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Doc. 107-battles at Richmond, Ky.

General Manson's report.

To Major-General William Nelson, Commanding Army of Kentucky:
sir: I have the honor to transmit the following report of the part taken by the troops under my command in the battles fought near Richmond, Ky., on the twenty-ninth and thirtieth days of August, 1862.

On Friday, the twenty-ninth of August, a courier arrived at my headquarters, some two miles south of Richmond, at eleven A. M., bearing a communication from Lieut.-Colonel Munday, commanding a small detachment of cavalry in the neighborhood of Kingston, five or six miles south [408] of me. Col. Munday informed me, in this communication, that he believed the enemy were advancing in considerable force. I caused two copies of Col. Munday's letter to me to be made out, one of which I sent to Lancaster and the other to Lexington, directed to you, not having been informed at which place you might be found. I also sent a written message to Colonel Munday, directing him to hold the enemy in check, and ascertain if possible his strength and position; also to learn if the enemy had left the main road and taken either to the right or left from the turnpike road, near the foot of Big Hill, with any of his forces. I ordered the men to stand to arms, in the First brigade, and be ready to move at a moment's warning. I also sent forward four additional companies to strengthen the picket which I already had in that direction, under the command of Lieut.-Col. Wolfe, of the Sixteenth Indiana.

At two o'clock P. M. of the same day, a messenger arrived and informed me that the cavalry under command of Col. Metcalfe and Lieut.-Colonel Munday, and the infantry picket under command of Lieut.-Colonel Wolfe, were retreating as fast as possible to the camp; and that the enemy, to the number of four or five thousand, was pressing hard upon them. The only question for me now to determine was whether I should allow the enemy to attack me in my camp, or whether I should advance and meet him. It did not take me a moment to decide which course to pursue, as all the hills a mile and a half south of me completely commanded my camp, and I did not think it my duty to allow the enemy to obtain possession of them without a struggle. I therefore ordered forward the First brigade, consisting of the Fifteenth, Fifty-fifth, Sixty-ninth and Seventy-first Indiana regiments, and the artillery under command of Lieut. Lamphere. When I had advanced three quarters of a mile, I discovered a heavy column of the enemy's cavalry, half a mile east of the road. I immediately ordered Lieut. Lamphere to get a section of his artillery into position and open upon the enemy, which he did with admirable effect, scattering the enemy in every direction.

I then moved forward a mile, and took possession of a high ridge, formed line of battle on the right and left of the road, with artillery protecting each flank, and commanding the open country and turnpike road as far south as Rogersville. The enemy in a few minutes made his appearance in considerable numbers of cavalry, infantry and artillery. I opened upon him with my artillery, and after a sharp skirmish of an hour's duration, succeeded in driving him, in some confusion, from the field, capturing some prisoners, horses and one cannon.

I advanced again to Rogersville, distant about a mile, where I had the men bivouac, with orders to sleep on their arms, and sent forward Colonel Metcalfe with his cavalry to pursue the enemy and ascertain, if possible, what his strength was. Col. Metcalfe returned about eleven o'clock P. M., and stated that he had passed down the road in the direction of Big Hill six miles, and had there encountered some of the enemy's cavalry pickets, who, after a slight skirmish, retired and fell back some distance. Col. Metcalfe here had two men killed, and two wounded. At the same time I sent out the cavalry to scout the road. I also sent an order to General Cruft to place a strong picket on the Lancaster pike, and on the road that comes into Richmond on the east side, and to hold his brigade in readiness to move at a moment's notice.

On the morning of the thirtieth, at four o'clock, I caused the men to stand to arms, directing that there be details made from each company to make coffee and fill the canteens with fresh water. At six o'clock I ascertained that the enemy was advancing upon me, and sent an order to Gen. Cruft to join me with all the forces under his command as quickly as possible, whereupon I gave orders for a forward movement; taking the advance myself with the Fifty-fifth Indiana. I met the enemy's advance half a mile beyond Rogersville, and drove them back, took possession of some woods and high ground upon the left of the road, and formed line of battle, the Fifty-fifth Indiana on the left of the road behind a fence, the Sixty-ninth Indiana on the right of the road, artillery on the left of the Fifty-fifth on high ground, the Seventy-first Indiana three hundred yards in the rear as a support for the battery and as a reserve. I ordered skirmishers to be thrown in front, which was done, those of the Fifty-fifth Indiana opening the battle in the most gallant style. In a few minutes, the Sixteenth Indiana coming up, I ordered it to take position upon the left of the Fifty-fifth in the woods, which they did, gallantly maintaining their ground against a very heavy force of the enemy more than an hour, when an attempt was made to turn their flank. I ordered the Seventy-first regiment to go forward to their support, which, in moving to the point indicated, was exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy. I regret to state that Major Conkling of the Seventy-first Indiana was killed while moving to the support of the Sixteenth, and bravely cheering on his men; and that very shortly afterward, Lieut.-Colonel Topping fell from his horse mortally wounded while encouraging the men of his command.

The rebels seemed determined to turn my left flank, and I was compelled to transfer seven companies of the Sixty-ninth regiment from the right to the left, where, together with the Seventy-first, they faced the enemy and fought bravely.

In the mean time, General Cruft arrived on the field with two sections of artillery, and the Ninety-fifth Ohio regiment in advance. I directed him to place this regiment on the ground that had been occupied by the Sixty-ninth, to support the three companies of skirmishers now warmly engaged, and to charge upon a battery that the enemy was then endeavoring to plant upon an eminence only a short distance to the front and right. In attempting to take this position they were exposed to a severe fire, which threw them into some confusion, and the enemy pressed forward [409] with a heavy force, driving all the troops upon the right before them. At the same time we were entirely outflanked upon the left, and the enemy having gained the cover of a large corn-field and the woods, made a descent upon the left wing, which gave way and retreated in great disorder. Up to this time I had maintained my first position for three hours and forty minutes, during all of which time the artillery, under command of Lieut. Lamphere, had kept up a constant fire, except for a very short time, when the ammunition had become exhausted, and before they had received a supply. The Fifty-fifth Indiana, Col. Mahan; the Sixteenth Indiana, Col. Lucas; the Sixty-ninth Indiana, Lieut.-Col. Korff, and the Seventy-first Indiana, Lieut.-Col. Topping, occupied prominent and exposed positions from the commencement of the engagement, and contended against the enemy with a determination and bravery worthy of older soldiers. The three remaining regiments of Gen. Cruft's brigade arrived just at the time when our troops were on full retreat and the rout had become general, the Eighteenth Kentucky being in advance, under command of Col. Warner. This regiment was immediately deployed into line, and made a desperate effort to check the advancing enemy, and contended with him, single-handed and alone, for twenty minutes, when, after a severe loss, they were compelled to give way before overwhelming numbers. The Twelfth and Sixty-sixth Indiana regiments, not having arrived in time to take part in the first battle, retired in good order and were formed in line of battle on a high position near Rogersville, about a mile in the rear of the first battle-field. Taking these two regiments as a nucleus, I rallied the remainder of the division, but saw at once that it would not do to fight upon that ground. I deployed the cavalry of Cols. Metcalfe and Munday upon the high ground in front of the infantry, placed one piece of artillery in the road, directing the fire toward the enemy, who were forming line of battle near Rodgers's house. I then gave orders to the infantry to face by the rear rank, and move to the rear in line of battle. They moved in this manner about three quarters of a mile, halted and about-faced. I had now arrived on the ground which I had occupied in the skirmish with the enemy the evening before, and I here ordered Gen. Cruft to move off with his brigade to the right, and take position on elevated ground, putting two regiments in the woods on the extreme right, and two behind the fence, fronting a field of corn, and to throw skirmishers forward into the corn-field and woods. The first brigade I formed behind fences on the left of the road. The artillery was placed on the right and left, on the same ground occupied the previous afternoon. I now signalled the cavalry and artillery which had been left on the ridge in front, and which, until now, had held the enemy in check, and they retired rapidly and took their proper position in the new line. The enemy now began advancing in great force through the open fields, in line of battle, and while they were thus advancing, a courier rode upon the field and delivered to me your written order, dated at Lexington, August thirtieth, directing me to retire by the Lancaster road if the enemy should advance in force. It was then half-past 12 o'clock P. M., and in less than five minutes from the time I received your order the battle raged with great fierceness along my whole line. The enemy's right soon gave way under the fire from the artillery on our left, and his whole attention was then turned to our right, upon which a vigorous assault was made by infantry advancing through the woods and open fields. They were met in the most gallant manner by Gen. Cruft's brigade. The Twelfth Indiana and Eighteenth Kentucky regiments being placed in the woods, contended with fearful odds, but repulsed the rebels several different times. At this point the gallant Colonel Warner, of the Eighteenth Kentucky, was dangerously wounded. The Sixty-sixth Indiana and the Ninety-fifth Ohio regiments held their positions and drove the enemy back a short distance. The enemy soon rallied and again attacked our right wing, which, after a terrific engagement, lasting over one hour, was compelled to fall back, and retreated in confusion.

I was then forced to order the left wing to fall back, which they did in tolerably good order, the enemy crowding close upon them. On arriving at my camp I made another effort to rally and reform the troops, and had only partially succeeded when I heard that you was upon the field. I at once reported to you for orders. You informed me that we would make a stand near the town and cemetery. I directed the troops already formed in my camp to move to the place specified. On arriving upon the ground, under your direction, the men were formed in line of battle, about two thousand five hundred strong, and after contending with an unequal and overpowering force of the enemy for about thirty minutes, our whole line was broken and repulsed, and the men retired in the greatest confusion. I regret to say that, in this battle, Col. Link, of the Twelfth Indiana, was dangerously wounded, and Col. McMillan, of the Ninety-fifth Ohio, was shot in the hand.

After passing through Richmond, by your permission I organized a rear-guard of the scattered men of most all regiments that had been in the several battles, and took command myself, for the purpose of covering our rear on the retreat. The rear-guard behaved well, keeping back the enemy's advance until we had retreated two miles on the turnpike-road to Lexington, when the scattered troops in front came to a halt. I left the rear-guard in charge of Major Morris of the Sixty-sixth Indiana, and pressed forward myself to ascertain the cause of the halt. On arriving in front, I found a small squad of the rebel cavalry formed in the road. I attempted to form an advance-guard, but owing to the fact that the troops had been defeated in three engagements, they were so perfectly demoralized that I found [

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M. D. Manson (38)
Leonidas Metcalfe (24)
William Nelson (22)
Lucas (22)
Cruft (22)
Munday (16)
Wolfe (14)
Harman J. Korff (12)
Lamphere (10)
John H. Finley (10)
Wilmington Wingett (8)
Charles Tate (8)
Preston Smith (8)
Jackson Orr (8)
William Moore (8)
Mahan (8)
Topping (6)
William H. Thomas (6)
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William Stewart (6)
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William C. Morrison (6)
McMillen (6)
Link (6)
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