Organized February, 1862; mustered in at Flat Lick, Kentucky, February 10-12, 1862 mustered out at Nashville, Tennessee, February 23, 1865.
The first mention of this. regiment found in the Official Records was on April 24, 1862, when Brigadier General James G. Spears, Commanding 25th Brigade, Army of the Ohio, at Boston, Kentucky, requested that Houk's regiment be sent to re-enforce him. On June 10, Spears' Brigade was reported as consisting of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Tennessee Infantry, in Brigadier General George W. Morgan's 7th Division. The brigade was engaged at Big Creek Gap on June 11, and again on June 15, and joined General Morgan in the occupation of Cumberland Gap on June 18, 1862. On July 25, Houk's regiment, 650 strong, was reported on a foraging expedition to Clinton, Tennessee.
In August, 1862, when Confederate Major General E. Kirby Smith started on his invasion of Kentucky, one battalion of the regiment was at London, Kentucky, under Colonel Houk; the other battalion was at Richmond, Kentucky, under Lieutenant Colonel Chiles. Colonel Houk was attacked and driven out of London on August 17 by Confederate Colonel John S. Scott. Colonel Scott reported killing 13, wounding 17, and capturing 111 of Houk's command. Colonel Houk, in his report, stated he had about 200 men in London, was driven out of town, but made his escape into the hills, and with 140 men reached Cumberland Gap five days later. He further stated that at the time of the attack a hospital train with 98 of his men was enroute to London to join him and that he presumed these men were taken prisoner. Colonel Houk and his men remained with General Morgan at Cumberland Gap until his evacuation of that place on September 17, 1862, and then accompanied him on his withdrawal to the Ohio River. On October 12, 1862, General Morgan, at Portland, Ohio, reported the 3rd Tennessee, Colonel Houk, in his command with 250 men.
The other battion, under Lieutenant Colonel Chiles, won a commendation from Major General William Nelson, for the part it played in an action at Big Hill, Rock Castle County, Kentucky, on August 23, 1862: "On Saturday, August 23, the 7th Kentucky Cavalry, under Colonel Metcalfe, together with a battalion of Houk's 3rd Tennessee Regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel Chiles, attacked the enemy at Big Hill, Rockcastle County. Colonel Metcalfe led the attack with much gallantry, but had the mortification to find that not more than 100 of his regiment followed him; the remainder, at the first cannon shot, turned tail and fled like a pack of cowards. * * *The conduct of the Tennessee battalion presents a refreshing contrast to the foregoing. They met the enemy bravely, checked his advance, rescued Colonel Metcalfe, abandoned by his own regiment, and though too few to retrieve the action, at least saved the honor of our arms. Lieutenant Colonel Chiles will accept the thanks of the Major General, and convey to his officers and men his high appreciation of their gallantry and good conduct."
A few days later, in the battle at Richmond, Kentucky, on August 30, this battalion was placed in a brigade commanded by Brigadier General Charles Cruft. He reported the battalion was left in the rear of the town during the day, and took no part in the engagement, but was engaged with the enemy cavalry durmg the retreat and behaved well. 11 officers, and 27 men including Lieutenant Colonel Chiles, were reported missing or captured. An undated report from Major Cross, at Louisville, some days later, stated about ~50 men were engaged in the fight at Big Hill, the whole command scattered, some captured, some went to Cumberland Gap, and about 100 returned to Richmond, and were again scattered in the battle of Richmond. "I now have 75 men, three captains, two lieutenants. On October 8, in the battle of Perryyule, some men from the regiment were in a detachment commanded by Colonel T. T. Garrard, in the 33rd Brigade, 10th Division.
On November 13, 1862, Colonel Honk's battalion was ordered to Nashville, where it joined the remnant under Major Cross. On December 12, the regiment, at Nashville, was placed in a temporary brigade under Colonel W. E. Woodruff; on December 24, ordered to report to Brigadier General Mitchell, Commanding Post of Nashville; and on January 2, 1863, Brigadier General Spears took command of a brigade composed of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th Tennessee Infantry. This was the 1st Brigade of Brigadier General J. S. Negley's 2nd Division. The brigade escorted a wagon train from Nashville to the army at Murfreesboro on the night of the 2nd, and was engaged on January 3, in the fighting on that day.
The regiment remained at Murfreesboro for some time. On June 8, 1863, the 3rd, 5th, and 6th East Tennessee Regiments were placed in the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland. On June 30, this division was placed in the XXIII Corps, Department of th6 Ohio. Major (later Colonel) William Cross was in command of the regiment, and from this time on the regiment was commanded by either Colonel Cross or Major R. H. Dunn. On October 31, General Spears was given command of the brigade, now known as the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, Reserve Corps, Department of the Cumberland, and was called the 1st East Tennessee Brigade.
General Spears left McMinnville with the brigade on September 12, and after some marching and counter marching arrived at Chattanooga on September 20, during the battle of Chickamauga. The 3rd Tennessee was first stationed at Gillespie's, on the Rossville Road, but on September 21, was moved to Summertown, on Lookout Mountain, where it repulsed an attack on September 23, and moved into Chattanooga on September 24.
On October 9, 1863, the brigade, under Brigadier General John Beatty, became the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, XIV Corps; but on October 31, General Spears was again in command of the brigade, now the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, XIV Corps. During October and November the brigade did picket duty along the Tennessee River from Blythe's Ferry to Sale Creek. On January 1, 1864, the brigade was near Knoxville, and the 3rd Tennessee at Armstrong's Ford, five miles northeast of Knoxville.
On February 13, 1864, the 3rd and 6th Tennessee were assigned to the 2nd Division, XXIII Corps. The regiment was engaged at Panther Springs, Tennessee, on March 5, 1864, and reported two killed, 22 captured. On March 28, 1864, it was at Mossy Creek, in Jefferson County.
On April 10, the XXIII Corps was reorganized, and transferred from the Department of the Cumberland to the Department of the Ohio. The regiment was placed in Brigadier General M. S. Hascall's 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, and remained in this brigade and division for the balance of the war. On April 30, Colonel (later Brigadier General) Joseph A. Cooper, 6th Tennessee Infantry, was given command of the brigade. As part of this b~igade, the regiment took an active part in the Atlanta Campaign, beginning with the engagement at Resaca, on May 14, 1864. On May 31, it was sent as wagon guard from "Burnt Hickory to Kingston, and rejoined the brigade near Lost Mountain on June 6. In the almost daily fighting and skirmishing from May 6 to August 1, it reported 20 killed, 100 wounded. The heaviest casualties were at Resaca, where 18 officers and 305 men from the regiment made a charge on the Confederate fortifications in which they lost 95 in killed and wounded.
On September 1, the regiment was at Jonesboro, Georgia; on September 8 at Decatur, Georgia. At Decatur, on September 13, the Adjutant General of Tennessee was advised the regiment needed 258 men to bring it up to the minimum strength, which he was requested to supply from volunteers or conscripts.
In the Battle of Nashville, the regiment, with the brigade, was on the Harding Pike December 15, and moved across the Hillsboro Pike; on the 16th it moved across the Granny White Pike. In the two days, the regiment reported three killed, eight wounded.
On January 14, 1865, the regiment was at Clifton, Tennessee, where it was ordered to remain in charge of the quartermaster properties until they were removed or disposed of, and then to march to Nashville to be mustered out of service. It remained at Clifton until February, 1865, and was mustered out of service at Nashville, February 23, 1865. Later recruits whose term of enlistment had not expired were transferred to the 4th Tennessee Infantry Regiment.
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This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted © 1964 by the “Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee” and is published here with their permission.
This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.
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