Report of Col. Nathan H. Walworth, Forty-second Illinois Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.

 Chattanooga, September 26, 1863.

CAPTAIN: In pursuance of orders this day received, I would respectfully make the following statement of the operations of the brigade under my command during the action of September 19 and 20, 1863:

Col. L. P. Bradley, of the Fifty-first Illinois, had command of the brigade until about 4 p.m. of the 19th, when he fell gallantly leading it against the enemy. At that time the enemy had attacked a brigade of General Wood’s division and driven it from its position, compelling them to leave four guns and two caissons on the field. In pursuance of orders from General Sheridan, Colonel Bradley formed his brigade in two lines, as follows: The Twenty-seventh Illinois on the right and the Twenty-second Illinois on the left of the first line, with the Forty-second Illinois on the right and the Fifty-first on the left of the second line. In this manner he ordered the brigade forward to attack the enemy. The brigade moved steadily forward across a piece of open, level ground and ascended a gentle slope, when the enemy opened with a most withering fire of musketry, which cut down Colonel Bradley and Lieutenant Moody, his acting assistant adjutant-general, at the outset. I had command of the second line, and seeing that the first line wavered under the deadly fire of the enemy, who were posted along the whole front and in the woods to the left, I ordered the second line to pass the first. This was splendidly done, and I retired the first line to the shelter of the rising ground.

The enemy could not withstand the steady fire of the Forty-second Illinois (Lieutenant-Colonel Hottenstein) and the Fifty-first Illinois (Lieutenant-Colonel Raymond) and quickly retired in great disorder and with heavy loss, leaving the captured battery (the Eighth Indiana) in our possession. This battery was subsequently turned over to its officers.

During this action the Twenty-second Illinois and Fifty-first Illinois lost many officers and men from a heavy fire poured into them from the woods on their left flank. The enemy constantly threatening us until dark, but did not again attack us, except with skirmishers, who were repulsed by our own.

In pursuance of orders the brigade followed the brigade of Colonel Laiboldt in its movement to the hill (three-fourths of a mile north), at 4 a. m. on the 20th, and was placed in reserve in column of regiments on its summit until ordered to take position as support to General Lytle’s brigade, on the road at the base of the hill. Soon after we were ordered to replace Laiboldt’s brigade on the side of the hill to the right and rear of Lytle’s brigade.

After remaining in this position some thirty minutes, I received orders from General Sheridan to move the brigade rapidly toward the left. I moved it at once by the left flank at double-quick, and when nearing the position of Lytle’s brigade we were assailed by a heavy fire of musketry from the right. I immediately ordered the Twenty-second Illinois, which was in advance, to face the enemy and check them if possible, but the numbers were too great for our line, lengthened as it was by a flank march at double-quick, and they were compelled to give ground which they contested strongly until their left flank was exposed by the movements of the troops on their left, when they were compelled to retire up the hill. The same remarks apply to the Fifty-first Illinois, which was immediately on the right of the Twenty-second. The Forty-second Illinois was ordered to advance by General McCook and General Sheridan immediately on the right of the Fifty-first Illinois, although I had sent orders for them to form in rear of where the Twenty-second Illinois were fighting, intending them, together with the Twenty-seventh Illinois, to form the second line. Moving to the right I found them gallantly fighting, refusing to give ground after the regiments on their left had given way. The loss which they here sustained, which was nearly one-half of the force engaged, is evidence enough of the numbers with which they had to contend. The Twenty-seventh Illinois was posted to the right of the Forty-second Illinois, and suffered but little, as the force of the attack was more to the left, and they were protected somewhat by buildings. To withstand the numbers which the enemy brought against us was impossible, and the brigade retired up the hill, resisting the enemy until it had gained the crest, when the enemy fell back.

In pursuance of orders from General Sheridan, I then ordered the brigade to march by the left flank to rejoin the center of the army, which we were compelled to do, by way of Rossville, as the enemy held the other road. The battery attached to this brigade (Captain Prescott’s) was ordered by Captain Hescock, chief of artillery, to report to Colonel Laiboldt’s brigade, and was posted by him in the rear of that brigade. It lost three guns and one caisson during the engagement. Three of the regiments, the Twenty-second Illinois, Forty-second Illinois, and Fifty-first Illinois, lost nearly one-half of their whole force engaged in the two days’ action. Maj. James Leighton, of the Forty-second Illinois, and Maj. Samuel Johnson, of the Twenty-second Illinois, both fell gallantly fighting. Such men deserve the thanks of their country, if they live to receive them, or an honorable place in history should they die of their wounds. The former is still missing. To Col. J. R. Miles, of the Twenty-seventh Illinois, to Lieutenant-Colonel Swanwick, of the Twenty-second Illinois, to Lieutenant-Colonel Raymond, of the Fifty-first, and to Lieutenant-Colonel Hottenstein, of the Forty-second Illinois, I owe my sincerest thanks for their ready co-operation and zeal. Lieut. A. O. Johnson, Lieut. L. Hanback, and Lieut. C. Montague, of my staff, all fearlessly and gallantly carried my orders under the heavy fire and assisted greatly in the operations of the brigade.

Of all the officers and men of this brigade I have to report that they did their duty, and although it was a repulse still it was before too great a force to permit of holding our position.

The subsequent movements of the brigade are those of the whole division.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel Forty-second Illinois, Commanding Brigade.

Official Records 30/1, pp. 594-596