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[441] under Colonel Utley, with the Nineteenth Michigan, held the top of the hill that length of time.

The cavalry, at the time the Twenty-second Wisconsin was attacked, all retired from the left, at least half a mile from the scene of action. It became evident that a stand would not be made by the retreating force, and I attempted to return to the battle-ground, but found it impossible — some thirty minutes had elapsed since the first charge upon the Twenty-second Wisconsin. The Nineteenth Michigan and Twenty-second Wisconsin, by this time were being driven up the sidehill toward the right, and on to the ground occupied by the Thirty-third and Eighty-fifth Indiana, and the enemy had formed a line of battle between the hill and myself. I turned and met an ammunition-wagon, but ordered it back, as it would only have fallen into the hands of the enemy--one musket-ball had already passed through the top.

The last view I had of the ground, the four regiments occupied the top of the hill on the right of the road, and so far as 1 could discover, were surrounded by the enemy, and all fighting to their utmost. The batteries were directing a heavy fire upon them. They had no ammunition besides what they had in their cartridge-boxes, and, doubtless, Col. Coburn did not surrender until all the ammunition was consumed, and found it useless longer to defend himself.

Not more than half an hour elapsed from the time I last saw the field until the firing ceased.

The last order Col. Coburn gave in relation to the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio, was that it should remain as a guard for the train.

The surgeons were all constantly engaged in removing the wounded, until communication was cut off. Some of the ambulances which came away last, were fired upon. The train returned to Franklin in good order, preceded by the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio, and followed by the artillery and cavalry.

Colonel Coburn gave his orders with coolness, and throughout the whole time displayed bravery and energy. Lieut.-Colonel Henderson and Major Miller of the Thirty-third Indiana, Colonel Utley, Twenty-second Wisconsin, Colonel Gilbert and Major Shafter of the Nineteenth Michigan, and Colonel Baird, and Lieut.-Colonel Crane of the Eighty-fifth Indiana, all were most ready and willing to do their duty, and evinced courage and ability. Colonel Gilbert and Major Miller both had their horses shot from under them in the early part of the fight. The battery used nothing but shell, and apparently had very little effect upon the enemy. I should judge that the engagement commenced about ten A. M. and closed at half-past 2 P. M. Information which was received the fifth, of the force that had been engaged the fourth, tended to the belief that it was about two thousand cavalry, with four pieces of artillery, under General Forrest.

On the fifth, two negroes who claimed to have deserted from Van Dorn's command, came into camp as we were starting out, and stated that there was a force at Spring Hill of at least twenty thousand. I know of no other information being communicated to Colonel Coburn of the strength and position of the enemy.

On the morning of the fifth, Colonel Coburn hesitated about starting, and appearing to be awaiting orders, but finally said, “Well, Lieutenant,” addressing myself, “if we must go ahead, let us start,” upon which I directed the regiments to move out. I did not see any reports that Col. Coburn sent to General Gilbert, and but one from General Gilbert to Colonel Coburn, and that was in reply to one of the despatches sent him during the fourth, in which he remarked something as follows: “I suppose you understand the object of the movement. If the forage train is likely to embarrass you, send it back, and go ahead.” This report I have compiled from Colonel Coburn's Adjutant's report, as I have made one out and sent on to Major-General Rosecrans; I, however, fully indorse this report, and know it is correct.

Edwin J. Bachman, Second Lieutenant Thirty-third Regiment Indiana Volunteers, and Acting-Quartermaster First Brigade.


A National account.

The following letter received by Governor Morton of Indiana, from Colonel John McCrea, of Bloomington, gives some details of the fight made by Colonel Coburn.

Franklin, tens., March 18, 1863.
Governor Morton:
I think it but justice to Colonel Coburn and the brave men of his command in the late unfortunate affair at Thompson's Station, eight miles south of Franklin, Tennessee, to publish the following statement of facts, obtained on the spot. Wednesday, the fourth of March, the brigade under the command of Col. Coburn had several skirmishes with the rebels under the command of Van Dorn. Thursday morning, Col. Coburn being satisfied that the enemy had been largely reinforced through the night, sent an orderly to General Gilbert asking for reenforcements. To this request General Gilbert said, “Colonel Coburn must be scared,” and wrote the following order: “Your force is sufficient; move forward.” Colonel Coburn, rather than disobey the order of his superior officer, advanced to meet an enemy said to be ten times greater than the force which he had under his command, which consisted of the Thirty-third and Eighty-fifth Indiana, Nineteenth Michigan, and Twenty-second Wisconsin infantry regiments, and the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio infantry in reserve. Also the Eighteenth Ohio battery, Ninth Pennsylvania, Second Michigan, and a part of the Fourth Tennessee cavalry regiments.

This force moved up the Columbia road. The Eighty-fifth and Thirty-third, with one section of the battery, occupied a hill on the right of the road, near Thompson's Station, on the Franklin Railroad, while the Nineteenth Michigan and Twenty-second Wisconsin, with the other section of the battery, occupied the hill on the left.


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