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Doc. 60.-fight near Monticello, Ky.

Somerset, Ky., June 10, 1863.
One of the most exciting and trying reconnoissances that I have ever seen I returned from this morning. Noticing a stir at headquarters about noon on Monday, I was soon convinced that something was on foot, and, learning that a considerable force was to take a tramp in some direction, I determined on accompanying it. About four o'clock, detachments of the Second Ohio cavalry, consisting of companies B, (Lieutenant [285] Deming,) E, (Captain Stewart,) F, (Sergeant McBride,) H, (Lieutenant Case,) K, (Lieutenant Patrick,) L, (Captain Easton,) and M, (Captain Ulrey,) commanded by Majors Purington and Seward; also, of the Seventh Ohio cavalry, Colonel Garrard, divided into three divisions — the first, commanded by Captain Lindsey; second, Lieutenant Shaw; third, Captain Brownfield--all commanded by Colonel A. V. Kautz, of the Second Ohio, left here about half-past 3 o'clock, and proceeded direct to Waitsboro, a distance of seven miles, where we forded the river, the howitzers, (two sections,) ambulances, and ammunition-wagon being ferried at Stigall's. We made a distance of four miles, where we bivouacked for the night. Thus far we had not seen the semblance of an enemy. The next morning the camp-fires were brightly burning, and the camp astir as early as three o'clock. A hastily prepared breakfast fitted us for the beginning of a day of severe riding and hard work. At four o'clock we were in the saddle, and moving at a brisk walk in the direction of Monticello. We were regaled on our way by the perfume of the clover-fields and early flowers, and the sweet songs of the numerous birds that make their homes in these groves of Southern Kentucky. Our men seemed impressed with the idea that we were going on an important mission.

Upon reaching Captain West's, a distance of eight miles from Waitsboro, we met Lieutenant-Colonel Adams with a detachment of the Second East-Tennessee infantry, mounted, composed of company G, Lieutenant McDow; F, Captain Fry; D, Captain Honeycutt; and B, Captain Millsap. These had come up from Mill Springs, a little after daylight, and captured five pickets and six horses at Captain West's. Unfortunately, the greater part of Captain Brown's company (rebel) made good its escape. The whole force now moved south, and was not very long in reaching Steubenville, beyond which the rebels seemed inclined to make the first stand. A column of rebel cavalry, with the stars and bars floating, now made its appearance. Our advance, consisting of companies H and L, Second Ohio cavalry, followed closely by other troops, now made at them. Considerable firing followed, but the rebels soon broke and ran. Law's howitzer battery was brought to bear upon them, which served to accelerate their speed. The force consisted of the Tenth confederate cavalry, under Colonel Gorde. Colonel Morrison's regiment, which was encamped two miles out on the Robertsport road, having ascertained what was going on, could be seen to the right, flying as if pursued by millions. Away the enemy flew, under the command of General Pegram, hotly pursued by our enthusiastic troops. Two mountain howitzers belonging to them were hurried at an alarming rate through the village. Citizens said that the artillery horses were not more than half-harnessed, and this agrees with the fact that for half a mile beyond the town the road was literally strewn with pieces of harness, straps, etc. Three rifled guns were a mile below when the cannonading began. The horses for the same were quietly grazing in an adjacent field, and Pegram, up to the time of our arrival at Steubenville, considered the firing only a little trouble among the pickets. Our men pressed on vigorously till they reached Monticello, where they captured two boxes of small arms of all patterns and sizes, and ten boxes of artillery ammunition, consisting of one hundred and fifty rounds. The arms they were compelled to destroy, while such ammunition as could be used was loaded.

Colonel Garrard, with the Seventh Ohio cavalry, was sent out on the road to Albany to watch the approaches from that direction. A portion of the remaining force, under Majors Purington and Seward, with one section of howitzers, drove the enemy three miles below, on the Jamestown road.

It not being the object of Colonel Kautz to hold the position, he left companies H and K, Second Ohio cavalry, and A and F, Forty-fifth Ohio, all commanded by Major Seward, to hold the gorge for an hour or so, while the main portion retired. Colonel Garrard, with his regiment, was also to hold the Albany road for an hour, which he did in the face of a superior force, and fell back without loss.

At Monticello, the rear-guard was joined by a company of the Seventh Ohio cavalry, Captain Lindsey. The main force reached Captain West's, distant eleven miles, about five o'clock. As for us, we knew the rear-guard was coming along quietly. Soon, however, a courier came rushing in, saying that a large force were engaging them fiercely only a little way back. Looking off to the left, a cloud of dust was rising which shut out the combatants from view. But the rapid discharge of musketry told us that a severe conflict was going on not over a half-mile from where we were. In a few minutes Colonels Kautz and Carter gathered up a company of Second East-Tennessee, and parts of other companies that were just at hand, and galloped away in the direction of the enemy. Our men dismounted, and, meeting the rebel columns that filled the road, hurled such deadly volleys at them that they were driven back, from place to place, till they had retired a mile, leaving their unfortunate dead and wounded behind them. They now got behind a stone fence that was favorably situated, and fired severe volleys at our men, who were in the woods.

By this time parts of the Forty-fifth Ohio and Second Ohio cavalry had become warmly engaged, and the musketry firing was heavy. Our forces at this point were greatly inferior in numbers to the enemy, who, at this juncture, from the fact that there was an apparent or real wavering in our men, sprung out from their covert, and, leaping the wall, took possession of the thick woods to our left, and pressed down in the direction of the road with a wild shout and an audacity which they paid dearly for finally. The firing was severe. Balls rained down from the hill-side like hail. A little while before the Second East Tennessee, which had been dismounted and formed on our right, was ordered up, and, at this juncture, came [286] in sight on the double-quick. It was a noble spectacle to see them rushing on to the extreme point of danger, with their colors flying, and hear their loud shouts mingling with the rattling of musketry. Parts of the Seventh Ohio cavalry had previously been dismounted and brought to bear against the increasing number of rebels, no doubt with considerable effect, still not dislodging them.

The Tennesseeans seemed wild to get at them, and rushing into the woods with the most audacious bravery, provoked a fire, which, if better directed by the enemy, must have inflicted sore loss upon us. The next was a volley from our own men, mingling its noise with the shouts of our own brave fellows, who were determined on driving back the impudent foe. The rattle of musketry for a little while was incessant. Each Tennesseean picked his man, and blazed away at him until the gray-back either fell or used his legs to get away.

One section of the howitzer battery was now ordered up to the front, and soon mingled its roar with the incessant rattle of musketry and the shouts of the combatants. The contest was sharp, short, and decisive. It was no child's play, for the enemy, who had advanced upon us with so much audacity, was now compelled to leave the wood as rapidly as he came into it, and seek safer positions in the rear. It was now past sundown; night was rapidly drawing its curtain about the scene of strife. The firing had, with the exception of an occasional shot, ceased. The enemy, who came on with the consciousness of being able to gobble us up at one mouthful, had not found a savory meal, and had retired to safer positions in the direction of Monticello.

The wounded were brought to Captain West's, and laid down in his yard, while such attentions were given them as the circumstances would allow. The surgeons were particularly active. Wherever duty called they went, without regard to their own safety. Among those most active I noticed Surgeon Smith, of the Second Ohio cavalry, who was, much to our regret, left behind to take care of Lieutenant Case and one or two other wounded men, who, it was thought, could not be removed with safety. Of course we cannot regret that means were taken to relieve the wants of our wounded, and to see that they would be properly cared for, but that there was a seeming necessity of leaving any one behind. It was but one mile to Mill Springs, and to that place the very few that could not have been taken in ambulances might have been carried on litters, and crossed in canoes to the other side. That this was not done by those whose duty it was to look after such matters is highly unfortunate.

It was now about dark. Such of the wounded as could not ride on horseback were placed in ambulances, and the march for the river again taken up. We made four miles and bivouacked. This morning at two o'clock the column was again placed in motion, and reached Waitsboro a little after daylight.

The Seventh Ohio cavalry, under the command of Colonel Garrard, was our rear-guard from the time we left the battle-field till we reached the river. They had a responsible post, but the enemy had already been taught a sufficient lesson, and gave us no trouble whatever.

On arriving at the river the forces were halted, in accordance with the command of General Carter, hoping the enemy might come on and give us fight; but no rebel was to be seen, and our men finally crossed the Cumberland at their leisure, and marched to their camps to rest from as hard labor as they are usually called upon to endure.

I this evening tried to telegraph you a complete list of our losses, with some details of the fight, but the lightning interrupted, and up to the hour of writing it has not been sent.

Some persons, who do not understand the object of the expedition, are inclined to look upon our return as unfavorable, thinking that it was the intention to hold that country. Such could not be further from the truth. The object of those who projected it was obtained, and the reconnoissance was a complete success. It is true there was some hard fighting, and we sustained some losses; but the former the soldier came to do, and the latter is unavoidable in war, while the fact that we inflicted a greater loss upon the enemy is a matter of congratulation.

I cannot speak in too praiseworthy terms of the gallantry of our men. Wherever they had any thing like a chance they drove every thing before them. The East-Tennesseeans are deserving of special praise. It is simple justice to say that they threw themselves against the enemy with such bravery and enthusiasm that nothing could withstand them. Many a poor fellow fell a victim before their unerring aim.

Colonels Kautz and Carter were in the thickest of the fight, and were as cool, apparently, as if their troops were on parade. The forces of the enemy were the principal part of the command of General Pegram, who evidently commanded in person.

The losses inflicted upon them we cannot now ascertain. They lost ten killed during the day, that were seen; but the heaviest loss, no doubt, took place in the thick woods that our men had not time to examine. It would be safe, I think, to say they lost twenty killed, and a proportionate number wounded. Our losses will not vary much from the telegram, to wit, four killed, twenty-six wounded and six missing. We had wounded one captain and two lieutenants. We wounded and paroled two lieutenants and captured one. Lieutenant Case was badly wounded in the left breast. He fell while gallantly discharging his duty to his country.

The people of Monticello, supposing we were coming in force, expressed, in private, much gratification at the prospect of being relieved from the rebel army.

One negro that I saw exclaimed as he approached us, “Glory to God, I'se so happy now,” clapping his hands with delight and thankfulness, and continuing: “It's been cloudy dis many a day, but its cleared away now, and I sees de sun shine again.”


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Joseph J. West (4)
A. V. Kautz (4)
T. T. Garrard (4)
William H. Seward (3)
W. G. Pegram (3)
Case (3)
James Carter (3)
Purington (2)
Lindsey (2)
Ulrey (1)
Alexander Stewart (1)
Giles Smith (1)
Daniel Shaw (1)
Patrick (1)
Morrison (1)
Millsap (1)
McDow (1)
McBride (1)
Honeycutt (1)
Gorde (1)
James B. Fry (1)
Easton (1)
Doc (1)
Deming (1)
Brownfield (1)
James Brown (1)
Wirt Adams (1)
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June 10th, 1863 AD (1)
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