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Doc. 209.-fight near Tuscumbia, Ala.

St. Louis “Union” account.

Cane Creek, Ala., October 28, 1863.
my last was dated “Cane Creek, October twenty-eighth.” Well, we are back in camp at Cane Creek. We have been to Tuscumbia, saw what was to be seen, suffered to the extent of about ten wounded and two killed, and left Tuscumbia this morning for this, our old camp of five days. But let me tell you. At daylight on the twenty-sixth, Osterhaus moved forward his first brigade in front. He had not proceeded over three miles before he came upon a strong picket of the enemy, which were soon driven away. About a mile further on (the summit of Graveyard Ridge, close by Barton Station) the enemy opened upon us with two pieces of artillery strongly posted upon a hill near a frame church. The Thirteenth Illinois, Seventy-sixth Ohio, and Fourth Iowa, were soon in line of battle on the left of the railroad; while the Twenty-seventh, Twenty-ninth, Thirty-first, Thirty-second, Third, and Twelfth Missouri were posted on the right. The Twelfth and Seventy-sixth, in their respective fronts, were deployed as skirmishers. On the extreme right were the Fifth Ohio cavalry. A section of Hoffman's battery (Fourth Ohio) was stationed immediately on the left of the railroad; while still farther to the left was Griffith's battery. On the right was the balance of Hoffman's Landgraeber's (Flying Dutchman) batteries. After exchanging a few cannon-shots, while our skirmishers were advancing, these batteries moved forward with the general advance, and the rebels at once skedaddled. General Blair then ordered Morgan L. Smith to keep his division closed up to Osterhaus, and the latter pushed forward rapidly. This advance was commenced at half-past 8 A. M.

The forward movement was made cautiously and quietly until about nine o'clock, when our skirmishers again commenced firing. This time the action was severe in front of the Twelfth Missouri, (Colonel Wangelin,) which regiment, as skirmishers, advanced in splendid style, and never once halted in their onward march. Lieutenant Wangelin, nephew to the Colonel, and aid to General Osterhaus, was wounded while bearing an order from the General to the Colonel. I never saw such magnificent skirmishing as the Twelfth Missouri did in that advance. It was but a short time before firing ceased and we again advanced.

At five minutes past twelve our column was again halted, and Osterhaus deployed his battalions — Morgan L. Smith well closed up. The enemy in his new position had five pieces of artillery advantageously posted, but they withdrew as our skirmishers on the right and left seemed about to close them in. Here, as at the first stand, the enemy left as soon as our bullets whizzed around their heads. Our line of skirmishers was composed of the Third, Twelfth, Seventeenth, and Twenty-seventh Missouri, Seventy-sixth [580] Ohio, and Thirteenth Illinois. The troops of the Second brigade, Colonel Williamson, were close to our skirmishers, and where our skirmishers escaped the bullets of the enemy the Second brigade felt the inconvenience of their shells. At this second position the fight was of short duration. Artillery and cavalry of the enemy soon hastened away, and General Osterhaus, with the Fifth Illinois cavalry, moved forward in rapid pursuit. General Lightburn's brigade having been moved on the left flank of the enemy, was then recalled, and the whole force moved forward as rapidly as infantry can travel. Onward we moved until a quarter-past three P. M., when we were again thrown into position by the discovery of the fact that the enemy were drawn up in line in a formidable position some three miles outside of Tuscumbia. They appeared bold and defiant. Hoffman's two Parrotts failed to dislodge them after an hour's practice. Undoubtedly we did them some damage, and they injured some six or eight of our men. The Twenty-seventh Missouri lost one man killed and two wounded by a single shell. The Major of the Thirty-first, Iowa barely escaped, a ball lodging in the ground immediately under his horse. Further than this, no damage was inflicted by the rebels upon our boys, and it being late in the day, all but our pickets were withdrawn, and our little army went quietly into bivouac.

From where I was quartered on the top of a hill, between which and the rebels, a mile off, flowed a narrow stream called Little Bear Creek, I could distinctly see the rebels manoeeuvring upon an extended plain, the front of which was protected by the steep banks of the Little Bear, and the upper and lower fords by strong squads of the enemy. They got themseves into certain positions and saucily remained there. No fires burned on that plain during the night, but on our side of the creek fence-rails went off by the thousand, and hot coffee, fresh beef, and good old hard tack made our boys quite comfortable. General Blair put up for the night at the house of a Mr. Hanson, whose two sons are in our own army. In the morning early the General sent Lightburn and Giles A. Smith by the upper ford, intending thereby to flank the enemy. Lightburn in the advance soon fought his way across the ford, which made the rebels in Osterhaus's front soon prepare for a march eastward. At this juncture General Blair sent Lieutenant De Grass with two Parrotts to the front of Osterhaus. De Grass planted two or three shells with the greatest precision immediately among the rebels, and a general stampede took place. The rebels ran in perfect panic, and had it not been for the difficulty in crossing the Little. Bear, we would have got their every cannon. Lightburn threatening their flank, caused the enemy to rush in hot haste beyond Tuscumbia. So we moved on rapidly toward Tuscumbia. But I forget. When we arrived at the “last stand” of this squad of rebels, the latter attempted to turn our right flank, but, ignorant of the fact that that flank was well protected, they rushed blindly on, until a volley from the Twenty-seventh and Third Missouri caused them to turn in wild confusion. It was here that, among others, Colonel Forrest was mortally wounded. We found him at the house of Mrs. Steele, wife of Captain Steele, of Forrest's own regiment. A man, calling himself Forrest's chaplain, a Captain Rosser, was in attendance upon him. Both took the parole, and were allowed to remain.

We marched into a town with plenty of houses, but with few inhabitants. Here, as elsewhere, we found plenty of women, old men, and children. Men between sixteen and fifty were scarce. Half the houses were deserted. In the numerous store buildings, not a living soul, not an article of goods. The three large hotels all vacant of any thing like human beings, save that in one corner of the Franklin Hotel lives, or seems to live, a man of fifty years, with his wife and young boy. Houses still occupied are wonderfully dilapidated.

Generals Blair and Osterhaus occupied the Franklin House. General Morgan L. Smith pitched his tent with his division west of the town. Very soon in came female after female, all wanting protection. These wicked “Yanks” would steal chickens, would shoot hogs. Colonel Coleman, (Eighth Missouri,) Provost-Marshal, gave them guards, and raids upon chickens ceased. In leaving Tuscumbia, the rebs burned up thirty-five bales of cotton, but inflicted no other damage upon the place. In truth, those thirty-five bales of cotton were all that was worth destroying in the town.

This morning we returned, and here we are in our old camps. We have lost some two killed and six wounded. The enemy, to our knowledge, has lost ten killed and over thirty wounded.

Forrest was shot through both legs. His wound was too severe to admit of his removal. Our surgeons think he will die. Inclosed I send you some rebel documents found on Forrest's person.

Osterhaus, in the whole affair, exhibited the greatest bravery — in fact, hazarding himself too much; but he answered all such suggestions by saying: “I must see for myself, and then I know what's going on.” Morgan L. Smith had but little chance to get into the fight, as the rebels would give Osterhaus a feeble resistance. The small loss in our ranks was owing to the splendid management of the whole expedition.

October 29, 1863--11 A. M.
This morning early the rebels, under Lee, again attacked us, having closely followed on our rear. Osterhaus drove them back three or four miles, and fighting is still going on in front. We captured two prisoners this morning, and three wounded rebs. The rebs succeeded in carrying off several of their wounded. From those captured we learn that Colonel Forrest died of his wound, in Tuscumbia, yesterday. He was more of a scoundrel than a soldier, and had as much [581] pity in him as you could crowd on the sharp point of a cambric needle.

more anon.

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P. J. Osterhaus (11)
Forrest (6)
Morgan Luther Smith (4)
Lightburn (4)
Frank Blair (4)
Hoffman (3)
Wangelin (2)
William Steele (2)
Yanks (1)
J. A. G. Williamson (1)
Giles A. Smith (1)
Rosser (1)
S. D. Lee (1)
Charles Hanson (1)
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Grass (1)
Doc (1)
George W. Coleman (1)
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October 29th, 1863 AD (1)
October 28th, 1863 AD (1)
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