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Doc. 65.-battle at Hartsville, Tenn.

Cincinnati Gazette account.

Nashville, Tenn., December 14.
in a letter dated the eighth instant, I gave you such imperfect accounts of the affair at Hartsville, as had then come to hand, mentally resolving that I would write no more about it until I should be in possession of a sufficient number of facts to furnish a clear and reliable statement. Since that time, the paroled prisoners have arrived from Murfreesboro; minute accounts of the disaster have been presented by members of all the Union regiments concerned.

At Hartsville, the Cumberland River, which runs north-west from Rome in Smith County, makes a not very abrupt curve, and for a few miles pursues a course almost due south. Two little streams enter the river at the bend, and between these lies the town of Hartsville, about a mile from the river-bank. Leaving the town and approaching the river, you enter tolerably heavy woods; after which you come to some old fields abandoned and partially overgrown with brushwood. Crossing these, you are confronted by a high, steep, rocky hill, at the southern foot of which the Cumberland flows. Upon the northern declivity of the hill, and in the old fields at the foot, our troops were encamped — the One Hundred and Eighth Ohio nearest the town, the Second Indiana cavalry nearest the river. Two pieces of cannon belonging to the Thirteenth Indiana battery, Captain Nicklin, were planted in a commanding position near the summit of the hill. West of the hill is a ravine, which an enemy attacking from that direction would be compelled to cross. A similar hollow lies to the east. From Hartsville a road runs north to Lafayette.

A stronger position can scarcely be imagined. The depth of the river as it runs past the hill I have mentioned, and the almost perpendicular southern face of the hill itself, rendered an attack from that direction utterly impracticable. A liberal use of axes for a few hours would have made an advance from toward the town exceedingly dangerous for an attacking force. Comparatively slight earthworks along the ravines would have enabled their defenders to repulse a largely superior force coming either from the east or west; while the hill itself, with some labor, could have been made an almost impregnable fortress, to which our troops, as a last resort, might have retired, and which they might have held against ten times their numbers. Yet strange to say, not a tree seems to have been felled, and not a spadeful of earth thrown up. Col. Moore, of the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, commanding the force, well knew that he occupied an exposed position on our extreme left; a position liable to be attacked at any moment; and still in apparently reckless disregard of the safety of his command and the great interests intrusted to his care, he neglected to take even the most ordinary precautions for his defence. The cavalry force at his disposal, with which he might have scoured the country in every direction, instantly detecting any attempt of the enemy to approach him, was not used at all, except that a few videttes were posted behind the pickets a short distance from the camp. An apathy, which boded destruction, seemed to have taken possession of the whole force. So much was this the case, that some of the pickets are said to have been captured by the enemy while fast asleep upon their [238] posts, and others came running into camp, upon the approach of the rebels, without having fired off their guns.

It was between twelve and one o'clock, on the night preceding that unfortunate Sunday, that the rebels commenced crossing the river, both above and below our camps. From the best information of which I can get possession, I am inclined to believe that the principal portion of the rebel force crossed above our position, left a part of their number in the woods north-east of us, passed entirely around the village of Hartsville, and then came up upon the west side of the ravine which I have described as lying west of the high wooded hill. It was during this circumnavigation of our camp that they captured the sleeping pickets.

At a lower ford a negro reported during the night, to a captain in command there, that the enemy were advancing, five thousand strong. The captain reported this startling announcement to the officer in charge. The latter either said nothing about it to Colonel Moore, or was unheeded when he did. Suffice it to say, that the bands of Morgan and Duke were all around and about the camp of the fated Thirty-ninth brigade, before any of its members were aware of their proximity. In this sense, the thing was a complete surprise. A contraband seems to have given the first alarm. He saw the enemy forming upon the opposite side of the western ravine, and forgetting for the time that he was nothing but a “nigger,” he ran energetically through the camp, calling out: “Fall in! fall in! forty millions of de enemy are jest upon us!”

It was just at daybreak; none of the men had arisen; the cold was intense; but with a commendable alacrity, they sprang up, jumped into their clothes, and hastened to form in line of battle upon the opposite side of the western ravine, across which the rebels had already commenced to fire. At first the One Hundred and Sixth Ohio occupied the extreme left, nearest the river; the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois was in the centre, and the One Hundred and Eighth Ohio, Captain Pivot, company A, commanding, was on the right. Strong detachments were sent down into the ravine, to take the place of the pickets who had fled, and support the few who remained. Captain J. W. Palmer, company K, One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, commanded those from his own regiment, the Second Indiana cavalry advanced for the One Hundred and Sixth, and Captain Pivot, of the One Hundred and Eighth himself led two companies of skirmishers in advance of his regiment.

Several times these skirmishers checked and drove back the enemy, who were pressing down into the ravine, until Captain Palmer, fancying, or really perceiving that our men, formed in line of battle upon the edge of the ravine, were firing into his company, retired and took position upon the left of his regiment. The cavalry continued in an irregular style to keep up the fight, but gradually retired to the principal line of battle. Captain Pivot, before descending into the ravine, ordered Adjutant Hahn to bring forward the rest of the regiment to his support, as soon as he should be fairly engaged with the enemy. This, Adjutant Hahn failed to do, being ordered, as he says, by Colonel Moore, to keep his position. Lacking the expected support, Captain Pivot immediately retired. Thus, in less time than I can relate it, our advance line of skirmishers had gone forth and returned, leaving us wholly dependent upon the main line of battle.

The cry now range through our ranks to bring forward the artillery, which was on the hill. Colonel Moore himself went back to order it up, and, while he was gone, Col. Tafel, of the One Hundred and Sixth Ohio, took the somewhat extraordinary resolution to change his position, without the order, consent, or knowledge of Col. Moore, believing that such a step would promote the best interests of the command, and not knowing when Col. Moore would come back. Upon the return of the latter, however, he saw what Colonel Tafel was about, and gave his sanction to the change. In the mean while, one piece of artillery was got into position upon the right of the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, and the firing became general along both lines. The Ninth Kentucky rebel infantry, Captain T. J. Morehead, commanding, fought against the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, the Second Kentucky against the One Hundred and Sixth Ohio, while a cloud of Duke's, Gano's, and Bennett's cavalry, mounted and dismounted, assailed the One Hundred and Eighth Ohio, and enveloped our extreme left wing.

The piece of artillery brought into action did excellent service, and at the second fire one of the enemy's caissons was exploded, and five of their men killed. But the heavy fire of the rebel artillery, which played upon our ranks both from across the ravine, and, with less effect, from the other side of the river, caused some dismay amongst our soldiers, and killed most of the horses attached to the piece which had been brought forward, as well as to that still stationed upon the hill. The superior numbers of the enemy enabled them to turn both our flanks, and after the fighting had continued three quarters of an hour, Colonel Moore gave the order to retire to the hill upon the river-side. By a part of the forces this order was misunderstood; by another part it was disobeyed; and by still another portion, it was taken as the signal for a general dispersion and flight. In itself the order was an unfortunate one. It is very difficult for new troops, under any circumstances, to retire in order while exposed to a storm of cannon and rifle-balls. In this case there could be no good reason for retreating to the hill, because that, being totally destitute of defensive works of any kind, was the most exposed portion of the whole field. The men, once upon it, could be picked off with ease and safety by the rebels in the woods below. But Colonel Moore had doubtless somewhere read “that the highest ground upon a field of battle was the most defensible;” forgetting that fortifications of some sort are necessary to render it so, [239] and that, without these, to place men upon a hill, is to make of them an elevated and visible target for every bullet of the enemy.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

But what, it may be asked, was Colonel Moore to do? His first position had doubtless become untenable; upon this all authorities agree. But several courses were still left open to him. He might gradually have retired to his encampment, and with his left wing resting upon the steep hill, his right upon the thick woods lying between the old fields and the town, he could have maintained his ground for a long time behind the wagons belonging to the brigade. For be it remembered that the enemy did not assail his rear, except by a distant cannonade from across the river, and could only advance to do so through the woods upon the north, or up a small ravine upon the north-east, so narrow that a very insignificant force could have held it against almost any number of the enemy. In a few hours General Dumont would have arrived with the remainder of the division, and the rebels would have been routed hip and thigh; unless, long before such arrival, they had given up the contest in despair, and retreated across the Cumberland.

Again, if Colonel Moore had possessed sufficient intrepidity, he might, by a determined charge across the large ravine on the west have gained the Gallatin road, and made safe his retreat in that direction. This would have required both courage and coolness, and however much of the former quality we may allow Colonel Moore, he seems from the beginning of the action, to have been wholly destitute of the latter. His leaving his command early in the fight, in order himself to bring the piece of cannon, sufficiently demonstrates that his excitement had bewildered his judgment.

Let us return to the time when Colonel Moore ordered his force to retreat from the edge of the ravine to the hill. The left wing of the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, understood that they were ordered to charge the enemy, and accordingly three companies advanced over the edge of the ravine and down into it, with fixed bayonets. Here they were met by so heavy a fire from the rebels that they were first compelled to lie down, and soon afterward to withdraw in confusion to the hill to which the right wing had retired. Here the whole regiment rallied around the two pieces of artillery and endeavored for a few minutes to make a stand. Almost immediately, however, Colonel Moore perceived the trap into which he had led his men, fell at once into despair, and rushing up to Captain Palmer, asked him if he had a white handkerchief, declaring his determination to surrender. The Captain earnestly entreated him not to do so, reminding him that his other regiments might be somewhere maintaining their ground and that still they might be victorious. “No,” said Colonel Moore, “we are whipped; I shall surrender.” “Do not, for God's sake,” replied Captain Palmer. Upon this Colonel Moore walked away a little distance, frantically wringing his hands, but returned in a moment afterward and demanded the white handkerchief. This Captain Palmer now gave him, and the Colonel taking a bayonet from the hands of a soldier, put the handkerchief upon the point of it, and waved it toward the enemy. The word, “Cease firing!” first ran along the rebel line; and then a wild hurrah proclaimed the triumph of traitors and the humiliation of the national flag.

Let us now inquire into the fate of the other regiments.

When the order was given to retire to the hill, Colonel Tafel of the One Hundred and Sixth Ohio, perceiving the inevitable destruction in which such a course would involve the command, took upon himself the responsibility of disobeying the order, and retired toward the woods. Coming to the wagon-train, belonging to the One Hundred and Eighth Ohio, he made a stand there, and fought the enemy gallantly for about ten minutes. Separated, however, from the rest of the command, he was unable to maintain his ground, and retreated still further to the vicinity of the headquarters of the brigade, which were near the beginning of the small ravine that I have mentioned, lying north-east of the hill. Here he had scarcely taken position, when a rebel cavalryman, with a blue overcoat, came galloping up the ravine, and called out to Colonel Tafel to surrender, as all the others had done. This was the first intimation that Colonel Tafel had received of Col. Moore's surrender, except the triumphant shout raised a few minutes before, which he thought might have come from our own men. He ordered his men, therefore, to pay no attention to the rebel horseman, and to continue the fight; but soon perceived that the firing had ceased upon the hill, and that his own left was violently assailed by the rebels who, having Colonel Moore no longer upon their hands, now came rushing down in great force upon the One Hundred and Sixth, and almost completely surrounded it. Under these circumstances, Colonel Tafel judged it best to surrender.

The One Hundred and Eighth Ohio seems to have been unfortunate from the beginning, as I have already intimated, and, weak and demoralized as it was, played a somewhat inferior part in the whole affair. When the order to retire from the first line of battle was given, a portion of this regiment broke, fled through the woods south of the town, and were picked up by rebel cavalry stationed upon the other side. Another part joined themselves to the One Hundred and Sixth, retired with them, shared their fortunes, fought bravely by their side, and surrendered with them near the headquarters.

Captain Reintantz of the One Hundred and Sixth covered the retreat of that regiment from the ravine, with his company, and, in order to ascertain the true position of the rebels, was frequently observed to mount upon some elevated object, and daringly expose himself to a score of bullets which, upon every such occasion, came whistling about his cars. He was shot dead a moment before the surrender. [240]

Thus ended the battle, and fifteen hundred of our soldiers were prisoners in the hands of the enemy.

Besides the troops I have already named upon our side, there were some seventy of the Eleventh Kentucky cavalry, who were under the command of Lieutenant Robert Terrell, and fought with the other cavalry until Col. Moore had surrendered.

The force of the enemy could not have been much less than four thousand men, composed of the two regiments of infantry already named, three full regiments and two battalions of cavalry, and twelve pieces of artillery. The cavalry was mostly made up of Tennessee and Kentucky men, with the exception of three companies of Texan Rangers under the command of Col. Gano. The three cavalry regiments were commanded respectively by Cols. Duke, Chenault, and Bennett, and the other battalion by Major Stoner. The two infantry regiments were commanded by the infamous Kentucky traitor, Roger W. Hanson, and the artillery was partly attached to his brigade, partly to the cavalry, and partly independent. The entire force was commanded by Brigadier-General John Morgan.

As soon as possible after the surrender, the rebels collected their prisoners together, and commenced plundering our camps. The prisoners were then taken across the river; but before the booty was all over, General Dumont's forces appeared upon the right bank, retook a part of the prey, and sent some shells after the withdrawing rebels.

Our men had eaten no breakfast that morning, (Sunday,) and, incredible as it may seem, were marched until Tuesday evening before they were given a bite of food. By that time they had arrived at John Morgan's headquarters, five miles from Murfreesboro, and received there about a pint of flour apiece.

Nothing was given them in which to cook this miserable pittance, and so they mixed it with water, wrapped the unwholesome dough in their handkerchiefs, and thrust it into hot ashes. In this way they prepared the first meal they had eaten since the previous Saturday evening. On Wednesday morning they went to Murfreesboro, the men being compelled to give up all their blankets on the way. Here they were paroled, and furnished at night with a little flour and musty pork, the rebels asserting, no doubt honestly, that they had scarcely any thing to eat for themselves. On the way back from Murfreesboro, one of our men gave three dollars for a single cake.

Five miles from our lines, the rebels dispossessed them of all of their overcoats, and when they arrived here they were encumbered by no superfluous clothing. Friday evening a portion of them took their way to the States, and the remainder departed yesterday morning.

The loss of the enemy, including some prisoners taken by Gen. Dumont's forces upon the right bank of the river, was about three hundred men. Considering the casualties in the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois as equalling those in the One Hundred and Sixth Ohio, our own loss in killed, wounded and missing was about one hundred and fifty.

Y. S.

Letter from General Dumont.

Gallatin, December 12, 1862.
To the Editors of the Louisville Journal:
gentlemen: In your daily issue of the tenth instant you speak in terms of severity of the recent surrender of troops at Hartsville, and make it the occasion of an assault upon me. Unconscious of ever having injured you or merited such treatment, I cannot in justice to myself and truth suffer such charges to go unnoticed; but in repelling them will endeavor to be as brief as the nature of what you have said and the facts will allow. After noticing the surrender, you say:

We are not sure that any thing better was to be expected from the regiments that brought shame upon themselves at Hartsville and to some extent upon the Federal arms. They were raw regiments, and they had not behaved well previously. We are informed that they are the same regiments that Gen. Dumont had at Frankfort and elsewhere in this State. Their conduct in Kentucky was scandalous. Wherever they marched or sojourned, they insulted quiet citizens and stole and robbed continually. They stole slaves upon all occasions. No doubt there were good men among them, but many if not most respected no law of man or God. At the capital of our State, they outraged not only all honesty but all decency. They would go habit ually into gentlemen's yards and use them for the vulgarest purpose in nature right before the eyes of the whole families; and, when persons made complaint of such doings to Gen. Dumont, as very many did, the only answer they could get was: ‘The sooner you get used to these things the better.’ Surely it is not surprising, that such troops, led by such a commander, proved basely recreant in the face of the enemy. No doubt the portion of them that scorned to participate in the outrages perpetrated in Kentucky was the portion that made whatever resistance was made at Hartsville. As for the rest, let the nightcaps be drawn over their heads.

We have not learned whether Gen. Dumont was in actual command at Hartsville or not. He is most likely to have been. He is one of our Government's numerous political generals. When the little band of sixty men at Shepherdsville, three months ago, was attacked by three hundred guerrillas, armed with flying artillery and small arms, he was at the head of ten thousand men only nine miles off, where he heard the firing, but, instead of hastening to the relief of the beleaguered handful of men, he drew up his whole force in line of battle and gallantly awaited the attack of the three hundred!!! If he was at Hartsville, let the nighteap be to him in the place of a laurel crown.

Statements more cruelly unjust toward myself could hardly be condensed into a smaller compass.

You presume, in the first place, that I was in [241] command at Hartsville, because I am and have been guilty of certain other disreputable and disgraceful things, which you proceed to enumerate. My reply is, that I was not at Hartsville ; that I did not participate in the fight or surrender, and have not been with or seen those troops or had any opportunity of being with or seeing them for a month before that disaster; that said troops did not move with my main command at the time I moved forward from Bowling Green; that with my main command I was ordered, about the eighth of last month, to move to Scottsville, and subsequently from that place to this ; whereas the Thirty-ninth brigade was separated from my main command and ordered to Glasgow, thence to Tompkinsville, thence to Hartsville; that I was, at the time of the disaster, at Gallatin, where I had been ordered to be with my main command; and in addition, was prostrate with sickness whereof I had been confined to my bed for upward of two weeks.

When I left Shelbyville I had with me four brigades. At Frankfort one of these brigades was ordered to Lawrenceburgh, thence I have understood to Harrodsburgh, thence to Danville, and thence I know not where, but presume where military necessity required. Had this brigade met with misfortune, it would be but little more flagrantly unjust to make me accountable for it than to speak of me injuriously in connection with the Hartsville surrender. The officer to be held responsible must have control; deprive him of immediate control, and common justice relieves him of responsibility. What does it signify that these brigades are in my division upon paper, if we are separated so by space that the immediate command must fall upon others? I pretend not that the brigade was wrongfully sent away; it was doubtless ordered to go where it was needed, and where it ought to have gone. I make not these statements to chime in with clamor against the unfortunate ; I would condemn no one without a hearing. I decide not what measure of blame, if any, is due to those concerned. What I know is, that whatever blame, censure, or praise is due in the matter, it belongs not to me. It is but just to let every tub stand on its own bottom, that is all I ask. I come not forward as the champion of any one, nor will I condemn without knowing fully the facts without a hearing. I am told that seventy of our men were killed on the spot, or have since died, that one hundred and forty were wounded, a number of which will yet die. Two hundred and ten of our men bled and died. Who can say there were no gallant spirits on that fatal field? The loss of the enemy as published by himself, is not so great, but it is not small, and shows that there was bloody work, a terrible conflict. It may turn out, for aught I know, that our troops were overwhelmed with numbers. Many of the escaped assert such to be the truth. It is said, too, that while some of our troops acted badly, and did not fight, others fought with exceeding bravery. I stand not here to defend the guilty or to shield the coward, but it is due alike to the dead and the living, to those who bled, to those who died, and to those who yet live, that they should not be consigned to infamy until the facts are known. Then let the guilty suffer.

In regard to the alleged bad conduct of troops at Frankfort, I have simply to say, that there are bad men with all troops ; that some such did behave badly and commit excesses at that place, though most of the troops behaved well; that these things were regretted by no one more deeply than myself; that I exerted all my energies to prevent it, and when the offender could be identified, inflicted the severest and most summary punishment, and that I did succeed after I had a little time in repressing these things and removing just cause of complaint. I appointed a provost-marshal, gave him a mounted and an infantry force, instructed him to patrol the city and neighborhood day and night, protect the people, permit no soldier to trespass upon private rights, and bring all offenders to punishment. Such has been my course ever since I have been in the service. I have tried to protect the non-combatants, see that private rights were not invaded, that private property was not taken without just compensation, and that the war should be conducted, so far as I was concerned, on humane and honorable principles. Marauding and plunder are abhorrent to my nature, and at war with every impulse of my soul. With all your commendable solicitude upon this subject, you can have no more than I have ever cherished, and I think I can say without egotism that I have been as successful as most commanders in preserving good order and discipline with my troops. I have sometimes failed, and who has not? The best troops in the world have bad men among them. The best commanders have now and then failed to be able to prevent such from committing depredations.

The indecent, scandalous, and disgusting conduct of which you especially make mention, I believe was never committed. It is, in my opinion, a fabrication, and that you have been imposed upon. I never heard of it before, and would have had my right arm severed from my body sooner than to have failed to visit such conduct with the most terrible punishment. If any one ever attempted to communicate to me that such a thing had happened or to make such a complaint, I failed to get the proper understanding or the remotest conception that such a thing had happened as you state. I have frequently said when trivial complaints were made to me of things that are inseparable from a state of warfare — that must necessarily happen, and that cannot be prevented — that war is war, that such things have always happened in a state of war, that the sooner the people would find it out and learn that war was not a speculation, the better. Such is unfortunately the truth, and must ever be, but to apply such a remark, which I have doubtless often made, to a sanction on my part of such a thing as you have stated, it is making such an application as I never dreamed of. I did not succeed at Frankfort as well as I could have wished for the first few days. I felt it myself, and felt that I was misunderstood, but I appeal to my provost-marshal and to all my [242] officers to bear witness that I do not claim credit for intentions that I did not entertain, or for efforts that I did not make vigorously and in good faith, and finally successfully, and that I traced up crime, and made restitution and punished the offending wherever it was possible. I hesitated not to inflict punishment upon delinquent officers, too, such punishment as was well calculated to strike terror home to evil-doers. Your own paper or the Democrat mentioned the matter at the time, with commendation, and held it up as worthy of imitation.

The remaining charge to be noticed is: “That, when the little band of sixty men at Shepherdsville, three months ago, was attacked by three hundred guerrillas, armed with flying artillery and small arms, he (Dumont) was at the head of ten thousand men, only nine miles off, when he heard the firing, but instead of hastening to the relief of the beleaguered handful of men, he drew up his whole force in line of battle and — gallantly awaited the attack of the three hundred!!! . . . . If he was at Hartsville, let the nightcap be to him in place of the laurel crown.”

I object not to your abhorrence of such conduct, if the facts in regard to the matter were as stated by you. It would be abhorrent in the last degree, but you have been misinformed, imposed upon. The whole story is a wicked fabrication, with no particle of truth in it. It is now, I suppose, as you state, three months since the transaction to which you allude, and until now I have never heard that I was blamed for, or that any one supposed that I could have prevented what happened. I have never before heard my name mentioned in connection with the matter in the remotest degree. If as stated in your article, it would be a terrible dereliction, one that would be known to the officer under whose command I was, one calling for exemplary punishment, and yet the officer then in command at Louisville has never intimated to me, nor has any one else, that I was to blame in the matter. I was as much to blame as if I had been at the north pole, no more. The captured men did not belong to me. You do not state they did. You state that I had ten thousand men. I had but one fourth that number, but that is immaterial, as the facts stand, and I doubt not an unintentional misstatement. What are they? I had been stationed at Lebanon, fifty miles from Shepherdsville. I had not been notified and did not know there were any troops at the latter place. I was ordered to proceed by rail from Lebanon to Lebanon Junction, a distance of about forty miles, and arrived after midnight with my infantry; my cavalry not coming by rail, but guarding a train, did not arrive until the afternoon of the next day after leaving Lebanon. It took my men pretty well toward morning to unload the cars, to let them proceed to Louisville. These trains were the last that ever crossed that bridge. It was reduced to ashes early that morning, before the morning train from Louisville arrived; indeed, I do not know that that train started out. After the bridge had been destroyed, and the prisoners captured and paroled, a messenger left the neighborhood and came down to Lebanon Junction, and communicated the fact to me. I never saw an officer or man of the captured after they arrived in Kentucky--the word did not come from them. We had heard no firing, not a single shot — and had not had the slightest intimation that an enemy was about, until the arrival of the messenger, and all the mischief had been done. The doctor was not notified until the patient was dead and cold. Indeed, I am told that not a shot was fired, or if any, not to exceed one from a small mountain howitzer, that could not be heard at the distance we were off--ten miles. I do not know, but have been credibly informed, and suppose such to be the truth, that no one was killed, no one was wounded. I know that was the general understanding at the time. It was published at the time, that, before the officer commanding the sixty men would surrender, he was taken out and shown the enemy's artillery, and, seeing that the enemy hal three guns and some six hundred mounted troops, and that he could make no resistance against such a force, he surrendered without a fight. If the enemy had opened his artillery, and you say small arms, too, upon him, so that 1, at the distance of ten miles, could lave heard it, he would have had unmistakable evidence of the presence of artillery, without going out and examining the guns. The enemy, six hundred strong, or even three hundred, as you state it, with small arms and three pieces of artillery, would have been apt to have hurt somebody, if there had been that kind of firing that would have notified a camp ten miles off.

Lest what I have said may be construed as censuring somebody, I will say that I have never heard that any body blamed Captain Tinker, who commanded the company, or his men, for the surrender. I presume it is true that he could not have fought his assailants without the loss of all his men ; but be this as it may, it is immaterial to my purpose. The probability is, that the enemy arrived near the bridge at Shepherdsville as soon as my troops did at Lebanon Junction, and only awaited the dawn of day to make the assault or demand a surrender. It was two hours or more after all the mischief had been done before I got the word, and then I had not a mounted man to give pursuit, nor did my cavalry arrive until the afternoon. They had travelled all night and nearly all day without rest, and were in a bad condition to pursue an enemy with eight or ten hours the start. Still I sent out a squadron in pursuit, but the pursuit was unavailing, as the enemy had precipitately fled as soon as he had accomplished what he came for. The enemy were all mounted; pursuit with infantry after the deed was done would have been unavailing. Infantry could not have reached the place short of three hours, and the enemy would have then been fifteen miles off.

The silly and absurd story that firing was heard at my camp, and that I was thus notified [243] that the little band was in distress, and failed to go to its relief, is known to have no shadow of truth in it, by Cols. Owen, King, Miller, and O'Brien, of the infantry, Captains Nicklin and Lilly, of the artillery, and by all the officers and men of my command. I appeal to them to relieve me of the imputation, and by their testimony I am willing to abide.

Chicago Tribune account.

Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 16, 1862.
The One Hundred and Fourth regiment Illinois volunteers arrived at Columbus, Ohio, this morning, and are now quartered in Camp Chase. I have heard their account of the Hartsville affair, and am sure many of your readers would like to see a narrative in which they are all agreed, and which I doubt is wholly reliable.

The camp at Hartsville was more than a mile from the town, and upon the bank of the Cumberland, on ground which, according to the statement of the Adjutant of the One Hundred and Sixth Ohio, “though it might be called a strong position for an adequate force, was a most dangerous one for a small command like ours.” The whole Federal force at this point did not exceed over one thousand nine hundred effective men of all arms. Against this little army, Morgan in person led not less than four thousand men, of whom, probably, not less than two thousand were veteran troops, said to be the best in the confederate service, consisting in part of two Kentucky regiments, who were engaged in the battle of Donelson, and were there captured. The remaining one thousand were guerrillas and bushwackers, who joined his command on the way,, and who, after the surrender, dropped out at every cross-road and at almost every house, and returned to their peaceful occupations, resolved doubtless to deport themselves as loyal citizens henceforth. In addition to this large force, he brought with him twelve pieces of artillery to overcome the two six-pounders of the Federals. The two forts near Hartsville, one three quarters of a mile and the other three miles from our camp, were guarded by our men. Consequently, Morgan selected a spot about seven miles distant, where no one ever suspected an army could effect a crossing, on account of the steepness of the banks; but by sloping the ground and literally sliding down his horses, which, as they reached the river, were seized and mounted by his men, he accomplished his purpose. Passing up by a by-road, he succeeded in getting inside of our pickets, nearly all of whom he captured. But one discovered the enemy, and emptied a rebel saddle, alarming the camp and bringing our men to their feet instanter.

The line of battle was formed with the Indiana cavalry, One Hundred and Fourth on the left, the One Hundred and Eighth Ohio in centre, and One Hundred and Sixth Ohio on the right, before a single shot was fired. The battle began an hour and a half later than Morgan intended, in broad daylight, by a shot from one of the four rebel reserve guns, on the opposite side of the river. His eight remaining pieces were placed over against the One Hundred and Fourth.

At the first fire, the One Hundred and Eighth Ohio broke and fled, leaving our flank exposed. Following up their advantage, the rebels at length found themselves in a position to pour in a cross-fire upon the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois and the One Hundred and Sixth Ohio. The fire became so hot, that an order was at length given to fall back. Until then not a man of the One Hundred and Fourth flinched. Every officer and man stood up bravely to the work and fought most effectively. But the order to fall back, which under the circumstances was doubtless a military necessity, threw our men into considerable confusion, from which they never recovered.

At this juncture Col. Moore, perceiving that it was useless to contend longer against a force so greatly superior to his own, raised the white flag and surrendered. Capt. Ludington, with his company, who had held a position on the opposite side of the camp, continued to fight for some considerable time after the surrender, doing most admirable execution. Company A, Capt. Leighton, was acting as provost-guard of the town, and was surrounded at the beginning by one thousand horsemen, and compelled to surrender, though not before his men had killed five and wounded eight of the rebels, with a loss of only one killed and three wounded. Capt. Collins, with a part of his own and two other companies, was at Gallatin, acting as escort of a wagon-train, and was not in the fight at all. The One Hundred and Sixth Ohio, when the One Hundred and Eighth Ohio fled, was compelled to fall back, but did so fighting and in good order. The losses of that great regiment show that they fought gallantly. Cut off from the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, they acted independent in the surrender.

Such are the main features of the fight, from which it does not appear that our men were easily surprised, as before a shot was fired they were in line of battle. Perhaps there was not sufficient precaution taken to guard against a surprise, and perhaps there might have been a better disposition of the Federal troops; but there could hardly have been better fighting than was done by the One Hundred and Fourth for more than an hour. They contended with the best troops of the confederate army, and only yielded to overwhelming numbers. The casualties of the regiment, and the heavy losses of the enemy which exceeded our own, being not less than one hundred and twenty-three killed, are a sufficient proof that if the One Hundred and Fourth did not fight long, it fought well, and under the circumstances, was not at all disgraced by the surrender.

The fight over and the spoils gathered, the prisoners were mounted on horses, two on each horse, and transported over the Cumberland, and marched thence on foot rapidly toward Murfreesboro. Twenty-five miles were made the first day between one o'clock in the afternoon and nine o'clock in the evening, and our men encamped without having tasted food for twenty-four hours--most of the men stood during the whole night [244] around the camp-fire in the snow. The next day they marched again, and not until nine o'clock in the evening did they taste any food. Two ounces of flour and four ounces of fresh meat, without salt, were then doled out to each man. The flour was made into dough, wrapped upon a stick and baked, while the meat was roasted.

The day following, at about meridian, they reached Murfreesboro, where they were paroled. On Wednesday morning, they were sent under guard to Nashville. Before their arrival at Murfreesboro, their overcoats were taken from them, and within three miles of our lines on the return their blankets were demanded and given up. The distance of thirty miles to Nashville was made that night.

The men of the One Hundred and Fourth think they have had a pretty hard time of it; but it is harder for them to rest under the suspicion that they have not done their duty, or have done it indifferently well. They point to their decimated ranks and their honorable wounds as proofs of their untarnished honor. They are eager to be exchanged ; and when they are, wo unto that rebel regiment that encounters them on the battle-field.

Col. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Hasseman, and Major Wedman, are still prisoners, and are doubtless regarded by the rebels as a rare specimen of what they are pleased to term, “the blue-bellied Yanks.”

W. C. S.

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