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[167] wounded, and by many supposed to largely exceed ours. I need hardly add, that it is with feelings of the most profound pain and regret, that I find myself called upon to record a defeat and the loss and suffering incident to a reverse at a point so far distant from the base of supplies and reinforcements. Yet there is some consolation in knowing that the army fought nobly while it did fight, and only yielded to overwhelming numbers. The strength of the enemy is variously estimated by the most intelligent officers, at from fifteen thousand to twenty thousand men. A very intelligent sergeant who was captured, and remained five days in the hands of the enemy, reports the number of the enemy actually engaged to have been twelve thousand, and that two divisions of infantry were held in reserve. It may appear strange that so large a force of the enemy could be in our vicinity, and we be ignorant of the fact; but the surprise will exist in the minds of those only who are not familiar with the difficulty (I may say impossibility) of acquiring reliable information in the heart of the enemy's country. Our movements and numbers are always known to the enemy, because every woman and child is one of them; but we, as everybody knows who has any experience in this war, can only learn the movements of the enemy, and his numbers, by actually fighting for the information. That our loss was great, is true, yet, that it was not greater, is due in an eminent degree to the personal exertions of that model soldier, Colonel W. L. McMillen, of the Fifty-ninth Ohio infantry, who commanded the infantry, and to the able commanders under him.

While I will not prolong this already extended report by recording individual acts of good conduct, and the names of many brave officers and men who deserve mention, but will respectfully refer you for these to the reports of division and brigade commanders, yet I cannot refrain from expressing my high appreciation of the valuable services rendered by that excellent and dashing officer, Colonel Joseph Karge, of the Second New Jersey volunteers, in his reconnoissance to Corinth, and his subsequent management of the rear guard during a part of the retreat, fighting and defending the rear during one whole afternoon, and throughout the entire night following.

To the officers of my staff--Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Hope, Nineteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, commanding escort; Captain W. C. Ravalle, A. D. C. and A. A. A. G., whose horse was killed under him; Captain W. C. Belden, Second Iowa cavalry A. D. C.; Lieutenant E. Caulkins, Seventh Iowa cavalry, A. D. C.; Lieutentant Samuel Oakford, Nineteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, A. D. C.; Lieutenant Dement, A. A; Q. M.; Lieutenant W. H. Stratton, Seventh Illinois cavaly, A. A. C. S.--whose names appear in no other report — I am especially grateful for the promptness and zeal with which my orders were executed at all times, and often under trying and hazardous circumstances.

I am, Major, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

S. D. Sturgis, Brigadier-General, commanding. To Major W. H. Morgan, A. A. G., Headquarters District W. T., Memphis, Tenn.


Surgeon Dyer's account.

headquarters Eighty-First Illinois, Memphis, Tenn., July 6, 1864.
At my request Dr. Lewis Dyer, of the Eighty. first regiment Illinois infantry volunteers, and Acting Surgeon-in-Chief, division Seventeenth Army Corps, on the expedition, has prepared a paper on the late retreat of General Sturgis' command from Guntown, Mississippi, to Memphis. I am taking notes and sketches of persons and things, for a permanent history of the regiment in particular, and of the war in general.

This article was written for my own personal use and benefit; but being prepared with so much care and ability, I have no doubt you will gladly insert it in your journal, which circulates extensively among the friends of our pet regiment in Southern Illinois.

Yours truly,

W. S. Post, Chaplain, Eighty-first Illinois.

headquarters Eighty-First Illinois infantry volunteers, Memphis, Tenn., June 30, 1864.
Rev. William S. Post, D. D., Chaplain Eighty-first Illinois Infantry Volunteers:
dear sir: You have of course heard of our defeat under General Sturgis at Guntown, Mississippi, the other day. I wish I could give you some idea of the scenes enacted on that occasion — the awful fight, the repulse, the defeat and rout. It was a new chapter in the history of the Eighty-first--a new and bitter experience to both officers and men — and as they believe, a needless one. Never before, in all their deadly conflicts with the enemy, had they suffered defeat. And the recollection is all the more bitter now that the day was lost to us, not by the numbers or prowes of the enemy, but by — well, it might be as safe not to say.

In speaking of the Eighty-first, the coolness and self-possession of its officers, and the bravery and desperate fighting of its men, I have no intention of intimating the least thing in disparagement of other troops. The regiment was marched upon the field and placed in position under a general and vague order, and finding it needlessly exposed to the enemy's deadly fire, with no adequate support, its commanding officers changed it for a better position, which position it held until entirely out of ammunition, when, being harassed by a galling flank fire, it fell back some three hundred yards, to a line with the artillery, when, being replenished with ammunition, it continued the fight for hours, and until it was almost surrounded by the enemy.


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