Report of Captain Aaron A. Cox, Fifth Confederate Infantry, Polk’s Brigade, of Operations July 20-22.
Headquarters Fifth Confederate Regiment, August 2, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken in the engagements of the 20th, 21st, and 22nd of July by the Fifth Confederate Regiment:
On the 20th our position was in rear of and supporting Cheatham’s division. Did not engage the enemy. Enemy’s force not known; did not see him. Our effective force this day 100. Move about 7 p. m. and bivouac in the interior works surrounding the town. On the 21st we move about two miles to the front, then to the extreme right of our lines and commence fortifying at daybreak. The enemy, having already got into position, annoy us considerably by sharpshooting and artillery firing. The enemy attacked us before our breast-works were completed. We repulsed him. Cannot estimate his loss correctly, his line of battle being too far from our works. Numerous litters seen passing to the rear with wounded. Enemy’s loss probably 50 or 60 killed and wounded. The slight loss of the enemy in this assault attributed to the heedlessness of the attack, his great distance from our works, and the closeness of the enemy to the ground, being on their bellies. The enemy open upon us heavily with his batteries. Our position being near an angle, the enemy planted his batteries so as to enfilade our works. Our loss 1 killed, 3 wounded; 1 officer, 3 men captured. Our effective force this day 100 guns. Move from this position in the night.
On the 22nd we make a night march to the rear of the enemy’s works and attack him about 4 p. m. We assault the enemy’s works and carry the position, but unable to hold it. The enemy mass in our front and retake the works; 8 wounded in this charge, 10 officers and 36 enlisted men captured. The failure to hold the enemy’s works to be attributed to the nature of the ground in his immediate front, there being a soft, swampy marsh, which prevented the movement being simultaneous. The smallness of the force in the enemy’s works encourage him to charge with his reserve and recapture the works, there not being one-half of the brigade in the works at the time. This movement of the enemy was so prompt that the remainder of the brigade had not time to join their comrades in the works before the enemy had our men captured and the works reoccupied. Enemy’s loss very light in this assault – probably 30 or 40 killed and wounded. Little firing on our side. Our effective strength ninety-one in this attack. Assault the enemy’s works again in the evening; repulsed, the formation of the enemy’s works in this place being such as to subject us to a terrific cross-fire. I attribute this repulse to the inadequacy and exhaustion of our forces. Enemy numerous here, having had time to concentrate his forces. Our effective force in this assault twenty-two men. Enemy’s loss not known. Our loss 1 man wounded. Receive no assistance from the reserve in those assaults.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
(A. A. Cox)
Source: Official Records Series 1, Volume 38, Part 3. Chapter 50, pp. 730-731.