Doc. 118.-the retreat of Longstreet.
Bean Station, Tenn., Rutledge road, December 12, 1863.Ascertaining that the enemy had raised the siege,1 and were on the retreat early on Saturday morning, December fifth, General Shackleford, commanding the cavalry corps, was ordered in pursuit. He commenced skirmishing with the enemy's rear-guard eight miles from Knoxville, on the Rutledge and Morristown road. He drove them steadily to Bean Station, forty-two miles from Knoxville, where he found the enemy's cavalry in line of battle. On Thursday mornings, Colonel Bond's brigade, of Woodford's division, was in the advance. He charged, and drove the enemy from the place. The treating army had been foraging right and left along their line of retreat. He captured about one hundred and fifty prisoners during the pursuit as far as to Bean Station. Many of the rebels, both infantry and cavalry, purposely fell out and gave themselves up. There were more of infantry than of cavalry who fell into our hands. At Bean Station, General Shackleford received orders to halt his command and hold the place. He did so, and sent reconnoissances on the different roads. He ascertained that a large party of rebel cavalry had taken the Morristown road. Colonel Garrard's brigade, of Foster's division, was ordered to make a reconnoissance in that road. He came up with a rebel brigade of cavalry, under Jones, at Morristown, the same command who defeated him at Rogersville. He found the enemy occupying fortifications built by our men before the evacuation of that place. He immediately engaged them, the fight lasting two hours, and drove them out of the town. The enemy lost between forty and drove fifty men. Eight were found dead on the field, and thirteen were left seriously or mortally wounded. Colonel Nicol, of Virginia, was killed. Captain John Holt, of Kentucky, son of Joe Holt, was shot through both thighs. A reconnoissance, the same day, on the Rogersville road came up with the enemy at Moresburgh, nine miles above Bean Station. There was heavy skirmishing for two or three hours. Several were wounded on our side. The loss of the enemy was not known. A reconnoissance yesterday, December eleventh, found no enemy at Morristown, but he was still occupying the ground at Moresburgh. I must defer any mention of the position and movements of our infantry in this communication, for prudential reasons. The enemy, in superior force, have just been reported within a few miles of this place, (Bean Station,) and our cavalry fighting and slowly falling back. General Shackleford has his headquarters here. Being closely shut up, and constantly occupied with the operations of the enemy immediately around the city, I have not been able, until now, to furnish any trustworthy account of operations outside. These, fortunately for us, were of a character to occupy a considerable share of the enemy's attention, and oblige him to keep a large force of his cavalry busy beyond the immediate lines of the siege. The first important movement of the enemy, after they laid siege to Knoxville, was to send a large body of cavalry to Kingston, “to operate in that quarter.” This was on the twenty-fourth of November. On the twenty-sixth, as near as I am able to ascertain, the cavalry under General Wheeler found Colonel Byrd's brigade strongly intrenched near Kingston, and after a fruitless effort to dislodge or capture him, and losing a considerable number of men, he withdrew. Wheeler hereupon turned over his command to another officer, and returned toward Chattanooga, ostensibly to take an infantry command. He narrowly escaped capture at Cleveland, where three railroad trains fell into our hands. The rebel cavalry returned into Knoxville, arriving on Saturday previous to the famous Sunday assault at Fort Sanders. On the seventeenth of November, Colonel Foster reports that communication was cut off between the army at Knoxville and that portion under General Wilcox, stationed at and near Bull's Gap. On the eighteenth, his division, with General Wilcox's whole command, crossed the Holston River, and camped at Bean Station. The Second cavalry brigade, Colonel Graham, was sent down to Blain's Cross-Roads, to attempt to open communication with Knoxville. He found a heavy force of the enemy's cavalry between that point and Knoxville, and, after some skirmishing, followed General Wilcox's column to Tazewell. From Bean Station, the First cavalry brigade, Colonel Garrard, was despatched to Rogersville, to watch the enemy's forces advancing from Virginia, and protect the rear of General Wilcox's column and train while crossing Clynch Mountain. They camped on the north bank of Clynch River. This brigade had some heavy skirmishing with the division of the enemy's cavalry under Jones, and with the infantry under Ransom,  as it passed down to join Longstreet. As soon as the Clynch. River became fordable after the rain, Colonel Graham's brigade crossed and encountered the enemy. On the sixth of December, the whole division was consolidated, and as soon as it became known that the enemy was retreating, they attempted to cross Clynch Mountain above the Gaps, and harass the enemy's flank; but these Gaps were heavily guarded by the enemy, protected by artillery, with a heavy blockade of fallen timber. Some sharp skirmishing developed the fact that it would be a useless destruction of life to force a passage over Clynch Mountain, and the division moved down to Blain's Gap Roads, and, joined General Shackleford in the rear of the enemy. Colonel Graham, commanding the Second brigade, Second division of cavalry, reports that he marched from camp near the brigade over Powell River, on the main Cumberland Gap road, on the twenty-seventh of November, moving via Tazewell to Walker's Ford. On the twenty-eighth, crossed the Clynch, and bivouacked at Brooks's, four miles distant. On the twenty-ninth, he moved to Maynardsville, and on the thirtieth thence toward Knoxville, sending a detachment of the Fifth Indiana cavalry in advance. Having proceeded fifteen miles, he came up with a rebel patrolling party, and soon afterward learned that a considerable force was at Blain's Cross-Roads. He moved back to Maynardsville, and on the morning of December first his pickets were attacked at the Gap, four miles below Maynardsville, on the Knoxville road. Reenforcements were sent, consisting of detachments from each regiment and two of the Fourteenth Illinois howitzers. More or less firing continued during the day, both parties holding their ground. A scouting-party sent toward Blain's Cross-Roads was driven back. Finding that a considerable cavalry force was approaching, with a view of surrounding him, Colonel Graham, at midnight, fell back to Walker's Ford, leaving company M, Fifth Indiana cavalry, to guard the Maynardsville road. On the morning of the second, his pickets were attacked, but, notwithstanding his command had been marching all night, arrangements were made to meet and repel the attack. The Fourteenth Illinois cavalry were sent to the river and down the road, and a section of Colbin's battery was sent to Walker's Ford. At half-past 7 A. M., the enemy forced in his pickets. The Sixty-fifth Indiana took position on the left of the line; a portion of the Second and Third batteries of the Fifth Indiana cavalry in the centre, and one company of the Sixty-fifth and one of the Fifth Indiana cavalry on the right. The guns of the Fifth Indiana cavalry were placed in position upon rising ground in rear of the centre, where they did good service in keeping the enemy in check. Three companies of the Fifth Indiana cavalry, under command of Major Woolley, and one section of Colvin's battery, under Captain Colvin, were placed in reserve. The firing became brisk, and the enemy attempted to turn his flank; but a timely movement to the rear prevented him from doing so. The Union forces were brought into close order under cover of a fence and log-barn near Yeadon's house. Here the enemy made a charge in column, which was splendidly met by our forces, and which proved decidedly disastrous to the enemy. A second onset was made, with increased fury, when our men fell back, manfully contesting every foot of ground to a point one mile from the river. Here we were reenforced by the One Hundred and Sixteenth and One Hundred and Eighteenth Indiana infantry, under Colonel Jackson. Our forces crossed the Clynch in good order, and there ended the contest. The enemy, according to reports of citizens and prisoners, consisted of five brigades of cavalry and mounted infantry, under command of Major-General Martino. The enemy intended to surround and capture Colonel Graham's command, but was foiled in his purpose. The enemy's loss was admitted to be twenty-five killed, about fifty wounded, and twenty-eight prisoners. Major-General Martin was wounded in the wrist; Colonel Deboel, commanding brigade, was seriously, if not mortally, wounded; his adjutant-general was killed; and Captain----, who led the charge, was also killed. Colonel Graham speaks in the highest terms of the unflinching courage and steadiness of his officers and men. Our loss is stated as follows: Sixty-fifth Indiana mounted infantry, two killed and six wounded; Fifth Indiana cavalry, five men killed, two officers and ten men wounded, and ten missing; Fourth Illinois cavalry, seven men wounded, eleven missing. Total, seven killed, twenty-three wounded, twenty-one missing. The report of Colonel Capron, of the Fourteenth Illinois cavalry, confirms the facts of the foregoing report, showing that the officers and men of his command twice repulsed the enemy, who charged with greatly superior force. The engagement began at ten A. M., and lasted until three P. M. They captured eighteen prisoners on the second and third of December.
Bean Station, December 18, 1863.latest.--A reconnaissance to Morristown yesterday found the enemy in considerable (cavalry) force between that place and Russelville. There was some sharp skirmishing. We lost four killed and several wounded.