previous next

A brilliant movement.

Very shortly after the departure of Forrest, General Granger having reinforced Franklin, moved out with a force of about ten thousand infantry, and a large body of cavalry and artillery, and Van Dorn retired before him, hoping to repeat the operation against Coburn; but finding Granger's force larger than it was at first supposed, he determined to assume the defensive and take position behind Rutherford's creek, a tributary of Duck river, with which it unites only a few miles below Columbia. Accordingly he formed his command on the left bank of the creek, which at that point is about four miles from the river at Columbia, and for some distance is nearly parallel with the river, intending to receive Granger's attack there; but heavy rains having fallen on an already swollen river it became past fording in a few hours, and Van Dorn deemed it imprudent, under the circumstances, to risk an engagement between the creek and swollen river, in which, if beaten, he would probably both lose his command, and leave Columbia exposed. He, therefore, decided to turn up the river to a bridge twenty miles distant, cross, and return down the river by a forced march to cover Columbia before the enemy could cross, he (Van Dorn) having forty miles to move and they only four. This bold and dexterous movement was accomplished in spite of the fact that the enemy, seeing his position, pressed vigorously upon Van Dorn's right to force him into the fork; but finding that he had extricated himself and reached Columbia before any preparation could be made by them to cross, they retired immediately, seeming to fear that their absence from Franklin might tempt so daring and expeditious an opponent as Van Dorn to precede them to that point. Van Dorn at once resumed his position at Spring Hill, and his assassination followed very quickly. My recollection is that, during the few months of his brilliant career in Tennessee he captured more men than he had in his own command.

I may not be entirely accurate in all I have said, but substantially it is correct. If, however, you wish to be minute, you had better send this to General Forrest or General Jackson, either of whom can verify it or correct any inaccuracy of my memory if it be at fault. It is deeply to be regretted that the details of Van Dorn's [201] plans and actions as a cavalry commander in Tennessee, or while covering Pemberton's retreat before Grant to Grenada, and in the signal affair at Holly Springs, fraught as the latter was with results more momentous than those involved in any action of its kind of which I ever knew or heard, should be lost to the history of cavalry; but I fear to trust my memory, and must confine myself to these brief outlines, hoping that some of those who followed him, whose memory is better than mine, may yet do justice to a cavalier whose feats, when written out, must give him a place besides the greatest of those who in time past have ridden to victory or immortality.

Yours truly,

E. Dillon. Morganton, N. C., June 16, 1877.

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.
Earl Van Dorn (7)
Granger (3)
Franklin (2)
French Forrest (2)
Rutherford (1)
Pemberton (1)
Stonewall Jackson (1)
U. S. Grant (1)
Edward Dillon (1)
Coburn (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.
June 16th, 1877 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: