else that impeded flight. On our side from twenty to thirty are killed, and from eighty to one hundred wounded, having no prisoners taken that we know of. On the morning of the twentieth, soon after daylight, several of the regiments were moved forward toward the breastworks, and a cannon-ball or two fired over into them; but no answer was made — all was quiet. The regiments moved steadily on and into their fortifications, it being ascertained that there was no one to oppose them. The enemy having crossed the river during the night, or early in the morning, the rout was complete. It seems as though there was a perfect panic among them, their tents having been left standing, and their blankets, clothes, cooking-utensils, letters, papers, etc., all left behind. The position is a pretty strong one, but not near so much so as we had been led to suppose. Huts were built, nicely chinked with mud, many of them having windows in them for comfortable winter-quarters. How much work the devils have done here, and how little it has profited them! I have been wandering around all day, seeing and hearing what I could. The Cumberland makes one side of the encampment safe by an abrupt bank two hundred and fifty feet high. I went down to the river bottom, to which there is a road on our side. Here were all or nearly all of their wagons, some twelve or fifteen hundred horses and mules, harness, saddles, sabres, guns; in fact, everything. It was a complete stampede, and by far the most disastrous defeat the Southern Confederacy has yet met with. Ten pieces of cannon, with caissons, are also here. To all appearances, they seem to have completely lost their senses, having only one object in view, and that was to run somewhere and hide themselves. Now, to account for the battle taking place as it did. There were eleven rebel regiments here, two being unarmed; and Zollicoffer, who was the presiding devil, although Crittenden had taken the command, thought the Tenth Indiana, and Kinney's battery, were just two regiments by themselves, and did not know that they were supported by the balance of the division, which was out of sight behind, on account of the timber; and he conceived the happy idea of rushing upon and capturing these two regiments, to get their arms to supply his own unarmed men. So he took all the available force he had — some eight thousand or nine thousand men — and made the attack; with what result has already been shown. Now this only goes to prove that, in order to put this rebellion down, we must do something. In this fight, four of our regiments whipped, and completely routed, the great army that was under Zollicoffer, killed the old devil himself,. and maybe Crittenden too, for he has not been heard of since the battle. The prisoners we have taken, estimate our force at twenty thousand; bah! we can take them any time, and in any place, and giving them the odds three to one, whip them every time. Their cause is a bad one; they know it; and the only way their men can be induced to fight at all, is by their leaders getting in the very front rank with them. The Second Minnesota captured a banner from the Mississippi regiment, which had on it the “Mississippi butchers.” They may be good butchers at home, but they make a mighty awkward fist at butchering Yankees. They had better go home and attend to their business. Nearly every man has a trophy of this victory; there are plenty to get, certain; and I sit writing this now with a Louisiana Zouave head-dress and tassel on my head. I give you a copy of two or three of the documents found in the camp. The following was found on a table, in one of the cabins:Col. Spears: We fought you bravely, and desperately but misguidedly. We leave here under pressing circumstances, but do not feel that we are whipped. We will yet succeed, and----Here the circumstances became so pressing, that the writer did not wait to finish the epistle. Col. Spears supposes the writer to be Major John W. Bridgman, of the Tennessee cavalry. The following was written on a piece of brown paper, with a pencil:At the bottom of this paper, upside down, is a name I cannot make out, and then “Polasky.” Here is another paper, which is evidently the result of a council of war, held before this force came across on the north side of the Cumberland:Jan. 19, 1861. Fishing Creek.The great battle, at Fishing Creek, took place. Our loss was great; supposed to be eight hundred killed and wounded, and a great many taken prisoners. We will try them again at our breast-work, if they come to us.Estill is a colonel, from Middle--Tennessee. Fulkerson is a major, and one of the big-heads of the secession party, in Tennessee. It seems that there was opposition in the camp, to the move on to this side of the river, but old Zollicoffer, the head devil of the army, ruled, and did come over. Some of these predictions proved to be strictly true; it did turn out to be a “Wild-Cat” disaster — only worse; and they did lose all their artillery; and, more than all, the old hedevil, Zollicoffer, lost his life. The rout has been complete and total. His whole force is entirely scattered, and if the victory is followed up across the river, they will never rally together again. It is now nearly three o'clock in the morning while I write, and with a few reflections, this already long letter — perhaps too long — shall be closed. What a lucky thing that Zollicoffer was bold enough to attack our force; had he not done so,The result of your crossing the river now, will be that you will be repulsed, and lose all the artillery taken over.Estill. Dec. 4, 1861.
Another “Wild-Cat” disaster is all we can look forward to.
We will cross over, and find that the enemy has retired to a place that we will not deem advisable to attack, and then we will return to this encampment.
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 2 .-fight at Port Royal, S. C. January 1 , 1862 .
Doc . 82 .-fight in Hampton roads , Va. , March 8th and 9th , 1862 .
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