Today in History:

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


It gives me pleasure to say in this connection that the officers and men of the Nineteenth Michigan behaved gallantly. I saw them repulse several charges, where the enemy outnumbered them three to one. All this time the Eighty-fifth and Thirty-third Indiana had been engaged in an almost hand-to-hand fight with a greatly superior force. Although I was not able to accomplish much with the force I had left, we held in check the large force that had flanked our brigade. After making several stand, we were compelled to fall back. The men that remained with me behaved gloriously, never failing to form and face the enemy when called upon, but when at last it became apparent to all that we could not hold out much longer, and the firing had ceased in our front, we fell back over the hills. We got separated in a patch of canebrake and brusk; some few escaped; the remainder of us, finding ourselves surrounded, surrendered.

It may not be proper for me to speak of matters which, in my opinion, contributed largely toward the disaster of the day; nevertheless, I will say that the enemy outnumbered us six to one. It is very evident that with a very little help we might have escaped, for the enemy acknowledged to us, after our capture, that at one time they were very much discouraged. I am fully convinced, from all I saw on the field and what I afterward learned from the enemy, that if it had not been for the untimely retreat of the battery and cavalry we might have been drawn off with safety and small loss. I have been pained on reading articles from correspondents and editors, and on hearing remarks from officers professing to know all about war, to the effect that we might and ought to have retreated. Now, I pretend to say that there never was a time, after the battery and cavalry had deserted us, that we could have broken from the hills without being cut to pieces, neither could those that escaped have done so if it had not been for the obstinate resistance of those they deserted at the very commencement of the fight. The idea of from 1,200 to 1,500 infantry, in an open country, retreating before nearly 17,000 mounted infantry and cavalry, with two batteries of artillery, is simply ridiculous.

After our surrender we were taken to the rebel headquarters. In going there we were taken directly across the ground occupied by the Thirty-third and Eighty-fifth Indiana during the struggle. It was a sad and revolting sight to witness the barbarity of the inhuman demons stripping our noble dead. On coming out in view of the rebel force, we were astonished at the vast numbers against which they had been contending so long. They would not believe the fact until they had satisfied themselves by actual count, and they were quite angry when told we had no general officer with us; they thought the thing impossible. We afterward learned that we were engaged against Van Dorn, with his whole force added to that of Forrest, amounting to nearly 17,000, commanded by six generals, and two batteries of artillery. After our battery left, we could not have had to exceed 1,600 men in the engagement. No wonder they were astonished at the stubborn resistance of the little handful of men they had captured, and they got nearly all that were engaged in the fight. Soon after we were drawn up in line, preparatory to starting for the land of Dixie, a long train of wagons passed, loaded with the dead and wounded rebels, showing the handwork of the little band that had been struggling so lang against such fearful odds. They acknowledge the loss of 49 commissioned officers, of which were 2 colonels, 1 lieutenant-colonel, and 1 adjutant-general.

In conclusion, I will add a few remarks respecting our treatment while we were prisoners:Until we reached Tullahoma our treatment was about what we might