Gibson in Gray

Report of Colonel William M. Watkins, 47th Tennessee Infantry, commanding the 12th and 47th Infantry at the Battle of Chickamauga






47th Tennessee Infantry




Barry Dunagan's Genealogy and History




Gibson in Gray







HDQS. Twelfth and Forty Seventh Regiments
In the field, in front of Chattanooga, September 30, 1863




Colonel: I beg leave to submit the following short report of the action of the regiments under my command (the 12th and 47th Tennessee) in the battle of Chickamauga on the 19th instant:

Under orders from Brig. Gen. Preston Smith, I formed my regiments on the left of the 154th and 13th Tennessee, having the 11th Tennessee on my immediate left. In this order at 12 noon we began the advance, and moved forward to a position about 400 yards from the enemy, who seemed to be intrenched, having an open field between us, except a few yards of timber next to the enemys line. Here the 154th and 13th Tennessee, by a wheel on its right pivot, separated from my command, while my command and 11th Tennessee moved straight forward, the 11th Tennessee halting in a drain, by which it was to some extent protected from the enemys fire.

My regiments were moving forward to the enemy when I was ordered by Capt. Donelson to fall back to the fence which I endeavored to do, but before my regiments were quite back to the fence, I was ordered by Capt. Harris (assistant inspector general) to move forward, and I was moving forward to the position on prolongation of the line of the 11th Regiment when I was ordered by General Smith to fall back to the fence, which I did, and here held my regiments protected in a measure by the low fence, until General Strahl's Brigade passed before us and we were ordered to retire. All these movements were were executed under a very heavy fire, both of musketry and artillery, killing one captain and three lieutenants and, besides wounding other officers in my command. After retiring near a half mile from the field, other efforts to dislodge the enemy proving ineffectual, the enemy advanced upon our lines, and my regiments were held in position to check the advance of the enemy.

In this position we lay all evening, during which Captain James Watkins was killed and several men wounded. Just before dark General Deshler's Brigade was ordered before ours and to move upon the enemy, and we were ordered to follow in his rear at about 200 paces. Moving thence through thick undergrowth we soon came upon General Deshler's Brigade, and halted a few minutes for him to get his distance from us, when moving on again in the dark, my command being charged with the direction, I came upon a body of men, and supposing them to be a part of General Deshler's Brigade, I halted and General Smith rode to the front of my command to inquire the cause of Deshler's halting again, when he Colonel Vaughn to him, and soon discovered himself in the midst of a Federal brigade, who fired upon him, instantly killing him and two of his staff. Discovering this to be a force of the enemy, we, in connection with the 154th and 13th Tennessee, captured a large number of prisoners( say some 300 or 400), and recaptured a number of Deshler's men, who had just been captured by the enemy. A number of prisoners, together with a stand of colors captured from the enemy in front of my command, were sent by Colonel Vaughn, then commanding the brigade, under charge of Captain Carthel of my command, to the rear. At this place we halted and rested for the night.

It gives me pleasure to bear testimony to the coolness and resolution of the brave troops under my command, notwithstanding the very heavy fire they moved under for two hours, and in spite of the derangement of conflict in orders, still kept in position and held themselves constantly in order both in the dark and light.

There was in my command 11 killed, 2 of whom were captains and 3 lieutenants, remainder privates. The wounded and missing is 76.
I am sir, respectfully, &C,
W.M. Watkins
Colonel, comdg. 12th and 47th Tennessee Regiments

Col. A.J. Vaughn Jr., Commanding Brigade