Report of Colonel J. A. Smith, Fifth Confederate Infantry, Commanding Third and Fifth Confederate Infantry.
Hdqrs. Third and Fifth Confederate Regts., Near Chattanooga, October 5, 1863.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my regiment in the battle of September 19 and 20, on Chickamauga Creek:
The regiment entered the action first on the 19th with the brigade about sundown, passing over the Sixth and Seventh Arkansas Regiments, of Liddell’s brigade, which were lying down. We had proceeded but a short distance to the front when the enemy opened fire on our sharpshooters. They were immediately withdrawn. The enemy’s artillery opened destructive fire on our advancing lines, which together with fire from infantry behind temporary works, stopped us for a short time. The right of the brigade, however, meeting with less resistance, pushed on, and getting on his flank he soon retired in confusion, leaving a 12-pounder James gun and a caisson, having set another on fire. I was here directed by Lieutenant-General Hill to halt my regiment, as it had, by directing itself on Wood’s brigade, become somewhat detached from the remainder of the brigade. This ended the contest for to night, most of the fighting having been done since dark. My loss in this affair was about 25 men, most of them (receiving) slight wounds.
We remained in line during the night of the 19th, replenished our supply of ammunition, and were ready to move again at daylight. We were not, however, engaged until about 10 o’clock on the 20th, having received our rations from the rear in the meantime. When the attack was renewed we met the enemy at his works, which were located on the crest of a rise that commanded the space in front of it. The strife at this point was fearful. Such showers of grape, canister, and small-arms I have never before witnessed. We remained here until our supply of ammunition was exhausted without losing or gaining ground. Through the misapprehension of an order, or from some other cause unknown to me, the right of my regiment gave way, and it was with some difficulty that order was restored and the line re-established. Failing as we did to drive the enemy from his position, and our ammunition being exhausted, we were ordered by Brigadier-General Polk to fall back. Our loss in this engagement was very heavy. Among the fallen was Captain W.J. Morris, a brave and worthy officer. He died of his wounds a few days after.
We next attacked our stubborn foe about 4 o’clock in the evening, and some 400 or 500 yards to the right of our position in the morning. His resistance here was, for long, as obstinate as in the morning; but we finally proved too much for him, and he took refuge behind his second line of works, about 200 yards to the rear of his first. He made but a short stand here and then fled in confusion across the open field in rear, leaving many prisoners in our hands. In this last engagement the loss of the regiment was heavier than in either of those that preceded it. It was here that Captain George Moore, of Company H, was instantly killed by a cannon ball. Captain James (H.) Beard, the best and bravest soldier I ever saw, was mortally wounded. Many other true and gallant men likewise fell here.
Among the survivors conspicuous for their gallantry and good conduct I would mention Major R. J. Person, Captain M.H. Dixon, Adjt. M. M. Smith, and Lieut. O.H. Smith. A list of the killed, wounded, and missing has already been furnished.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Comdg., Third and Fifth Confederate Regts.
Captain W. A. King,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Polk’s Brigade.
Source: Official Records Series 1, Volume 30, Part 2. Chapter 42, pp. 180- 181