Report of Col. Jonathan R. Miles, Twenty-seventh Illinois Infantry.

Chattanooga, Tenn., September 30, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken by my regiment in the battles of the 19th and 20th instant on Chickamauga River and Missionary Ridge, Ga.

The regiment had, upon the morning of the 18th instant, been detailed to remain at Stevens’ Gap until the division train should make the descent of the Lookout Mountain, then to constitute its guard while joining the division. The train was all down the mountain at 5 p. m. of said day, and the regiment escorted it to the division (a distance of 4 miles), which was then just moving out; and the regiment took its place in the column and continued the march until 10 p. in., when it, together with all the other regiments of the division, bivouacked for the night, the regiment having marched 7 miles since last joining the division.

At 8 a.m., 19th instant, the regiment took its assigned position in the brigade column, and marched toward Crawfish Spring, Ga. (a point 8 or 9 miles distant), which place we reached at noon, having had a dusty, rapid, and necessarily fatiguing march, all the while hearing heavy cannonading, and for the last 2 or 3 miles distinctly hearing musketry in the direction in which we were marching. Here we rested a half hour, then marched a mile to the top of a wooded hill, where we halted and lay in line of battle a half hour, when we again moved, and in an easterly direction, at a double-quick, about 1 mile to an open field, where we were placed in position, in which, however, we remained but a few minutes, when we were again put in motion, and marched 1 mile in a northerly direction (during the last half mile wounded men were continually passing us to the rear), which brought us in close proximity to the fierce battle then raging.

Our brigade was then formed in two lines, my regiment being the right of the front line, and the brigade was promptly and gallantly led forward by Colonel Bradley, Fifty-first Illinois Infantry, commanding, about 60 rods over an open field and up a gentle slope, where it met a fierce fire from the advancing enemy, whose advance was checked and they repulsed. Our front line was halted upon the eminence, where was posted the Eighth Battery Indiana Artillery, whose infantry support (troops not belonging to our division) had almost abandoned the position entirely. The artillerymen worked their guns for a few minutes after our arrival, but they soon entirely abandoned their pieces, although my regiment was at the time supporting them in an unbroken line. Their guns, four in number, were all secured by our brigade and taken to a place of safety, my own regiment assisting in the removal of three of them. The horses attached to a caisson became unmanageable, and wheeling around, ran across my line, dragging the caisson over and injuring 1 or 2 men thereby. The regiment was, by order, lying flat upon the ground.

My regiment was in line upon said eminence about a half hour, delivering its fire and receiving a heavy fire from the enemy, when it was retired some 15 rods, just under the crest of the eminence, the firing having nearly ceased, and the Forty-second Illinois Infantry passed to our front and occupied the line from which we had retired.

In this action the regiment suffered the loss of 1 officer killed and 1 enlisted man killed, and 1 officer and 47 enlisted men wounded.

The regiment remained in position last described during the whole of the night of the 19th instant, which was freezing cold, so that the men lying upon their arms and without fires suffered severely.

At about 4.30 a.m., 20th instant, the regiment, as well as the brigade, retired from its position to a point about 1 mile to the left and rear upon a hill (where the entire division was assembled), where it remained until 9 a.m., when the sound of battle was heard and it was ordered to the foot of the hill on Rossville road, where it lay until 11 a. in., when, receiving orders, I marched it one-quarter of a mile by the left flank, then brought it by the right flank into line of battle, and it was instantly under a heavy fire. The right of the regiment rested at a log-house, near which was posted three guns of Battery G, First Missouri Light Artillery. In front of the six right companies was an open field and the four left companies were in thick woods and underbrush. The enemy advanced through the open field in heavy force, but were driven back in confusion by the battery and my regiment, and must have suffered very severely from our fire. After a time, the enemy were seen to have broken through the lines of our forces upon the left of the regiment, and to have passed in force across the road and apparently up the ridge, which movement, of course, isolated my regiment from the main forces. At about 1.30 p.m., the regiment having held its original position in spite of many and desperate onslaughts (though no longer pressed), was retired to the summit of a hill one-eighth of a mile to the rear, where it was reformed, and, in company with Colonel Wilder’s mounted infantry (a portion of whom, it should be stated, had dismounted and formed upon our right near the said log house and assisted in repelling the assaults of the enemy), immediately started to effect a junction with our main forces.

The column, composed of Colonel Wilder’s command, my regiment, a portion of the Fifty-first Illinois Infantry, under command of their major, and squads of the Twenty-second and Forty-second Illinois Infantry, also men from nearly every regiment in the division, making an aggregate of probably 600 (aside from Wilder’s command) who joined my regiment and of whom I assumed command, was led by Colonel Wilder, whose troops were remounted about 1 mile to the rear. We marched some 3 miles, when we came upon our division ammunition train, ambulance train, &c.; here we replenished our nearly empty cartridge-boxes from the ammunition train, and here we information that Major-General Sheridan was about 1 1/2 miles distant, leading the majority of his command, and I should have immediately joined him had not Capt. W. E. Merrill, chief topographical engineer, on Major-General Rosecrans’ staff, earnestly advised, which also seemed to me decidedly necessary, that my command should guard the heavy amid valuable train to a place of safety. I acted upon said advice, and, in accordance with my own views of duty, and marched my command abreast of the train to a point on the Chattanooga Valley road some 5 miles out from Chattanooga, where, the train being considered safe, I halted my command at 6 p. m. and caused supper to be cooked. Meanwhile, I reported to Major-General McCook, at Chattanooga, for orders, sending Lieut. Lewis Hanback, our brigade inspector, upon that duty. He returned at about 8 p.m. with orders from Major-General McCook that my command move to the tannery, 2 1/2 miles nearer to Chattanooga, and there bivouac for the night, which instructions were complied with, and at 10.30 p. m. we reached the place designated.

On the morning of the 21st instant, having learned the position of the division, I sent Lieutenant Hanback to Major-General Sheridan for orders, and in response thereto was ordered to join the division at Rossville, 4 miles distant, which order was immediately obeyed, and at 10.30 a.m. I reported with my command at Rossville, there joining the brigade and division.

In the engagement Saturday evening, 19th instant, Capt. W. S. Bryan, commanding Company I, was shot through the heart while he was, with true soldierly magnanimity and self-forgetfulness, assisting his mortally wounded orderly sergeant to retire from his
advanced position, where he (sergeant) received his wound, In the death of Captain Bryan the service has lost a brave officer and the country a patriotic defender, while his company and regiment are mourners. In the same action Capt. A. J. Bozarth, Company K, was slightly wounded.

In the engagement of Sunday, 20th instant, Capt. Horace Chapin, commanding Company D, was shot in the ankle, and amputation of foot, it is feared, will be necessary. In time same engagement Capt. L. French Williams, commanding Company C, was shot through the head, and the wound can hardly fail to prove mortal. In the same engagement, First Lieut. Joseph Voellinger, Company A, received a musket shot just below the knee, breaking the bone, necessitating amputation of limb. Captain Williams and Lieutenant Voellinger were both taken to a field hospital, and are now in the hands of the enemy. In the same engagement second Lieut. Isaac Nash, Company K, was struck by a fragment of shell, but is now doing duty. Captains Chapin and Williams and Lieutenant Voellinger are lost to the service, and it is but justice that I record the  manly virtues of Captain Chapin, the endearing social qualities of Captain Williams, and the faithful performance of duty by them all during a period of military service of more than two years, and particularly do I mention their intrepid and gallant conduct during the engagements of the 19th and 20th instant up to the moment of their
receiving their respective wounds.

The losses of the regiment during both engagements are as follows, viz:


Of the wounded doubtless several are already dead and others will die, while a large number are but slightly wounded.

The missing are mainly those who assisted the wounded to hospitals and remained to attend upon them, thus naturally falling into the hands of the enemy. The regimental ambulance and its driver on the 20th instant were captured.

Of the conduct of all the officers and men of my command during the battles aforesaid, it is fitting that I speak in terms of commendation and express my satisfaction for the firmness with which they stood at their posts and their efficiency in executing their respective duties. Where all performed their entire duty, it would be invidious to give any person especial prominence in this report.

Respectfully submitted,

J. R. Miles,
Colonel Commanding.

Official Records 30/1, pp. 596-599