Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/100

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

mand recognizing me (it being then quite dark), ran up to me and whispered "They are Yankees". Turning my horse to the left so as to avoid them, I moved rapidly to the right of General Gibson's line, and after narrowly escaping being killed by several shots fired at me through mistake, I communicated the information to General Gibson, who promptly wheeled his brigade to the left and delivered a volley which scattered the enemy, killing many of them. I then, at the suggestion of General Gibson, moved back these two brigades behind a fence in order to better resist a charge and also for greater security against firing into our own men. This position was scarcely taken when the enemy again began to move from the left upon the pike in our immediate front. Demanding to know who they were, I was promptly answered "Federal troops," which was replied to by a volley, killing several and again driving them off, leaving a stand of colors, which was secured.

The enemy having finally retired and the firing having ceased, I communicated my intentions to General Stevenson and moved off my command. In this affair, so trying to both officers and men, all behaved in the best possible manner. Whilst I cheerfully concede all that is due to General Stevenson's division in checking the advance of the enemy and thus helping to save the army, without entering into anything farther than the above brief recital of facts, I believe it is not claiming too much to say that this division, by preventing the enemy from massing in his rear, saved that division.

I tender to Brigadier-General Gibson especially my cordial thanks for the part performed by him on this occasion, and also to Colonels Henderson and Jones, of whose brigade commanders I may say that without reflecting upon them, that their commands lost nothing by their absence on this trying occasion.

After moving back a few miles the division bivouacked for the night, and resumed the march on the following day for the Tennessee river, which it reached at Bainbridge on the 25th December, after a most painful march, characterized by more suffering than it had ever before been my misfortune to witness.

H. D. Clayton, Major-General.

Major J. W. Ratchford, A. A. G.