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[628] change had been made in the number of the Federals at Hartsville, their number being still about nine hundred infantry and four hundred cavalry, with two pieces of artillery. I found afterwards that their force had been considerably underrated.

I proceeded with the infantry and artillery to Purcell Ferry on the Cumberland River, sending the cavalry, under the orders of Colonel Duke, to pass at a ford some seven miles below the point where we were to “rendezvous.” I passed my troops with great difficulty, there being but one boat; and about half-past 5 on the morning of the seventh I arrived at Hague Shops, two miles from the Federal camp. I found that Colonel Duke, with his cavalry, had only just marched up, having crossed the ford with difficulty, and that one regiment of his command, five hundred strong (Colonel Gano's), had not yet reported. Major Stoner's battalion had been left on the other side of the Cumberland, with two mountain howitzers, to prevent the escape of the enemy by the Lebanon road, and Colonel Kenneth's regiment had been ordered to proceed to Hartsville to picket the road leading to Gallatin, and to attack any of the Federals they might find in that town, to take possession of the Castilian Springs, Lafayette and Carthage roads, so as to prevent the escape of the enemy. This reduced my force considerably, but I determined to attack, and that at once; there was no time to be lost; day was breaking, and the enemy might expect strong reinforcements from Castilian Springs, should my arrival be known. Advancing, therefore, with the cavalry, closely followed by the artillery and infantry, I approached the enemy's position. The pickets were found and shot down. The Yankee bivouac first appeared to cover a long line of ground, and gave me to suppose that their number was much greater than I anticipated. On nearing the camp the alarm was sounded, and I could distinctly see and hear the officers ordering their men to fall in, preparing for resistance. Colonel Duke then dismounted Colonel Clarke's and Colonel Chenault's regiments, in all about seven hundred and fifty men, drawing them up in line in a large field in the front, and a little to the right of the enemy's line which was then forming, and seeing that the artillery and infantry were in position, he ordered his men to advance at the double-quick, and directed Colonel Chenault, who was on the left, to oblique so as to march on the enemy's flank.

His men then pressed forward, driving the Federals for nearly half a mile, without a check, before them, until their right wing was forced back upon their own left wing and centre.

Colonel Duke then ordered a halt until the infantry had commenced their attack on the Federal left wing, which caused a retreat of the whole line. At this juncture Lieutenant-Colonel Hoffman and Major Steele, of Gano's regiment, came up with about one hundred men of that regiment, who had succeeded in crossing the ford, and threw their small force into the fight. My dismounted cavalry, under Colonel Duke, had only been skirmishing, previously to this, for about twenty minutes; but seeing that Colonel Hunt, with the infantry, was pressing hard upon the Federal's left, he ordered an advance upon the right wing and flank of their new line; it gave way and ceased firing, and soon after surrendered.

Colonel Duke reports that his men fought with a courage and coolness which could not be surpassed.

Colonels Clarke and Chenault led on their men with the most determined bravery, encouraging them by voice and example.

The timely arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Hoffman and Major Steele, and the gallant manner in which they showed themselves into the fight, had a very decided effect upon the battle at the point at which they entered. The artillery, under Captain Cobb, did most excellent service, and suffered severely from the enemy's battery, which fired with great precision, blowing up one of his caissons and inflicting a severe loss on that arm.

The infantry conducted themselves most gallantly; the Second Kentucky suffering most severely.

Colonel Bennett's regiment, as I said before, was not in the fight, having been sent on special service, which was most efficiently performed, four hundred and fifty prisoners having been taken by them, and twelve Federals killed.

Thus, sir, in one hour and a half, the troops under my command, consisting of five hundred cavalry (Colonel Gano's, Colonel Bennett's regiments and Major Stoner's command not participating in the fight), seven hundred infantry, with a battery of artillery, in all about one thousand three hundred strong, defeated and captured three well-disciplined and well formed regiments of infantry with a regiment of cavalry, and took two rifled cannon, the whole encamped on their own ground and in a very strong position, taking about eighteen hundred prisoners, eighteen hundred stand of arms, a quantity of ammunition, clothing, quartermasters' stores, and sixteen wagons. The battle was now over. The result exceeded my own expectations, but still I felt that my position was a most perilous one, being within four miles in a direct line and only eight by the main Gallatin road of an enemy's forces of at least eight thousand men, consisting of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, who would naturally march to the aid of their comrades on hearing the report of our guns. I, therefore, with the assistance of my staff, got together all the empty wagons left by the enemy, loaded them with arms, ammunition, and stores, and directed them immediately to Hart's Ferry

There was no time to be lost. The pickets placed by my assistant Adjutant-General on the Castilian Springs road sent to report the advance of a strong body of Federals, estimated at five thousand men.

I sent to Colonel Clarke's regiment to make a show of resistance, ordering Colonel Gano's regiment, which had arrived, in support. In

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T. L. Duke (6)
Gano (4)
B. W. Clarke (3)
Chenault (3)
Stoner (2)
Steele (2)
A. Hoffman (2)
R. T. Bennett (2)
Kenneth (1)
Thomas H. Hunt (1)
R. Cobb (1)
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