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Doc. 31.-the fight at Mossy Creek, Tenn.

Knoxville, January 31, 1864.
The following account of this fight is given by one who participated in it:

We reached Mossy Creek on the twenty-eighth of December, and for the next two days our pickets were constantly skirmishing. On the twenty-ninth, the rebels attacked us, coming down rapidly with eight thousand cavalry and fifteen pieces of artillery. They were opposed by our brigade of infantry--First brigade, Second division, Twenty-third army corps--numbering about one thousand five hundred, with four regiments of cavalry, two batteries, with nine guns. We had the advantage in position, and the enemy in numbers.

The guns were placed in position, and commenced firing at eleven o'clock A. M. At the same time, skirmishing commenced all along the line. The One Hundred and Eighteenth was still quietly in camp; but soon an aid dashed up with the order to “fall in, without knapsacks or blankets,” and in five minutes we were rapidly moving into our position, which was a mile from our camp. We went, double-quick, down the hill, across the Mossy Creek, up the steep ascent on the other side, and had accomplished the distance in less than fifteen minutes. When on the brow of the hill, we were under a terrific fire of shell, round shot, and shrapnel, thrown by the rebel batteries, [295] nine of their guns reaching our position. Meanwhile, the Twenty-fourth Indiana battery was pouring a most deadly fire among the rebel ranks in the opposite fields and woods. After various manoeuvring, we were thrown into a position on the left of that gallant battery, in a piece of woods with cleared ground all around it. In getting to that position, we had to pass through a perfect storm of all manner of deadly missiles, and, after getting there, we stood for three mortal hours under fire of artillery and small arms, which old soldiers describe as being the most terrible they had ever witnessed. Our own regiment, One Hundred and Eighteenth Ohio, tried for the first time in so terrible a manner, together with the above-mentioned battery, stood the brunt of the fight, and sustained the heaviest loss. We had been thrown into a position without support, and we only escaped through the good judgment and skill of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas S. Young, commanding, and the indomitable bravery of the men. In front of us was the railroad, running parallel to our line; and behind this, was a regiment of sharp-shooters picking us off at every opportunity. A piece of woods and a large corn-field to our left were swarming with “graybacks.” They charged us the second time, and would, no doubt, ultimately have overwhelmed us, had not the First Tennessee calvary, Colonel Jim Brownlow, by a well-timed counter-charge, driven them from our left, while we poured a heavy fire into their front, causing them to beat a hasty retreat. But doggedly they rallied and advanced again, calmly filling up the gaps we made in their ranks, cheering loudly all the while. This advance was to take the Indiana battery, which had made terrible havoc among them, besides having silenced several of their guts; and they had well-nigh accomplished their purpose, and were only fifty yards from us, when Colonel Young gave the order to cease firing. He had just received orders to hold that strip of woods, and hold it he would, at all hazard. Our artillery was on the eve of being lost. What few men were left to man the guns were doing all they could to get them away. Again the order was, “Fix bayonets!” and in the next instant, led by the gallant Colonel, we charged them at the point of the bayonet. With unbroken line, at double-quick, we went at them and drove them out of the woods across the open field. This was the first suspicion that rebel infantry were in the woods, as we afterward learned from a printed address of Major-General Martin, who commanded the enemy's forces--two divisions under Wheeler and Armstrong.

The First Tennessee cavalry lost several in killed and wounded. The Twenty-fourth Indiana battery suffered most severely, nearly every man and horse belonging to it, being injured to a greater or less extent. The First Lieutenant and one private had their heads entirely blown off. The One Hundred and Eighteenth Ohio escaped with but forty-two killed and wounded, out of four hundred and forty-one engaged.

Our entire forces were commanded by Brigadier-General Sturgis.

It is due here to state, that had it not been for the gallantry of the intrepid Lieutenant-Colonel Young, in holding the strip of woods referred to, the issue of the fight would certainly have been very far from satisfactory, if not entirely disastrous.


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Thomas S. Young (3)
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January 31st, 1864 AD (1)
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