Doc. 163.-battle of Limestone Station.
Richmond Enquirer account.
Jonesboro, Tenn., September 10, 1863.before giving an account of the flight of the Ninth, I will give some light as to the state of affairs in Upper East-Tennessee. It is well known to you that about the twenty-seventh of August, General Buckner, with his entire force, withdrew from Knoxville, leaving the country east along the line of the East-Tennessee and Virginia Railroad to Bristol to be guarded and defended by General A. E. Jackson's brigade. Notwithstanding the evacuation of Knoxville and the abandonment of the country, except by the small force above alluded to, the Directors of the road (the Presidents, Colonel John Branner, being then at Knoxville) continued to run their trains into Knoxville for three days, although a large force of the enemy was known to be within fifteen or twenty miles of the city; and, marvellous to say, it is the common report of the country that the President and Directors resolved to run the road, declaring they were only common carriers, evidently indifferent whether the rolling stock fell into the hands of the enemy. This they must have known would have been the case. So, sure enough, on Tuesday they dashed into Knoxville and captured their best passenger train and three locomotives. On the same day our little force at the Plains was withdrawn by railroad to Bristol. On the morning of the fourth the enemy pushed up to Mossy Creek, captured a train, and then run into Jonesboro, one hundred miles distant from Knoxville, with four hundred men, and there took another. A small company of cavalry, under Captain Jones, at this latter place, after firing a volley into the. enemy, made their escape. Two females were wounded by the Yankees in the encounter. The enemy then pushed on to Carter's bridge, where was stationed a small force of infantry and one section of artillery, under the accomplished Captain McClung, and demanded its surrender; when, upon refusal, they retreated toward Knoxville. Having learned the above facts, General Jackson, who was at Bristol with the principal body of his forces, with a regiment of Kentucky cavalry and some other forces that had recently joined him, made a forced march for Jonesboro, at which place he arrived on the morning of the seventh. Here he learned that the enemy was returning in full force by railway, so he promptly threw forward a battalion of cavalry, (Colonel Giltner's regiment,) a section of artillery, and a detachment of infantry. A few miles below Jonesboro they found five or six hundred of the enemy, and a train of cars, unable to proceed on account of the destruction of a small bridge, effected by our scouts the day before. An attack was at once made upon them, Colonel Giltner commanding the cavalry, and Lieutenant J. E. Graham the artillery. They were driven back near a half a mile, but the enemy gaining a shelter, our forces were compelled to fall back to their first position, having, at the risk of losing our cannon, incautiously advanced too far. Seizing this moment of temporary advantage, the enemy gained the railroad and got away with their train. Having previously sent a squad of cavalry to destroy the railroad in their rear, our forces, now joined by Lieutenant J. W. Blackwell, with a three-inch rifle gun, pursued with vigor, expecting momentarily to capture the train and forces; but our scouts had so ineffectually done their work that the enemy passed down to Limestone Bridge, seizing the heights and woods around the block house at the bridge, and sending their train toward Knoxville for reenforcements. Having now possession of the block house and the thick woods around it, the enemy resolved to make a bold stand. General Jackson at once ordered Colonel Giltner's cavalry to cross Limestone Creek to cut off the retreat of the enemy, while our artillery--one rifle gun and one small one-pound mountain  gun — opened fire upon the depot, block house, and other buildings occupied by the enemy, while Major McCauley's detachment of Thomas's legion was posted in rear of the battery. Just at this time Lieutenant-Colonel M. A. Haynes, of the artillery, and Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, with a detachment of Thomas's legion, were ordered from Jonesboro to reenforce General Jackson. After this fire had been opened some forty minutes, Colonel Haynes brought gallantly forward at a gallop Lieutenant Graham's section of artillery, (Burrough's battery,) which also opened briskly. The enemy's sharpshooters in the woods, meanwhile, kept up an incessant fire on the batteries. By this time Colonel Giltner had taken possession of the south side of the bridge, dismounted and deployed his men as skirmishers, and, after a spirited engagement, drove the enemy across the creek, and held the railroad and south end of the bridge. In this latter engagement, and up to the time of the capture of the enemy, Colonel Giltner had the valuable services of Lieutenant-Colonel J. L. Bottles, of the Twenty-sixth Tennessee regiment, who, being absent from his command at Chattanooga, volunteered his services for the occasion. Just as this feat was accomplished by Colonel Giltner, Lieutenant-Colonel Walker's battalion, of Thomas's legion, was thrown out to the left, through a skirt of timber on the left of the enemy's sharp-shooters, and the artillery, led by Colonel Haynes in person, advanced to within two hundred yards of the roads occupied by the enemy, and opened a rapid fire of shell and canister upon the sharp-shooters. At the same time the infantry, upon the left of the artillery, drove in the enemy at a double-quick, where they took refuge in the block house and other buildings, from which they kept up a rapid fire. Advancing at a trot, Colonel Haynes threw the guns into battery in the midst of a shower of balls, upon a height, not more than two hundred yards, and promptly fired several rounds of shell into the block house. At this moment the enemy raised a white flag, and Colonel Haynes galloped forward and received the flag and sword of their commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Haynes, One Hundred and Fifth Ohio volunteers, and the surrender of near three hundred of the enemy, rank and file. Captain B. W. Jenkins, formerly of General Marshal's staff, volunteered for the occasion, and Lieutenant-Colonel J. L. Bottles was in at the death. The enemy's loss was twelve killed and twenty wounded; our loss is six killed and ten wounded. The officers and soldiers throughout behaved with gallantry. The artillery, first under Lieutenant Graham at Telford's, then Lieutenant Blackwell, and finally under Colonel Haynes, at Limestone, acted with coolness and intrepidity throughout. More anon.