Report of Lieut. Col. Samuel B. Raymond, Fifty-first Illinois Infantry

 Chattanooga, September 29, 1863.

CAPTAIN: In accordance with your circular of this date, I beg leave to submit the following report of the operations of my command during the engagements of the 19th and 20th instant:

Saturday, 19th.—A night march from the position taken near Lee’s Mill brought us within about 6 miles of Crawfish Spring, to which point we moved hurriedly on the morning of the 19th, taking a short rest there to fill canteens. The sound of artillery and musketry to the left told of an engagement there. Canteens filled we marched rapidly to the left, and at about 12 m. took position in an open piece of ground and near the Chickamauga River.

Meantime the engagement increased in fury, and a tremendous roll of musketry seemed approaching the right. During some considerable time occupied in shifting our position the battle increased with still greater fury, when, in obedience to orders, we moved by the right flank still farther to the left through a heavy belt of timber at a double-quick, rapidly nearing the scene of conflict.

Arriving there the brigade was formed in two lines, my command being formed in the second line and on the left of the Forty-second Illinois. Before I had completed the formation of my line the command “Forward” was given, thus compelling my three left companies to complete the formation at a run, and while passing through the timber and underbrush and over a rail fence which had not been torn down. This caused a temporary brokenness in my line, which had to be remedied after reaching the open space beyond, and on reaching which brought us under the enemy’s fire. But the sight of the foe seemed to nerve every heart, and with a shout and a dash we charged upon them, driving all before us, until we had passed a skirt of woods on our left.

At this point we received a murderous and enfilading fire from a fresh brigade of the enemy, thrown out for the evident purpose of turning our flank, and for a moment were compelled to fall back below the crest of the rising ground, taking shelter in a small water-course. Here rallying the men, we again charged forward, and gained the fence lining the west side of the woods which skirted the crest of the ridge and maintained our ground in the front, while a battery in our rear drove the enemy advancing from the woods on our left. I was compelled to crowd my left toward the right, as the fire from the battery passed through it, killing and wounding several. I also directed what remained of the left wing to fire “left-oblique.” and in a few moments the enemy were flying from our front in great disorder.

My ranks were too much weakened to attempt to follow them, and I so reported to Colonel Walworth, commanding the second line, now becoming the first, the front line having fallen back. I was directed by him to hold my position at the fence ‘‘at all hazards,” which we succeeded in doing.

During the heaviest of the engagement a portion of my men assisted in hauling off three guns by hand, which had been captured by the enemy but a short time before. The fiercest of the conflict lasted but a few moments, but during those few moments we lost 14 killed, 75 wounded, and 5 missing. My left wing was almost annihilated, and had but a handful of men left, losing all but 3 officers. The adjutant and sergeant-major were severely wounded, and my own and Major Davis’ horse shot from under us. During the night we erected breastworks, and otherwise made preparations for a renewal of the attack on—

Sunday, 20th.—This day was the second anniversary of the organization of the regiment. At daybreak I received orders to retire from my position by the left flank, and moving to the rear formed a new line upon the crest of the Missionary Ridge hills, where we remained in position till near 10 a. m., at which time the engagement opened again on the left. About this time we were moved down to the bottom again and formed along the road and directly in rear of the First Brigade, my regiment being posted on the left of the Forty-second Illinois in the first line.

The battle was now raging fearfully on our left and seemed again approaching the right. Again we changed position to the foot of the ridge hills and facing south, and while resting here a most terrific musketry fire suddenly broke out near the center, which rolled rapidly to the right and was followed by deafening cheers from the enemy.

At this time I received orders to move the regiment by the left flank at a double-quick, and to follow the Twenty-second Illinois, keeping well closed up. To accomplish this my men were put upon the run and were thus moved down into the timber toward the point of action, and while thus moving and before we had time to halt and form we were met by our retreating forces, hotly pursued by an eager foe, who poured into us a deadly fire on front and flank.

We had scarce time to deliver one volley before they were upon us, and notwithstanding the most energetic efforts on the part of myself and officers we had to give way, while the fleeing forces of other divisions and brigades, breaking through us, caused confusion and separation which could not be remedied, but grew worse. All of my officers exerted themselves to the utmost to stop any and all men without reference to any particular regiments. A second and third line was thus formed and likewise repulsed, when, in obedience to orders, we fell back to crest of the Missionary Ridge hills and formed the fourth line, which was not penetrated by the enemy, they seeming to turn their attention to the pressing of the flank and center.

Directly after this I was directed to follow, with all men I could gather up irrespective of organizations, a column which was then moving over the ridge hills and thence to Rossville. Making a temporary halt to gather together the fragments of regiments, brigades, and divisions, we moved with our division round through the gap at Rossville and up to the ground occupied by General Thomas. Waiting here some time we faced about, and moved back to Rossville late at night and overcome with fatigue.

Of my command we had gathered together nearly 150, leaving our loss for this day at over 60 in killed, wounded, and missing, a few of whom came in afterward uninjured. Our actual casualties on Sunday were 4 killed, 18 wounded, and 31 missing, among whom were 2 non-commissioned officers.

During the engagement of this day Lieutenant Cummings, of Company D, assisted by a squad of men representing several other regiments, captured the battle-flag of the Twenty-fourth Alabama Regiment.

On Saturday we engaged the troops of Hood’s division, of Longstreet’s corps, and on Sunday the troops of Polk’s corps, the former of whom gave us full credit for the fierceness, valor, and success of our charge.

It is with feelings of gratified pride I speak of the noble and gallant conduct of the officers and men of my command in the engagements of both days. The small number missing on the first day speaks volumes for their individual bravery and faithfulness. Where all did so well it would be invidious to mention names, and I trust our commanders, of whom we all feel so proud, think well of our service.

The honored dead call forth the silent tears of sorrow and sympathy, and we regret that the overwhelming force of the foe compelled us to leave them without the last sad rites of a soldier’s burial. The wounded were carefully removed as far as possible, and have received attention of our own surgeon, who remained behind with assistants, in charge of the hospital at Crawfish Spring.

Accompanying this you will find a complete list* of the casualties during Saturday and Sunday, the 19th and 20th instant, corresponding as near as may be to the report already handed in.

Lieut. Col. Fifty-first Illinois Infantry, Commanding.

Official Records 30/1, pp. 1055-1057