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Doc. 198.-affair near Middleton, Tennessee

Louisville Journal account.

Murfreesboro, May 25, 1863.
I gave you by telegraph a short account of the night attack made by our cavalry on the enemy's camp near Middleton, on the morning of the twenty-first. Through the kindness of Colonel Stanley and General Minty, the latter commanding the First brigade, which sustained the brunt of the fight, I am enabled to glean from official reports, the following details: On the night of the twenty-first, at eight o'clock, General Stanley started out on the Salem pike, in the direction of Middleton, a small village about three miles west of Fosterville, [626] on the old stage route leading from Murfreesboro to Shelbyville. The forces composing the expedition were the First and Second brigades of General Turchin's cavalry division, the former consisting of the Fourth Michigan, Third Indiana, Seventh Pennsylvania, and Fourth regular regiments, under the command of Colonel R. H. G. Minty; and the latter composed of the Third and Fourth Ohio cavalry and the Thirty-ninth Indiana mounted infantry, and commanded by Colonel Long. Leaving the pike to avoid the enemy's pickets, posted on the road, the column picked its way cautiously through an unfrequented region, broken by gullies and ravines, obstructed by bluffs, and traversed by serpentine water-courses. The natural barriers intervening, impeded the progress of the column; but the night, its darkness deepened by the forest that overhung, rendered the path almost impassable. After a march of over twenty miles over this rugged country, the horses jaded and the men fatigued, the force was halted within three miles of Middleton, and the preparations made for surrounding, surprising, and capturing the enemy. General Stanley, with his escort and two companies (D and I) from the Fourth regulars, ordered forward to act as advance-guard, under the command of Lieutenant O'Connell, took the road leading from the old Salem pike in the direction of the rebel camp. General Turchin was ordered to follow, in supporting distance, with the First brigade. Reaching a point where the road forked with another leading to the right, General Turchin sent the balance of the Fourth regulars and the Seventh Pennsylvania to the left, and the Fourth Michigan, followed by the Third Indiana, took the road to the right, leading to Middleton. General Stanley, in the mean time, with the advance-guard, had held steadily toward the point designated by the guides as the camping ground of the enemy. The camp was situated about a mile from Middleton, in a dense cedar glade, and the forces were so disposed that it was necessary to pass through the grounds occupied by the First Alabama to reach the camp of the Eighth confederate. Having alarmed the sentries, and anxious to surprise the enemy asleep, General Stanley ordered the Anderson Guard forward. No time was lost. In a twinkling Lieutenant O'Connell was at their head, and the two companies, with drawn sabres, were dashing forward with a yell, that was alone sufficient to strike terror into a drowsy man, and sabring the frightened Alabamians. The alarms given by the sentries had aroused the Eighth confederate, who, rallying in sufficient numbers, beat back the advance-guard, who retired with a large number of prisoners. The Fourth Michigan, on the alert, attracted by the tumult, dashed forward at a furious gallop, charged through the town and a mile beyond into the camp of the enemy. The rebels by this time had formed in line of battle on the opposite side of an open field and in the edge of the forest skirting it. Discovering them, the Michiganders fired a few volleys at them, which emptied several saddles, and prepared to charge. The confederates, more confident in the mettle of their horses than in their own ability to sustain a charge, wheeled about and took to the woods and glades. The Third Indiana, in the mean time, had charged in the direction of Fosterville. The few rebels they found only tarried to exchange shots, and retreated. The Second brigade, moved forward when the action begun, found the enemy gone, and was now occupying his camp. General Stanley burned the tents, wagons, clothing, guns, ordnance stores, and every thing left on the grounds, and, with over two hundred serviceable horses and seventy-three prisoners, took up a line of march for Murfreesboro. The rebels, collecting in considerable force, followed us for several miles, firing on our rear-guard and severely wounding quite a number of our men. Colonel Long, with the Second brigade, brought up the rear, and sustained a loss of eight wounded by shots from the enemy following. Reporting to General Stanley that our rear was being continually annoyed, the Fourth Michigan was placed in ambush. The column passed, and the enemy unsuspectingly followed close behind, firing at us. When within easy musket-range the Fourth Michigan rose and poured in a volley that played sad havoc in the rebel ranks, and they withdrew to trouble us no more.

The charge of the advance-guard was a brilliant affair, and reflects great credit on Lieutenant O'Connell, who led the van, and only retired when the enemy in superior force moved forward to oppose him. In this action we lost the daring and gallant Lieutenant Wood.

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D. S. Stanley (7)
Turchin (3)
O'Connell (3)
R. H. G. Minty (2)
Middleton (2)
Eli Long (2)
William D. Wood (1)
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May 25th, 1863 AD (1)
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