Reports of Col. Thomas E. Rose, Seventy-seventh
Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Regt. and Second Brigade.
HDQRS. SEVENTY-SEVENTH Regt. PENNSYLVANIA VOLS.,
In Camp at Tullahoma, July 6, 1863.
CAPT.: In compliance with orders
from Gen. Johnson, dated July 5, 1863, received to-day, I submit the following report of the operations of my regiment on
the 24th and 25th of June, 1863, which is as follows:
At Murfreesborough, Tenn., 24, 1863, I received orders to break up my camp at 4 a.m., and march toward Shelbyville, Tenn.,
on the Shelbyville turnpike.
We broke up our camp as ordered, and marched out about 6 a.m., and continued on the Shelbyville road until we came to the
Wartrace road. We left the turnpike and continued on a dirt road through Millersburg toward Wartrace until we arrived at Liberty
Gap, at which place we arrived, after a toilsome march through the mud, at about 3 p.m. At this time the enemy's pickets were
encountered by Gen. Willich's brigade, which was in advance of our own. The firing soon became quite spirited, and finally
assumed the form of a skirmish, when the Twenty-ninth Regt. Indiana Volunteers, of our own brigade, was ordered forward to
try and flank the enemy, which order was promptly and spiritedly executed. In a few minutes after, I received orders to move
up for the same purpose. I immediately moved up in column by company to the main entrance of the gap, where the enemy were
posted, and then, piloted by Lieut. Sheets, of Gen. Johnson's staff, moved up on the opposite slope of a ravine which extended
around the elliptical base of the hill on which the left wing of the enemy was posted. I proceeded along this ravine for several
hundred yards under a sharp fire from the enemy's sharpshooters, which did us but little damage, until I had gained what was
deemed a proper position, when I was ordered by Col. Miller, now commanding the brigade, to move directly on the enemy, who
was posted on a hill of from 80 to 100 feet elevation, on the opposite side of the ravine, which ravine was about 300 yards
wide, quite level and muddy. I at once formed line of battle, and moved half way across the ravine, throwing two companies
of skirmishers nearly to the foot of the hill, when I was directed by one of Gen. Willich's aides that I was not far enough
to the right to co-operate properly with his brigade. I informed him that I was acting under orders from Col. Miller, to whom
I directed him to go and bring me further instructions. He immediately returned with an order for me to move about 150 yards
to the right, and then, as before, move up the hill against the enemy. I did as I was commanded, and found the hill very steep,
so much so that we were obliged to scramble up by laying hold of the bushes and saplings in order to effect progress; in fact,
it was equal to scaling the Heights of Abraham, but the enemy did not offer as much resistance as I had expected from the
fire that he had kept up on my regiment from the time we had first approached the gap; for while we scrambled up one side
of the hill he scrambled down on the other in great confusion, leaving his camps without attempting to move anything.
We pursued the enemy over the hills and up through the gap for about a mile, as nearly as I can judge, when we were halted
by order of Gen. Johnson, and relieved by the Third Brigade. We then went into camp on the slope of the hill, on the right
of the road, at the entrance to the middle ravine. We were here very much exposed to the enemy's shells, several of which
came near knocking down the stacks of my muskets; but as night was settling in, we were soon relieved from annoyance, and
lay down and slept soundly.
During this day's skirmish I lost only 1 man wounded. We killed 1 of the enemy, and took 1 prisoner. I do not know how
many we wounded, as the enemy had every opportunity of removing them while we were climbing the hill. Their wounded was about
all they did remove.
At night four companies of my regiment went on picket.
On the morning of the 25th, my four companies were relieved from picket, and we remained where we encamped the night before
without any important event until about 2 p.m., when the pickets in our front belonging to Gen. Willich's brigade, were heavily
pressed by the enemy, and soon a pretty sharp engagement ensued.
I soon received orders to hasten to their support, and we advanced rapidly to the foot of the slope on the east side of
the middle ravine, where we were joined by the Seventy-ninth Illinois Volunteers, of our brigade, thence to the middle of
the ravine, where, by Gen. Johnson's orders, we formed line of battle, stretching across the ravine, my regiment occupying
the right and the Seventy-ninth Regt. Illinois Volunteers the left. We here found two of Gen. Willich's regiments slowly retreating,
as they were nearly out of ammunition, but they were making good use of what they had left.
I here received orders to advance rapidly against the enemy, which orders were carried into execution as fast as human
bone and sinew can produce locomotion. In less time than is worth mentioning we gained the low ridge running across the ravine,
from which our pickets had been driven. I had no orders to halt here, and pressed vigorously on, through showers of the enemy's
missiles, to the open plain in our front, at the exit from the middle ravine. This plain was planted with corn. It was about
400 or 500 yards to the opposite side, where it was bounded by an irregular ridge of hills of from 60 to 100 feet elevation.
The main force of the rebels occupied this ridge, with their artillery posted on their left, on the least elevated and most
sloping portion of the ridge. The position of the ridge in my front gave them opportunity to form their main line of battle
in a triangle, conceiving so as to expose our two regiments to the fire of their artillery and nearly all their musketry at
the same time. My men here began to fall rapidly. Col. Miller, the commander of the brigade, was at this time wounded, and
I was left in command, but did not know it then, as he was wounded in the ravine through which we had just passed and I was
forward with my regiment. I determined to cross the plain through the enemy's fire and gain the foot of the ridge where the
enemy were posted. My object in doing this was threefold: First, I had no orders to halt; second, I would lose fewer men in
gaining that point and holding it than to remain where I was, and, third, I would be in close range with the enemy, and could
there make every shot count, and I also felt confident I could drive him from the hills.
I adjusted my line and assumed general command of both regiments, being the senior officer. I then rapidly advanced to
the attack. No greater bravely is required in warfare than to execute an attack like this. The plain we were obliged to cross
proved to be one of mud, where the men sunk to their shoe-tops at every step. The enemy were drawn up in three lines in our
front: the first a strong line of skirmishers at the foot of the hills; the second a line of battle about half way up the
slope, and their line of reserve at the summit. These lines, thus situated, brought their whole fire to bear upon us; besides,
we were exposed to a terrific fire of artillery from our right.
I here lost every fifth man of my command; but the bravery of these gallant men was not shaken in the least; there was
not a single skulker or straggler. At the opposite side of the plain was a creek running at the base of the hills, on the
nearest bank of which was a fence, where my line halted, keeping up a terrific fire on the enemy, causing their first and
second lines to break toward the top of the hill like a flock of sheep but we were still exposed to a terrific fire from their
third line, and the exhausted state of the men, caused from double-quicking through the mud, seemed to preclude the possibility
of advancing my line any farther; but springing forward myself, wading the stream and waving them on, acted like a charm,
and on came my line with a yell, dashing through the creek, gaining the base of the hill, where we were tolerably secure from
the fire of the enemy, while our fire told upon them with admirable effect. The rebels were for a long time determined to
hold their ground and drive us back. They made two dashes at us, but we drove them back. My ammunition was becoming rapidly
exhausted, and I sent for re-enforcements.
Shortly after this, I notified by Lieut. Baldwin that I was in command of the brigade, and I immediately sent an order
for another regiment to come up to our support, and at the same time a request to the general to send me as many re-enforcements
as he saw fit, as my men now were entirely out of ammunition.
The Thirty-fourth Regt. Illinois Volunteers, of my brigade, came up in gallant style, and suffered very heavily from the
enemy's fire. At the same time the Thirty-eighth Indiana, of Gen. Davis' division, which also suffered severely in crossing
the plain, came up.
The firing of the enemy at this time ceased, except a few straggling shots, as their lines had been broke for some time,
and they retreated rapidly over the hills toward Bellbuckle.
I received orders to advance no farther, and we encamped for the night on the battle-field, in the ravine. My regiment
lost in this day's battle 1 lieutenant and 3 enlisted men killed and 2 captains and 32 enlisted men wounded. The loss we inflicted
upon the enemy was, without exaggeration, double that of our own. I counted 9 of the rebels lying within a very few feet of
each other in one spot, killed by musketry, and I have no doubt that they had the usual proportion of wounded, but they were
carried off. This the enemy could easily do, as their position placed their rear out of reach of our fire.
Our officers and men behaved with the greatest gallantry. Lieut.-Col. Pyfer, who took command of the regiment when I assumed
command of the brigade, behaved throughout with the greatest coolness. Maj. Phillips also performed his duty with great efficiency
and gallantry. Capt.'s Walker, of Company A; Kreps, who was wounded, of Company B; Lawson, of Company C; Frey, of Company
D; Will. A. Robinson, of Company E; McDowell, of Company F; Stern, of Company G, and Shroad, of Company K, were all in their
places, and behaved with their usual bravery. And when every captain in a regiment is in his place, doing his duty, there
cannot be, as there was not in this case, any skulking or straggling among the enlisted men.
We lost a valuable officer in Lieut. Thomas, of Company G, who was killed while nobly doing his duty. Such is often the
fate of the brave.
The enlisted men of my regiment fought valiantly, and with 20 rounds more ammunition we would have needed no re-enforcements
to have given the enemy a terrible rout.
I must not forget to mention Surg. Franklin Irish, whose services, in his indefatigable attention to our wounded, were
invaluable. Also of our assistant surgeon, Dr. McCandless, whose services were performed with faithfulness and energy.
I have confined this report strictly to the operations of my own regiment, as the most of the time during the engagement
I was in command of it, and must make my brigade report separate.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOS. E ROSE,
Col., Cmdg. Seventy-seventh Regt.
[Capt. E. P. EDSALL,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Second Brigade.]