Lieut. Col. James J.
Turner, Thirtieth Tennessee Infantry, commanding Tenth and Thirtieth
We moved out on the Gallatin road about 9 a.m., and were posted first across the road, about 1 mile from town, during the first artillery fight. While thus posted we were ordered to move forward between the Gallatin and Utica roads, through the woods, for about half a mile, and were then formed in line of battle in the woods in front of an open field, with instructions to attack the enemy when the Fiftieth Tennessee became engaged, but as they made no attack we waited for further orders. While thus posted, the artillery was still engaged, and I could distinctly hear the commands of the Federal officers, some 400 yards in our front, forming in line of battle and also moving to our left in the direction of the Gallatin road. After remaining there for some fifteen minutes, we were ordered to move to the left about 600 yards, which we did at a double quick, and we then formed in line in the edge of a dense woods, a large field being in our rear. I ordered forward a company of skirmishers in our front, and immediately I heard the engagement open between the enemy and the Third Tennessee and Seventh Texas. At this juncture we received an order leaving it discretionary whether to attack the enemy or not. After waiting a few minutes the skirmishers were withdrawn, and we moved rapidly by the right flank for about 500 yards, and reached a position near that of the Third Tennessee, and after seven of the consolidated companies had filed into the field, the whole command changed direction by the left flank and moved forward rapidly in line. As soon as those in the field reached the crest of the hill, the enemy opened upon us from the front and right, and Colonel MacGavock ordered a charge, which was responded to with alacrity by all the command. The command charged forward gallantly, cheering and firing as they went. The enemy, being on our right flank and strongly posted in the woods in our front, poured into our ranks a most destructive fire. We, however, drove them from the field on our right flank and reached the woods, but were forced to fall back to the top of the hill, and I formed them immediately in rear of the crest of the hill, and ordered them to lie down and load and fire, so as to be protected from the enemy's fire, which continued very heavy. The three consolidated companies on the left wing being in a dense pine woods, could not move as fast as the balance of the command, and, seeing the right fall back, I ordered the left to halt on the crest of the hill, and lie down under cover and load and fire to the right and front. Colonel MacGavock, in a few seconds after ordering the charge, while gallantly leading his men, fell, mortally wounded, and some 5 commissioned officers of the Tenth Tennessee were wounded about the same time. The firing thus continued for about half an hour without intermission on either side.
We had left the Fiftieth Tennessee on our left, and I understood that they were to remain there to protect that flank, but, hearing nothing from them, I became apprehensive, and sent out Captain [C. S.] Douglass with a company of skirmishers to our left, who came back in a few minutes and reported that the enemy had advanced a heavy force in the open field on our left for some 250 yards in rear of my left flank, but separated from it by a dense pine undergrowth, some 200 yards wide, which had concealed their movement from my view. The enemy being in full force in my front, and sweeping around on my left with superior numbers, with the evident intention of gaining the Gallatin road and attacking us in the rear, so as to cut off our retreat, I at once saw that the only alternative was to quietly withdraw from the front and attack those on our left. I about-faced the command, and moved it back to the hollow some 100 yards, and then moved them by the right flank into the woods near the field where the enemy were, and ordered the whole command to cheer and halloo and charge the enemy at a double-quick, being forced to do so. Faced by the rear rank, the order was enthusiastically responded to by officers and men, and at them they went, yelling like savages. The enemy stood till we came near the field, and delivered one volley at us, and then broke in utter confusion, and attempted but once to rally on their colors, but we came up within 30 steps of them and killed their color-bearer, and the rout was complete. We drove them in all some 600 yards and until they reached the thick woods, and where they had a regiment drawn up in reserve, and fearing to advance longer, I ordered back the command to the crest of the hill, and formed them and ordered them to lie flat down. I then posted Captain [John] O'Neill's company on the highest point of the hill, behind some houses and trees, to watch the enemy, and to fire on any of his advance or skirmishers that came in range, the fire being kept up all the time by the sharpshooters on each side. In about twenty minutes the enemy formed in line in the edge of the woods about 250 yards in our front, and threw forward their skirmishers at a run to a ravine about 50 yards from us, but Captain O'Neill's company, and some others below in some stables, poured into them a heavy fire, and they were forced to lie flat down in the ravine and conceal themselves, never again annoying us. While posted at this position I had from the cover of the hill a fine view in front and on either flank, and I saw two regiments of the enemy in our front and two on our left, moving in the direction of the Gallatin road, and who were fired into by the skirmishers of the Forty-first Tennessee, besides some cavalry moving in the same direction; their number, however, I could not estimate.
We fought in the different engagements
four regiments of the enemy without any assistance from artillery, and
at the time we were ordered to retire a large number were without
ammunition, and had we remained much longer we must have been captured.
We secured and sent to the rear some 15 or 20 prisoners in the last
engagement. In the first engagement I have no accurate means of knowing
the loss of the enemy, but it was fully equal to our own, however; in
the second fight, as we passed over and occupied the ground fought on, I
can judge of their loss with considerable accuracy, and I estimate their
killed and wounded there at 150; 20 were counted near one stable. When
we fell back to town we lost 3 wounded.
Lieutenant-Colonel [William] Grace and Major [B. G.] Bidwell were present all the time, and did their whole duty as brave and gallant officers.
Adjutants [T. R.] Kelsey and [E. T.] Bush were prompt in carrying all orders, and contributed much to our success by their bravery and gallantry.
In the fall of Colonel MacGavock the service has lost a brave and meritorious officer, and society an educated and talented gentleman.
The following is a list(*) of the casualties of the Tenth and Thirtieth, so far as I can learn them.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
JAMES J. TURNER,
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