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[293] you that I have given the rebel General Wheeler a sound thrashing this morning. I had succeeded, in spite of the most abominable roads, to reach Charlestown on the night of the twenty-seventh, and this morning, shortly after daylight, I was moving my train across the Hiawassee River bridge, when Wheeler's cavalry — reported one thousand five hundred men strong, with four pieces of artillery, which, however, they had no time to bring into action — appeared on my rear. I placed my infantry in line of battle, then got my train over the bridge safely, and asked Colonel Long to place a regiment of cavalry at my disposal. These arrangements made, I charged with my infantry, on the double-quick, on the astonished rebels, and routed them completely, when I ordered a cavalry charge, to give them the finishing touch. The charge was made in good style, but the number of our cavalry was insufficient for an effective pursuit, and so the enemy got away, and was even able to take his guns along, which, with numerous prisoners, must have fallen into my hands, could I have made a pursuit.

I have now with me, as prisoners, five commissioned officers, among whom is the Inspector-General of General Kelly's division, a surgeon, and one hundred and twenty-six men of different regiments.

Wheeler commanded in person, and it was reported to him, as the prisoners state, that I had six hundred wagons in my train, which he expected to take without much trouble.

The casualties on my side are as follows:

Third division--Two commissioned officers wounded, two men killed, eight wounded, and one missing.

Second division--Four men wounded.

The rebels lost, beside the number stated, several severely wounded, which I am obliged to leave behind, and probably several killed. The number of small arms thrown away by them is rather large, and they will, undoubtedly, be gathered by Colonel Long.

I shall pursue my march at daybreak to-morrow.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Bernard Laibold, Colonel Second Missouri Infantry. Lieutenant-Colonel Fullerton, Adjutant-General Fourth Corps.


A national account.

Chattanooga, Monday, December 28.
An important victory has just been added to the list which has crowned the army of the Cumberland with glory. True, the fight was upon a comparatively small scale; but victories are not always to be valued by the numbers engaged, nor the list of the slain. The importance of an achievement must be estimated by results; and, in this instance, it would be impossible to compute the magnitude of the interests at stake, and the advantages gained by the defeat of our adversary.

Although it has hitherto been contraband, I deem it so no longer, to state that the divisions of Sheridan and Wood were left at or near Knoxville, when Sherman withdrew from that point, and they will probably remain there during the winter; and, of course, it is necessary that their supply-trains, left behind at the first march, should be forwarded to them. Accordingly, a few days since, the quartermasters received orders to move their vehicles to their respective commands, and, in a brief space, the trains were on the way, guarded by the cavalry brigade commanded by Colonel Long, of the Fourth Ohio. They met with no traces of the enemy for several days — only hearing of small guerrilla parties, at different points, which were by no means formidable — and finally arrived at the very natural conclusion that the route was unobstructed, and that the train was not threatened.

Night before last (twenty-seventh) the wagons were all thrown across the Hiawassee, and parked, with but a small guard, under Colonel Siebert, in the front, the main force, one thousand two hundred in number, remaining on the south side of the stream. During the night no alarms occurred, and in the morning the mules were hitched up, as usual, to proceed on the journey, when the small guard was suddenly attacked by Wheeler, at the head of one thousand five hundred men. The charge was sudden and unexpected, and resulted in a hasty retreat on Colonel Siebert's part, leaving the train in the hands of the rebels. He had but about one hundred men with him, and it would have been impossible to have resisted the progress of the enemy; but he had scarcely reached the river-bank, when reenforcements, to the number of one hundred and fifty, crossed to his aid, when a counter-charge was made, resulting in the recapture of the wagons, mules, and horses, which had not been injured, so brief was the rebel possession of the prize.

After retaking the train, Colonel Siebert, with his handful of men, was unable to continue the pursuit, but, keeping his force in line, he so far terrified his adversary that no effort was made to repossess the lost plunder, until Colonel Long, with the whole force, reached the north bank, and wheeled into line, ready for work.

But a moment is required to prepare for an onset; sabres were drawn, and the soldiers stood waiting for the command; it was given, and in a moment, without even making a show of resistance, the rebels broke and ran, pell-mell, down the Dalton road, up every trail, and over hills so steep that hoof had never before trodden them. Many jumped from their animals and sought safety among the rocks; others, in dismay, leaped fences, while yet more surrendered themselves prisoners of war.

The loss to the rebels in this engagement was forty-seven killed and wounded, and one hundred and twenty-three prisoners. But this was not the most important result of the achievement. The wagon route from here to Knoxville has been rendered secure, and the courier lines saved from further annoyance.


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