previous next

[372] Columbus, Mississippi. Avoiding the enemy's cavalry, Colonel Palmer left Leighton on the thirty-first December, moved rapidly via La Grange and Russellville, and by the Cotton-gin road, and overtook the enemy's pontoon train, consisting of two hundred wagons and seventy-eight pontoon boats, when ten miles out from Russellville. This he destroyed. Having learned of a large supply train on its way to Tuscaloosa, Colonel Palmer started on the first of January toward Aberdeen, Mississippi, with a view of cutting it off, and succeeded in surprising it about ten P. M. on the same evening, just over the line in Mississippi. The train consisted of one hundred and ten wagons and five hundred mules, the former of which were burned, and the latter sabred or shot. Returning, via Tollgate, Alabama, and on the old Military and Hacksburg roads, the enemy under Roddy, Biffles, and Russel, was met near Russellville and along Bear creek, while another force under Armstrong was reported to be in pursuit of our forces Evading the force in his front by moving off to the right, under cover of the darkness, Colonel Palmer pushed for Moulton, coming upon Russel when within twelve miles of Moulton and near Thornhill, attacked him unexpectedly, utterly routing him, and capturing some prisoners, besides burning five wagons. The command then proceeded to Decatur without molestation, and reached that place on the sixth of January, after a march of two hundred and fifty miles. One hundred and fifty prisoners were captured, and nearly one thousand stand of arms destroyed. Colonel Palmer's loss was one killed and two wounded.

General Hood, while investing Nashville, had sent into Kentucky a force of cavalry numbering about eight hundred men, and two guns, under the command of Brigadier General Lyon, with instructions to operate against our railroad communications with Louisville. Mc-Cook's division of cavalry was detached on the fourteenth December, and sent to Bowling Green and Franklin, to protect the road. After capturing Hopkinsville, Lyon was met by Lagrange's brigade near Greensburg, and after a sharp fight, was thrown into confusion, losing one gun, some prisoners and wagons; the enemy succeeded, however, by making a wide detour, via Elizabethtown and Glasgow, in reaching the Cumberland river, and crossing at Burkville, from where General Lyon proceeded, via McMinnville and Winchester, Tennessee, to Larkinsville, Alabama, on the Memphis and Charleston railroad, and attacked the little garrison at Scottsboroa on the tenth of January. Lyon was here again repulsed, and his command scattered, our troops pursuing him toward the Tennessee river, which, however, he, with about two hundred of his men and his remaining piece of artillery, succeeded in crossing. The rest of his command scattered in squads among the mountains. Colonel W. J. Palmer, commanding Fifteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, with one hundred and fifty men, crossed the river at Paint Rock and pursued Lyon to near Red Hill, on the road from Warrentown to Tuscaloosa, at which place he surprised his camp during the night of the fourteenth January, capturing Lyon himself, his one piece of artillery, and about one hundred of his men, with their horses. Lyon being in bed at the time of his capture, asked his guard to permit him to dress himself, which was acceded to, when, watching his opportunity, Lyon seized a pistol, shot the sentinel dead upon the spot, and escaped in the darkness. This was the only casualty during the expedition.

To Colonel Palmer and his command is accorded the credit of giving Hood's army the last blow of the campaign, at a distance of over two hundred miles from where we first struck the enemy on the fifteenth December, near Nashville.

To all my sub-commanders (Major-Generals Schofield, Stanley, Rousseau, Steedman, Smith, and Wilson, and Brigadier-General T. J. Wood), their officers and men, I give expression of my thanks and gratitude for their generous self-sacrifice and manly endurance, under the most trying circumstances and in all instances. Too much praise cannot be accorded to an army which, hastily made up from the fragments of three separate commands, can successfully contend against a force numerically greater than itself, and of more thoroughly solid organization, inflicting on it a most crushing defeatal most an annihilation.

Receiving instructions unexpectedly from General Sherman in September to repair to Tennessee, and assume general control of the defenses of our line of communication in the rear of the Army of the Mississippi, and not anticipating a separation from my immediate command, the greater number of my staff officers were left behind at Atlanta, and did not have an opportunity to join me, after General Sherman determined on making his march through Georgia, before the communications were cut. I had with me Brigadier-General W. D. Whipple, my Chief of Staff; Surgeon G. E. Cooper, Medical Director; Captains Henry Stone, Henry M. Cist, and Robert H. Ramsay, Assistant Adjutants-General; Captain Henry Bernan, Acting Chief Commissary; Captains John P. Willard and S. C. Kellogg, Aids-de-Camp; and Lieutenant M. Kelly, Chief of Couriers; all of whom rendered important service during the battles of the fifteenth and sixteenth, and during the pursuit. I cordially commend their services to favorable consideration.

There were captured from the enemy during the various actions of which the foregoing report treats, thirteen thousand one hundred and eighty-nine prisoners of war, including seven general officers and nearly one thousand other officers of all grades, seventy-two pieces of serviceable artillery, and — battle-flags. During the same period over two thousand deserters from the enemy were received, to whom the oath was administered. Our own losses will not exceed ten thousand in killed, wounded, and missing.

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 Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
December 31st (1)
December 15th (1)
December 14th (1)
September (1)
January 14th (1)
January 10th (1)
January 6th (1)
January 1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: