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Doc. 193.-the battle at Henderson's Mill.

camp of Fifth cavalry, East-Tennessee, Nov. 14, 1863.
Before day had fairly dawned on Sunday, October eleventh, 1863, our advance-guard, consisting of two companies, suddenly met the entire force of the enemy, two thousand seven hundred strong. A contest followed, in which the Fifth Indiana cavalry alone engaged the foe, and bore a part of which their friends may well feel proud. It was no long-contemplated battle, in which every possible movement of the enemy was anticipated and guarded against, but a sudden coming together of two unequal forces, with at least five to one in favor of the enemy. It is not the practice of Colonel Graham to bring on such an unequal fight where every advantage accrues to the enemy — a thorough knowledge of the ground and every avenue of approach to it, a force of five times our number, and well-matured preparations for the engagement; but on the morning of the battle we found ourselves surrounded by such unfavorable circumstances, and in justice to our respected commander, the public should be made acquainted with some of the facts. connected with this movement.

The Second brigade, Fourth division, Twenty-third army corps, commanded by Colonel Foster, left Knoxville on a forced march, under orders to bear to the left, pass around and intercept a force of rebels on the Blountville road. After a fatiguing march of four days, we reached the road at Rheatown at two o'clock on Sunday morning. Here a halt was made, for the purpose of gaining some information relative to the whereabouts and strength of the rebels. It was ascertained that General Williams was in command of from two to four thousand, back on the road to Knoxville a few miles, coming toward Rheatown. A short consultation was held, when it was decided that as Colonel Graham with his regiment had been on outpost duty here two weeks previous to this time, and was better acquainted with the country than the others of the brigade, he should take the advance and move down to meet the enemy, with the positive agreement by Colonel Foster to follow with the brigade.

Relying on the certainty of support from Colonel Foster, the Fifth cavalry advanced in direction of the enemy. Three hours more and day would dawn — perhaps ere daylight appears we meet the stealthy villains in their secret hiding-places. With such reflections as these, our never-faltering Colonel, with not more than five hundred men, cautiously felt his way through open fields and dark woods, confident that soon the entire rebel force would be in his possession, from the fact that General Shackleford was pressing them in the rear, and Colonel Foster had definitely agreed to support us <*>:n their front. The time had now come when the qualifications of a good general were needed, when action immediate and decisive was required. The enemy lay between two brigades, completely in our trap. It now remained to touch the spring and finish the work. It is an easy matter to lead a brigade from point to point, to command when not in front of danger, but when the crisis of a contemplated encounter approaches, then is the time when the commander of the forces should feel himself called upon to exert every energy and use vigorously every talent at his command. The lives of thousands who have volunteered in their country's cause are depending upon him; the work of weeks, perhaps months, is about to be terminated as gained or lost: he holds the fortunes of the day.

The brigade, unknown to Colonel Graham, remained at Rheatown, and the Fifth Indiana moved on. Two miles from town, Colonel Graham ordered a halt to reconnoitre. We found ourselves at Henderson's Mills. It was now four o'clock, Sunday morning; the men took their last meal, and the horses their last half hour's rest, early Saturday morning, but the undoubted prospect of capturing the enemy strengthened and encouraged them for the work. Company C and I were ordered one mile in advance, where they halted in sight of the camp-fires of the enemy. It was now ascertained that Colonel Foster, instead of coming forward, had remained in town. A request was immediately sent by Colonel Graham, urged on by Colonel Butler, that he come on as soon as possible, as the fight would shortly commence, and we alone were too weak for the heavy force before us. The messenger returned, bringing the report that Colonel Foster, instead of either coming to our assistance, or taking a commanding position at town, had moved away from the road two miles, leaving us four miles in front, with orders to engage the enemy; and on reading the message from Colonel Graham, he coolly replied: “My men want sleep. They cannot go.” Oh! exemplification of kind humanity--“My men need sleep” --listen! “My men need sleep and cannot go.” How, with the five hundred under Colonel Graham, about to engage with five times their number — must they be sacrificed at this important crisis, because “My men want sleep” ? Must my men have their regular meals and sleep, and let General Williams pass on to Rbeatown with a prospect of escaping? Oh! no; “my men” were all ready and willing to help strike the final blow, but were sworn to obey their commander. No help came, and the Fifth Indiana was forced to contend alone with this large force; nor did it wait long for Colonel Graham to arrange his comparatively small number. They came pouring down the road, flanking us on the right and left, yelling like a set of demons. Colonel Butler was ordered to take the rear and contest to the last every foot of ground, giving way only as overpowering necessity compelled him to The ambulances were ordered to fall back to the [556] brigade, under the protection of company L, Lieutenant Elliott. Companies F, Lieutenant Greer; M, Lieutenant Clegg; B, Captain Leuson; A, Captain Stretch--were ordered to take the right. Companies K,, Captain Lea; E, Lieutenant Meneaugh, were ordered to the left. The fighting was becoming general all along the lines, but our men stood bravely up to the work, and reluctantly did they fall back. Colonel Graham, still clinging to the vague belief that Colonel Foster would be awakened from his sleep by the roaring of the artillery, drink another cup of the milk of human kindness, and conclude to come to our relief, ordered a charge. Colonel Butler, with companies H, Captain Souper; G, Lieutenant Armstrong; D, Sergeant Bronson, dashed forward, completely routed the enemy and retook the ground. Charge after charge was made upon the several companies forming our line of battle, but each time the rebels were handsomely repulsed. For four miles Colonel Graham contested every foot of the ground back to the brigade. Major Lyle, Captain Thompson, and Captain Loomis, the commanders of the several battalions, were all active in the performance of every duty devolving upon them. The heavy booming of the cannon and the sharp firing of the musketry told to all within hearing that a fearful contest was being waged. Anxious hearts were beating in the breasts of the brave five hundred as they slowly gave way to this large force; hopes would rise and fall, as if tossed about on ocean's waves. At times it seemed as though we were completely surrounded, but as often Colonel Graham would order a movement that cleared the way, and our hopes would brighten again. The infuriated enemy seemed determined to surround and capture our battery; all hearts beat low as they saw its critical situation; but the guns which had so effectually held them at bay were not to be taken. The whole command “fought like brave men, long and well,” fighting at times hand to hand with their foes.

The firing now became broken, and finally ceased. I looked at my watch-we had been fighting two hours, and were now within sight of the brigade, where we saw Colonel Foster bravely sitting on his horse, surprised at our return, having heard that we were all captured.

Colonel Graham had performed nobly his part in this well-planned effort to capture General Williams, but the grand object was not accomphshed. The road was left open, and the enemy went on to Rheatown.

In the afternoon the Indiana brigade attacked them at this place. The Fifth Indiana bore an active part. The particulars I will give at some future time.

The result of the battle Sunday morning is as follows:

Rebel loss in killed, thirty. We captured ten prisoners, among whom were the Adjutant-General and Inspector-General of General Jackson's staff.

Our loss was none killed, eleven wounded, and eight missing.

Wounded: William Thomas, company D, in the head, slightly; Andy Johnson, F, in face and hand, slightly; William Kinnick, F, in shoulder, slightly; William Derren, G, in hip, slightly; John A. Sammons, H, in left hip, flesh wound; Samuel G. Kingdon, H, in right side, slightly; John O. Spears, H, left leg broken; Thomas C. Waterson, H, in left hand, slightly; Matterson Sourd, I, in arm, flesh wound; Corporal L. Ball, L, in groin; Thomas Curren, L, breast and right arm, mortally.

Missing: John Hiatt, company B; Sergeant A. Becht, C; Jacob Jonas, C; Samuel E. Smith, C; Henry C. Veach, C; David T. Hamilton, E; David R. Badgley, F; Moses Lour, M.

Yours, respectfully,


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