previous next

[101]

Colonel Palmer's report.

headquarters Fifteenth Pennsylvania (Anderson) cavalry, Huntsville, January 10, 1855.
Major S. B. Moe, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters District of the Etowah, Chattanooga:
Major: I have the honor to report as directed by Major-General Steedman, the operations of my command since the twentieth ultimo.

On the evening of December nineteenth, I received orders to march with my regiment from Wauhatchie, near Chattanooga, where I was encamped, to Bridgeport, where transports would probably meet me, to take my command to Decatur.

I reached Bridgeport at four P. M. on the twentieth, but found no transports; and after telegraphing the facts to General Steedman at Murfreesboro, was directed by telegraph on the evening of the twenty-second to march immediately to Huntsville.

I accordingly started at six P. M. the same day, but was obliged to go into camp six miles from Bridgeport, on the bank of Widow's Creek, in consequence of that stream being past fording, and of the bridges having been swept away.

I marched at daylight the next morning, and by taking a circuitous route around the source of Widow's Creek, succeeded in reaching Stevenson with my wagons early in the afternoon. Here I met Major-General Steedman, who had just arrived by rail from Murfreesboro, and received from him verbal instructions to leave my wagons at Caperton's ferry, to be shipped by transports to Decatur, and to march as rapidly as possible with my regiment to the same place.

This march occupied four days and a half--the rise of water in Crow Creek and Paint Rock river, making it necessary to go round by the head of Coon Creek and of Hurricane Fork of Paint Rock river, crossing the spur of the Cumberland mountain, which divides these streams at their source on this route. I had no difficulty in fording the water courses, and found sufficient forage for my command.

I reached the north bank of the Tennessee river, opposite Decatur, at one P. M. of December twenty-eighth, and by dark had finished crossing — the infantry and artillery of expedition, with Lieutenant-Colonel Prosser's command of cavalry, having nearly finished crossing when I arrived at the river bank.

I at once received orders from Major-General Steedman to take command of Lieutenant-Colonel Prosser's cavalry (detachments of the Second Tennessee, and Tenth, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Indiana, numbering in all about three hundred effective men), in connection with my own regiment, and to advance on the Courtland road.

After feeding the horses, I started at eight P. M., and on reaching a hill two miles from Decatur, saw camp-fires of the enemy on an elevation about two miles beyond. Halting the command, I took a battalion of one hundred and thirty men of the Fifteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, and advanced to reconnoitre the enemy's strength and position.

On nearing the lights their pickets fired, when I ordered my advance guard of thirty men to charge, which they did so boldly, that the enemy, who proved to be Colonel Wine's regiment of Roddy's command, had not time to form, but fled in disorder down the road, followed closely by my advance guard for one mile, when the enemy attempted to make a stand to cover his artillery

Another vigorous charge by our advance, however, drove him from his guns (two six-pounders), which fell into our hands, with all the horses standing hitched to them in the road.

We then went into camp (at ten P. M.) to rest the men and animals for the next day's work. Thus, in less than four hours after landing from the boats at Decatur, we had advanced in the night six miles in a country, and against an enemy, of which we were almost entirely ignorant, and had taken possession of the camp and artillery of his rear guard.

Early the next morning I sent Lieutenant-Colonel Prosser, with his command, on the main Courtland road, while I advanced with the Fifteenth Pennsylvania cavalry by the Brown's Ferry and Courtland road, both for the purpose of meeting the flank movement of any force that might come up from Bainbridge, where Hood's army had but just crossed the Tennessee river, and also to enable me to get in the rear of Roddy's force, if practicable, while he was being attacked by Colonel Prosser in front.

Colonel Prosser first encountered the enemy at Hillsboro, five miles from our camp, and after a running skirmish of five miles more, met General Roddy's main force drawn up in two lines at Pond Spring. Without hesitation he charged it in the most gallant manner, broke both lines of the enemy, routing him so completely that he hardly attempted to make another stand, but fled ingloriously through Courtland, and for eight miles beyond to Town Creek, on the banks of which General Roddy succeeded in re-forming such portion of his command as had not taken advantage of their two successive defeats to go home and spend Christmas with their families. Colonel Prosser's attack was so vigorous, that my force on the Brown's Ferry road, having several miles the longer distance to march and in an unknown country, did not have time to reach the flank or rear of the enemy.

Forty-five prisoners were captured in this affair, including three commissioned officers; the enemy also lost one man killed and two wounded.

Colonel Prosser's loss was one man wounded. It appeared that Patterson's (so-called) brigade, of Roddy's command, having crossed at Bainbridge had come up, the preceding evening, to Pond Spring to reinforce Roddy, and constituted,


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 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.
William F. Prosser (7)
H. Roddy (6)
James B. Steedman (4)
Wine (1)
D. Patterson (1)
William J. Palmer (1)
S. B. Moe (1)
J. B. Hood (1)
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.
20th (2)
January 10th, 1855 AD (1)
December 28th (1)
December 19th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: