previous next

[421] the success they had gained, but I understood it all later in the day.

At this juncture I had about made up my mind to remain at the hospital and render Dr. Chittenden what assistance I could, although greatly disinclined to fall into the enemy's hands. Finding, however, that the enemy did not pursue as I had anticipated, I concluded to move back toward town. Before I had proceeded a hundred yards the bullets were whistling around my head in the most uncomfortable manner, and I must say that for the moment I heartily wished myself back. The firing soon after ceased, and I was not long in finding a place of greater security.

During the battle near Rogersville, our cavalry, about five hundred strong, was drawn up in line on the farm of a Mr. Moore, about a mile north of the scene of the first conflict. Although there was no fight in them, and the wonder is they did not fly, as usual, at the first alarm, they made themselves very useful in rallying stragglers and panic-stricken men, and by their conduct enabled Gen. Manson, the senior officer on the field, to make another stand.

At this critical moment, the Twelfth Indiana, which had been ordered up, came along on the double-quick, and materially assisted in preventing a general rout. I shall never forget the sight of that gallant body of men, rushing by at a right-shoulder shift, their new Springfield rifles shimmering in the rays of a sultry August sun. Many of them were driving on to a swift destruction, and they knew it, but they never halted once, nor slackened their speed till they arrived on the ground.

By this time the other regiments had fallen back to the new position, and were rapidly reformed in excellent order. A fresh supply of ammunition had arrived for the artillery, and every thing was in readiness for a second engagement, which was not long delayed.

At the battle near Rogersville, I have neglected to say, the enemy fought us with a brigade of Tennessee troops. These were now withdrawn, and a Texas brigade was placed in front. This fight was very similar to the first, beginning with artillery, and ending with close infantry firing, resulting, near noon, in the gradual repulse of our men. They were again flanked and outnumbered, and although they fought splendidly, they could not maintain their ground against the fresh and well-seasoned troops with whom they were contending. Exhausted by their efforts, and almost famished for water, they reluctantly yielded their ground, and fell back to a new point d'appui--near the cemetery, about a mile beyond Richmond.

The rebels did not pursue, much to the surprise of our men, but remained under shelter, as they had done at the close of the first fight. Had they dashed forward, it would have been impossible to reform our shattered column; but this was not their policy. They were playing a deeper game, as will be seen, and really desired to prolong the fight till as late an hour in the day as possible.

It was two o'clock in the afternoon before our third line of battle was formed. The position chosen, like that at Mr. Moore's, was an elevated one, but the rebels had the advantage of woods and corn-fields, and for a time kept up a murder ous fire upon our men, sustaining at first but little loss themselves. This time they fought us with an Arkansas brigade. Here our artillery was used to good advantage, and finally drove the enemy from their shelter, when they formed on our right, our boys meantime pouring into their ranks some very destructive volleys. The loss of the enemy in this engagement was perhaps heavier than in either of the others, although our own was also very severe.

During the progress of this engagement, Gen. Nelson, who had been absent at Lexington, arrived on the field and assumed command. He saw that our men were fighting against fearful odds, and had no hope of success, but he attempted to rally them, shouting at the top of his stentorian voice that the rebels were retreating, and telling our thoroughly exhausted troops that reinforcements were coming to their aid. This was perhaps well enough, but he is also charged with making use of the most profane, vulgar and abusive epithets to officers who had fought gallantly all that weary day, and with cutting down with his sword and shooting two or three men who attempted to escape. Nobody questions the truth of the former charge, but how much credence should be given to the latter I am unable to say. All his efforts, however, to save the day were unavailing. The rebels drove back the supports to our batteries, and finally captured two or three of our guns, which could not be withdrawn, as the horses had been killed.

A retreat was now ordered, and Gen. Nelson, satisfied that nothing further could be done, left Gen. Manson in charge of the column, and placing himself under the guidance of his friend Colonel Holloway, effected his escape, carrying off a bullet in one of his thighs.

Still the enemy did not pursue.

Before the last battle was fought, our immense wagon-train was placed in line on the road to Lexington. It was evident that we could not maintain our position, and must fall back toward the Kentucky River. Once across that, and all would be safe.

Several pieces of artillery were moved to the front, and the train was put in motion. It progressed very slowly, frequently coming to a halt, and inducing many persons to believe that the result of the day's work had not been so disastrous after all, and that our troops were still holding the victorious enemy in check. Many of our men were coming into town, and moving toward Lexington, and many more were pushing out through the timber on both sides of the turnpike; but there was evidently a considerable number of our men still in the rear of the town.

As soon as I learned that one of our batteries had been taken at the last fight, and that the day was undoubtedly lost, in company with the correspondent of the Commercial and a gentleman

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)
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.
William Nelson (4)
William Moore (4)
M. D. Manson (4)
Holloway (2)
Chittenden (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: