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No. 50.

AUGUST 27-0CTOBER 22, 1862.-Operations of Wheeler's Cavalry in Tennessee and Kentucky.

OR Vol. 16, Pt. 1, p.892-900

 

SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS.

  • Aug. 27, 1862.-Command crosses the Tennessee at Chattanooga.
  • Aug. 30, 1862.-Skirmish at Altamont, Tenn.
  • Sept. 6, 1862.-Affair on the Gallatin Road, Tenn.
  • Sept. 8, 1862.-Affair at Kentucky Line.
  • Sept. 9, 1862.-Skirmishes on the Franklin and Scottsville Roads, Ky.
  • Sept. 10, 1862.-Skirmish at Log Church, Ky.
  • Sept. 11, 1862.-Skirmish at Smith's, Ky.
  • Sept. 12, 1862.-Skirmish near Woodburn, Ky.
  • Sept. 16, 1862.-Skirmish near Oakland Station, Ky.
  • Sept. 17, 1862.-Skirmishes on Bowling Green Road and at Merry Oaks, Ky.
  • Sept. 18, 1862.-Skirmish near Cave City, Ky.
  • Sept. 19, 1862.-Skirmishes at Horse Cave and Bear Wallow, Ky.
  • Sept. 20-21, 1862.-Actions near Munfordville, Ky.
  • Sept. 22, 1862.-Skirmish at Vinegar Hill, Ky.
  • Sept. 28, 1862.-Skirmish near Lebanon Junction, Ky.
  • Sept. 29, 1862.-Skirmish on the Elizabethtown Road, Ky.
  • Oct. 1, 1862.-Skirmish on the Louisville Pike, Ky. 2, 1862.-Skirmish on the Shepherdsville Road, Ky.
  • Oct. 4, 1862.-Action on the Bardstown Pike, Ky.
  • Oct. 6, 1862.-Skirmishes at Fair Grounds, Springfield, Burnt Cross-Roads, Beach Fork, and Grassy Mound, Ky.
  • Oct. 7, 1862.-Skirmishes at Brown Hill and at Perryville, Ky.
  • Oct. 8, 1862.-Battle of Perryville, Ky.
  • Oct. 9, 1862.-Skirmishes on Mackville Pike and Bardstown Road, Ky.
  • Oct. 10, 1862.-Skirmish at Danville Cross-Roads, Ky.
  • Oct. 11, 1862.-Skirmish at Danville, Ky.
  • Oct. 12, 1862.-Skirmish at Dick's Ford, Ky.
  • Oct. 13, 1862.-Wheeler placed in command of all the cavalry of Bragg's army.
  • Oct. 13, 1862.-Skirmish on the Lancaster Road, Ky.
  • Oct. 14, 1862.-Skirmishes at Lancaster and on Crab Orchard Road, Ky.
  • Oct. 15, 1862.-Skirmishes at Crab Orchard and Barren Mound, Ky.
  • Oct. 16, 1862.-Skirmishes at Mountain Gap and Mount Vernon, Ky.
  • Oct. 17, 1862.-Skirmishes at Valley Woods and Rocky Hill, Ky.
  • Oct. 18, 1862.-Skirmishes at Cross-Roads, Big Hill, Little Rockcastle River, and Mountain Side, Ky.
  • Oct. 19, 1862.-Skirmish at Wild Cat, Ky.
  • Oct. 20, 1862.-Skirmish near Wild Cat, Ky.
  • Oct. 21, 1862.-Skirmish at Pitman's Cross-Roads, Ky.
  • Oct. 22, 1862.-Command arrives at London.

Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, C. S. Army.

 

HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY, Knoxville, Tenn.,

October 30, 1862.

 

     COLONEL: I have the honor to report that on August 27 I moved across the Tennessee River at Chattanooga with a brigade of cavalry, consisting of parts of the First Alabama and First Kentucky Regiments.

     On the 28th we moved in front of General Hardee's wing. The next day I received an order to march toward Altamont and drive in the enemy's scouts on the mountain. We arrived near Altamont at daylight on the morning of the 30th and drove in their pickets on three sides, firing into their camp and killing, as we afterwards learned, 1 colonel, 1 captain, and 2 privates.  The enemy were so alarmed and deceived that General Buell reported in his official statement, subsequently made to a council of war at Nashville, that General Hardee attempted to cross the mountain with his corps, but by his placing a large force at Altamont he had compelled General Hardee to fall back into the valley. A few hours before we reached Altamont the enemy had an infantry brigade in ambush on the road, but on our approach they marched in and joined their main body. After having menaced their flanks until 12 m. we returned to Sequatchie Valley. We then moved northward, covering the rear and left flank of the army, having a slight skirmish near Fleming's.

     We arrived at Carthage on September 7, where we were joined by the Third Georgia Regiment, and the First Alabama was detached. That night I received orders to proceed toward Nashville and harass the enemy, &c. At Hartsville I was joined by Col. [J. D.] Bennett [Ninth Tennessee Cavalry], with about 200 men. The enemy being on the march from Nashville to Bowling Green, we hovered along their flank, occasionally skirmishing and making captures and destroying the railroad and telegraph at every opportunity. A scout succeeded in capturing a stage, containing a Federal colonel and lieutenant bearing important dispatches. The two Federal officers and the dispatches were sent to the main army.

     On the night of the 11th General Crittenden's entire division encamped at Woodburn, Ky. My entire command, consisting of nearly 700 men, were placed in ambush on the road he would have to pass in moving on his way to Bowling Green. Soon after daylight he commenced to move, but when near our position the head of the column, discovering us, turned back. After waiting for some time, having captured a captain and several privates, we withdrew about 2 miles from the pike to rest and feed the command.

     About 2p.m. the enemy followed us with infantry and cavalry. After warmly engaging them for some time we endeavored to draw them down to a position where the bulk of our force was stationed and where we could develop their strength, and, if possible, separate their infantry from their cavalry. In this we failed. The enemy soon retired, leaving 1 man dead on the field and carrying off 1 major and 10 privates wounded, some of them seriously., We followed them a short distance with about 200 men, but as night was coming on and we were near their strong force we soon rejoined our reserves.  General Forrest came up in the rear while the fight was going on, but finding he could not engage the enemy to advantage he retired toward Glasgow.

     The next day we proceeded to Merry Oaks, a place midway between Bowling Green and Glasgow, to cover our army and watch the movements of the enemy. We remained at this point, watching the several approaches to Bowling Green, until the 16th, when we moved down to Oakland Station, 7 miles east of Bowling Green, leaving a small force at Merry Oaks to watch the movements of the enemy on the two lower roads.

     That night the enemy moved Rousseau's division and a large cavalry force over the river on the Glasgow or Cave City pike, while at the same time more extensive arrangements were being made for a movement across the river in a northerly direction, which led me to believe that the bulk of General Buell's army was to move in that direction. This was also the opinion of all my agents who had been sent into the town.

In this we were deceived. The wagon train of General Buell's army, consisting of over 2,000 wagons, crossed in the northerly direction with a comparatively small guard, while the rest of the army moved toward Cave City. Col [John F.] Lay had been sent to Dripping Springs, with orders to report to me, and Colonel Bennett's command was detached. The enemy pressed upon my pickets during the night, which, together with other movements on their part, convinced me that an early advance was intended. About daylight the enemy's cavalry in large force moved up rapidly in good order toward Cave City, followed by infantry.  Finding that they had passed our position we moved rapidly by a circuitous route to gain their front, having previously directed Colonel Lay to remain at his post until our arrival, in order that our combined forces might more effectually retard the enemy. Orders were also sent to the battalion at Merry Oaks to join me at the same place. On arriving there, however, I found Colonel Lay had been gone some time, and also heard that the detachment at Merry Oaks had been driven in by a large force of cavalry. After resisting the enemy's advance until late in the day we finally moved toward Glasgow to collect all detachments on the lower roads and protect some trains at that point. These trains we escorted to Munfordville, arriving at that point about 8 o'clock the next morning.

     Our total loss in killed and wounded was 2 officers and 3 privates.

     At night we moved down to Horse Cave, near Cave City, to picket the front and watch the enemy, who was concentrating his troops at that place. We were here joined by the First and Third Alabama Regiments, Colonel Lay having been detached. We continued picketing the front, frequently skirmishing heavily with the enemy, with some loss on both sides.

     On the morning of the 20th the enemy advanced and deployed their lines in front of their advanced pickets. Our army being now moving from Munfordville, our front was kept unchanged and every effort made to prevent the enemy from learning our movements.  Toward evening Col. [John A.] Wharton arrived with his brigade, which was, however, kept in reserve. The enemy continued deploying their lines all day and in the morning commenced their advance. Our pickets held their ground so well that it was noon before my main body became engaged, which had fallen back to a point about 4 miles from Green River. Here the enemy's infantry advanced in line of battle upon the First and Third Alabama Regiments. After a heavy engagement the enemy, finding that they were simply opposed by cavalry, sent a brigade to turn our right flank. After a gallant resistance and a handsome charge by the First Alabama, in which Lieut. Col. [T. B.] Brown was killed, both regiments were compelled to retire slowly, but in good order, to prevent being entirely cut off, the enemy's dense lines of infantry being in full view and within range both in front and on the right flank. Our artillery, consisting of two guns, attached to Colonel Wharton's and my own brigade, had been placed upon the north side of the river and commenced good work as soon as the enemy came within its range. The First and Third Alabama Regiments retired slowly and finally were compelled to cross the river, which was done in good order.  The lines were again formed on the north side of the river, and as the enemy came up we received them warmly with artillery and small-arms.  The enemy, discovering that our army had left Munfordville, sent an infantry brigade to turn our right flank. We contested the crossing under a heavy fire of infantry and artillery until this brigade of the enemy had crossed the river about half a mile below the town and was advancing in line perpendicular to our lines. We then fell back about 300 yards and again formed our lines, which allowed the enemy to cross several brigades of infantry and a large force of cavalry, all of which promptly formed line of battle, engaging us as they came up. Their cavalry sounded the charge, but could not be moved toward us. After a short but severe fight, the sun having gone down, we slowly withdrew. The fighting on the north side of the river was done by the First Alabama, Third Georgia, and First Kentucky Regiments, all of which acted as well as could be expected with such disparity of numbers, the Third Georgia suffering most severely. Colonel Wharton's Texas regiment was at all times ready and maneuvered well, but circumstances did not call it into action.

     About noon I sent orders to the various pickets beyond the scene of action directing them how to come in; they all joined us safely during the night. We were obliged to move on some 8 miles that night to procure forage and water. Early in the morning Colonel Wharton moved with his brigade some miles farther on to Red Mills to procure rations. The enemy's advance reaching me about noon, my brigade was moved rapidly to a favorable position to receive him. The artillery and most of my cavalry were secreted until the head of a column of not less than 1,500 cavalry had arrived within about 350 yards of our position, when we opened upon them with canister and shell, killing and wounding many men and horses.  The enemy deployed as skirmishers and brought up their artillery, engaging us warmly until dark, when they went into camp. Colonel Wharton was notified of the advance when the action first commenced and moved promptly to my assistance. Finding, however, that he was not needed at that point he moved his command toward Hodgenville to watch the other roads leading north from Munfordville, and on which we learned the enemy were also advancing.

     Having received written orders from General Hardee to be at Hodgenville by daylight Tuesday morning [23d] at furthest, we moved late that night in that direction, leaving a small picket to watch the enemy during the night. Picked men were also sent to watch General Buell's army as it passed up the pike toward Louisville. They easily counted the regiments, batteries, and wagons which passed, a report of which was sent to headquarters. I will here state that during the entire campaign reports in writing were made several times each day to the major general commanding the left wing or to the general commanding the army of everything relating to the movements of the enemy which could be ascertained.

     On Wednesday morning Colonel Wharton's brigade was ordered to Bardstown, while I remained at Hodgenville and New Haven watching the enemy on the roads from below and toward Elizabethtown.

     On September 27 I received orders to move with 250 men toward Glasgow, but after marching 8 miles was ordered to return and proceed with my command to Boston.  Orders were also sent to leave Col. [M. J.] Crawford's (Third Georgia) regiment [cavalry] at New Haven. I regret to state that a few days after a superior force of the enemy surprised and captured Colonel Crawford and 250 of his command at Boston.   We picketed and scouted went down toward Elizabethtown, frequently skirmishing with the enemy, until we were ordered to Bardstown, at which place we arrived about daylight on the morning of the 4th instant,  when I was ordered to follow and cover the rear of the left wing of the army, which was moving toward Glenville. All roads leading to the town were immediately picketed, and about noon we moved the remainder of the brigade on the road on which we were to march.  Hearing firing in advance we moved rapidly in that direction, when I discovered that it emanated from a wood to our left and that a large force of the enemy had moved up between my position and the point where the firing took place. At this moment I received a message from General Johnson that his brigade - the infantry rear guard of the left wing - was but a short distance in front. A large portion of my command was left to protect his rear, and I moved back with the remainder to reach the scene of the firing and relieve my pickets which had been left around Bardstown. On arriving at the town I found that Colonel Wharton had engaged the enemy but had passed on toward Springfield.  We drew in our picket and remained near Bardstown until nearly dark, when I moved back to my command. The enemy in the mean time having placed a large force in and about the road, I was obliged to make a circuit with my little force to avoid capture. Having reached my brigade we moved on, in accordance with orders, to Glenville, and the next morning continued the march toward Mackville, before reaching which place I was ordered to Springfield, where we remained until the morning of October 6, at which time the enemy came up in strong force, reaching the town about 8 a.m.  Our pickets having been driven in, we engaged them with artillery and small-arms, compelling them to advance very slowly, frequently deploying their infantry. We were obliged to fall back slowly when their infantry fired too heavily, but succeeded in so checking their progress that they only advanced about 4 miles from 8 a.m. until dark.  They attempted several times to turn our flank, but were easily checked by our flankers. In this series of engagements the enemy suffered quite severely.

     The next morning we ambushed the command at a position about 6 miles west of Perryville. The enemy came up in fine style to within about 200 yards, when they discovered our position. We then fired upon them with excellent effect, thoroughly stampeding their entire front. So effectual and unexpected was this stampede of so large a force of cavalry, artillery, and a portion of their infantry that our cavalry could not be placed in a position to charge them in time to accomplish all that could be desired. As it was we succeeded in capturing 1 officer and 8 men, together with about 50 stand of superior arms, and great numbers of blankets, saddle-bags, &c., which they had thrown away in their flight. In a few hours they returned in a force which finally compelled us to retire slowly before them, skirmishing with their advance during the entire day. Toward evening we succeeded in making a successful charge with a few men, driving in their advance and capturing several prisoners. In this charge we lost about 7 officers and men killed and wounded, including Captain [William B.] Cathey and Lieutenant [Turner] Clanton. Unfortunately, before we withdrew, our flank was so warmly attacked that most of the prisoners made their escape during the fight which ensued.

     By keeping our lines continuously skirmishing until night we prevented the enemy from making any demonstration that day upon our infantry, which had deployed in line of battle to meet the enemy on the field of Perryville.

     During the night I received orders to place my brigade on the left of our general line of battle for the engagement which was to take place the following day.

     At daylight the skirmishing again commenced, and at about 8 o'clock my brigade was deployed as directed. Pickets and scouts were immediately thrown out on all the approaches to Perryville from the south and southwest as far as the Lebanon and Danville road and all precaution taken to prevent a flank movement of the enemy.

     Seeing myself confronted by a large body of troops of all arms deployed in line of battle and gradually increasing their front my line was advanced to hold them in check sufficiently to prevent their farther advance.

     About 10 a.m. my pickets on the Perryville and Lebanon road were pressed in by a large body of cavalry, which proved to be the First Kentucky and Seventh Pennsylvania Regiments, which were moving down the Lebanon and Perryville road with a large force, partly dismounted, deployed on each side. At this moment, receiving orders from General Polk to clear that road of the enemy, we charged the enemy, throwing their entire force of cavalry into confusion and putting it to flight.

     We pursued them at full charge for 2 miles, capturing many prisoners and horses in single combat and driving the remaining under cover of their masses of infantry. The enemy also fled terror-stricken from a battery placed in advance of their general line and left it at our disposal. The charge, one of the most brilliant of the campaign, was made in column; detachments of the First and Third Alabama Cavalry with the gallant Cols. [W. W.] Allen and [James] Hagan being in advance.  Colonel Hart, who had just come up with a body of about 400 cavalry, followed for a short distance, but owing to some mistake turned off the road, carrying all his own command, together with all in his rear, thus leaving the combat to the few brave men of the First and Third Alabama Regiments. With these few, who, after sending our prisoners to the rear, numbered only about 80 men, we were confronted by such forces that we were prevented making any farther advance. I therefore withdrew a short distance and again deployed our line, engaging the enemy with both cavalry and artillery until night, and prevented this large force from taking any other part in the contest of that day. Early in the day I sent a battalion under Major Adrian to re-enforce the picket on the Perryville and Mitchellsburg road, the enemy having pressed upon us at that point with apparent indication of an attempt to gain our rear. Major Adrian skirmished with them and held them at bay until we retired the following morning.

     On the morning of the 9th I received orders to hold the enemy in check until our army had withdrawn from the field and then to follow on toward Danville, retarding the enemy as much as possible. In complying with this order we frequently engaged the enemy that day and the day following, besides keeping a force in observation of the road from Perryville to Harrodsburg.

     On the evening of the 10th I learned from this force that the enemy were moving from the Perryville and Harrodsburg pike toward Danville, which information was promptly communicated to the general commanding.

On the morning of the 11th, after a severe engagement, in which Colonel Wade's regiment participated, he having just arrived from Tennessee and reported to me, we were obliged to fall back behind Danville, where we remained until the evening of the 12th, when I received orders to move across Dick's River and guard the fords below Camp Dick Robinson.

     On the morning of the 13th I received orders directing me to assume control of all our mounted forces as chief of cavalry and make the necessary dispositions to cover the movement our army was about to commence. I therefore re-crossed Dick's River, and finding that the general advance of the enemy was toward Lancaster and Stanford, I left small forces, with all necessary orders to guard the several fords and the Bryantsville road, and with the bulk of my own and Wharton's brigades moved over to the roads leading from Danville to Lancaster and Stanford. My own brigade was placed on the former road and Colonel Wharton's on the latter. The enemy were pushing forward, but, by continually fighting them, they repeatedly deployed their lines for battle, and consequently progressed very slowly.

     We arrived at Lancaster on the afternoon of the 15th [14?], and after a fight, in which we disabled a battery, prevented the enemy from approaching nearer than to within 2 or 3 miles of the town. Col. John H. Morgan and Colonel Ashby reported to me with their brigades, but they were not called into action.

     Having received information from Colonel Wharton, then near Stanford, that he was warmly pressed, after ascertaining from a personal reconnaissance that tile enemy in my front were not in large force, and that they had fallen back and gone into camp for the night, I started at about 10 p.m. to assist Colonel Wharton, leaving Colonels Morgan and Ashby to cover the road from Lancaster to Big Hill.

     We arrived at Colonel Wharton's position early on the morning of the 16th [15?], and allowed him to move in toward the main army with his brigade, while with my own we engaged a large force of the enemy, falling back slowly through Crab Orchard. We engaged the enemy all day and reached Mount Vernon late that night.

     The next morning, together with Colonel Wharton, we commenced obstructing the road, continuously skirmishing with the enemy until the evening of October 22, we having then arrived at London, where the enemy ceased to pursue us.

     At Wild Cat we were directed to hold our position for two days, which we had but little difficulty in accomplishing.

     On the evening of the 19th I took a small portion of Colonel Frazer's infantry regiment, which was sent back to assist me, to feel the enemy, during which my brave young aide, Lieutenant Pointer, was severely wounded.

     This was the only occasion where any infantry engaged the enemy after the battle of Perryville, although the enemy used infantry almost continually to engage our cavalry.

     After guarding the roads at London and Barboursville until our infantry had reached Cumberland Gap I moved on to Tennessee with my brigade, Colonel Wharton having preceded me the previous day.

     When our army first left Camp Dick Robinson I issued the most stringent orders to the several cavalry commanders that all stragglers from the infantry should be forced on to the main body. As far as I could observe this duty was most thoroughly performed. In my own brigade a company was kept at work gathering up the foot-sore and weary, whom the troopers placed on their horses and walked themselves by their side.

     In this manner all stragglers on the roads we traveled were conveyed to their commands, no one being left behind to be taken by the enemy except those who willfully left the road for a great distance to avoid our guards.

     In closing this report I cannot speak in too great praise of the gallantry of the officers and men of the First and Third Alabama Regiments, who were always ready to meet the enemy at any moment, performed all duties assigned them, and endured all hardships and privations without a murmur or complaint. The confidence I naturally placed in such noble officers and men caused me to call upon them perhaps too frequently for posts of danger and hardship, yet never did they intimate that their details were more frequent than other commands, but with the greatest cheerfulness right bravely performed their double task thus imposed simply because their commander placed in them unshaken and implicit trust and confidence. To the brave officers and men of these regiments and their gallant leaders, Colonels Hagan and Allen, I tender my warmest thanks.

   Col. [J. W.] Grigsby's excellent Kentucky regiment was with me during several engagements and did most excellent and efficient service.  Though just organized, the gallantry, skill, and intelligence of their commander, which seemed to characterize the officers and men of his regiment, made up in some measure for deficiency in instruction.

     The First Kentucky Battalion, commanded by Major Caldwell; Eighth Confederate Regiment, under Col. [W. B.] Wade, and the First Confederate Regiment, under Lieut. Col. [C. S.] Robertson, were with me at times and did good service.

     The gallant Colonel (now General) Wharton did good work with his brigade; but as his operations were for the most part of a separate character I leave it for him to do justice to the noble officers and men of his command.

      I must also mention the gallantry and uniformly good conduct through the many fights of Capts. Oliver, [J. D.] Farish, and [W. W.] Lang, of the Third Alabama; Maj. [John S.] Prather and Capts. [T. W.] Golding and [B. B.] McCaa, of the Eighth Confederate, and Lieuts. [G. P.] Fuhrman and Burford and Adjutant Ledyard, of the First Alabama Cavalry.

     I also tender my thanks to my adjutant, Capt. D. G. Reed, and my volunteer aides, Lieutenant-Colonel McGuirk and Lieutenant Pointer, all of whom conducted themselves with marked bravery.

     Lieutenant [S.G.] Hanley, who commanded a section of artillery, was always gallant and skillful and efficient in performing all duties assigned him.

     For the deeds of many other officers and men who deserve mention for gallantry and endurance I must refer to reports of subordinate commanders.

     The gallant dead, who fell nearly every day of the campaign, including field and company officers of every grade except that of colonel, indelibly mark the road of the cavalry rear guard of our army.

     I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

JOS. WHEELER,
Brigadier-General.

 

Col. GEORGE WILLIAM BRENT, Assistant Adjutant-General.

 

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