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

Page 172 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXV.

The First Louisiana (Lieutenant-Colonel [James O.] Nixon commanding) led the column. On entering the suburbs of the town, it was met by a heavy fire from an infantry ambuscade in a thicket not more than 50 yards distant. The regiment stood this fire for several minutes with the most admirable composure, and then, thee infantry retiring, charged on into the town, followed by two companies of the Second Tennessee, led by their gallant colonel ([H. M.] Ashby), and by the First Georgia (Colonel [J. J.] Morrison). The street fight was brisk for some twenty minutes; rendered more so from the fact that some of the citizens fired at us from the windows. Just as the enemy left the town, I was handed an intercepted dispatch from Colonel [Benjamin P.] Runkle (Federal) to General [S. P.] Carter (Federal), saying he would arrive in Lancaster that night, and would try to join him on the main Lexington road running by Camp Dick Robinson. Ordering Colonel Nixon to follow up the rear of the enemy closely, I at once sent to recall the remainder of the command, and started for one of the fords over Dick's River, with the view of throwing my command between Carter and Runkle near Camp Dick Robinson, but 61 miles and a sharp fight in twenty-eight hours had already proven too much for the horses, and I found it impossible to reach the desired point in time. Besides a few stores, we captured in Danville about 60 prisoners, among them being Lieutenant-Colonel [Silas] Adams, of [Frank] Wolford's cavalry.

Learning from the citizens that the enemy regarded my force as the advance of a heavy infantry column, and having in view the clearing the three counties-Lincoln, Boyle, and Garrard-for some days, I pushed my command, with the exception of the First Louisiana Regiment (left at Danville to watch the Lebanon and Frankfort roads), up to within 2 miles of the Gibraltar, at the Kentucky River bridge, which was occupied by the enemy with a force composed of the three arms, and greatly superior to my own in numbers. I played this game of bluff, occasionally skirmishing with the enemy, until the cattle had been collected, and then, burning the two bridges over Dick's River (now much swollen by recent rains), I commenced falling back slowly by the Stanford and Somerset road.

On the morning of the 29th, I received a dispatch from Colonel Ashby, who had been sent by way of Crab Orchard, that the enemy was pressing him in heavy force. I immediately hurried the command on to Somerset, within 2 miles of which, on the morning of the 30th, I selected a strong position to resist the enemy. This step was imperative, both because the cattle were scarcely half crossed over the Cumberland River, and because, that river being only 6 miles in my rear, the safety of my command somewhat depended upon giving the enemy a good check.

Leaving the Sixteenth Tennessee Battalion to watch the road toward Stanford, I placed the First Louisiana and First Tennessee Regiments, under Colonel [J. S.] Scott, at the junction of the Stanford and Crab Orchard roads. I then placed the First Georgia (dismounted) on the right of the selected position, Major [Thephilus] Steele's battalion (of General John H. Morgan's command) in the center, and the Second Tennessee on the left. [G. A.] Huwald's pieces weere placed on commanding points. The action commenced by an artillery fight, in which, though ours had 40 feet command over that of the enemy, theirs got the best of it. This was due both to the inferiority of our ammunition and to the want of practice of our cannoneers, most of whom were for the first time under fire; yet all of my men stood the heavy fire of artillery and small-arms with unflinching courage. Seeing very soon that the enemy was turning all of his force against that position, I ordered up Colonel

Page 172 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXV.