BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA Saturday, September 19, 1863
Morning of September 19
The 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment (Deas' Brigade, Major General Thomas Hindman's Division, Polk's Corp) was moving northward from the failed attempt to trap part of Rosecran's army against the east wall of Lookout Mountain. The route of march took the Regiment near Lee and Gordon's Mill which was situated on Chickamauga Creek. The following units were part of Deas' Brigade: 19th Alabama, 22nd Alabama, 25th Alabama, 39th Alabama, 50th Alabama, 17th Alabama Battalion Sharpshooters, and Dent's Battery.
The right wing of the Confederate Army, Polk's Corp, was engaged on the northern part of the battlefield (approximately 4 miles north of Lee and Gordon Mill) with parts of the XIV Corp (Thomas).
Major General Thomas Hindman is ordered to move northward along Chickamauga Creek and toward what would become the left wing of the Confederate force.
Heavy woods made staging difficult, but did serve to mask Confederate actions from Union eyes.
On the day of the 19th the 19th Alabama spent the day moving into position in these woods. Unknown to Rosecrans, Bragg was massing several Divisions in these woods to form what would be the left wing which would be under the command of General Longstreet. The men of the 19th Alabama would sleep on their arms tonight waiting for General Longstreet's command to arrive from Virginia and the battle that was sure to follow.
Sunday, September 20, 1863
At approximately 11:30 A.M.. six Confederate divisions (23,000 men) moved through a gap created by General Rosecrans when he was given false information by a member of his staff. The alignment of brigades in Hindmans's command was (from south to north) Manigault, Deas, and Anderson in reserve. On Deas' right was General Bushrod Johnson's division of Longstreet's corp. Within Deas' Brigade, the 19th Alabama was on the right flank (the northern most unit).
Facing Deas' forces was the 2nd Brigade (XX Corp) under the command of Brig. General William Carlin. In Carlin's command consisted of the 22nd Indiana, 38th Illinois, 81st Indiana, and 101st Ohio. As described in Peter Cozzens's "This Terrible Sound", "Carlin's own skirmishers knew nothing of the Rebel approach until Deas' main line was on top of them. The Yankees bolted, the Confederates charged, and it was a race for the breastworks (Federal) among Carlin, his skirmishers, and the Alabamians. " After a short sharp fight, the Federals of this brigade not dead or wounded either took to the rear or surrendered.
From this position, General Rosecrans may have seen the 19th Alabama come out of the woods between the Brotherton field and the Tan Yard. Once the Confederates entered the Tan Yard and Dyer Field, Rosecrans abandoned this position.
The Tan Yard Field (11:45 a.m.)
The 19th took "friendly fire" while advancing across the Tan Yard toward what was to become know as Lytle Hill from the 15th Alabama (Sheffield's Brigade of Hood's Division). The 15th became disoriented as it exited the woods west of the Brotherton Field during the initial assault. As they entered the Tan Yard they came under Federal fire. Through the smoke they saw a body of troops and opened fire. These troops were the 19th Alabama. Upon being fired upon from the rear, Colonel Samuel McSpadden, 19th's commander, waved the 19th's colors in an attempt to show the 15th who they were firing upon. His efforts proved successful and the 15th moved to the right of the 19th for the assault upon Lytle Hill.
Federal View of 19th's Attack across Tan Yard Field
This is the point where 36th and 88th Illinois (Lytle's Brigade of Sheridan's Division of the XX Corp (McCook)) held the Federal lines along Lytle Hill. A soldier in the 36th Illinois wrote "the ground was covered with dry grass and old logs which the bursting shells had set on fire. A thick cloud of smoke had risen about as high as our heads and seemed hanging like a funeral pall in the air. Under this we could see, away down the slope (view from this position) of the hill and across the little valley just as far as the eye could reach, moving masses of men hurrying toward us. In our front, not more than seventy or seventy-five yards distant, the enemy's front line lay secreted."(Cozzens) The woods separated the Brotherton Field and the Tan Yard.
Deas with assistance from Patton Anderson's Brigade, who had been ordered by Hindman to take a position between Deas and Manigault, assaulted Lytle Hill and drove the Federals from their lines. In the process, Federal Brigadier General William Lytle was mortally wounded and fell. The hill upon which Lytle fell now bears his name.
Bloody Pond, now only a low area, during the battle this was a small pond where men drank water that was contaminated with the bodies and blood of fallen men and horses. This marks the western most advance of the 19th. Beyond the trees are the hills of Missionary Ridge. These hills forced the fleeing Federals to move to the north and the left wing of the Federal army. Deas' Brigade begin a northward movement from this area as the Confederates began to drive the Federals northward toward Chattanooga and Snodgrass Hill.
Snodgrass Cabin on Horseshoe Ridge was where Major General George Thomas became known as the "Rock of Chickamauga" for his bulldog determination not to be driven by Longstreet's Confederates from what was then called Horseshoe Ridge.
After resting and resupplying, Deas' Brigade was ordered to attack the southwestern part of Horseshoe Ridge. The ridge was already under attack from other Confederate units and in fact was now becoming the focal point of the battle.
As Deas' Brigade assaulted the ridge it became entwined with Manigault's Brigade. "The different regiments became mixed with each other, and here and there the faint-hearted were stealing to safer positions in the rear. Men fought from behind trees and coverts [sic] loading and firing while they dodged from point to point...In short, the character of the battle at this juncture was that of skirmishing on a grand scale." (Cozzens) The left wing of the Confederate assault on Horseshoe Ridge was going nowhere fast. The brigades of Deas and Manigault were worn down by the earlier fighting with the brigades of Lytle, Laiboldt, and Wilder. Three times Deas' Brigade charged up the slopes of Horseshoe Ridge only to be thrown down again. Holding this portion of Horseshoe Ridge was Mitchell's Brigade (98th Ohio, 113th Ohio, 121st Ohio, and 78th Illinois) of Steedman's division of the Granger's Reserve Corp. After the final charge, Deas' and Manigault's brigades were effectively out of the fight for the remainder of the battle. One regiment in Deas' Brigade, the 22nd Alabama, had suffered 250 casualties out of the 371 men who opened the attack just before noon that day. Deas' Brigade and the 19th Alabama had dislodged two Federal brigades, taken hundreds of prisoners and moved over three miles into the rear of the Federal line. It was no wonder that by early evening of that day, they were exhausted.