Report of Maj. Gen. Charles C. Gilbert, U. S. Army, commanding Third Army Corps.
OR, Vol. 16, Pt. 1, p. 1072 - 1074
HDQRS. THIRD CORPS, ARMY OF THE OHIO,
Near Crab Orchard, October 18, 1862.
SIR: Herewith I respectfully submit a report of the operations of the Third Corps pertaining to the conflict which took place near Perryville, Ky., on the 8th of this month:
On the 7th instant the Third Corps moved along the turnpike from Springfield toward Perryville. On approaching within 5 miles of the latter place it became apparent that the enemy was there in force. The head of the column at once halted, and the leading division (Mitchell's) was drawn up in line of battle across the road. The Eleventh Division (General Sheridan's) was shortly after brought up and passed to the front and established on some heights to the right of the road and not far from Doctor's Creek. The First Division (Schoepf's) was established in reserve.
By the time these dispositions were effected it was dark. During the night I directed General Sheridan to pass Doctor's Creek, take up a position, and hold it, as that stream contained the nearest water in sufficient quantity for my command. This movement brought [Daniel] McCook's brigade of Sheridan's division within 2 ½ miles of the place, and early in the morning the enemy testified his dissatisfaction at our presence there by an attempt to dislodge the brigade, but he was repulsed handsomely.
Toward the middle of the day the indications pointed toward a general engagement, and I ordered General Mitchell to establish himself on the right of Sheridan, and directed both commanders to call up their respective commands and establish them on the heights between Doctor's Creek and Perryville. When on that line Sheridan's left rested on the road, and Mitchell's right stretched off toward the Lebanon and Perryville turnpike, on which Crittenden's corps was hourly expected. Schoepf's division was moved along the road to the crossing of Doctor's Creek, where the leading brigade was established. Pending these movements the arrival of the First Corps (Major-General McCook's) was announced on my left, and the sound of artillery indicated that its appearance had attracted the serious attention of the enemy.
I also received an officer from Major-General Crittenden, who had been dispatched to seek out our lines that he might make the junction with me. I gave him the position, and, being near general headquarters, I repaired thither and made a report in person of the disposition of my forces and of the operations of the day and then returned to my headquarters near the crossing of Doctor's Creek. On my way thither I was met by a message from Major-General McCook to the effect that his corps was upon the point of being overpowered, the enemy having attacked him in overwhelming numbers. About the same time I received from General Sheridan a warning that he could not hold his position if not supported with re-enforcements immediately and confirming the unfavorable intelligence concerning the First Corps. I at once ordered Schoepf to close more to the left to support Sheridan, and also to cover the movement of the First Corps, which was gradually swinging around toward our rear under the strong pressure brought to bear upon it. To support Sheridan's right I ordered Mitchell to close in to the left and co-operate closely with him.
These orders given, I continued on toward the left, and shortly was met by Captain Hoblitzell with an urgent demand for support for the First Corps. He was furnished with a brigade and battery from Mitchell's division, though at the time my own lines were assailed in the most lively and vigorous manner. Shortly after Major Wright brought an order to send two brigades from Schoepf's division to support the First Corps, but as one brigade had already gone and my own lines were undergoing a dangerous assault I dispatched only one of Schoepf's brigades. That moved toward the right of the First Corps. The enemy's columns, as they followed up their success, came now to present their left flank to Sheridan's batteries, and he at once turned his guns upon them and disposed his infantry to demand their further attention if they should presume to continue their progress. This, with the movement of the brigade from Schoepf's division, brought to a stand the left of the enemy's attack. At the same time Mitchell threw forward his right upon the repulsed and broken lines which had attacked Sheridan and himself, and, with gallant Carlin in the lead, drove them beyond Perryville and occupied the town with his skirmishers. Sheridan could not venture to join in following up the successful repulse of the enemy from his front, as his entire attention was directed to the columns then threatening to continue their progress toward my left and rear. It was about one hour before sunset that the enemy was repulsed from the front of my lines.
In disposing my troops for battle I had the timely advice of the major-general commanding, whose presence in the midst of my corps inspired all, from the highest to the lowest, with complete confidence.
The Third Corps presented itself on the field in an orderly and compact style and I am indebted to Capt. O. L. Baldwin, of the Second Kentucky Volunteers, assistant inspector general, for his energy in clearing the road of the wagons, which on the 7th had under some mistake become involved among the troops and lined the road all the way back to Lick Creek, and were materially impeding the progress of the troops, especially of the artillery.
The other members of my staff, Capt. J. Edward Stacy, acting assistant adjutant-general, my two aides-de-camp, Lieut. George K. Speed and Lieut. John Speed, and Capt. George S. Roper, commissary of subsistence, were active and efficient in transmitting my orders.
Surg. George R. Weeks was active and ready in the duties pertaining to his office as medical director.
The officers of the Signal Corps rendered ready and useful service all day on the 7th and 8th.
Brigadier-General Mitchell this day sustained fully the reputation which he won at an early period of this war for energy and daring.
Brigadier-General Sheridan I commend to notice as an officer of much gallantry and of high professional ability. He held the key of our position with tenacity and used the point to its utmost advantage.
Colonel [Dan] McCook, of the Fifty-second Ohio Volunteers, was at this point, and I can bear testimony to the fine discipline and excellent fighting qualities of his brigade.
Colonel Carlin, of Mitchell's division, is spoken of in terms of high praise, which I can most safely indorse.
Inspector-General Gay, in charge of the cavalry in my front, was active and highly efficient. His thorough professional training gave me confidence in all of his reports, and enabled me to prepare in time and at a proper distance for a more cautious and methodical advance upon the point at which the enemy had taken up his position.
I feel it my duty to report Col. George Ryan, of the Seventy-fifth Illinois Volunteers. He deferred reporting his regiment deficient in ammunition until the division to which he belonged was on the point of going into battle. He was arrested on the spot. Thanks to the efficiency of my ordnance officer, Lieut. Benjamin J. Horton, of the Twenty-fourth Ohio Volunteers, the regiment was supplied, and was put in position with full cartridge boxes before the fight became general.
During the night my dispositions were completed for the general attack ordered at daylight, but the withdrawal of the enemy in the mean time brought to a termination the encounter begun the previous day.
Of the two brigades sent to re-enforce the First Corps General McCook I presume will make a report. The Thirtieth Brigade lost more than the Third. It was sent toward the left when the battle was raging the most furiously. The Third Brigade was sent toward the right of the First Corps, and had the close support of Sheridan's left and the remaining brigades of Schoepf's division still held in reserve.
Casualties of the Third Corps, as far as ascertained at this date, are as follows: Killed, 250; wounded, 800; and missing, 60. Total, 1,110.
C. C. GILBERT
Major-General Volunteers, Commanding Third Corps.
Col. J. B. FRY, Chief of Staff.
Orders Promoting C.C. Gilbert and Wm. Terrill
(OR. Vol. 16, Pt. 2, p. 987)
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO,
Louisville, Ky., September 1, 1862.
I. Capt. C.C. Gilbert, First Infantry, U. S. Army, is hereby appointed a major-general of volunteers, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, and is assigned to the command of the Army of Kentucky during the temporary absence of Major-General Nelson.
II. Capt. William R. Terrill, Fifth Artillery, U. S. Army, is hereby appointed a brigadier-general of volunteers, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, and will report to Major-General Gilbert for instructions.
* * * * * * * * * * *
By command of Major-General [Horatio G.]Wright:
C W. FOSTER,
LEXINGTON, September 1, 1862.
Major-General [HORATIO G.] WRIGHT,
Commanding Department of the Ohio:
Our brave and excellent commander, General Nelson, having been seriously wounded, and so becoming incapacitated to continue the command for the present, we feel that the exigencies of the case require that some one or more true and competent officers be appointed at once to take command of the army now centering at this place.
We would earnestly recommend the appointment of Capt. C.C. Gilbert, of the First Infantry, U.S. Army, to be major-general in command of all the forces here, and of Capt. W. R. Terrill, of Fifth Artillery, U.S. Army, to be brigadier-general in command of a brigade. Both of these officers are now here, rendering efficient service in many capacities, and we believe that their efficiency would be greater, and the interest of the command promoted, by conferring on them the ranks herewith respectfully suggested and recommended.
J. S. JACKSON,
Brigadier-General Commanding Cavalry.
Testimony of Captain GEORGE S. ROPER, Subsistence Department, Third Corps, Army of the Ohio.
Transcript from Phonographic Notes of the Buell Court of Inquiry.
OR Vol. 16, Pt. 1, P. 283 – 285
NASHVILLE, December 27, 1862.
Commission met pursuant to adjournment. All the members present also the judge-advocate and General Buell.
Capt. GEORGE S. ROPER (a witness for the Government), being duly sworn by the judge-advocate, testified as follows:
By the JUDGE·ADVOCATE :
Question. State your name and position in the United States service.
George S. Roper, captain, subsistence department.
Question. State, if you please, what took place in General Gilbert's command from 3 to 5 o'clock on the 8th of October, the day of the battle of Perryville.
General Gilbert's command, consisting of General Sheridan's, General Mitchell's, and General Schoepf's divisions, were in line of battle, the two first in the advance, General Schoepf in the rear, General Sheridan and General Mitchell being about 2 miles from the town of Perryville. That was the position they occupied from early in the morning of the battle. My impression was that the battle was on the 6th. It was after 4 o'clock before any of those troops were engaged. General Sheridan was attacked first, and was supported by two brigades of General Mitchell's command on his right. General Gilbert was in the rear of these two divisions in plain sight. At the time that the enemy attacked General Sheridan's command we were in plain view of the battle so far as our own troops were concerned. The enemy could not be seen from our position. After some twenty or thirty minutes of firing General Gilbert noticed through his glass a movement of the troops on the opposite hill which he did not appear to understand. Turning to me (I was the only staff officer present) he said, "What does that mean; what are they doing over there; can you see"? I answered that they appeared to be changing front. He said he did not understand the movement, and looking around him said, "Who can I send?" I volunteered to go, no orderly being at hand. He ordered me to go. I went to General Sheridan, and, with the respects of General Gilbert, asked the state of the case and the meaning of the present movement. General Sheridan's answer was that he had driven the enemy from before him, and "whipped them like hell!" was added; that General Mitchell had flanked them on the left and was then pursuing them toward Perryville; and that he was changing front to assist General McCook, and was going to open on that battery, pointing to a battery of the enemy which was firing upon General McCook's troops, and that he would silence it in five minutes. He fired the first gun at the battery while I was talking to him.
I returned immediately to General Gilbert with the report of General Sheridan, and he appeared very much gratified at the time, and used the expression, "Now we've got them; now we've got them; now is the time to push everything." Major [J.M.] Wright, of General Buell's staff, arrived then at the position where General Gilbert was stationed almost at the same time, and General Gilbert repeated the message that he had received from General Sheridan and directed him to report to General Buell, with the injunction to push everything. He also sent by a citizen who was employed in the commissary department of General Crittenden's command, Captain Kniffin's clerk, whose name I think is Harry Olds - he sent by him the same report to General Crittenden, with the request that he would hurry up his command.
Question. What did Major Wright say in reply to that, and do you know if he carried that message?
I cannot recall any reply, and I do not know if he carried the message.
Question. Were you at General Buell's headquarters that morning? If so, state what occurred.
I think we were there twice during the morning of the day of the battle.
Question. What do you mean by "we"?
General Gilbert and his staff.
Question. What occurred while you were there?
I do not remember anything occurring in the morning, except Captain [Nathaniel] Michler and Captain [J.H.] Gilman returning from the front, and the report they made of having run on to a body of the enemy and having drawn their fire.
Question. Was that at your first visit?
Question. What occurred the second time when you were there?
The second time that we went back to General Buell's headquarters I think it must have been very nearly 12 o'clock. We remained there a considerable time. I should think we were there nearly two hours. It was while we were there at that time that we heard a heavy and furious cannonading commenced in front. General Buell and General Gilbert, when that heavy cannonading commenced, came from the tents, and General Buell remarked to General Gilbert that there was a great waste of powder there, and directed him to send an order to the front to stop that useless waste of powder. "Stop that firing," that was his expression. General Gilbert called his adjutant-general, Captain [J. Edward] Stacy, who wrote a pencil order, which was sent to the front. I supposed in accordance with General Buell s orders to him. It was sent to the front by an orderly while we were there. I think at that time General Gilbert expressed a wish to go forward and General Buell asked him to remain to dinner, which was nearly ready. He did remain and dined with General Buell, but left almost immediately afterward for his command.
Question. State what you know of the signal corps being at work that day.
I noticed a flag station on the hill opposite General Buell's headquarters; there was another on the hill to the right, where General Gilbert was stationed, which was on the right of the pike that runs from Perryville. I saw another station away to the left of our position and in the rear of where Captain Gay had been figuring all the morning with his command, just on the edge of the wood, on the right of General McCook's position.
Question. How often were you at General Buell’s headquarters that day?
My impression now is that we were there four times.
Question. State, if you can, at what other times during the day you were there besides those you have mentioned.
We were there later in the evening twice after those I have referred to; probably it might have been 8 or 9 o'clock in the evening; it was some time after dark.
Question. What officers besides General Gilbert did you see there?
I did not see any general officer there that I remember.
Question. Do you recollect seeing General McCook that day?
No, sir; I did not.
Question. What was the command at headquarters about that firing while you were there?
I do not remember anything further than that I have already stated.
Question. Where were the headquarters situated?
Facing the battle-field. They were on the left hand of the pike, I should think from 3½ to 4 miles from Perryville.
Question. Can you state whether General Buell was there all day?
No, sir; General Buell was at his quarters every time we were there.
Question. Were you in the service in Tennessee?
Question. State what you know of the supplies, character and quantity, obtained by the army from the country.
During the time that we were making the retrograde movement from Stevenson I was left at Decherd a few days by General Thomas (I was then with General Thomas). General Thomas went from there to McMinnville. I was not immediately connected with them, and did not handle any supplies during that time. I joined General Thomas again at this place.
By General DANA:
Question. What time of the day was it that General Gilbert sent a message by Major Wright to General Buell?
I think it must have been as late as 5 or half past 5 o'clock in the afternoon.
By General SCHOEPF:
Question. At what date did the army leave Louisville?
I believe it was the 1st day of October.
Question. Are you not certain with regard to the date on which the battle was fought at Perryville?
No, sir; I am not. It has always been my impression that it was fought on the 6th.
By General DANA:
Question. What time of the day was it that General Gilbert sent you with a message to General Sheridan?
It was as late as half past 4 o'clock.
General BUELL. I have no questions to ask the witness, but I desire to express my gratification at, his evidence. It is manly and direct, and goes to show, to some extent, that General Gilbert, who in my opinion has been very much scandalized before this Commission, was not altogether negligent and out of place at the battle of Perryville. I have no particular interest in General Gilbert at all. I assigned him to a command because I thought his rank entitled him to it, because I believed he was at the time a major-general, and when the contrary became certainly known I removed him from that command. It was not done immediately, because the movement of the troops made it very inconvenient for the service, if not absolutely impracticable.
The Commission adjourned to meet December 28, 1862, at 10 a.m.