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[236] miles out we met the enemy, and, after a sharp skirmish, drove them back, without loss on our side. Their loss was fifteen killed and wounded.

On the morning of the fifth we started early, the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio being left in the rear of our wagon train, which was large. After marching about two miles, our cavalry met the enemy's pickets and outposts, and severe skirmishing was kept up until we came in sight of Thompson's Station, the enemy falling back. When we reached the point where the railroad joins the pike, the enemy opened upon us with a heavy battery.

Colonel Coburn soon ordered one section of the battery to take position on the hill, on the left of the pike, and deployed the Nineteenth Michigan and Twenty-second Wisconsin to support it. The other three guns took position on the hill, on the right, supported by the Thirty-third and Eighty-fifth Indiana. Colonel Coburn ordered the Thirty-third and Eighty-fifth Indiana to make a demonstration on the left of the enemy, to draw him out, if in force, and if not, to charge his battery.

Our skirmishers soon started up the enemy, and we found, posted behind stone walls, fences, and brush, at the foot of the hill, two whole brigades of dismounted cavalry. Seeing it impossible to advance farther, the two regiments lay down and were covered by the buildings and fences.

We were not long here before Colonel Coburn ordered us back to the hill from which we started. We started back, and so soon as we were unmasked from the buildings, two regiments, from Arkansas and Texas, started after us with a yell, pursuing and firing on us all the way back, which, with their batteries playing on us also, made our situation pretty hot. Both of our regiments lost several killed and wounded, going and returning, and all this time not a shot had been fired by us. But as soon as we reached the hill, we turned and drove back the enemy faster than they came, killing Colonel Earl, of Arkansas. They again rallied and charged on us, but were driven back. It now became evident that we had encountered the whole of Van Dorn's and Forrest's forces.

Colonel Coburn now brought the Nineteenth and Twenty-second on the west side of the pike, and leaving the Thirty-third to protect the hill on its south face; the Tenth and Eighty-fifth were formed, facing the enemy east, at right angles, with the Twenty-second in the rear of the Eighty-fifth, except three companies.

Our lines were hardly formed, the men lying down behind the crest of the hill, till Armstrong's brigade charged from the east, and the Texans from the south, and the fighting was terrific. We reserved our fire until they were within thirty paces. Three times they gallantly charged up the hill from the east, and thrice we forced them back. But it was evident to us all, privates as well as officers, that the struggle was unavailing, and it was only a question of time as to our defeat. Our ammunition was nearly out, and Forrest, having got between us and Franklin, was closing in on us from the north. We formed a new line, with all four of our regiments facing north, to meet our new foe.

Here we met and checked Forrest, and held him till our last round was fired. We then fixed bayonets, to charge and break his lines, and try to escape. But just as we were about to charge, we discovered that Forrest had still another line in reserve, and a battery began to open and form a new position; that made it hopeless to think of escape, and so we surrendered. You will observe that none but our brigade took part in the fight. Of officers and men twelve hundred and six were taken. The rest were killed, wounded, or escaped. Of the number not taken there were probably four hundred, and one hundred and fifty or two hundred escaped; fifty or sixty killed and wounded.

The enemy were all cavalry and mounted infantry, but all fought on foot, every fourth man holding four horses, and his force consisted of six brigades, under Major-General Van Dorn, Brigadier-Generals French, Armstrong, Crosby, Martin, and Jackson. Infantry had no chance to escape after the fight once began.

Prisoners of war! I had supposed that soldiers taken in fair battle were treated as gentlemen, at least as human beings; but such is not the practice in this cursed land. I will state simply the facts. We were taken in the afternoon, after four hours fighting, and marched fourteen miles to Columbia.

On the way the men had to wade the creek, over knee deep, and to ferry across Duck River, taking till after midnight to reach the town, when we were crowded into the court-house, so thick that we could scarcely lie down.

Next day it rained all day. We were marched out three miles from town, halted, and kept until four o'clock, having had nothing to eat since daylight before the fight — nearly thirty-six hours time! Then one and a half pounds of meat was issued, without bread, for three days rations. We were then marched four miles farther, and encamped for the night, without tents, it raining all night.

Next day we were again marched eighteen miles on the road, had to cross a creek, waist deep, on a foot-log, which was springy; and as the men were slow, and some of the poor fellows got on their hands and knees to keep from falling, Confederate officers stood with stones in their hands to make them walk.

Next day we reached Shelbyville, at night. The men's rations had given out the second day, and although it was known we were coming, our men had to stay in the court-house yard, it raining all night. They got nothing to eat until two o'clock next afternoon. Here let me say, God bless the ladies of Shelbyville! They are as good Union people as ever lived. They have been tried by fire and blood.

They brought food, and words of good cheer and hope. How they do scorn those copperhead knaves of the North. The fourth day they marched us six miles, and again we slept in the open air, with a terrific rain storm raging all night. The

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N. B. Forrest (4)
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