previous next

[671] firing into the pack stock and led animals, and threatening to make an attack in force. Fearing that some confusion would result among the led animals by this attack in my rear, and the enemy gaining strength in my front every moment, I determined to make the assault at once, without any further delay or waiting for the signal gun on the left. I moved forward at five P. M., my entire line advancing promptly, and in less than twenty-five minutes after the command to advance had been given, the works were ours.

The works carried consisted of a heavy line of earthworks, eight to twelve feet in height and fifteen feet in thickness at the base, with a ditch in front, partly filled by water, four feet in width and five feet deep, and in front of this a stockade or picket of heavy posts planted firmly in the ground, five feet high and sharpened at the top. Four heavy forts, with artillery in position, also covered the ground over which the men advanced. The ground was rough, and a deep ravine had to be passed before the works could be reached. The men fully understood the difficulties before them; there was no flinching; all seemed confident of their ability to overcome them. As soon as we uncovered the hill about six hundred yards from the earthworks, the enemy opened a rapid and destructive fire of musketry and artillery on the line, but we moved forward steadily until within short range, when a rapid fire was opened by our Spencers, and with a cheer the men started for the works on a run. Sweeping forward in solid line, over fences and ravines — scaling the stockade and on the works with resistless force, the enemy fighting stubbornly — many of them clubbing their guns, but forced to retreat in the greatest disorder — our men continuing in pursuit through the city and taking many prisoners.

The troops confronting me behind the breast-works were composed of a portion of General Forrest's command, which are regarded as the best troops in the West. According to General Forrest's own statement, under a flag of truce to the Brevet Major-General commanding cavalry corps, M. D. M., his force exceeded the assaulting force in numbers, my entire force in the charge, fifteen hundred and fifty officers and men. The carrying of these works and the town by my division, resulted in the capture of over two thousand prisoners, although this division did not stop or take time to pick them up or gather them together, and only between six hundred and one thousand were collected by the Provost Marshals, their guards, and other officers and men not otherwise occupied. We captured no less than twenty pieces of artillery in position, including one thirty-pound Parrott, and a large number of small arms were taken and destroyed.

When within one hundred and fifty yards of the works, on the Summerfield and Selma road, I was wounded and carried off the field. A short time after which General Wilson was riding by and inquired of my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Deiring, if we had carried the works. I had the satisfaction of hearing the answer in the affirmative.

The Chicago B. T. Battery, commanded by Captain George J. Robinson, occupied a position on the hill in the rear of my line. Their rapid and effective firing contributed greatly to the demoralization of the enemy. It was afterwards reported to me that this battery did good and efficient service in assisting the driving of the enemy through and beyond the town. Although not personally cognizant of the part it took throughout the entire action, I have no doubt, from the manner in which it had always executed its work hitherto, that it did everything possible to be done.

Our loss, although slight compared to the work accomplished, would have been much less had the Fourth Michigan cavalry charged as I ordered on the left of the line in front of the battery, and thus covered a work which enfiladed our whole line, instead of remaining as it did, through some mistake of the regimental or brigade commander, with and in support of the battery.

I cannot, in justice to the division, refrain from stating what the Brevet Major-General commanding cavalry corps must know to be a fact, that this was the decisive fight of the campaign — that the crushing and demoralizing defeat here given to the Confederate forces opposing us contributed in no small degree to the success of our expedition, and in fact by defeating them so badly as to render any further resistance on their part out of the question, and made the latter portion of the campaign comparatively a work of ease. In this affair the entire division did their whole duty, thin which no greater praise can be given to a soldier. The First brigade, commanded by Colonel A. 0. Miller, Seventy-second Indiana volunteers, owing to longer practice, and being more accustomed to fighting on foot, probably kept a better line than the Second brigade, but so far as courage is concerned and the time that different regiments and portions of the division approached the works, no appreciable difference could be seen, or was reported to me. When it is remembered that it was a depot of ammunition, which supplied a large portion of the so-called Southern Confederacy, the importance of its capture cannot well be magnified. Where all portions of the command have done their duty so faithfully and well during the entire march, it would seem unjust to make special mention of individuals; but I feel compelled to mention a few instances of gallantry in action where the persons mentioned here had a favorable opportunity of distinguishing themselves, and whose conduct in action came under my own personal observation. Of this class I must mention Captain T. W. Scott, Ninety-eighth Illinois volunteers, my A. A. A. General; Captain W. W. Shoemaker, Fourth O. V. cavalry, A. D. C.; Lieutenant Henry Deiring, Fourth O. V. cavalry,

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.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Summerfield (Alabama, United States) (1)
Selma (Alabama, United States) (1)

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.
Forrest (2)
Henry Deiring (2)
J. H. Wilson (1)
W. W. Shoemaker (1)
T. W. Scott (1)
George J. Robinson (1)
E. G. Parrott (1)
A. O. Miller (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: