Col. Dougherty, Capt. McAdams, and Capt. Johnson as leaders, companies A and E, one hundred and twenty-five men, alone engaged the whole force. At the Court House the enemy made a stand. Here Lieut.-Col. Ransom, of the Eleventh Illinois, who had volunteered to accompany the expedition, inquired of Col. Dougherty what should be done next. “Take the Court House or bust,” was the emphatic answer — and we did take it. The volleys from the windows passed over our heads, or fell at our feet. Those that did not escape from the windows were killed or taken prisoners, and when we emerged again from the house the enemy were to be seen fleeing in the dim distance. We leisurely retraced our steps. At the railroad track we met the detached portion of our regiment, under Lieut.-Col. Hart. They had passed straight forward without turning off, and were just returning to our assistance. They had fallen in with the flying enemy, and killed sixteen of them. All returned to Capt. Abbott's encampment with twenty-one horses and eighteen prisoners, having been less than two hours absent. Here Capt. Jackson was ordered to remain with his command, and the rest of us seated ourselves upon the cars, and moved proudly back to Bird's Point, which we reached in. good time, and without accident. We killed about sixty or seventy of the enemy, and probably wounded twice that number. There were some fearful contests — some hand-to-hand fighting. The enemy were impaled upon the bayonet, pulled from their horses, knocked over with the butt of the gun or of the pistol, and so bold and impetuous was every movement that the enemy fled in confusion. Several guns, revolvers, and bowie knives were taken. About two hours after we left our cavalry entered the town, but no enemy was to be seen. They, however, succeeded before morning in capturing a camp of cavalry above town, and brought into camp forty horses and thirty-three prisoners. Gen. Pillow is now in our neighborhood, and a lieutenant among the captured says he will call on us with twenty thousand men in a few days! Another of our prisoners says that he made a speech to them yesterday, and promised them that they should take breakfast in Cairo this morning! The prisoners look bad. About one-third of them appear intelligent — the balance have about half sense, and have certainly been induced to take up arms against their Government by the misrepresentations of the designing.
N. Y. Tribune account.
Cairo, Ill, August 20, 1861.Times are somewhat exciting here to-day. Our boys are at work, and were well paid for their labor last night and to-day. It has been known for several days that the secessionists were occupying Charleston, Missouri. Yesterday, about four o'clock P. M., Colonel Dougherty of the Twenty-second regiment Illinois Volunteers, and Lieut.-Col. Ransom of the Eleventh Illinois Volunteers, started on the Cairo and Fulton Railroad with two full companies, A and B, of the Illinois Twenty second, and some thirty or forty of the anxious boys for fight, who stole away from their companies to share what might be coming, for Charleston. The train carried our little band to the destroyed bridge, about four miles from Charleston. Here they were reinforced by two companies of the Illinois Eighteenth regiment, and commenced their march at double-quick time, which was kept up until they arrived in sight of the camp of the enemy. They were encamped in the Court House and a church and other buildings; the secession pickets gave the alarm. Col. Dougherty ordered a charge, and a bloody fight quickly followed, which resulted in a loss of forty killed and fifty or sixty wounded on the side of the rebels, and one killed and several wounded of the Union forces. A total rout of the rebels took place, and Col. Dougherty returned to Bird's Point this morning with fifteen prisoners and eighteen horses and many other trophies of war. The two companies of the Illinois Twelfth failed to take the right road, and were not in the fight. The Union forces engaged did not exceed two hundred. The rebel prisoners represent seven different companies, and from the report they give of their respective companies, show their forces to have exceeded five hundred; some of them say they were two thousand strong, but this is thought exaggeration. They were badly uniformed, and Were armed with muskets, shot-guns, rifles, and Arkansas tooth-picks, with a few revolvers. I omitted to state that Lieut.-Col. Ransom was among the wounded on the Union side. He was urging his men to the charge, when a man rode up and called out: “What do you mean? You are killing our own men.” Ransom replied: “I know what I am doing; who are you?” The reply was, “I am for Jeff. Davis.” Ransom replied: “You are the man I am after,” and instantly two pistols were drawn. The rebel fired first, taking effect in Col. Ransom's arm, near the shoulder. The Colonel fired, killing his antagonist instantly. Capt. Noleman of the Centralia Dragoons continued the chase, and returned this evening with forty prisoners and as many horses. These were rebel dragoons. We took them without the loss of blood. Capt. Noleman had only about forty men under his command at the time. The victory is complete. The prisoners were brought to this place this evening, and sent to the guard-house by Col. Oglesby, who commands at this point in the absence of Gen. Prentiss. We have here about sixty prisoners and a greater number of horses. The horses are said to be good ones, but the prisoners, from their looks, will have more to eat than they have been accustomed to, but they will have to perform labor on the breastworks, which will be a wholesome exercise, to which, I have