The old cavalry corps of this department of the rebel army, once the terror of Kentucky and Tennessee, has dwindled down to almost nothing. It can no longer effect any thing. It has been defeated so often of late, that it and its commanders have fallen into disrepute, and are no longer looked upon as of importance to the army. Our loss in the engagement is variously estimated at from one to ten wounded, all agreeing that none of our gallant men were killed, though one was taken prisoner. To the Fourth Ohio cavalry and Twentieth Missouri mounted infantry belong the honor of this last important achievement, which resulted in securing a connection of the highest importance to the country.
Colonel Laibold's letter.
Loudon, Tenn., January 1, 1864.sir: Being well aware of the flattering interest you take in my movements, I take pleasure in informing you that I have had an engagement with the rebel General Wheeler, on the twenty-eighth of December, giving him the soundest thrashing he ever received. On the twenty-third of December, I was given command of a detachment of the Fourth army corps, consisting principally of convalescents of the two last battles, camp retainers, etc., and a train of about one hundred and fifty wagons, with orders to join the army corps at Knoxville. On. the twenty-fourth, I started from Chattanooga, and proceeded about eight miles, to a place near Chickamauga River,being necessitated to halt on account of the slow progress of the train. In the evening of that day, a flag of truce came into my lines, with despatches to Generals Grant and Thomas, and a mail, and I have no doubt that the bearer of that flag gave information which induced Wheeler to follow my track. The miserable state of the weather and worse condition of the roads, prevented me from moving fast, and it was the twenty-seventh before I reached Charlestown on the Hiawassee River. On the morning of the twenty-eighth, I commenced moving my train across a temporary bridge on the ties of the railroad structure, but had only a few wagons over when it was found necessary to dig a new road in the railroad dyke. Whilst this was being done, Wheeler, with two divisions of cavalry, (Generals Kelly's and Preston's,) made a rush at the train. I immediately advanced my skirmishers, and silently formed my command in line of battle, covering completely, at the same time, all avenues of approach. I then saw the whole of my train safely over the river, and ordered a small cavalry force to be stationed at that post under my immediate command, stationing them in a convenient position for a charge. I had, up to that time, strictly forbidden all firing from the lines; but now, being in readiness, I charged with the infantry in doublequick, and completely routed the enemy, under Wheeler's personal command; and when they were in utter confusion, I charged again with the cavalry, who cut down many of the terrified enemy, and made scores of prisoners. My movements were quick enough to prevent Wheeler from bringing four cannon he had with him into action, and the stampede of the renowned rebel cavalry was such that, with any thing like an adequate number of cavalry, I could have easily captured the whole command. As it was, I captured five commissioned officers and one hundred and twenty-six men, killed (as far as I was able to learn during my brief stay) eleven rebels, wounded over thirty, amongst them General Kelly and Colonel Wade; and the number of small arms thrown away by the valiant warriors must amount to between three and four hundred. Being obliged to proceed upon my march, I had to leave it to the cavalry to bring in the small arms thrown away, and, I have no doubt, they captured a good many more prisoners, as large numbers of the enemy scattered in different directions to hide in the woods. Wheeler moved post haste into Georgia, with a couple of hundred men of his command, bare-headed, and without arms. I started next day, according to orders, and arrived at this place on the thirty-first December, all safe. The casualties in my command, in the engagement, were two officers wounded, two men killed, and twelve wounded; amongst them none of the few Missouri troops with me. Your obedient servant,