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March 25-28, 1862.-reconnaissance from Murfreesborough to Shelbyville, Tullahoma, Manchester, and McInnville, Tenn.


Report of Col. John Kennett, Fourth Ohio Cavalry.

Hdqrs. Fourth Regt. Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, Camp Van Buren, Tenn., March 28, 1862.
Dear sir: On the 24th instant your order was received directing the Fourth to make a tour of reconnaissance in force leaving the detail to the commanding officer. You are aware we could not get rations for three days until next day.

On the 25th, at 6 p. m., the Fourth took the advance, followed by 80 artillerists, [47] Colonel Mihalotzy, of the Twenty-fourth Illinois, in command in part of the Twenty-fourth and Thirty-seventh, tw( brass rifled 6-pounders of Simonson's battery. We marched 15 miles halting frequently for the infantry and artillery to come up to us. We made the distance by 12 p. m.; bivouacked in a cedar grove. Colonel Mihalotzy stationed his pickets on our advance on the right flank and rear and the Fourth was stationed on the left flank. The night was windy, cold, and the ground was wet. The horses were tied to the trees, and in that condition the entire force slept on their arms ready for any emergency.

At 5 a. m. the reveille was sounded, fires were kindled, and our brave boys were soon boiling a cup of coffee.

By 5.30 a. m. the entire command resumed their march, exhibiting an unusual degree of vigor, fired by the report that we were likely to measure arms in the glorious cause that animated our breasts. We marched ahead of the infantry some 3 miles, where we found a Mr. Houston, who willingly sold us some corn and fodder for our horses. We halted and fed there, and were ready for the march when the infantry came up.

We resumed the march at 7 a. m. marching 5 miles, to Shelbyville. We were greeted by a population who evinced by their cheers, waving of handkerchiefs, and other external demonstrations of joy pictured on their countenances great relief and satisfaction at the approach of their deliverers from military despotism. A Mrs. Graham, eighty years of age, with tears in her eyes, welcomed us with a blessing-“God bless your souls.” Her husband fought in the revolutionary war. She venerated the old flag. She would not and could not live under any other government, nor should any other flag wave over her head. She with her own hands tore down from the court-house the first secession flag at Shelbyville. Her son-in-law was killed for his Union sentiments. This statement was made by the daughter of the murdered man with tears and sobs. Your humble servant leaned over the fence, seized the old lady by the arm, and shook it with emotions you can readily imagine. Many flags were waved from the doors and windows. We have not met such manifestations of delight in any part of Dixie's land. On entering Shelbyville many surrounded us, and, as it is our custom, we sent for the mayor, to whom we gave the same friendly assurances and pictured our devotion to the Union, and that we were arrayed in support of that Constitution which guaranteed to them all their rights. When addressing the crowd approved satisfaction was pictured in the countenances of the Union people. The infantry and artillery halted at Shelbyville guarding the city and taking all the military measures to render them secure from attack. Colonel Mihalotzy, a brave and deserving officer, will no doubt furnish you with the details of his own acts during our absence.

The Fourth left Shelbyville at 11 o'clock [and marched] to Tullahoma, being 18 miles, over the-most abominable road it was ever our lot to travel, mostly over solid and detached rock, miry lanes, and miry woods, the horses sinking over knee-deep in the mud. When within 8 miles our advance guard, commanded by Capt. H. C. Rogers, who was ordered ahead to feel the way and obtain news and forage for our horses, sent Dr. T. McMillen to the reserve, saying that Morgan and his men had gone down to Wartrace to burn bridges. We galloped the entire 8 miles in hopes we could realize the object of our pursuit (the horses came into Tullahoma covered with foam) and the full expectation of seizing a locomotive and bagging the command of the enemy; but, much [48] to our chagrin, the enemy had received intelligence of our departure from camp, and they, afraid that their delay would cut them off, only took time to fire one bridge over Dack River; our march saved the other. We reached Tullahoma three-quarters of an hour too late. We took possession of Tullahoma, giving the citizens the usual assurance of kind intentions and the motives actuating the Government in sending forces into Tennessee. Finding two whisky shops, we threatened to burn them down if the inmates retailed a single dram, and placed a guard over the premises. A force was thrown 3 miles on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, in command of Capt. H. C. Rogers, to tear up the rails, fearing a surprise, which could have been thrown on us with ease but for these precautions. Pickets at some distance were placed in every thoroughfare leading to the city and a guard detailed to patrol the city. We cut the telegraph wire, opened the depot, captured the telegraph battery and instruments and a box of telegraph papers, which an expert can read; also the following list of goods:1

...

Not being able to carry them with us, we left them in charge of William Moore, whose receipt I inclose, subject to your order. All goods not enumerated were loaded in one wagon, borrowed from the Twentyfourth Illinois, but the road being impassable, we impressed two other wagons. One of them upset and burst a barrel of molasses. We sold one to help pay our forage bills.

When we reached Tullahoma no corn or forage could be had, but our boys, who are alive to the wants of their horses, found enough, and we gave to the parties receipts for all we consumed. At Tullahoma a force under the command of Lieut. Col. H. W. Burdsal was ordered to Manchester to meet Captain Robie, of Company A, who was ordered to leave four hours in advance, on his way to McMinnville, of the 250 men forming the reserve bound for Shelbyville, and report himself at Manchester the next day, where he would be supported by the command ordered there.

Lieutenant-Colonel Burdsal, with 27 men, reached Manchester at 10 p. m. on the night of the 26th, after capturing 4 prisoners by passing himself off in the dark as a Southern officer, and when they betrayed themselves as soldiers on furlough he captured them. Leaving 17 men to guard them, he took 10 men, and proceeding 3 miles below the town of Manchester, made the keeper deliver up the keys and show him the premises. He found the log cabins of the soldiers, who had occupied them as guards, but upon crafty examination found them empty. He emptied the powder found in the work and set fire to five buildings, burning the machinery, houses, and material. Hearing Captain Robie had gone to Winchester, he returned to Tullahoma, but the party reported to have gone to Winchester must have been McNairy's secesh cavalry, as Captain Robie would not have disobeyed the order under which he was acting. Lieutenant-Colonel Burdsal returned that night to Tullahoma, which was a departure from my order, but executed from the information derived.

In the mean time Captain Robie had executed his order faithfully, reaching Manchester at the hour designated. Finding the powder-mili burned, he continued his march to Tullahoma, reaching there at 5 p. m. on the 27th. While Captain Robie was bivouacking 5 miles this side of McMinnville he received intelligence that McNairy's 200 cavalry intended to surround him that night and attack him. The captain [49] posted his pickets so as to receive the alarm in time. He disposed ot his force secreted behind a fence, moving away from the spot he was seen encamped at dark, and some few rods away from his horses, at the foot of a hill. At 3 a. m. his command was lying in ambush, when one of the pickets brought in the news that the enemy was approaching. The other picket remained and was fired at, when he returned the fire, which was a signal that the rebels were close by, at the same time putting spurs to his horse, conveying the news in person. On came McNairy's cavalry, thundering down with his 200 strong, thinking he could catch our gallant captain and his brave boys asleep and swallow them up, but as soon as he reached the ambush a volley from the carbines dispersed their dream of conquest brought down 1 man, who was left dead; groans from 10 or 11 wounded “I am killed” was heard. The horses stampeded. The entire command never before made right and left wheel quicker. Pools of blood were traced; an officer's saber with blood was found, two other sabers, four guns, saddles, blankets, saber-straps, hats-evidently cut off, all of which he burned, not being able to take along — were seen strewed for miles. The night was dark and the fire oblique, but it sent the enemy “kiting” the same way they came. Their defeat was so complete that the next intelligence had of them [was that] those surviving were on their way to Winchester and never offered a fight afterwards.

Captain Robie started with 53 men (part of this number were guarding the premises.) Two hours after his departure from camp, fearing he might be attacked, he was re-enforced with 17 men of the partisan corps, who were near and heard the firing, but were not with them. We chased one ranger going to Tullahoma on horseback with shot-gun, and took him prisoner. We took 7 prisoners in all, being on furlough, belonging to the Southern Army, but released 2 young men who seemed innocent and were willing to take the oath of allegiance to their country.

On our return from Tullahoma, having left that place at 12 m., Company C was left there to await Captain Robie's arrival, who had not yet reached Tullahoma when the main body left. Company D was left as escort to the wagons. We encamped half a mile east of Shelbyville last night, arriving there at 5 p. m., where we found Colonel Mihalotzy with his command, with the artillery. Company B was sent back to ascertain the cause of detention of the wagons. Knowing we ought to be moving, Company F was left at the camp to guard some goods which were unloaded from a wagon borrowed from the Twenty-fourth Illinois, who wanted it until our wagon could come up and be loaded with them, as the pike rendered it easy of transportation, and the main body of the Fourth left, reaching at 12 m.

We found the Union sentiment subdued on account of our contemplated departure, the people fearing a demonstration against them. Many of the influential ones begged us to leave a force to protect them. In accordance with your orders we did not feel at liberty to deviate from them, but after marching 5 miles we fed our horses and resumed our march, and 7 miles from Shelbyville we received the joyful tidings from you ordering two or three companies to be left to guard the bridges east of Shelbyville as well as the city. We sent Companies E and H to form the guard.

We reached camp at 5.30, and beg leave to submit the details of our march, hoping that, although the objects for which this expedition, some of them, were not realized, yet in its effect, including the [50] signal chastisement the enemy received and the reassurances the Union sentiment received, may prove valuable and receive your approbation.

The enemy having received word that we were on the move, all the locomotives were retired south of Shelbyville before we reached the four towns we occupied at the same time by different detachments.

Very respectfully,

Jno. Kennett, Colonel, Commanding. Brig. Gen. O. M. Mitchel.

1 List in detail omitted.

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Robie (7)
Mihalotzy (4)
F. N. Mcnairy (3)
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H. C. Rogers (2)
Simonson (1)
George W. Morgan (1)
William Moore (1)
Ormsby M. Mitchel (1)
T. McMillen (1)
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March 25th, 1862 AD (1)
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