Battle of Orchard Knob nov. 23, 1863
- Taken from "A Carolinian Goes To War " - The Civil War Narrative of Brig.
Gen . Arthur M. Manigault"
On the afternoon of the 23rd of november, whilst sitting in my tent,
occupied with some duty in connection with the brigade, an officer from the
picket line came to me in a great hurry to inform me that move ments of a
most threating character had been observed in the enemy's lines.
Reparing at to the top of the ridge with my glass, I soon found that his
report was correct. All within the hostile lines seemed alive with men,
and large masses of troops were pouring out into the space between their
works and the lines occupied by their pickets. There must have been 50, 000
men of the enemy under arms.
The Div. Commander not being present, and it happening that I was the
senior Brigadier in camp, I immediatley ordered the division under arms, and
the artillery in postion. As the movemts wa visible to the whole army, in a
short time the entire force was in the trenches prepared for an assault.
The Div. Commander Brig. Gen. Patton Anderson, who commanded during the
absence of Major Gen. Hindman , at this time under arrest at Atlanta, soon
made his appearance and relieved me. Many were the conjectures as to what
were the intentions of the enemy, but we made in the dispostion of our
forces, but , everything was prepared to resist an attack.
at that time my picket line occupied a front of about 800 yrds and a high and
commanding eminence known as "The Cedar Hill" was a part of the ground held.
It was the most prominent point between the ridge and chattanooga, and one of
much importance. The 24th and 28th Alabama regiments were on duty that day,
and held the picket line. They numbered together about 600 men on duty, both
of them being small regiments. The picket
line was entrenched with a shallow ditch and low earthwork, with rifle pits
a little in advance.
About 4:30 o'clock the enemy formed two lines of battle with a skirmish line
in front and began to move forward. About 5 o'clock, their skirmishers came
with in range of ours and the fight commenced. Our advanced troops were soon
drivien in by their line of battle, who moved steadily to the attack. their
first line was checked by our fire but the second line comming to their
assistance, together they moved forward in spite of our fire, which was not
heavy enought to deter them, and came in contact with the reserve line of
skirmishers. Both regiments behaved well particulary the 28th, which
resisted obstinately, and with great gallantry, many of them fighting hand to
hand; but the odds against them were irrsistible, and lt. Col. Butler, 28th
alabama, Commanding in order to save the regiment, was forced to give the
order to retire. The other regiment, 24th alabama had already given way. Had
they contended much longer, they would have been killed or captured to a man
as the lines to their right and left had broken, and the enemy were getting
to the rear. The 28th lost a good many men and the regimental colors , the
Having obtained possession of our picket line and the hill mentioned, the
enemy seemed satisfied, and pushed forword no further. Our Skirmishers
retired about 350 or 400 yrds and halted. Whilst the enemy advanced large #
immediatly in fron of the hill to protect and hold it, he set large paerties
to work upon it, building breastworks and batteries for their artillery. In
rear also was a large reserve force and for the security of this point to
which they seemed to attach much importance, they must have held in front at
least 6, 000 men exclusive of the two lines in front.
Whilst this combat was going on , all remained silent spectators. No effort
to reinforce our advance post was made , and as our lines were very weak and
we had not men enough to man them, and not knowing what was the ulterior
intention of the enemy, i do not know that it would have been wise to risk
more men to the front. Our skirmish line was lost and to recover it a
general engagement would have to be fought.