishers and scouts to learn the state of things in their respective fronts. Granbury, finding it impossible to advance his skirmishers until he had cleared his front of the enemy lying up against it, with my consent, charged with his whole line, Walthall, with his brigade, from Hindman's division, whom I sent to his support, taking his place in the line as he stepped out of it. The Texans, their bayonets fixed, plunged into the darkness with a terrific yell, and with one bound were upon the enemy, but they met with no resistance. Surprised and panic-stricken many fled, escaping in the darkness, others surrendered and were brought into our lines. It needed but the brilliancy of this night attack to add luster to the achievements of Granbury and his brigade in the afternoon. I am deeply indebted to them both. My thanks are also due to General Lowrey for the coolness and skill which he exhibited in forming his line. His successive formation was the precise answer to the enemy's movement in extending his left to turn our right. Time was of the essence of things, and his movement was the quickest. His line was formed under heavy fire, on ground unknown to him and of the most difficult character, and the stern firmness with which he and his men and Baucum's regiment drove off the enemy and resisted his renewed attacks without doubt saved the right of the army, as Granbury had already done before.

During the progress of the battle much service was rendered by the rifle battery and two remaining howitzers of Keys battery, in position on Polk's right. They were trained in enfilade upon the enemy's reserves massed behind the hill in front of the spur we occupied. I regretted I did not have more guns for this service. I had sent the Napoleon guns to the right, where they were unable to find positions, and so were useless.

During these operations Polk was not engaged, but it was a source of strength and confidence to the rest of the division to know that he had charge of the weakest and most delicate part of our line.

It is due to the following officers of my staff that I should acknowledge the industry, zeal, and activity they manifested in the battle: Maj. Calhoun Benhwn, assistant adjutant-general; Maj. J. K- Dixon, assistant inspector-general; Capt. Irving A. Buck, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. Robert McFarland, Lieuts. L. FL Man-gum, S. P. Hanly, and J. W. Jetton, aides-de-camp, and Capt. C. FL Byrne, volunteer aide-de-camp. They did their full duty with ability, gallantry, and enthusiasm. I am indebted to them for their cooperation. My ordnance, under Capt. C. S. Hill, and my medical department, under Surg. D. A. Linthicum, and my artillery, under Maj. T. R. Hotchkiss, were well administered.

My casualties in this battle were few. I had 85 killed, 363 wounded, carrying into the engagement 4,683 muskets. The enemys losses were very heavy. The lowest estimate which can be made of his dead is 500. We captured 160 prisoners, who were sent to army headquarters, exclusive of 72 of his wounded carried to my field hospital. He could not have lost in all less than 3,000 killed and wounded. I took upward of 1,200 small-arms.

This battle was fought at a place known as the "Pickett Settlement," and about two miles northeast of New Hope Church.

Very respectfully,



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