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[410] almost out of ammunition, I concluded to follow the Salisbury road, and toward evening was joined by Captain Foster, Fifty-ninth regiment A. D., with about six hundred of his own and the Fifty-fifth regiment A. D., he having crossed over from the Salem road, which he considered unsafe. That night we bivouacked near Brooks', about five miles from Salisbury. The next morning at daylight we resumed the march, and after proceeding about three miles turned to the left, taking a settlement road leading to Davis' mills. Upon arriving at Davis', I found the bridge partially destroyed, and upon halting to repair it we were fired upon by a considerable number of the enemy, who were soon driven back, after wounding two of our men on the hill, and one of the flankers of the One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois, and hitting the horse of Lieutenant-Colonel King, while passing the swamps beyond the bridge. Soon after, we were again attacked in front, but owing to the vigilance of the half-breed scouts of company H, Ninth Minnesota, and the handsome conduct of the advanced guard of the Ninety-fifth Ohio, under command of Captain----, they were unable to do much execution. At one time our rear was charged upon by about one hundred and fifty of Buford's cavalry, but they were repulsed by the negro troops and a few of the half-breeds. Our rear was, however, occasionally fired upon until long after dark, but the imperturbable coolness and steadiness of the colored troops, under command of Captain Foster, kept them in check and prevented confusion.

At twelve o'clock on the night of the twelfth, the command bivouacked four miles east of Colliersville, which place was reached about nine A. M. next day. We found here neither cars, rations, nor reinforcements. The command rested until noon. In the meantime Lieutenant Hosmer, of the One Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois, Brigade Inspector, volunteered to proceed to some point on the railroad from which information could be communicated of our approach. He was joined by Captain----, of the One Hundred and Eighth Illinois, Sergeant----, and two privates. Within three miles of Colliersville they were attacked by a party numbering about fifteen, who ordered them to halt. Their horses, already jaded, were put to their speed. Although frequently fired upon and closely followed, no one of the party was killed or wounded. I regret to say, however, that the gallant captain and the sergeant were captured. The lieutenant and the two privates arrived in safety at White's station at ten A. M.

As the command approached the vicinity where the party referred to was attacked, the column was halted and the scouts sent in advance, who soon discovered a party of the enemy. Skirmishing continued until the whistle of the train which brought reinforcements was heard. Hard bread was here issued to the men, while the infantry reinforcements and the cavalry command under Major Malone formed line of battle in front of the train in time to meet the attack of a regiment of the enemy's cavalry. The command, numbering about one thousand six hundred, of the different brigades, arrived in Memphis on the same evening (thirteenth instant), in a pitiable condition. Nearly all were barefooted, their feet badly blistered and swollen, and in some cases poisoned. Most of them had eaten nothing for three days, and all had suffered from want of food.

Colonel Thomas, commanding the Ninety-third Indiana; Lieutenant-Colonel King, commanding the One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois; Lieutenant-Colonel Brombeck, commanding Ninety-fifth Ohio; Lieutenant-Colonel Eaton, commanding Seventy-second Ohio; Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh, commanding Ninth Minnesota; Captain Fitch, commanding light battery company E, and Captain Miller, commanding section of Sixth Indiana battery, deserve especial mention for the judicious and gallant manner in which they handled their respective comands.

I am much indebted to Lieutenant-Colonels King, Brombeck, and Eaton, and Lieutenant-Colonel Floyd, of the One Hundred and Twentieth Illinois, and other officers, for information in regard to the roads over which we passed in the retreat.

I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of each member of my staff. The duties imposed upon them were onerous in the extreme, owing to their limited number. Lieutenant Cruse, Adjutant of the Ninth Minnesota, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, although under fire for the first time, conducted himself with all the coolness of a veteran. Lieutenant Hosmer, of the One Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois, Inspector of the brigade, rendered me great service as an Aid. His gallant conduct deserves great praise. I am also greatly indebted to Lieutenant Bailey, of the Nineteeenth Pennsylvania cavalry, who volunteered his services as an Aid early in the action, and remained with me, rendering valuable service, until obliged to rejoin his regiment. Acting Brigade Surgeon R. H. Bingham, and Acting Brigade Quartermaster, Lieutenant Mower, of the One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois infantry, performed with credit their respective duties.

I transmit herewith the reports of the regimental and battery commanders, with the lists of casualties accompanying the same. I would here remark that I had no opportunity of seeing the Ninety-fifth Ohio while engaged with the enemy. Its severe loss attests its gallant con duct and great exposure.

I have the honor to be,

Your obedient servant,

Alex. Wilken, Colonel Ninth Minnesota Infantry Volunteers, Late Commanding First Brigade, &c. Lieutenant O. H. Abel, A. A. A. G. Infantry Division U. S. Forces, &c.

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