Col. Manning F. Force, Twentieth Ohio Infantry, Second
SIR: I have the honor to report that, on the morning of the 12th of May, the Twentieth Ohio marched as advance guard of the division, on the right side of the road to Raymond, with four companies (first, second, third, and fifth) deployed in front as skirmishers till the deployed line reached the edge of the timber bordering the Fourteen. Mile Creek; there the column was halted, the rebel battery on a hill beyond the creek throwing shell over the timber into the open field. I brought up the reserves upon the deployed line for shelter. The First Brigade afterward marched over the field to the shelter of the woods, and rested upon and mingled with my skirmishers.
While in this situation, I received orders to forward, and immediately a hot fire, with hurrahs, was heard in front. All the companies but the first and second quickly formed in line, advanced to a deep gully, and took position there. The second company (17, Capt. Harrison Wilson) assembled the skirmishers, formed, and marched by the flank under a very severe fire to its position in line, as quickly as if on parade. Company A, Lieutenant Weatherby commanding, was so separated by the intervening brigade that it was impossible for it to form with the regiment. Lieutenant Weatherby reported to Colonel Dollins, commanding Eighty first Illinois, and fought under him. Colonel Dollins gives emphatic report of the good conduct of this company.
The fire was very hot and close. Private [Levi] Donaldson, of F, had his leg shattered by a rifle held within a foot of it. The enemy's fire being silenced in about an hour, I advanced out of the gully across an almost impenetrable tangle of logs and brush, a run waist-deep in some places, and a plowed field, up the hill where the enemy's guns had been placed, and there halted and reported. I advanced with the brigade to Raymond in the evening, and marched the regiment out on picket.
The Seventh Texas, which boasts that it never before gave way, was lying in ambush when the Twentieth Ohio first marched into the woods. With all its advantage of position, this regiment was slaughtered and driven. Twenty three dead were found in half an acre in front of the line of the Twentieth; 7 dead were found behind a log, which was pierced by seventy-two balls. One tree in front of my line was stripped and hacked near the root by balls, though not a mark was found more than 2 feet above the ground.
I cannot speak too highly of the behavior of officers and men. Notwithstanding the suddenness of the attack, the severity of the fire, and the necessity of maneuvering to form line, I did not see a mistake or any hesitation, nor enough excitement to interfere with immediate obedience to every command. If admirable performance of duty under trying circumstances entitles one to honorable mention, every officer and man should be honorably mentioned. I can name Capt. Abraham Kaga, acting as field officer (two field officers being detached on staff duty), and First Lieut. J. B. Walker, acting adjutant, for their very efficient assistance; Capt. Harrison Wilson, for the excellent manner in which he assembled his skirmishers without confusion under fire and in the midst of a retreating regiment and marched them to position in line; Private John Canavan, of Company E, who in part led the company, when, by the wounding of Second Lieut. John Stevenson and death of First Sergeant [Byron] Selby, the company was left in command of the fifth sergeant ([Osborn H.] Oldroyd), lately appointed ; Corporal [William H.] Borum (B), who insisted upon remaining in the ranks with a ball lodged in his throat, and Private ----------, of D, who returned from the hospital after his wounds were dressed, to carry water for the men.
I think it proper also to mention hospital attendant Lawrence Greenman, of Company D, for persistent zeal in performance of his duties under fire. Private [Jacob] Cauter, of Company A, seeing a good opportunity for a shot after the regiment with which that company was serving was ordered to cease firing, asked permission; Lieutenant Weatherby, walking the length of the regiment, obtained permission, and Cauter fired his shot, the only one fired by the company until order was given to resume.
A list of casualties is appended.
I am, sir, very
respectfully, your obedient servant,
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