Doc. 66.-fight near La Vergne, Tenn.
in camp near Nashville, Tennessee, Saturday, December 13, 1862.I propose to give full particulars of the fight at La Vergne, as witnessed by a participant in the exciting scene. The Thirty-fifth Indiana, Fifty-first Ohio, Eighth and Twenty-first Kentucky infantry, with two guns of Swallow's Seventh Indiana battery, went out beyond our picket-lines to escort fifty wagons on a foraging expedition. They ventured as far as Stone's River, four miles from La Vergne, and in sight of the enemy's videttes. We halted in a rich bottom in a bend in the river, where an abundance of corn, fodder, and oats was found. The wagons were sent to the various cribs, pens, and stacks near by to load, while Col. Mathews led the whole command or escort to Dobbins's Ferry, a mile off, and satisfied himself that there would be no attack from the enemy at that point. Returning to the wagons, he placed the artillery, Fifty-first Ohio, and Thirty-fifth Indiana in line of battle, as guards, while the Eighth and Twenty-first Kentucky loaded the forage. Before our object was half attained, a sharp crack from several rifles arrested our attention, and in a moment the enemy's cavalry was descried in a dense cedar thicket in our rear. About thirty dismounted skirmishers attacked a squad of men (belonging to the Twenty-first Kentucky) who were loading a wagon with fodder. This squad repulsed the skirmishers and checked the entire force until relieved by the Thirty-fifth Indiana and Fifty-first Ohio, who charged on the enemy, making him scamper through the bushes, like a dog with a piece of tin tied to his tail. By this time the wagons were loaded and started off, with the cannon, Fifty-first Ohio, and Thirty-fifth Indiana in advance — the Twenty-first Kentucky placed at intervals along the train, and the Eighth Kentucky in the rear. We had not proceeded far before rapid firing was heard again in the rear. In a short time the Twenty-first Kentucky was formed in line and advanced to the line of skirmishers at a right angle with the wagon-train. Here there was some detention for fear of doing injury to our own side by cross-firing. Standing where they could see the enemy, our boys' attention could hardly be held long enough to change direction, and the word “Forward!” was again given; they dashed ahead, firing a volley and raising a yell that terrified the rebels, and caused them to retreat precipitately into a ravine that hid them entirely from our view. Then the cannon was brought forward, planted on a site in a corn-field, and directed to shell the woods in front of us. A company of skirmishers were called for to prevent the enemy from turning our right, and company E was thrown forward, and advanced within two hundred yards of the enemy, amidst a rapid shower of grape-shot and shell from two of their guns. This movement, if not disastrous, turned the enemy's left, relieved the Eighth Kentucky, and saved the train from capture. The enemy disappeared, and the brigade returned to camp without the loss of a wagon. All concur in according to Col. Mathews the most gallant conduct throughout the engagement. He received a slight wound in the left check, and was considerably bruised by a fall from his horse, which is wild and at times very unruly. A pestiferous but not dangerous disease affects the noble Colonel of the Eighth (Col. Barnes) in such a way as to render him unfit for duty, and, in his absence, Lieut.-Col. May assumed command of the Eighth Kentucky, which deserves the highest encomiums of praise for resisting the enemy at great odds — maintaining their position under a  murderous fire of musketry, and returning volley for volley, working destruction in the enemy's lines. Col. S. W. Price being called to Nashville on business, the command of the Twenty-first Kentucky devolved on Lieut.-Col. J. C. Evans, who stood firmly at his post in the trying hour, and our favorite, Adjutant Scott Dudley, unconscious of self, stood up boldly, cheering the boys by example to stand firm and be quiet, while the sky seemed full of blue streaks from bursting bombs. Favorable mention should be made of the following soldiers, who resisted the enemy in the first onset, namely: Sergeant J. Frank Morton, privates R. B. Chism, J. P. Hagan, B. S. Jones, W. W. Oliver, and John Morton, of company F; Corporal Henry Stahel, privates Jno. Kiger, Cassius Kiger, (slightly wounded,) Geo. Montjoy, Ed. Welsh, and Wm. Murphy, (wounded in the thigh badly,) of company A, Twenty-first Kentucky. Below I furnish a complete list of the casualties of each regiment: Thirty-Fifth Indiana--killed--Adjt. Bernard R. Mullen, private Cormick Conohan. Wounded--Lieut.-Col. John E. Bolfe, badly, privates Andrew Hays, badly, William O'Donnell, Thomas Burke, slightly, Chas. F. Reese, Mike Harrigan, slightly. Fifty-First Ohio--Privates M. Burr, M. Norris, E. Cutchall, W. H. Hardee, company C; M. Pomroy, M. Satur, S. McCoy, W. Smith, company D; L. Courtwright, F. Blosser, company F; J. J. Lamasters, company G; F. Young, teamster. Eighth Kentucky--taken prisoners, five--since paroled. Calvin Siler missing. Killed — Wm. Ross, John Stansberry, Pleasant Smith. Wounded — Nelson Petra, Jones Allford, (since died,) Silas Landrum, John McCurd, W. H. Rose, Charles Braser, Butler Fraley, Ples. and Gran. Philpot, Lieut. McDaniel, Fletcher Bowman. This fight has had a tendency to cement the regiments, and give them greater confidence in each other, and if it has no other effect, I hope it may enable us to count on each other in the great battle that is anticipated somewhere in this locality before many days. The discipline and health of the troops here is good. Our immediate commanders, Generals Crittenden and Van Cleve, are favorites with their men ; while the confidence in Gen. Rosecrans is unbounded, and his recent orders are heartily approved; and there is an abiding hope that all things are tending to a speedy termination of the war.
J. T. G.