previous next

[178] town. Feeling that the situation was a critical one, and determining to resist to the last any attack which should be made and, thinking the fort the better point for resistance, I ordered Colonel Keenon to summon the remainder of his regiment and occupy the fort, with instructions to all detachments who were defending the entrances to the town to fall back upon that point, in case they could not hold their positions. I inspected the fort, and found the ordnance and stores in good condition, but no regular artillery force to man the guns. I then directed Colonel Keenon to furnish Sergeant Johnson, of the Second Maryland infantry, with a force from his command to work the cannon, which being done, I commenced, in order to strengthen the position, the construction of two redoubts, with a line of rifle-pits to protect them, immediately in the rear of the fort-impressing for this purpose about seventy-five negro men. This work, however, the enemy did not allow me to complete, as will be shown hereafter.

After this disposition of the force, I rode to your headquarters to report, and while there received information that the enemy were advancing toward town, upon the Lexington pike, with a force estimated at two hnndred. I immediately ordered Lieutenant Denton, of the scouts, to take thirty men and ascertain the truth of this report. A few moments after the detachment started, I determined to go myself and find out the exact state of the case, as I apprehended great danger from that direction. I asked you to accompany me, which you did; and advancing up the road as far as the cemetery gate, we met the detachment returning, who reported the enemy advancing in large force. We then rallied the detachment, and dismounting a portion of them, sent them with a few infantry pickets, to the old railroad cut on the left, to drive back the force said to be advancing in that direction.

In the meantime you had taken six men and started for the Owenton pike, with the intention of cutting off the force supposed to be in the old railroad cut. I started with the few remaining of the detachment of cavalry toward the tollgate, and arriving at the old depot on the hill, saw a squad of about twenty rebel cavalry moving on my left flank in direction of the fort. A squad of four men were seen approaching my right from the direction of Mr. Ambrose Dudley's house. Six men and a sergeant were despatched back, down the pike, to the road leading from Mr. Thomas S. Page's farm, to intercept the squad, but they did not attempt to approach the pike.

While watching the movements of the enemy on my left, the firing commenced at the fort, and looking in that direction, I could plainly see the enemy's sharpshooters ascending the knoll in front of the partially-constructed redoubts, in which cannon had been placed. I watched the engagement with feelings never before experienced — knowing that if the fort was taken, the city was doomed. The enemy was doubtless aware of the force defending the fort, from the manner of assault, and desperation with which it was made. At this juncture, you, with the six men with you, had attempted to ascend the Eastern slope of the hill and reach the fort; but being intercepted by the rapid approach of the enemy, and a long line of abatis in your front, the cavalry were compelled to deploy around the brow of the hill to the left while you dauntlessly pushed your way through the abatis, being closely pursued and fired upon almost to the very gate on the western end of the fort.

Your timely and safe arrival inspired the men with fresh courage and determination, and largely contributed to their success. The artillerists in charge of the guns at the redoubts alluded to, having no force whatever to support them, after firing one or two rounds, abandoned their position, and the enemy became so elated and emboldened as to press quickly forward across the intervening space toward the fort, making a fierce and daring assault. The result was a severe and quick repulse; every man in the walls standing to his post, and the assailants, meeting with such a steady fire and heroic resistance, retired as hastily as they came. The fighting was renewed at intervals for two hours, when the enemy retired, burning the barracks, situated near the Owenton pike.

The casualties of the assault were two wounded--Major T. J. Hutchinson, and private John Coleman of Thirty-sixth regiment of militia. Neither of the wounds are mortal; and both will soon recover.

While you were thus superintending matters at the fort, I remained on the Lexington pike with my squad of cavalry, determined, if possible, to hold in check any attacking force sufficiently long for the citizens to reach the fort, but, as it was growing dark and the gunners could not see sufficiently plainly, they mistook us for the enemy, opening fire upon us, and landed a couple of shells uncomfortably near. I then withdrew with my men to the arsenal, and, after giving them instructions, joined you at the fort. At midnight thirty men were selected, and dividing into two squads, placing one in charge of Captain Thomas Buford, I went out with the view of ascertaining the fate of the guns in the redoubts, and proceeding cautiously, we found them entirely unmolested in their places, and brought them into the fort. Owing to the vigorous fire the enemy received, and the decided repulse, they retired so hastily as not to even take time to spike them. Thus ended the conflict of Friday, the tenth.

Knowing that the attack would be renewed about daylight, if at all, every preparation was made for it; but daylight came and the old flag waved over us still.

On Saturday morning, as early as five o'clock, the enemy was discovered on the south side of the river, and at six o'clock a flag of truce was seen to approach the wooden bridge. The bearers were met on the other side by Lieutenant Armer and Mr. W. A. Gaines, volunteer Aides-de-Camp,

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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Edward Keenon (2)
Thomas S. Page (1)
George W. Johnson (1)
T. J. Hutchinson (1)
W. A. Gaines (1)
Ambrose Dudley (1)
Denton (1)
John Coleman (1)
Thomas Buford (1)
Armer (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: