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[466]

A Cursory sketch of General Bragg's campaigns. Paper no. 2.

By Major E. T. Sykes, of Columbus, Miss.

The Kentucky campaign.

By the 21st of August, having made all needful preparations and inured his troops to the necessary and required discipline, General Bragg, with Hardee and Polk's corps, crossed the Tennessee river at Harrison's Ferry, nine miles above Chattanooga (we had but one transport, and consequently were several days crossing, which allowed the boys in gray an opportunity of bathing, the last they enjoyed until we captured Mumfordsville, on the Green river), and moving over Waldem's Ridge (it should, in respect and deference to its size, have been more properly called High and Broad mountain) and Cumberland mountain, turned Buell's left; and on the 5th of September the Confederate column was greeted with a large sign board, nailed by our advance pioneer corps to a tree on the side of the road, with these words appearing on it in bold relief: ‘You now cross from Tennessee to Kentucky.’ That was the dividing line between two States, and well did the boys in ‘dirty gray’ make the welkin ring as they at one step bounded across the narrow but visible line drawn for their observation and exultation.

General E. Kirby Smith in the meantime moved from Knoxville, flanked the Federal General G. W. Morgan, who was in the occupancy of Cumberland Gap, got into the enemy's rear, whipped Bull Nelson at Richmond, Ky., capturing many prisoners and a superabundance of supplies, clothing, and camp equipage, and succeeded in reaching and occupying Lexington, establishing an outpost at Covington, on the Ohio river, just opposite Cincinnati.

General Bragg's design was to unite with him at the capital of the State and solidly advance on Louisville, his objective point. Moving for that purpose through Glasgow (where God bless the ladies with their miniature Confederate flags; we were welcomed with joyful tears and loving smiles, as never were soldiers welcomed before), Mumfordsville1 (where the writer, then commanding Company

1 The particulars and origin of the battle of Mumfordsville were about these, as witnessed and remembered by myself: General Bragg, on reaching Glasgow, Ky., with his main force, sent forward the same night (September 12th) Chalmers's brigade of Mississippians to the railroad at Cave City, and Duncan's Louisiana brigade to the depot next below (south), with orders to intercept and cut off Buell's (he was then marching up from Nashville) communications northward by the railroad to Louisville. General Chalmers surprised and captured the telegraph operator and depot supplies at Cave City, but owing to the information furnished the enemy by Union citizens of the neighborhood we did not succeed in capturing any trains. Hearing that the enemy, about 3,000 strong, composed of new levies, was at Mumfordsville on Green river, fortified and protecting the iron railroad bridge, Chalmers considered it a fine opportunity to win a Major-General's star; consequently on the night of the 13th, and without orders from General Bragg, he marched his command rapidly, and about sunrise on the following morning drove in the enemy's pickets, and forming line of battle, with Walthall's regiment (29th Mississippi) on his right, and Smith's (10th Mississippi regiment) on his left, advanced to the attack through an open field threequar-ters of a mile under fire of the enemy's artillery and small arms from behind formidable intrenchments and earthworks. For awhile the attack promised to prove a success. Walthall had reached the wide and deep ditch around Fort Craig, and was in the act of bridging it, when Colonel Scott's Louisiana cavalry, which had agreed to cooperate in the attack, came up and imprudently opened fire from an eminence about 500 yards distant, throwing shell among Walthall's men and caused them to retire. The 10th Mississippi regiment had reached a ravine wherein was an abattis of beech trees about fifty yards in front of the enemy's right, covering the bridge, and could advance no further. Protecting themselves as well as possible, they were enabled to silence the enemy's fire from the fortifications. In this position they remained about two hours, not being able on account of the timber to their right and the conformation of the ground to see or hear from our centre or right.

About that time the enemy exhibited over his ramparts a flag of truce, and being assured that it would be respected (it was with difficulty that the sentry could restrain and prevent Jim Franks, a private in Captain Robert A. Bell's company, who at first fired on it, from shooting down the bearer. He afterwards plead his ignorance of the sacredness of a flag of truce in extenuation and excuse for his grave misconduct) it was borne out by a young captain in an Indiana regiment (I regret having lost his card given me on that occasion), accompanied by a guard, in my immediate front, when (Colonel Smith and Lieutenant-Colonel Bullock were both shot down and dying, and Major Bar was that day acting on Chalmers's staff) it devolved on me, as the senior officer present, to meet it; which was done about midway our lines. The officer informed me that General Chalmers had sent a flag in on our right demanding a surrender; which was refused, but that an armistice for the purpose of removing the dead and wounded had been agreed to, and that ten minutes notice would be given before the flag would be withdrawn. These facts were communicated to our men, who at once began to remove the dead and wounded, besides their guns and accoutrements, and continued until everything of value had been carried to the woods, a full mile in our rear. On retiring with the withdrawal of the flag, and reaching our men in rear, I found that the dead were being hastily buried, and the living were preparing to return to Cave City. This surprised me; for pending the flag of truce Lieutenant Watt L. Strickland, an aid on General Chalmers's staff, came up, and, calling me aside, said that General J. K. Jackson, of Georgia, was near with a division of infantry, and that on his arrival the attack would be renewed and successfully pressed. It appears, however, that this information furnished the enemy at the time of the demand for a surrender — was a ruse on the part of General Chalmers, in order to extricate his men from their perilous situation. Finding that the enemy was too strong for him, and were veterans instead of raw recruits, he returned in quick haste to Cave City. On the 16th (two days later) General Bragg moved up and surrounded these forces, then reinforced and numbering 4,500 under Colonels Wilder and Dunham (Wilder afterwards commanded a cavalry brigade, known as Wilder's Lightning Brigade), who on the morning of the 17th of September surrendered, with a very large supply of quartermaster and commissary stores. The 10th Mississippi was marched in to receive the surrender and occupy the forts and fortifications in return for and in compliment of its gallant fight on the 14th. I, with my company (‘K’), was placed in command of Fort Craig, their extreme left fort, and where Walthall had so gallantly assaulted three days previously.

In the engagement of the 14th our loss, particularly in the 10th Mississippi regiment, was frightful. My company was a large one, and lost thirty-two in killed and wounded. And here let me add, that the account given of this battle in the American Cyclopedia, Vol. 16, page 797, is in no manner correct.

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