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Doc. 207.-engagement at Munfordsville, Ky.


Louisville Journal account.

Louisville, September 16, 1862.
by persons arriving last evening from Munfordsville, which place they left Sunday night, we have obtained a full report of the battle of Sunday, fought between Colonel Wilder's Indiana brigade and the rebel troops of the renegade Buckner. [613] The following is a circumstantial account of the affair:

The intrenchments within which our troops fought are situated about one mile from Woodsonville, opposite Munfordsville, on the south side of the river, and are built so as to protect the Green River railroad bridge. Immediately south of the works, and three hundred yards from them, a strip of woods crosses the railroad. A portion of this had been felled, and forms an abattis in front of the intrenchments. Beyond the woods is another open space, which was the scene of the battle between Col. Willich and Terry, in December last. To the right and left of the intrenchments are extensive open fields of undulating surface, extending on the left to Woodsonville and the turnpike road, by which the rebel approach was made.

The garrison of the intrenchments on the morning of the attack consisted of the brigade of Col. Wilder, of the Seventeenth Indiana infantry, which was composed of the Seventeenth, Sixty-seventh, and Eighty-third regiments of Indiana troops, and company G of the Louisville Provost Guards, under command of Lieut. H. Watson. The rebel force attacking consisted of two brigades of the First division of Gen. Bragg's army, under Simon II. Buckner, but commanded in this attack by Brig.-General Duncan, of Mississippi. The brigades were composed of Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama troops.

Our pickets were first fired on about three o'clock on Sunday morning, but the engagement did not become general until about five. The pickets at the house of Mr. Lewis, on the right of the railroad and beyond the woods, were first attacked, but they did not fall back until five o'clock. It is noteworthy that the rebels made their first attack at the same point at which they attacked Col. Willich. As soon as it was light enough to see their way, the rebels pushed forward, confident of success, and drove the picket-guard through the woods and into the intrenchments.

Forming in the edge of the woods and protecting themselves among the fallen trees in our front, the rebels kept up a continuous firing, which was replied to no less vigorously by our men within the works. Colonel Wilder posted his three regiments in an admirable position, guarding every approach to the works. Throughout the whole engagement Col. Wilder conducted himself coolly and deliberately, and effected his manoeuvres with marked skill. The first attack of the rebels, made under cover of a shower of shells thrown from three pieces of heavy artillery posted on the right of the railroad, was desperate, and the repulse bloody. The rebels rushed through the thick abattis with loud shouts, but retreated before the terrible fire of the Indianians, with demoniac shouts of pain and rage. The four pieces of our artillery continued to pour shot and shell into their ranks, and the heavier piece on the left of our works succeeded in dismounting two of the guns posted in the woods.

Retreating to the woods, the rebels again formed, and the fight for some time was carried on chiefly by the infantry. The rebels moved their artillery and the greater part of the infantry to the left, and formed on the Woodsonville road, preparatory to making an assault on the left of the works. It was on this part of the works that the twenty-four-pounder, which had done such terrible execution, was posted.

While this disposition of the rebel troops was being made, a few of the Indianians made a venturesome sortie toward the woods, and while under fire from the woods, succeeded in bringing in several prisoners, among whom was a major of a Mississippi regiment. This officer, in conversation with the United States officers, stated that, on the part of the field on which he had fought, on the right of the railroad, they had left four hundred killed and wounded.

The second assault was on the right, and characterized by the same desperate energy as the first. The rebels crossed the open fields under a heavy fire, and only halted under the brow of a hill, two hundred yards from the works. They mounted the hill and pushed forward rapidly. They sprang over the narrow trenches and mounted the works. But the gallant Indianians did not quit their places, and many of the rebels, bayoneted, fell back into the ditches. It is stated that many were thus killed by the bayonet.

After this assault the rebels kept up a desultory fire until about eleven o'clock, when they fell back beyond the woods and ceased firing. The troops on our right, seeing the others retreating, fell back, and left the two pieces of artillery formerly dismounted on the field.

During the last attack a force of rebel cavalry, with a piece of light artillery, appeared at Munfordsville, and, from the bluff before the town, threw a few shells into our works. After the third shell the gun was dismounted, and the rebels retired.

During the engagement the cavalry company was ordered to remain under cover beneath the bridge, and took no part in the conflict.

The rebels were estimated by captured officers and men to be eight thousand strong. Their loss will approximate five hundred killed and wounded. Among them is a colonel of a Mississippi regiment. The rebels engaged in burying the dead stated to our men that they had lost six hundred men. The story of the wounded major is probably nearest the truth, and it may be safely said that their loss will reach that number.

Our loss was eight killed and twenty wounded. Among the killed is Major Abbott, of the Sixty-seventh Indiana regiment.

By a person who left Munfordsville late last evening, Col. Dunham sent word that the rebel loss was over five hundred. We have taken ono hundred and ten stand of small arms and two pieces of artillery, six-pounders.

Thus, upon the field made glorious by the Indianians, under Willich, have Indianians won the second battle of Munfordsville, and, in shedding lustre on the national arms, added new honors to the State from which they hail.


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J. T. Wilder (4)
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