Today in History:

3 Series I Volume VII- Serial 7 - Ft. Henry-Ft. Donelson


returned and had probably been cut off by the enemy. Upon this information I determined to proceed at once to Brownsville, and break up the Yankee camp on the river bank opposite that place. Accordingly I left this post at 8 a.m. yesterday, taking with me Captains Chrisman and McNeill, and 50 men of Phifer's battalion, and First Lieutenant Orlin, with one gun of Swett's battery. The pickets upon the roads leading towards Brownsville were instructed to detain all citizens passing until the return of the expedition, and the advance guard had orders to arrest all male citizens found on the road or in view of it. These precautions enabled me to get within half a mile of the town unobserved. There Captain McNeill was detached, with 25 men, to proceed to the right around the knob south of and overhanging the place, so as to cut off retreat up the river. With the remainder of the force, after delaying long enough to enable Captain McNeill to get equally near the town, i moved along the direct road, which passes between the knob just referred to and another on its left 300 yards distant. It was impossible to get in rear of this last-named knob so as to cut off retreat down the river without being seen from the town. I ascended the right hand knob on foot and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General Newton the one on the left to reconnoiter. There was no enemy visible on the Brownsville side of the river, but on the opposite side i perceived a body of cavalry, apparently about 50 strong, formed in a narrow road leading across the range of hills that runs parallel to the stream. One hundred yards farther down, near a small log cabin situated in a field, there was a squad of 14 to 15 men on foot, with horses hitched around. Still farther down on the Litchfield road, partly concealed in the timber, there was a mounted party of about 50. It was evident that they had notice of our approach and intended to dispute the passage of the river.

Lieutenant Newton found the rive obstructed from the position he had taken. He ascertained from woman who was passing that party of between 15 and 20 had been in Brownsville during the day, but had just recrossed the river. Entering the town with the main body as rapidly as possible, I directed Lieutenant Orlin to open fire upon the enemy from the publics quare. The first discharge scattered the cavalry in the wood; the next dispersed the squad near the cabin and drove 10 or 15 more out of it; the third and fourth took effect upon the cabin, a spherical case shot exploding within it and a round shot piercing the building. At the first Captain McNeil entered the town, having taken one of their pickets; another was subsequently captured by a man of his detachment.

The piece was then moved around to a position nearer the river and commanidng the Litchfield road, and fire was opened on the cavalry posted in that road, which was instantly dispersed. The dismounted men of the enemy now commenced firing from behind logs, trees, fences, &c., situated on the opposite bank, which is much lower then the south bank. Their weapons were Minie muskets and the common hunting rifle. The number of those firing were not less than 50.

My men were ordered to dismount, take position as near the river as practicable behind such cover as might be found, and reply to the fire of the enemy. The firing was thus continues doe from ten to fifteen minutes, when that of the enemy ceased, except now and then scattering shots, their men running away singly and in squads of two and three through the corn fields and into the woods, and our men firing at them s long as they were visible. I at one time gave the order to Captain Chrisman to cross the river if practicable, but finding it not fordable, the order was countermanded. When dislodged from their position along