SIXTH FLORIDA INFANTRY
Early in the spring of 1862 the 6th Florida Regiment was organized at Chattahoochee by the election of Jesse J. Finley as Colonel; Angus McLean, Lieutenant-Colonel; Daniel Kenan, Major.This Regiment was organized by the State and immediately turned over to the Confederate service and ordered to report to Gen. E Kirby Smith at Knoxville, who was then Commander of the Department of East Tennessee. There the 6th and 7th Florida Regiments and the 1st Florida Cavalry, Dismounted, were placed under the command of William G. M. Davis as senior Colonel.In the early spring of 1862 General Smith, with his command, was ordered to join General Bragg in his march into Kentucky in pursuit of General Buel, who was then under retreat. The 6th Florida Regiment went through the Kentucky campaign when General Bragg retreated from the State before General Buel, who had been heavily reinforced and who had again assumed the offensive.Coming out of Kentucky, Colonel Finley was ordered to occupy and defend Cumberland Gap against a possible approach by the enemy. The 6th Florida Regiment was afterward relieved by General Gracie’s Brigade, and the 6th was ordered back to Knoxville where it remained in winter quarters during the winter of 1862-63.The Regiment remained in Knoxville until the following summer, when General Smith’s command was ordered to report to General Bragg at Chattanooga. In the meanwhile, however, Colonel Davis was commissioned a Brigadier General and the 54th Virginia was added to the Brigade, and Colonel Trigg was assigned to the command of the Brigade as senior Colonel.The 6th Florida Regiment was in the bloody battle of Chickamauga, in the reserve corps of the first day’s fight and ordered to make a charge on a Federal battery of artillery.
This charge was made by the Regiment alone through an old field — the battery of the enemy being on the crest of a ridge about the center of the field. In making the charge it was enfiladed by the battery of the enemy to its left, which was near enough to use cannister and grape-shot. The Regiment carried the position and the battery in front retreated. It was now about sun-down, when the Regiment received preemptory orders to retire from the field, which it did bivouacking just outside of the field. In making the charge the Regiment bore itself with distinguished firmness and gallantry.In the next day’s battle the 6th Florida Regiment and the 54th Virginia were supporting a battalion of Confederate artillery, which was not then engaged, when they were ordered to the right to reinforce Gen. Patton Anderson and General Kelly, whose pickets only were then engaged, their ammunition being nearly exhausted. When the two Regiments came up General Anderson gave them their proper alignment for moving squarely upon the enemy, which they did; and about sun-down they cleared the heights of Chickamauga and about five hundred (500) of the enemy, who were armed with Colt’s revolving rifles surrendered — Colonel Trigg, the Brigade commander, and the 7th Florida Regiment under Colonel Bullock having first come up. This was about the last fighting on the second day’s battle of Chickamauga.The army under the command of General Bragg achieved a complete victory over the enemy, but remained a day on the battle field after the battle.
In the meantime Federal General Thomas rallied the fleeing forces of the enemy and occupied the strong fortifications at and around Chattanooga; and General Bragg, occupying Missionary Ridge, laid siege to the beleaguered city.During the winter the Confederate Army was reorganized and all the Florida Regiments, then in the Army of Tennessee, were brigaded together comprising the 6th Florida Regiment, under the command of Colonel McLean, the 7th Florida Regiment, under the command of Colonel Bullock, the 1st and 3d Regiments (consolidated), under the command of Colonel Dilworth, the 4th Florida Regiment, under the command of Col. W. L. Bowen, the 1st Cavalry, Dismounted, under the command of Col. George Troup Maxwell and Colonel Finley was commissioned Brigadier- General and assigned to the command thereof.At the battle of Missionary Ridge, in which the Brigade participated, the 6th Florida Regiment and the 1st and 3d Regiments were in the main Confederate line of battle on the crest of the Ridge; while the 7th Regiment and the 4th Regiment and the 1st Florida Cavalry, Dismounted, were on the picket line in the valley under orders on the advance of the Federal forces to fall back to the intrenchments at the foot of the Ridge; this they executed and they were driven out of the intrenchments by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy and a large portion were captured in ascending the steep acclivities of the Ridge.The 6th Florida Regiment and the 1st and 3rd Regiments were posted in the dip of the Ridge near General Bragg’s headquarters, and occupied their position on the fire line until peremptorily ordered to retire — they being about the last of the Confederate troops to leave the Ridge.The Confederate Army then fell back to Dalton; there it went into winter quarters, and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, succeeding General Bragg, assumed command of the Army.The Brigade was in the battle of Rocky Face in front of Dalton in February when, after two days fight, General Sherman fell back to Chattanooga to wait reinforcements. Having received reinforcements, he advanced again in May with superior numbers and, after a two days’ battle and an attempt to flank General Johnston’s army, the latter commenced the famous retreat under General Johnston to Atlanta.The army then fell back to Resaca and deployed into line of battle in a strong. position and, after a two days’ battle (in which General Finley was wounded) again took up the line of retreat. And, not to be tedious — the Brigade was in all the battles from Dalton to Atlanta, bearing itself with its customary intrepidity and bravery.It was then that General Johnston was removed from the command of the Army and was succeeded by General Hood. The Brigade participated in the battles of Atlanta and Jonesboro, in which last battle General Finley was again wounded.The Brigade was with Hood in his unfortunate and disastrous campaign into Tennessee; and after the retreat of the Confederate Army from Nashville, it was transferred, with General Hood’s command, to North Carolina and was in the battle of Bentonville just before the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox.
Col. Daniel Kenan, in the battle of Bentonville, was wounded in the leg so severely that amputation was necessary; and Col. Angus McLean was killed in the battle of Dallas on the retreat from Dalton to Atlanta.It may be truly said that the Florida troops, in both the Tennesseee Army and in Virginia, conducted themselves with patriotism and gallantry.
Source: Soldiers of Florida in the … Civil War … page 153
Chickamagua after battle report:Report of Col. J. J. Finley, Sixth Florida Infantry.HDQRS. SIXTH REGT. FLORIDA VOLUNTEERS,
Near Chattanooga, Tenn., September 25, 1863.
CAPT.: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my regiment in the battle of the Chickamauga on Saturday and Sunday, the 19th and 20th instant:On the morning of the 19th, soon after we had crossed the Chickamauga Creek, the regiment was thrown into line of battle with the other regiments of the brigade in an open field, with the enemy’s batteries some distance in our front, but sufficiently near to shell us with effect. Here, by order of the brigade commander, Col. Trigg, our line was formed on a depression in the field for cover from the enemy’s fire. Notwithstanding this precaution, the while of my line was subjected over, and near, diagonally in many places from right to left, frequently striking in front and ricochetting over my men, who were in a lying position.It was at this time that a shell from the enemy’s guns exploded upon the right of the third company, instantly killing First Lieut. James Harys, then in command of his company, and his first sergeant, S. F. Staunton, and also Second Sergt. W. R. F. Potter, and wounding Lieut. W. S. Simmons on the left of the second company, commanded by Capt. White.The brigade was then ordered farther in front and my regiment put in position for the support of [Peoples’] battery upon the crest of a ridge. Here we were four about two hours subjected to a heavy fire of shot and shell without any casualty.We remained in this position until about 3.30 p. m., when the whole brigade was ordered to advance to the relief of [Robertson’s] brigade, of Hood’s division, which had for some time been engaging the enemy about half a mile in front. This advance was made under a heavy fire of the enemy’s batteries until we reached an open cornfield in front of my regiment, where the fire became now hot and galling.At this moment the order for a general advance was given and my regiment moved forward through the open field at a double-quick to the crest of the ridge the distance of about 300yards under a raking fire from a battery of the enemy which wasposted on my left, as well as from small-arms and sharpshooters in front. When the crest of the ridge was attained, which brought us within about 60 yards of the enemy’s advance, another battery in our front, and still another diagonally to our right, opened a hot and fierce fire upon us, still aided by the battery upon our left, which kept up without intermission an enfilading fire upon my whole line, which told with terrible effect upon my command.After engaging the enemy in this position for about half an hour without any support whatever, we were ordered to retire by the colonel commanding the brigade, who advanced with my regiment in the charge, witnessed its conduct, and also fully apprehended the necessity of falling back to prevent the utter annihilation of the whole regiment.While engaged with the enemy form the crest of the ridge, his battery in our front was not more than 150 yards from our lines, and upon our first arrival in this position some of his infantry were not more than 50 yards in our front. From his point we poured in a well-directed fire upon the infantry and the gunners in our front, which soon drove them back to the rifle-pits in rear of their battery (which I estimated to be about 150 yards in rear of their battery), leaving the guns unmanned and the battery flag cut down. At this moment, if my regiment could have been supported, I am of the opinion that my brigade commander could have made a successful charge upon the other two of the enemy’s batteries, which had been playing upon us with terrible effect from our first advance to our final retirement. My failure to receive support will be properly accounted for, doubtless, in the report of my brigade commander.The casualties of the regiment in the battle on the 19th briefly sum up as follows, to wit:
Officers and men. K. W. T.
Officers............. 2 11 13
Enlisted men......... 33 119 152
Total........... 35 130 165
K=Killed. W=Wounded. T=Total.
I cannot conclude the report of the part taken by my regiment in the battle of this day without bearing testimony to the firmness, courage, and constancy which they exhibited under one of the
fiercest and hottest fires which it has ever been the fortune of a command to encounter. But I need not enlarge upon this, as my brigade commander witnessed its conduct from the beginning to the end of this trying day, and will do ample justice to my brave and heroic officers and men in the report which he will be called upon to make. With him I leave my command, who have purchased whatever reputation they may have von upon the sanguinary field at fearful cost of life and blood.I have no particular case of gallantry to mention upon this day. Where all fought with so much valor it would be invidious to discriminate.In regard to the battle of the 20th, I have the honor to report that while First Florida Cavalry (dismounted) and the Seventh Florida Infantry were detached, and while the colonel commanding the brigade was with them to direct their movements, I was ordered forward with the Sixth Florida Regt. and Fifty-fourth Virginia Regt. to relieve Gen. Gregg’s and Col. Kelly’s brigades, which had for some time been closely engaging the enemy on Chickamauga Heights. With these regiments I moved forward with haste to the point indicated, and taking the formation which was supposed to give me the most desirable front to the enemy, we advanced with steadiness and in good order until we passed the pickets thrown in front of Gen. Gregg’s and Kelly’s brigades, and opening fire upon the enemy we continued to advance steadily and constantly until we swept the heights, silencing the fire of our adversary, driving him from his position, and causing him to retire. For a part of the time during our advance we were exposed to a hot fire not only from small-arms and a battery in front, but also from a battery which was upon our right in an oblique direction. At this moment I ordered the firing to cease, and the guns to be loaded and bayonets fixed, in order to take the gun which had been playing upon our front, but before this could be accomplished the enemy had retired and succeeded in withdrawing his piece.At this time, the colonel commanding the brigade came up with the Seventh Florida Regt., and having learned upon the way the position and situation of the enemy, quickly and promptly made a disposition of his forces, and ordered a movement by which some 500 of the enemy were captured, besides a large number of small-arms.In this engagement the casualties in my regiment were as follows, to wit: Killed, 1 private; wounded, 2 lieutenants, 4 privates; total, 6 wounded; missing, 1 private, supposed killed.During the operations of this day I cannot speak too highly of the good conduct and gallantry of both the officers and men of the Fifty-fourth Virginia Regt., commanded by Lieut. Col. John J. Wade. For my own regiment I can pay them no higher and no more deserved compliments than to say that they fully sustained the reputation which they so dearly earned in the bloody conflict of the day before.I have the honor to submit the forgoing report, which has been written in great haste at night upon the field, and under circumstances of the greatest inconvenience.
J. J. FINLEY,
Col., Comdg.Capt. JAMES BENAGH,
Assistant Adjutant-Gen.Source: Official Records
PAGE 435-51 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. [CHAP. XLII.
[Series I. Vol. 30. Part II, Reports. Serial No. 51.]