A night fight-surprise of our troops.
A correspondent of the Mobile Register
send that paper an account of the surprise of our troops at Middleton, Tenn.
, on the 25th ult. The post, which is mid way between Murfreesboro
' and Shelbyville
, was occupied by the 8th Confederate cavalry and 14th Alabama, and was under the command of Lieut-Colonel Prather
The writer says:
This morning, about early dawn, a large body of Yankee cavalry and counted infantry (about three thousand) made a dash upon our pickets, who were stationed about two miles still further out, capturing some, dispersing the others, and beating them to the place of our camp; and before the camp guard could give the alarm, the camp of the first Alabama was completely surrounded and filled with the Yankee
hirelings, yelling "halt!" "halt! "--Bang — bang — rent the heavy morning air in every direction.
It was not get well light.--A scene almost indescribable how followed.--All were sound asleep, but the officers and men, roused by the unusual sound, sprang with an electric leap from their earthy couches.
The gallant Major Johnson
attempted to form his started, half-awake, confused men, but was intercepted before he could reach them by a hundred Yankees, and narrowly escaped being captured, only saving himself by hiding.
The several captains and lieutenants were crying "form, men!" "form on foot!" and "fire !" but alas, it was too late.
Our camp grounds were now literally covered with Yankees, firing upon it from every direction.
Everything confusion horses breaking loose and scampering about, guns out of place, and some not loaded, too dark to distinguish friend from foe, men and officers shoeless, hatless, on dishabille,
confused, startled, and, I may almost say, panic-stricken, could be seen flying in every direction after a short, sharp contest.
It soon became evident that there were but two courses we could pursue — either to surrender, or each man to take care of himself by flight — for resistance any longer was useless, they being ten to one against us. Most of us chose flight, and hid ourselves among cedars, behind rocks, fences, etc, in full hearing of everything that was going on for we could get no further; but a good many who were not so fortunate, being completely surrounded and overpowered, of course surrendered.
now had complete possession of the camp, and made quick work of destroying.
A large number of guns that were left by the men were broken to pieces, saddle-bags rifled, blankets, clothing, cartouch boxes, and everything of any value, was burned, with the rude and hastily constructed shelters under which the men slept, destroying the outfit, both public and private, of a great many.
While this was going on, a large force was sent to the camp of the 8th Confederate regiment, which was some three hundred yards distant, and made an attack upon them.
Nearly all the regiment were out grazing their horses.
They soon captured and dispersed the few remaining, and a similar scene was enacted to that which had transpired in the 1st Alabama, burning and destroying what they could find.
In the meantime they had sent a small detachment across to the pike, and did actually succeed in capturing one of the guns, compelling the driver of the battery to hitch up and drive it off, who soon managed to capsize it; but fortunately they were pursued, and the piece and drivers recaptured; also, several of the Yanks, by a portion of Col. Morgan
As soon as the Yankees
had left, Col. Prather
collected as many of the "refugees" as could be found, and those of the 1st Alabama and his own regiment, who had been grazing, and gave them chase.
Before they had left Middleton
he was manfully fighting their rear, killing several of them and some six or eight horses.
Our loss, strange to say, during the night attack, was but one killed and two badly wounded.
How it was possible for so many guns to be fired by so many men and no more killed, when we recollect that it was almost a hand-to-hand fight, I cannot say. We killed one and mortally wounded three of them at the same time.
Some fifteen to twenty on both sides were killed during the fight.
They captured a good many horses from us, which will be hard to replace now. They also captured about 70 men, among whom were Capt. Turkman
and Capt. Webb
. Capt Webb
, although about 50 years old, fought them bravely.
When the alarm was given, he seized his repeater, and jumped out with only his night clothes on, and emptied every barrel at them before he would surrender.
They then captured him. He asked them to let him put on his boots and dress, which they refused, but made the old man, barefooted, bareheaded, and with nothing on but his night clothes, double-quick over one of the roughest, rockiest roads imaginable.
In loss of horses and equipments the Yankees
got largely the advantage; but in loss of life I think we got the best of it, killing and wounding several more of theirs than they did of ours:
You will naturally ask who is to blame about this affair.
I say no one.
There is not a braver, more prudent or vigilant officer of the same rank in this army than Col. Prather
No one here thinks that it was caused by any remissness on his part.
is one of those officers who take a pride in seeing how well he can do his part.
I do not think he is to blame, nor any of the officers or men. It is a thing which has been done before, and will be done again, and the wonder to me is that it has not been performed more frequently by both sides.
A trusty guide--one who understands the position of the pickets and the camps to be attacked — a thousand brave men, under a brave officer, and the successful surprise of an outpost camp, is not a hard job, nor are the officers who are surprised necessarily culpable.
However, to say the least of it, the expedition was a bold one, and very well executed.
It seems of late that the Yankees
and ourselves are exchanging modes of fighting — they fighting now as we formerly did, and we as they formerly did. Gens Wheeler
must look well to their laurels, else they may be taken from them by Maj. Gen. Stanley
, Chief of Cavalry
's army — he, I understand, commanding the expedition that attacked us.