previous next

Doc. 196.-battle near McMinnville, Tenn.

Cincinnati Gazette account.

Camp of General Wood's Division, near McMinnville, Tenn., September 2.
on Saturday evening, thirtieth ultimo, occurred in this neighborhood one of the most brilliant feats of the war — brilliant both in its execution and results — being no less than the meeting, routing and utter discomfiture, by an inferior force of infantry and two sections of artillery, of the dreaded General Forrest and his active brigade of cavalry.

For some days, Gen. Forrest (brigadiered for his successful raid on Murfreesboro) has been hovering around Lebanon, Nashville, and Murfreesboro, awaiting the napping of another squad of Union generals, colonels, etc. His brigade consisted of Col. Lawton's, formerly Terry's Texan Rangers, whom Willich fought at Munfordsville; Colonel Smith's----Tennessee, Col. Horton's Second, and the First regiment of Georgia; an Alabama regiment, and a Kentucky squadron — all cavalry — all of whom were with him at the battle of the “Little Pond,” of which I write. Gen. Hascall's and Col. Wagner's brigades of Gen. Wood's division are encamped two miles from McMinnville, on the railroad to Manchester. On the morning of the thirtieth ultimo, it was learned that Forrest's brigade was encamped six miles from here toward Manchester, and arrangements were made to attack him in the morning and drive him on to Gen. McCook or Crittenden, coming up from the east and south. But at four P. M. it was discovered that Forrest was crossing the railroad about two miles from here, and rapidly marching for the McMinnville and Murfreesboro road, which they would gain at a point called Little Pond, six miles from the railroad, eight miles from Wood's camp, and nine miles from McMinnville. The game seemed about to be lost. Not a second to spare. Gen. Hascall being sick in bed, Col. E. P. Fyffe of the Twenty-sixth Ohio, was ordered to take three regiments, and if possible, cut off at least a part of the rebel column.

In less than ten minutes the Twenty-sixth Ohio, under command of Lieut.-Col. Young, was on its “marching way.” Two sections of the Eighth Indiana battery, under command of Lieutenants Estep, Vorris, and Jervis, were not far behind, and these were soon followed by the Seventeenth Indiana, commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Gorman, and the Fifty-eighth Indiana, Col. Buell. Time was every thing. Not a moment could be spared for canteens, haversacks or rest. The route lay through the woods, over the fields, twice across Big Hickory Creek, from knee to waist-deep, and into the Murfreesboro road two miles this side the Little Pond. The boys felt it was a race with cavalry, and for glory, and heeded not the weeds; woods, waters, nor waving corn. The lieutenants of the artillery deserve no little credit for carrying their pieces safely through such a path. At the end of five miles, made in less than sixty minutes, the column halted to breathe, load and prime. The march resumed in about quick-and-a-half time — indeed, the “stumpys” and “buntys” trotted about ten steps out of fifteen. And now we are in the main road--ten minutes more will show the rebel column, or their dusty backs in the air. Major Dagenfeld, with companies A and F of the Twenty-sixth, as advance-guard, at a half run and walk; Colonel Fyffe with his staff close upon their heels; the rest of the column crowding closely up, and all hidden in a smothering dust.

The country now opens out into cultivated fields — corn on the right, grass and weeds on the left. A moment more will tell if we are too late. Good luck! good luck, boys!--there they are! For a mile on our left, on a line parallel with our own route, and half a mile distant, is the long line of dust half as high as the trees. Three quarters of a mile ahead the dust-cloud makes a right angle and moves directly for our road, but has not yet reached it. Forward! double-quick! march! and away we go, infantry tramping, horses clattering, arid artillery-wagons rumbling. We are seen — mistaken for a provision-train. The traitor General has gained the road at the head of his long column of butternuts. “Another Yankee train, boys, just to our hand! A good supper and plenty to take along.” But four hundred yards are now between us. The squadrons of cavalry are galloping up and forming in line of battle in front of thick woods, facing us on both sides of the road, and at right angles to our line [600] of march. Col. Fyffe immediately comprehends the position, and his aids as rapidly carry his orders. The Twenty-sixth Ohio is to occupy the centre, the Seventeenth Indiana the right, and the Fifty-eighth Indiana the left, each of the two latter in support of a section of artillery. At this time Gen. Forrest's Quartermaster galloped along the line, notifying him that artillery was being placed to support our attack. He replied: “Damn the artillery! Stand to your posts, boys, if the devil comes. Shoot down the damned officers, cut out their hearts with your sabres, and throw them in their jaws.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Young had now thrown his regiment into line, at a double-quick, over a high fence, and was marching steadily to the front, holding his men well in hand, ready for the square at any moment a charge should be threatened by the cavalry. A few yards further — just a moment more — but now Lieutenants Vorris and Jervis are already sending in the grape and shell. A shell passes within a yard of the rebel General and bursts a few yards behind him. A volley of musketry — another — another.--No! the line is broken. The enemy's left and centre almost simultaneously break to the rear, in a wild stampede. His right having partly come up while the dispositions were being made, was un-formed and crowded in a narrow lane. Colonel Fyffe now ordered the Seventeenth Indiana to hold the road and protect one section of artillery, the Fifty-eighth Indiana to take position on the extreme left in support of the other, while the Twenty-sixth Ohio was to close by the left and front, upon the enemy's right (consisting of the Texas Rangers and a Georgia squadron) ere they could form. The movements were all executed in double-quick time, but it was too late. The valiant Texans and Georgians, dropping every thing, took the back-track and made a most inglorious and dastardly flight. Colonel Young was immediately on the ground they had occupied, and found it strewn with saddles, navy revolvers, shot-guns, a few rifles and muskets, blankets, coats, hats, several wounded horses, their medical wagon, (the only one they had,) etc., etc.

All this occupied far less time than I have taken to describe it, as every thing was done at double-quick time. It was an utter discomfiture and most complete rout, seeming to pass before the eye almost as a flash. Major Dagenfeld, who, with his advanced guard, had acted as skirmishers during the entire advance, now scoured the woods for the smitten foe; but they were not to be found. After pursuing them two miles along the main road, it being quite dark, and further pursuit with infantry being useless, and no water being at hand, the troops were marched back to camp.

The next morning three companies under command of Colonel Buell were sent out to gather the spoils. They amounted to several wagonloads of arms, accoutrements and clothing. Four prisoners were taken, among them General Forrest's servant, who was with him during the action, and gave the writer part of the information above. Some twenty-five or thirty horses were taken and disabled. Among the captured horses were the General's and his brother's, Captain Forrest. Colonel Young now rides the General's horse, and Colonel Buell the Captain's. The casualties were few, and all on the side of the enemy, he neither daring to charge, nor waiting till we were in effective range. He lost one killed, twenty to twenty-five wounded, and some one thousand five hundred to two thousand missing. Seldom has a more brilliant stroke been made in the annals of war. The next day a fresh brigade was sent out to gather up stragglers. They were heard of everywhere for miles, in squads of two, five, ten and fifty, but none could be found.

In the subjoined general order by Gen. Wood, he most aptly and justly compliments Col. Fyffe for his prompt action and successful strategy, and his command for their efficiency in its execution.

headquarters Sixth division, army of the Ohio, camp near McMinnville, Tenn., Sept. 2.
General orders, No. 68.

The Commanding General congratulates Col. E. P. Fyffe of the Twenty-sixth Ohio, and the troops who participated in the expedition of the thirtieth ult., against the notorious partisan Forrest, on the distinguished success which attended their efforts. Col. Fyffe's command made a rapid march of nine miles across the country, intercepted a large body of hostile cavalry, one thousand five hundred strong, attacked at once and vigorously, and utterly routed and dispersed the foe, without the loss of a man. It was the promptitude and vigor of the attack which caused the utter dispersion of the foe before he could do any injury.

The Commanding General commends the conduct of the regiments and artillery engaged on this occasion to the imitation of the whole division, and invites all, whenever the occasion may offer, to emulate so noble and gallant an example.

By command of Brig-Gen. Wood.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
30th (3)
September 2nd (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: