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104 Series I Volume XXIII-I Serial 34 - Tullahoma Campaign Part I

Page 104 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXV]

Numbers 11. Report of Colonel Henry C. Gillbert, Nineteenth Michigan Infantry.

Nashville, Tenn., June 13, 1863.

COLONEL: Circumstances beyond my control have hitherto prevented my making a report to you of the part taken by this regiment in the affair at Thompson's Station, Tenn., on the 5th day of March last, and which resulted in the capture by the enemy of nearly our entire brigade.

We left Franklin on the morning of March 4. I took out with me 488 enlisted men, all armed, and 12 hospital attendants. Some 4 or 5 supposed to be about 2,000 strong. These were driven back without difficulty after a sharp skirmish. My regiment was formed on the extreme left, in line of battle, and advanced in that order about half a mile. We, however, had no opportunity to participate to any great extent in the fight. Our loss was only 1 man slightly wounded.

After the enemy retired, an intelligent yellow boy came into my regiment on horseback, and represented that he was a servant of one of Van Dorn's general officers, and that Van Dorn with his entire command had arrived at Spring Hill on the Tuesday previous; that his force numbered about 16,000 and that he had with him six brigadier-generals, or commanders of brigades. This negro man appeared honest and intelligent, and evinced a desire to give us correct information. In the course of the afternoon two other negroes came in and gave similar information. The inhabitants along the road also understood that Van Dorne's force had all advanced to Spring Hill.

We encamped that night about 5 miles our from Franklin, the left wing in column by division, just in the rear of the artillery. During the night all was quiet.

The next morning, March 5, we moved forward with the rest of the brigade at 8 o'clock. About 10 o'clock we had advanced some 4 miles, when we met the enemy. Here I received your order to form in line of battle, and take position on the left, which was done. Colonel Utley, with his regiment (Twenty-second Wisconsin), was next on the right. Our artillery was on a commanding eminence, supported on the right by the Eighty-fifth and Thirty-third Indiana, and on the left by the Nineteenth Michigan and Twenty-second Wisconsin. We remained in line of battle unengaged for about half and hour, when the enemy opened fire on us from a battery (two guns) posted on a hill to the left of and completely commanding our position. The first shell struck the gourd within 3 feet of some men of Company E, covering them with dirt, but fortunately it failed to explode. As our position was a very exposed one, I moved my regiment a little to the right, and around the hill on which our battery had been posted, but which it abandoned immediately after the firing from the enemy's battery on the left commenced. Colonel Utley executed a similar movement with his regiment. This brought the right and left wings of the brigade nearer together, and prevented our line being cut in two by the advancing columns of the enemy.

A brisk fire was immediately opened on our left, but the enemy at this point was soon repulsed, and the firing ceased. Up to this time we had been posted on the left of the railroad and turnpike. We here received your order to cross over and form on the right, with a slight change of front, and just on the crest of a hill. This movement was executed without difficulty, and gave us an excellent position. Here

Page 104 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXV]