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Doc. 212.-the fight at Augusta, Kentucky.


Report of Colonel Bradford.

Augusta, Ky., Oct. 12, 1862.
on the morning of the twenty-seventh, I despatched a messenger (Mr. Cleveland) to the Belfast, and Allen Collier, the latter having first arrived, that our scouts reported the rebel cavalry coming, from four to five hundred strong, with two pieces of artillery, and to make all the necessary preparation on their part. The Captain of the Collier sent me word he would remain there an hour, or for further orders. In half an hour I started to the boats, when I found the Collier rounding out. I despatched a man on horseback down the river-shore to hail her and bring her back, but she did not obey the orders. I went on board the Belfast to give directions personally as to the manner of the fight, and the rules I desired both boats to observe in the fire from the boats. When I arrived on the Belfast I was told by Captain Sedam that the Allen Collier had left to obey a signal from the Florence Miller — the Miller having passed down but a short time before, but was now returning. It seems that when the Miller neared Metcalf's Landing, they observed a cavalry force fording the river, which proved subsequently to be our scouts crossing to the Ohio shore to keep from being captured, and thus it was she returned, and gave, when within three miles of the town, the signal for the Collier, and she left without my knowledge or consent, and after being notified of the approaching enemy.

I do not know what the general orders of the Collier were, and whether she was bound to obey a signal from the Florence Miller, in the face of all other orders, but I do know, that, according to all army rules, the Collier, while under my command for the time being, had no right to leave without my knowledge or consent, particularly when she had been notified of the approach of the enemy.

Why did not the Florence Miller, which had a gun equal to that of the Collier, defend herself, instead of returning and giving signal for the Collier?

As soon as I arrived on board the Belfast, I explained to Captain Sedam the manner of defence I intended to make. The men would be stationed in the brick houses, the women and children would be directed to leave the town if time permitted; if not, they would be ordered to the cellars.

Just at this moment the rebel cavalry appeared on the hill, immediately back of the town, having captured all our pickets on the road.

I then ordered Captain Sedam to throw shell among them, so long as they remained on the hill; and, so soon as they arrived on Front street, or appeared in the street running from the river back to the hill, to throw grape and canister quick and fast. Captain Sedam then suggested the propriety of raising his anchor, so as to run up or back down, just as the necessity of circumstances might require, to which I readily assented. Capt. Sedam looked cool, and I had no reason to distrust him. I ordered him to open fire immediately, as the rebels were then posting one of their pieces on the hill. I then hurried from the boat, to post my men, asking Captain Sedam if he had fully understood the orders. He replied he did. I then told him, in parting, it would be a fight for victory, not dollars and cents. Just as I left the boat, I met Mr. W. C. Marshall, bearing a field-glass to the Captain. As he had previously acted as aid to one of the gunboats, when a false alarm was given, I ordered him to remain on the boat. Soon after I arrived on shore, the Florence Miller came up to the Landing, and, I think, landed for a moment. I went immediately to the lot where my men (one hundred and twenty-five, all told) were drawn up in line, made a little speech to them; told them the numbers were against us, but with the aid of the gunboats, and a brick and [619] mortar defence, we would triumph. “Now, my gallant boys, all who are willing to stand by me, and by your arms, hold up your right hand.” Every hand went up accompanied by a shout that had meaning in it, as their gallant conduct proved during the fight. The men were marched rapidly to their respective positions, and while this was being done, the Belfast opened fire — the first shell falling and exploding close to their posted artillery, killing two or three of their men. A second and a third shell were fired by the Belfast, but with what effect I do not know. The small piece drawn by two horses now opened fire on the rebel side. The first shot struck the water one hundred yards this side the Belfast, and skipped over the water near her wheel. The rebels were now coming down into the streets, and while being cut down terribly by our men, falling thick and fast on the pavement and street, I observed both boats moving up the river, side by side, the Belfast next the Ohio, and the Miller next the Kentucky shore. I thought at first it was to get a better position, and doubtless it was, so far as they were concerned, but off they went, and, as they went, some two hundred of the rebels charged down to the water's edge, in full view and in line, and still no grape or canister came from either boat. Would it have retarded the speed of either boat to have fired a few shots of grape and canister? and when, as the gunner of the Belfast said, he could kill fifty at a shot? For what were these boats sent here? “Ah! There's the rub.”

While our brave and gallant men were perilling their lives against large odds, and their deadly fire turning whole companies of disciplined men into disorder and hiding-places, while our own houses were smoking and crumbling to ashes in a gallant defence, without regard to dollars and cents, we were left to surrender, after killing, to every one of our men engaged, two of the enemy.

Wo! be to such officers. Let their conduct be “bitter in every mouth, and infamous to all posterity.”

The rebel loss, according to their own record, has been greater than any fight in which they have been engaged, numbering, they say, some twenty odd fights. After the fight was over, it was found that the rebels had not a shell left, and only a few rounds of grape and canister. Their shells did no harm to the gunboats, and but little to the town. It is now conceded on all hands, if the gunboats had done their duty, the town would never have surrendered, and a complete rout and triumph would have crowned our efforts. The rebels had seven companies, numbering about six hundred men.

In conclusion, allow me to return my profound thanks to the gallant boys who stood so bravely by their arms. In some instances “Greek met Greek,” and in some instances of a hand-to-hand fight, where the doors were broken in, some of our young men displayed a heroism, and traces of cool, manly courage, worthy of regulars on any battle-field.

J. Taylor Bradford, Commanding Forces.


Report of Judge Doniphan.

sir: On Saturday, about twelve o'clock M., Colonel Bradford received intelligence of the approach of between four and five hundred rebels, under command of Bazil Duke. The Colonel immediately proposed to defend the town, his force consisting of about one hundred home guards and militia, and the gunboat Belfast, Captain Sedam commanding. About one o'clock the gunboat Allen Collier moored alongside the Belfast, and Colonel Bradford despatched a messenger to the Collier, requesting her to remain, as we would certainly be attacked by two o'clock. A few minutes later the Florence Miller, carrying a gun, came along and anchored in front of our town.

Colonel Bradford then posted his men up the houses along Front street, and up Mill to Second street. The enemy, in the mean time, had reached the hill back of the town, and were rapidly surrounding us. Hardly had our forces taken their position than the rebels, with two small pieces of artillery, appeared on the hill. The Belfast then threw a shell, and so well was it aimed, that it struck within thirty feet of the enemy's gun, killing two or three of the rebels, and causing them to change the position of their gun.

The enemy then opened fire, throwing shells with little or no accuracy, and the Belfast fired two more shots with good effect. Up to this time the forces in the houses were not engaged; but, to the surprise and sorrow of our people, the Belfast weighed anchor and abandoned us to our fate. The Florence Miller, without firing a gun, did the same thing; the Allen Collier, although importuned to stay with us, steamed off before the fight, and never returned. Then came a shout from the rebels, and they were upon us. From every window our true and trusty boys were firing, and for one half-hour the leaden hail was doing its work of death; rebel after rebel was made to bite the dust, while our boys, thus secreted, were fighting for their homes and firesides.

But what a scene now followed! The houses in which our forces were posted were set on fire, the cannon of the enemy was planted in our streets, and, disregarding the women and children, they were firing shell into the houses. Yet, true to their work, the little band of Union men fought on until it was madness to try to hold out longer. Colonel Bradford ordered a surrender. As soon as this was done, then commenced the pillage and plunder-every rebel acting for himself. Stores were broken open and rifled of what was wanted by the rebels. This, however, was soon over, the rebel bugle was soon sounded, and the enemy retired from our town in good order, though in haste.

The fighting was desperate, and although our loss is small, yet gallant and brave men have gone from us forever. Our killed and wounded amount to twelve or fifteen, while that of the enemy number between seventy-five and one hundred--among them some eight or ten officers. We had no means of ascertaining the names of [620] all the rebels killed and wounded; but among the number wounded mortally is a son of George D. Prentice, of Louisville. Captain W. Rogers, of Harrison County, was killed, and a Lieutenant Wilson. The rebels left some of their killed and wounded in our hands, all of whom have been properly cared for. They took our horses, buggies, wagons, and all means of transportation to carry off their dead and wounded.

Among the killed on the Union side was Dr. W. Taylor, M. B. Worthington, John B. Story, George Byers, Oliver Stairs, John Eiphart, John Perkins, and William Gregg.

The prisoners were all taken from town as rapidly as they could march. Some have been paroled and have returned home. The conduct of the gunboats seemed to us cowardly in the extreme. Just above our town is a large sand-bar, and so soon as the rebels could move across the bottom, they ran out on this bar, one hundred or one hundred and fifty strong, drew up in line of battle, and fired volley after volley at the Belfast and Florence Miller, and not one shot was fired in return. With one fire of grape, the whole band of rebels could have been mowed down; but the gallant commanders fled — fled, ay — and when they got to Higginsport, actually hoisted their cannon ashore, and moved off up the river with their boats. Much of our town is destroyed; the loss will reach one hundred thousand dollars. The principal sufferers are Thomas Myers, J. B. Ryan, W. H. Diltz, W. P. Taylor, Mrs. Hooker, S. F. Marshall, V. Weldin, J. T. McKibben, and William Barr.

The confederate forces are a battalion of Morgan's. Colonel Bradford, Colonel Harris, and F. L. Cleveland, Esq., are still in the hands of the enemy. On yesterday Colonel Wilson and Colonel Wadsworth, commanding the forces from Maysville and Ripley, pressed on to Brownsville in the effort to overtake the rebels; but were there only in time to fall upon their rear-guard, they having retreated in great haste in the direction of Falmouth.

All of which is respectfully submitted,


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