previous next

[586] vantage we would have in making the charge would equal the number that Morgan's forces exceeded ours, we charged upon the enemy with all the force we had, not leaving any behind as a reserve. The Second Indiana and Seventh Pennsylvania attacked the forces upon the right and centre, and the regiment I commanded upon the left, by marching within less than forty yards of the enemy, the length of my regiment in columns of fours, wheeling them in line of battle and firing upon the enemy before they did upon us; but the fire was immediately returned, and in this position the fight lasted some time — say one hour — during which time the men and officers of my regiment maintained their position and fought with determined bravery and such terrible effect as compelled them to waver and fall back over one hundred and fifty yards. I then thought the day was ours, and such a shout as went up from the Fifth Kentucky was sufficient to have scared Morgan's men half to death; and at this moment, and while consulting some of my officers as to the best mode of charging them with the sabre and pressing the advantage we had gained, my Adjutant galloped up to my side and informed me that our right wing and centre were giving way. I immediately turned my attention in that direction for the first time since the fight commenced, and saw that they were falling back, at least a great portion of them, in great confusion. I immediately ordered my Adjutant to ascertain whether they were falling back by order of the General or not, and was soon informed that it was positively against his orders, and being unable to charge upon the division which had engaged my regiment and fallen back, on account of two strong fences intervening, one on each side of the pike, dividing us, I determined to take my forces to the support of the centre, but before reaching that point the confusion had become so general as to prevent my plan from having the expected effect, and in the confusion the fight, at least firing, lasted say three quarters of an hour, and until we were all ordered by the General to fall back, with, doubtless, the intention of forming in a new position and giving the influence of the panic time to cease. We had gone, however, but a short distance when we were ordered, by General Johnson, to form on the right of the road, behind a fence at this point. I succeeded, without difficulty, in forming the greater portion of my regiment, and, as I then thought, all of them in line of battle behind the fence. After remaining in this position some fifteen minutes, the General told me to bring my regiment on, and we would fall back upon those d — d cowards that had run off and left us. I did as directed, and to my great surprise, found between twenty-five and forty of my men who had concluded that discretion was the better part of valor. All of our forces were then marched to the cross-roads, some three miles from our original position. There we remained — say between one and two hours--during which time I had each company formed in line, and roll called, to ascertain the missing, and amount of ammunition, which I ordered to be equally divided between the men of each company. I also talked a short time to each company, telling them that they had, in the general, fought well, and that I was well pleased with their conduct; told them we would soon be attacked and compelled to fight again, and urged them to stand and fight like men and soldiers. They promised to do so. In a few minutes the entire command started in the direction of the river, taking a dirt road that left the pike at right angles and led to Cairo, my regiment being in the rear. We had marched but a short distance until we discovered the enemy in two divisions, one moving upon us in the rear, and the other upon our right flank. I immediately sent my Adjutant to the General and informed him of the fact. He ordered me to place a good officer in the rear of my regiment, and fight as they approached. This order I obeyed by placing Captain Duncan in the rear, instructing him as directed by the General. But a few minutes elapsed until they commenced firing upon my rear and right flank at the same time. At this juncture, no one could describe my feelings, believing, as I did, that my regiment, and particularly Capt. Duncan and his company, would be cut to pieces without any probable means of escape. I again sent a courier to the General, informing him of my condition, and telling him to immediately halt the column and fight them, or my regiment would be cut to pieces. A portion of the forces of the Second Indiana and Fifth Kentucky were thrown in line of battle on the left of the road to await the approach of the enemy, the residue being panic-stricken and flying through the woods like the d--<*> was after them, heeding not our appeals to remain with us, share our fate, and die like soldiers, if necessary ; but onward they went, and in a few moments we were again in the midst of battle, the woods swarming with the pursuing enemy upon almost every side. Their fire was returned by the gallant band of Indianians and Kentuckians who remained to give them battle the second time, and hold the enemy in check, to enable those men to make their escape who had abandoned then in this their most trying hour. This second fight lasted about twenty minutes, and until General Johnson, his Adjutant, myself, and this gallant band were completely surrounded and compelled to surrender.

Our forces engaged in the fight numbered less than six hundred--theirs, over nine hundred.

I do not mean to be understood in saying the centre.and right wing fell back, that they acted cowardly — far from it; but suppose they did so because they were greatly outnumbered, and compelled to do so. Without particularizing, I must, in justice and truth, say that the officers and men under my command, until the panic, caused as already explained, occurred, fought like true, brave, and gallant soldiers, and for their conduct deserve the highest praise.

Our casualties were as follows: Twelfth, one killed; Eighth, one wounded, and thirty-five prisoners; Fifth, one killed, and Gen. Johnson wounded.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Cairo, Ill. (Illinois, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
R. W. Johnson (3)
George W. Morgan (2)
William Duncan (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: