Lieut. Col. T. W.
Beaumont, Fiftieth Tennessee Infantry.
On reconnoitering the position, I found that the battery was supported by a line of infantry, which extended as far as I could see toward our right, their right resting in the woods in which we were standing. On our left another body of troops was seen, but their strength could not be estimated, as they were hidden from view, with the exception of one regiment, by the timber. The space open to view on the right was sufficient to contain two full regiments. I was satisfied that an attack would be uninviting. I therefore ordered the regiment to withdraw from the woods, and, in accordance with instructions received in the forenoon from General Gregg, proceeded toward the left, to prevent the force which I had seen in that direction from outflanking us I sent Major [C. W.] Robertson to inform the general of the state of affairs and of my movements. He soon rejoined us, stating that he could not learn where the general was at that time. I learned from him that Colonel MacGavock was in the same part of the field with myself. I had supposed until then that he was farther toward the right.
The enemy continued to extend their line toward the left, and in endeavoring to keep even pace with them, I passed Colonel MacGavock's command. From him I ascertained that it was the general's intention to attack the enemy's lines, and that he would expect us to advance at once. As there was a wide interval between the Tenth and Thirtieth (now again on our right) and the center regiments, I placed myself under Colonel MacGavock's orders to insure concert of action, which I considered of the greatest importance to the success of the attack. He indicated the position he wished me to occupy, to which I proceeded, formed line of battle, and sent to let him know that I was ready to advance as soon as he gave the word. In answer to my message, he sent word that he would await orders. A short time afterward he moved his regiment toward the right and I lost sight of him.
Our regiment was thus left entirely alone. I sent scouts and skirmishers to the front and to both flanks. In a few moments afterward I heard rapid and continuous firing, indicating a hot engagement between the Tenth and Thirtieth and the enemy, and my scouts returned with information that Colonel MacGavock was driven from his position and was falling back; that the woods which we occupied were full of Yankees, and that they were advancing in large force in front of us. I had scarcely received their reports before a heavy fire was poured into my right flank, and the skirmishers of the enemy were advancing rapidly in my front. I withdrew the regiment in tolerable order and proceeded to the road. Here we received another fire from the enemy, who occupied the position previously vacated by Colonel MacGavock. We formed line of battle promptly, and returned their fire with the effect of driving them back, and without further annoyance we reached the position originally held by us in the morning. I learned here that Colonel MacGavock had not fallen back; my scout, having no knowledge of his change of position as above stated, supposed when he found he was gone that he had abandoned the field. The engagement between his command and the enemy was renewed, and, guided by the sound of the guns, we advanced to his support. The firing, however, ceased before we definitely ascertained where the battle was going on, but we continued our advance in the same direction. In crossing the field intervening between us and the point we were aiming at, we met the Forty-first Tennessee Regiment on their way to the extreme left. When we reached the woods, we found ourselves on the right of the Tenth and Thirtieth. The firing, with the exception of a little sharpshooting, had ceased.
The enemy on our right were preparing to advance to the road through the old field into our rear, thus cutting off communication with the town and endangering the safety of the Tenth and Thirtieth and Forty-first Regiments. We marched quickly by the right flank into the field, under cover of a ravine with rather steep hills on each side. The enemy's skirmishers were deployed in our front, a little to the right. I posted my line of skirmishers behind the crest of the hill and ordered them to fire. The fire was effective, and drove them back in considerable confusion into their cover in the woods. When they reached the woods where their main body was concealed, they opened a feeble fire upon us, but a single volley from our regiment silenced them completely, and as long as we remained on the field they made no further effort to get into our rear in that direction.
After this we were requested by the officer commanding the Tenth and Thirtieth to dispose our regiment so as to meet a body of the enemy then advancing as if to attack them in flank. To meet this movement it was necessary to march by the left flank into the woods again. After posting skirmishers to watch the movements of that body of the enemy we had just engaged, we re-entered the woods, and disposed the regiment in a way to meet the movement of the enemy in either direction on the right or left. While in this position, awaiting developments and resting the men, I was informed that the Tenth and Thirtieth and Forty-first Regiments had been ordered to fall back. Having ascertained that this information was correct, and having no orders to the contrary, I also withdrew my regiment, as their falling back left me too much exposed. We reached the road in time to take position between the Tenth and Thirtieth and Forty-first, and in this order marched back to town. While in the road, the enemy's artillery kept up a vigorous shelling, but this did not prevent us from securing our knapsacks and haversacks, which had been left on the roadside as we went out to the field.
The officers and men of the regiment
behaved exceedingly well. Some of the new recruits became confused in
some of the maneuvers, and a few of them fired badly, but most of them,
even some who have since deserted, fought bravely.
Major Robertson was consulted in almost all the important movements, and is entitled to a full share of whatever credit is due the regiment.
I must be permitted also to express my acknowledgment of the services of Captain Porter, of General Johnston's staff, who volunteered in my regiment, and commanded a company during the engagement.
Two of my largest companies (D and G) were on picket duty during the engagement, and another (Company E) was escorting a foraging train, and did not reach the field until the battle had been going on several hours. I felt their absence very keenly.
In the attack on the enemy in the old field, the last attack we made, I received a slight wound in the head, which bled profusely, but did not disable me.
The following is a list of casualties.
All of which is respectfully submitted as my official report of the part sustained by the Fiftieth Tennessee Regiment in the battle of Raymond.
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