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Doc. 36. General Rousseau's expedition.

Nashville, Tenn., July 27, 1864.
A raid upon the rear of Johnston's army, and the cutting of his line of communication, having been decided upon by General Sherman, the important duty of carrying it out was intrusted to Major-General Rousseau. The preparatory orders to him were issued about the first of July, and the command was to be organized out of such materials as were at hand. Several regiments of cavalry in his district, which would necessarily form a part, were only partly mounted, and were scattered at different points along the railroad. They were, however, gathered together and sent as promptly as possible to Decatur, Alabama, from which point the expedition was to start.

The command was divided into two brigades — the First commanded by Colonel T. J. Harrison, Eighth Indiana; and the Second by Colonel Hamilton, Ninth Ohio, composed as follows:

First Brigade.--Eighth Indiana cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Jones; Eighth Iowa cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel M. T. Patrick; Second Kentucky cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Watts.

Second Brigade.--Ninth Ohio cavalry, Captain----; Fourth Tennessee cavalry, Major Stevens; and two guns of Battery E, First Michigan artillery, Lieutenant Wightman.

General Rousseau reached Decatur on the ninth of July, and in the evening of the same day, the last detachments of the different regiments which were to compose the command also arrived, and preparations were made for starting the next day.

Sunday, the tenth, was a busy day in camp; anything but a Sabbath — like stillness prevailed. In the morning horses were issued to regiments yet in need of them — tents, extra clothing, and other articles not necessary for the trip were packed up to be left behind, and the bustle of preparation was visible in every quarter. No vehicles were to be taken except five ambulances for the transportation of the sick and wounded. The whole command was put in light marching order, so as to move with celerity, the necessary articles, such as ammunition, axes, etc., being transported on pack-mules. The men were not allowed to carry any extra clothing except a shirt and pair of socks for a change; even blankets were to be left behind. Everything betokened that the movement was one that required rapidity of execution. Fifteen days rations of salt, coffee, and sugar, five of hard bread, and one of bacon, were issued to the men, and carried in their haversacks. Subsistence for the rest of the trip was to be obtained in the country to be traversed by the command. To provide against lameness of the horses from loss of shoes, each man carried with him two shoes, fitted for his horse, and nails sufficient for fastening them.

In the afternoon everything was ready, the bugles sounded “forward,” and the command moved out. What point it was to strike for, few, if any, knew, except its commander and General Sherman, who had intrusted to him the important enterprise. All, however, felt that the expedition was of more than ordinary importance, and that it was intended to penetrate farther into the interior of the Confederacy than any similar expedition had reached. Hazardous it might be, but there was a smack of daring and dash about it, which was captivating, and gave to officers and men an inspiriting feeling different from that of an ordinary march. Entire confidence too was felt in the gallant leader of the command, and the able and farseeing General who had intrusted him with it. [191]

Starting out in a southeasterly direction, the expedition took the road toward Somerville, a county seat, fifteen miles from Decatur. The road crosses Flint river seven miles out, and passes over a country generally of flat surface. Somerville was reached about nine o'clock at night, and the command bivouacked until morning. A forage train accompanied it this far with corn for the horses — the wagons returning to Decatur next day. Henceforward the horses were to take the chances of such forage as the country afforded along the route.

July 11th.--The expedition was now fairly started in the enemy's country, and, judging from the rations issued, was not likely to return to our own lines in less than two weeks. The direction pursued was about the same as before — southeast. The distance marched was about thirty miles, and in the evening the command bivouacked on Sand Mountain, the dividing ridge which separates the waters flowing into the Tennessee river from those flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. The country was generally poor, and afforded but a scanty supply of forage for the horses.

July 12th.--Descending Sand Mountain in the morning, the expedition forded Black Warrior river, a tributary of the Tombigbee, and at ten o'clock reached Blountsville, the county seat of Blount county.

In the jail here were found two deserters from Johnston's army and four negroes, charged with the crime of seeking their liberty. All were released. A prisoner charged with murder was in confinement in the same jail, and was left to await his trial at the hands of the civil authorities. Beyond Blountsville the road crosses Strait Mountain, the descent of which is remarkably steep and rugged, but was passed without accident, and the command halted for the night in a fertile valley, where a good supply of oats was obtained for the horses. On this day's march the first armed rebels were met, a small party of them having fired on the advance guard on the mountain and then fled. Their shots were ineffective.

A regiment was sent forward in the night to Ashville, five miles, to secure any supplies the rebels might have at that point. A sufficient quantity of corn for the horses was obtained, and also a quantity of flour and bacon.

July 13th.--The command marched into Ashville in the morning, and remained for several hours, getting the horses completely shod up. All places of business were closed, and a number of the citizens had fled in terror at the approach of the dreaded Yankees. The printing office of the county paper (the “Ashville vidette,” ) was deserted by the proprietors and printers, leaving the forms on the press, the edition being partly worked off. The paper contained Vallandigham's speech at Hamilton, Ohio, and in an editorial article eulogized Val. as a “gifted statesman, orator, and patriotic exile.” The Editor further shows the following, looking to the peace party of the North for aid in sustaining the rebellion:

It is our desire to see the names of Fernando Wood and C. L. Vallandigham, or some of their co-laborers, placed upon the ticket of that party at the Chicago convention, for President and Vice-President of the United States, supported by such men as Long and Harris; and just in proportion to the support they receive will the North exhibit signs of returning reason and humanity. If they are elected we expect to have peace, independence, and constitutional liberty.

Several printers were detailed and sent to the office, and the press was soon put to a use never anticipated by its owner-printing orders and blanks for a Yankee command. The printers also amused themselves by taking out a column of secession stuff from the form of the “Vidette,” and inserting a short editorial, changing the tone of the paper, and also some items encouraging the arrival of General Rousseau's command. A few copies of the new edition were worked off before the command again took up the line of march.

Here a change was made in the organization of the brigades. The Ninth Ohio being without a field officer, and having an inadequate number of line officers, Colonel Hamilton took command of his regiment, which was placed in the First brigade, while the Fifth Iowa, Fourth Tennessee, and the battery were made to comprise the Second brigade, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick, of the Fifth Iowa.

In the afternoon the march was continued over a rough, barren country, and in the evening the expedition reached the Coosa river at Greenport. Here it was expected that the rebels would attempt to delay us, if they could gather any force, as news of our approach had been no doubt sent forward. None were to be seen when the bank of the river was reached. The ferryboat was on the opposite side, and was gained possession of by a party swimming over. General Rousseau at once ordered a detachment of three hundred men to be crossed to hold the ferry, and in the night the artillery was also ferried over, to prevent delay in the morning.

Here the Fifth Iowa performed the sad duty of interring the remains of one of its most efficient officers-Captain William Curl. The regiment was in the rear, and Captain Curl and Captain Wilcox, of the same regiment, were riding together a little separated from their companies, when they were fired upon by six men, who had concealed themselves in the bushes by the roadside. The rebels demanded their surrender before firing, but both officers attempted to escape, when they were fired on from the rear, and Captain Curl instantly killed. Captain Wilcox was severely, but not dangerously, wounded--eight buckshot having penetrated his thigh.

An inspection of the command was made, [192] and a number of horses found in unfit condition for the trip. All men who from sickness or other causes were not likely to endure the hardships of the march were also called out and sent with the disabled horses to make their way to Guntersville, on the Tennessee river, about forty miles distant. An ambulance was also sent to convey Captain Wilcox and others disabled. They subsequently arrived safely within our lines.

July 14th.--At daylight the column was in motion, preparing to cross the river. At the ferry the Coosa is a deep stream about three hundred yards wide, with but little current. Four miles further down, at Ten Islands, it spreads out to a greater width and is fordable. The detachment under command of Major Graham, of the Eighth Indiana, which had crossed at the ferry, was ordered to move down the east side to cover the ford, whilst the main column proceeded down the west side to cross at the fording.

Major Graham met the enemy immediately after leaving the ferry, and a lively skirmishing at once commenced. The rebels were strongly posted in the woods commanding the road. Skirmishers were thrown out, and the rebels were found to be in considerable force and in a position to delay the advance of a small party. They were, however, pressed back slowly by our skirmishers. Meanwhile the main column reached the fording, and the head of it (the Fifth Iowa in advance) commenced crossing. On emerging from between two islands, and having yet a width of three hundred yards to cross, it was met by a heavy fire from the rebels strongly posted behind rocks and trees on the bank. To attempt to force a passage would have been to incur a heavy loss, and the advance withdrew behind an island, under cover of which they replied vigorously to the rebels' fire. Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick also placed the Fourth Tennessee on a larger island, below and in the rear of the first named, and the men of that regiment and of the Fifth Iowa, were deployed as sharpshooters, and from behind trees exchanged shots with the rebels who were similarly posted on the bank. Two companies were sent to look for a ford reported to be two miles down the river, but failed to find it. A detachment of one hundred men was sent across the ferry to to reinforce Major Graham, to enable him to drive the rebels from his front and attack in the rear those posted at the ford. Colonel Jones, of the Eighth Indiana, was afterwards sent with the rest of the regiment for the same purpose, but the work was finally accomplished by Major Graham before his arrival. While the main column was thus delayed at the river, a fordable place was found about a mile below, and General Rousseau was about throwing a detachment across, when the rebels suddenly disappeared from the flank, Major Graham having succeeded in driving them from his front and the ford, killing some fifteen of them (two of whom were officers, one of them being General Clanton's Assistant Adjutant-General), wounding about forty, and capturing several prisoners, among whom were Lieutenant-Colonel Lary and Major McWhorter, of the Sixth Alabama cavalry. The force opposed to us proved to be part of the Sixth and Eighth Alabama cavalry, with militia and such other troops as could be hastily got together, and was commanded by Brigadier-General Clanton. But one man was injured on the Federal side, and he was wounded by a comrade, who mistook him for a rebel.

The ford being clear, the column commenced crossing. The passage of the river was a beautiful sight. The long array of horsemen winding between the green islands and taking a serpentine course across the ford — their arms flashing back the rays of the burning sun, and guidons gaily fluttering along the column, formed a bright picture, recalling the days of romance, and contrasting strongly with the stern hardships and vivid realities of the every-day life on the duty march.

This ford is one crossed by General Jackson during his campaign against the Creek Indians.

Without further delay, the march was resumed. The day was very hot and intolerably dusty. A few miles from the river we reached an iron furnace which was being operated for the rebel authorities. It was thoroughly destroyed by General Rousseau's orders. After a march of fifteen miles a halt was made for about two hours to feed and rest. The heat of the day was very trying, particularly upon the artillery horses, and finding that to retain both guns would impede the march and prevent that rapidity of movement which was essential to the success of the expedition, General Rousseau promptly decided to destroy one and attach the extra horses to the other, so that it could be moved along at the same gait the cavalry marched. It was speedily dismounted — the trunions broken off and the carriage destroyed. The night was cool and pleasant, and the moon shone brightly. The march was continued until midnight, when the command halted at Estehawba, twenty-five miles from the Coosa. The country traversed was more fertile and better improved than any reached previously.

July 15th.--At daylight the men were again in their saddles and on the road. Passing many large farms, with good fields of corn, wheat, and oats, we reached Talladega (sixteen miles) about ten o'clock. Here we struck a railroad extending from Selma in a northeast direction, originally intended to connect with Rome, Georgia, but only completed to Blue Mountain, a few miles north of Talladega. The road has no special importance in reference to present military operations. A small rebel force left Talladega a few hours before our approch, and moved down the railroad to the bridge over the Coosa river, our coming having been heard of, and the destruction of that bridge being supposed by them to be one of the objects of the expedition. [193] They were unable, however, to remove their commissary stores and other supplies, which fell into our hands. About one hundred thousand rations of sugar and salt, and twenty thousand rations of flour and bacon, and a number of boxes of tobacco, were taken — the command supplied with what they needed and the rest destroyed. The railroad depot was burned, with the contents, consisting of leather, nitre, grain sacks, one hundred sacks of flour, three hundred bushels of wheat, five hundred barrels of salt, four platform scales, a lot of shoes, cotton, and other articles. Two freight cars on the track were also burned.

In the hospital were one hundred and forty-three sick and wounded soldiers, who were paroled.

A gun factory in town, which has done a large amount of work for the rebel army, principally in the way of repairing, was effectually destroyed by breaking the machinery. The building itself could not be burned without destroying a part of the town, which General Rousseau would not permit to be done. Another larger establishment of the same kind, outside of the town, was destroyed by the rebels themselves before leaving. Several cases of muskets were found stored in a stable, and were destroyed.

After resting a few hours in the heat of the day, the command again moved on at four oclock in the evening. The direction was nearly south, and gave the rebels the impression that the Coosa bridge was the point aimed at. From Montgomery and Selma papers, afterwards obtained, it was learned that they were convinced that such was the object, and had disposed their forces accordingly, which, no doubt, saved the command considerable annoyance, as our rout was left clear. We were moving in the general direction of Montgomery, and the news caused great consternation in that rebel capital. Marching until mid-night, the command passed the little village of Syllacauga, and halted twenty-five miles from Talladega, unannoyed by the rebels, who were, no doubt, busily at work fortifying themselves at the bridge, which we had left perhaps twenty miles to our right and rear, having had but two or three hours sleep the previous night, and a wearisome march through the day, the men were nearly overcome with fatigue and drowsiness, and as soon as the halt was made dropped themselves on the ground to seek repose.

July 16th.--An early start and a march of fifteen miles, brought the command to Bradford, where a cotton factory was in operation. Here a halt was made, and several hours' rest taken.

A case of barbarous punishment occurred recently in the vicinity of Saccapatoy, a village a mile or two from Bradford, which would be incredible, were it not supported by the testimony of eye-witnesses, and had not slavery and secession together turned men into fiends. A negro, charged with having killed his master, was arrested by the citizens of the neighborhood, tied to a tree, and burned to death. His torture was, no doubt, to some extent, mitigated by the very means used to make it severe. Dry pitch-pine was piled up closely around him, which burned so rapidly, and poured out such a dense smoke, that he was almost instantly suffocated. A witness stated that he never screamed or groaned, but seemed to suffocate at once.

At Youngville a quantity of rebel grain and bacon was obtained. In every county there are several depots for receiving the “tax in kind” imposed by the Confederate Government, being one-tenth of all productions of the soil. These are gathered in by agents, and sent off wherever ordered for the supply of the army. At these points the expedition found supplies ready for their use.

The Tallapoosa river was yet to be crossed before reaching the destination of the expedition. It is fordable in but few places, and the fords rather difficult for artillery. It was important, therefore, to obtain possession of a ferry. Information was obtained of an old ford near Stowe's ferry, and General Rousseau decided upon crossing at that point. The night march from Talladega, and the pressing forward during the day, had prevented news of our approach getting much ahead of us, and on arriving at the ferry in the night it was found to be all right — a rope stretching across the river and the ferryboat in working order. The artillery and pack train were crossed over the ferry, and the rest of the command forded the river half a mile, above. The fording was difficult, and the passage was not accomplished until two o'clock in the morning, but all got over safely. The day's march was about thirty-five miles.

July 17th.--The expedition was now within one day's march (about thirty miles) of the Atlanta and Montgomery Railroad--a road of the utmost importance to the rebel army, being the one over which the greater portion of their supplies were drawn, and forming the line of communication with the Southwest, General Rousseau determined to push rapidly forward to reach it before night. Just as the command was about starting, the videttes fired upon a small party approaching them, and succeeded in capturing two and killing one. The one killed was a Captain Mason, in command of a scouting party from Dadeville on the way to destroy the ferry to prevent our crossing, rumors of our approach having reached them, but with no definiteness. They were a little two late to accomplish their object. No other party of rebels was met during the day. Passing through Dadeville, the march was continued toward the railroad at Loachepoka station.

Three miles from the railroad a rebel officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Craig, of the Tenth Texas. cavalry, was captured by the advanced guard at a house where he was enjoying himself in the society of a bevy of young ladies. He was completely taken by surprise, and was much chagrined at his capture. A tall, elegant-looking [194] young lady, in great distress, and weeping with fear and vexation, approached General Rousseau and plead fervently that Colonel Craig should be allowed to remain. The General received her in the kind and urbane manner, which is one of his characteristics. “Are you the Colonel's wife, madame?” he inquired. “No, sir, I am his friend.” The General smiled as he remarked that he presumed it amounted to the same thing, and assured her that her “friend” would not be injured, but would be paroled and allowed to remain. His parole was taken and he was left to enjoy the company of his fair advocate.

About sundown the command reached Loackepoka, and was in possession of the railroad. No force was there, and all was quiet. We had penetrated into the rear of the rebel army, and were now on their most important line of communication. Loackepoka Station is forty-eight miles from Montgomery.

Working parties were at once detailed, and the work of destruction commenced. The character of the superstructure of the road was peculiarly favorable for the purpose. The ties were of pine, and the track was laid of light iron, spiked to pine timbers, set into every fourth tie. These longitudinal stringers were readily raised from their position by means of fence rails used as levers. Twenty or thirty men would raise one hundred feet at a time, on one side, and place the timber and rail on top of the rail on the other side. Fence-rails and other combustible material were then piled on it, and fire started. The result of the operation was the destruction of the timbers, the complete warping of the iron rails from expansion by the intense heat, and the burning of the ties where the track rested upon them, so as to make them utterly unserviceable. On no other road, perhaps, could so thorough a destruction be effected by such simple means. The pine was of a pitchy character, and burned so readily that the ties were completely destroyed without raising them from the road-bed, and the iron was thoroughly drawn out of shape by the heat. The track was not merely torn up, but it was destroyed — ties, iron, and other material being rendered unfit to use again.

The railroad buildings at Loackepoka contained a large quantity of oats, corn, and flour from which the command was supplied. Fifteen saddle trees, two thousand pair of harness, and several hundred muskets were also captured and destroyed.

During the night, the railroad depot, a wooden building, took fire from the burning railroad, and for a time there was danger of the destruction of the hotel and several fine buildings. The flames spread in a direction where a part of the horses were picketed to fences and trees and a stampede was feared. It was a wild and exciting scene. The long lines of fires up and down the track were sending up volumes of dense smoke, and lighting up the heavens with a lurid glare, whilst the flames from the burning buildings shot far upward and reached out as if eager for further destruction. The neighing and rearing of the frightened horses and hurrying to and fro of the men to move them and their equipments away from the fire, added to the excitement of the scene. The buildings burned down rapidly, and the danger of the fire spreading was soon over. General Rousseau, by his personal exertions, assisted in saving the residence of a widow lady, who was astonished at finding assistance rendered from those she had been led to consider only as vandals. Men were detailed to protect the building with wet blankets until the danger was over.

July 18th.--Details working in the night destroyed several miles of the road. In the morning the command was divided into four detachments to continue the work. Colonel Hamilton, of the Ninth Ohio, with his regiment and a part of the Fourth Tennessee, moved toward Atlanta, destroying the track as he went. At Auburn, six miles from Loackepoka, his advance was attacked by the rebels, but after some skirmishing he drove them off and continued the work. He destroyed a quantity of lumber and a large amount of quartermasters' and commissary stores at Auburn. A mile or two above that place a locomotive was met coming down from Opelika. The engineer, on seeing the Yankees, endeavored to back out, but the engine ran off the track. The engineer and two other men were captured and the locomotive destroyed.

Major Baird, with four companies of the Fifth Iowa and four of the Fourth Tennessee, was ordered to march to Chehaw Station, twelve miles toward Montgomery, to destroy a trestle bridge and the station buildings and work back, destroying the road. Colonel Watts, of the Second Kentucky, moved down the railroad from Loackepoka in the same direction, and Colonel Jones, with the Eighth Indiana, started for Notasulga, a station between Loackepoka and Chehaw. The road was destroyed to Notasulga and several miles beyond. About sixty tents, with poles and pins complete, were here destroyed, and a further quantity of commissary stores. A water tank and the railroad buildings were also burned. Two miles beyond Notasulga was a camp for conscripts and convalescents, with barracks for two or three thousand men. Those who were able to do so had made their escape, leaving about one hundred sick in the hospital. The hospital buildings and tents connected with them were spared, and the remainder of the camp destroyed.

The detachment under command of Major Baird met a rebel force just upon arriving in sight of Chehaw Station. The trains were on the track which had brought them up from Montgomery. Major Baird deployed his force on both sides of the railroad and was met by the enemy in much larger force than his own. A brisk fight ensued, but the enemy proved too strong, and our men fell back with a loss of one killed and several wounded. Six companies of [195] the Eighth Indiana were brought up, and an advance again made. Major Baird, with two companies of the Fifth Iowa, moving on the left of the road, supported by two companies of the Eighth Indiana, and Colonel Jones, with four companies of the Eighth on the right side. The rebels were met in Major Baird's front and an obstinate fight ensued, but they were pressed back until they finally gained a position in a small ravine running down from the railroad, from which they poured a heavy fire upon our men, who could not advance upon them from the front without heavy loss. Both sides held their positions for some time, until two companies of the Eighth Indiana were sent across from the right side of the railroad, turned the rebels' left and got into their rear, pouring in a murderous fire with their Spencer rifles, while the Fifth Iowa assaulted them in front. The rebels were routed from their position and fled, leaving over forty dead and and a large number of wounded on the field. The Fifth Iowa lost one killed and four wounded. Finding that the rebels were in considerable force, and were prepared to make an obstinate defence, and that to drive them completely from the road would require a withdrawal of a portion of the forces engaged in destroying the track, General Rousseau ordered that portion of the command back, the track having in the meantime been destroyed several miles below Notasulga. Returning through Loackepoka, Colonel Hamilton's command was overtaken between Auburn and Opelika, and the whole division bivouacked for the night.

July 19th.--In the morning Colonel Harrison, with a part of the Eighth Indiana and the Second Kentucky, continued the work of destruction toward Opelika, and the rest of the command marched by a road leading to the right of the railroad, and reached the Columbus Railroad, a mile or two east of Opelika. This road forms part of a line connecting Macon with the Atlanta and Montgomery Railroad at Opelika. The Ninth Ohio commenced operations on this track, and destroyed it as far as the junction, where they connected with Colonel Harrison, who had moved up the other road.

A detachment under direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick, destroyed the depot buildings, turn-tables, cars, switches, &c., at the junction, and several miles of track toward Atlanta. There were six cars on the track filled with leather, nails, and other supplies, for the rebel army. Thirty boxes of tobacco were also seized and issued to the men. About seventy-five thousand rations of sugar, and thirty thousand of flour and bacon were obtained, and after supplying the command, the remainder was destroyed.

The work for which the expedition was sent out was now thoroughly accomplished. It had marched over three hundred miles in nine days--penetrated one hundred and nine miles in the rear of Johnston's army — destroyed thirty miles of railroad track, with its depot buildings, water-tanks, switches, turn-tables, etc., one locomotive, a number of cars, and large quantities of supplies and material. As a rebel prisoner aptly remarked, it made “a big hole in Johnston's haversack.” The rapidity and boldness of the movement struck terror into the heart of rebeldom, and caused such bewilderment that no serious opposition was made to the progress of the expedition.

In the afternoon the work of destruction ceased, and the command took up the line of march to return. Following the railroad for some distance toward West Point, it diverged to the left, moving northwardly to Lafayette, twelve miles from Opelika. Here rumors came in thick and fast of a large force of rebel cavalry approaching from the north, having crossed the Chattahootchee at Franklin to intercept our retreat. At West Point, twelve miles to the right and rear, the rebels were gathering all the forces they could muster, and for a time the prospect of a successful retreat looked rather gloomy. General Rousseau, however, after carefully sifting the rumors, determined to move on in the direction he had started, and fight the way through, if necessary. The march was continued until midnight, and a halt made twelve miles from Lafayette, without hearing anything of the enemy.

July 20th.--Reveille was sounded at three o'clock, and the march resumed. Misled by a mistake of a guide, a road leading toward West Point was taken, but the error was discovered before much distance was lost, and a road found leading toward Rocky Mills on the route selected. A march of thirty-five miles was made, and about nine o'clock the command went into bivouac for the night. The route during the day was nearly parallel with the Chattahoochee, and with the railroad from West Point to Atlanta, and from ten to twenty miles distant from it. There are many roads running from the railroad and river across to that on which we were moving, and it was expected that the rebels would move across on one or more of these to intercept our retreat or harass our rear; but one after another of these intersecting roads was passed, and still no rebel force made its appearance.

July 21st.--The command marched thirty-six miles, passing through Carrollton and Villa Rica, and bivouacked three miles from the latter place. The advance met a party of about twenty rebels, and captured three of them, who represented themselves as scouts detailed by order of General Johnston, and then on service for General Jackson, commanding a rebel cavalry force. They were taken by surprise at our approach, having had no intimation of our coming. We learned that a small cavalry force from General Sherman's army had been at Carrollton a few days ago, and had returned toward Marietta. General Stoneman's pickets were reported to be near Powder Springs, sixteen miles in advance of us.

July 22d.--The expedition reached Powder Springs about eleven o'clock and found a Federal [196] cavalry picket a mile beyond. They had heard of our approach from scouts, but supposed us to be rebels. Our true character however was discovered before we reached them. A general feeling of relief pervaded the command at being again within our own lines after thirteen days of hard marching in the enemy's country, and the successful result of the expedition and its safe return was a cause of much satisfaction and congratulation.

In regard to the distance penetrated in the enemy's rear, the boldness and rapidity of its movements, the thoroughness of the work accomplished, and its complete success in every respect, this raid perhaps is the most remarkable one of the war. Its success is mainly due to the ability and discretion of its gallant leader, who has been aptly called the Chevalier Bayard of the army, the knight “sans peur et sans reproche.” It is no fulsome eulogy to say that he manifested all the qualities which mark a great commander. The result of the expedition itself is an indication of this. One point in his character is particulary worthy of mention, as it had an important bearing on the success of the expedition. General Rousseau has a keen insight into human character, and an instinctive faculty of reading men and sifting the reliable from the false in their statements. This, with his frank and cordial manner of intercourse, enabled him to win the confidenee even of enemies and to obtain information where others would have gained nothing but confusion of ideas. Throughout the whole trip he was thus enabled to pursue his course through the enemy's country with a more definite knowledge of the route ,the enemy's forces and movements, etc., than could have been obtained from an elaborate system of scouts and spies. The complete success of the expedition and the directness of all its movements indicates the sagacity and judgment with which it was planned and executed.

General Rousseau is a Kentuckian by birth, but when a young man, entering the profession of law, he emigrated to Indiana, where he was engaged in the practice of law when the Mexican war broke out. He raised a company of volunteers, became its captain, and served with distinguished gallantry during that war. He afterwards returned to Louisville, and was a member of the Kentucky Senate at the time of the outbreak of the rebellion. He opposed the policy of neutrality, and, resigning his seat in the Senate, devoted his energies to the raising of troops for the support of the Government. In June, 1861, he was commissioned Colonel of volunteers, and on the first of October following, was promoted to a Brigadier-Generalship and assigned to the command of the Fourth brigade of the Army of the West, under General Buell. He fought in the battle of Shiloh, where he won the admiration of the army by his gallant conduct. He was afterward placed in command of the Third division, which he led in the battle of Perryville, and was promoted to a Major-Generalship for distinguished gallantry and good service in that terrific struggle. At the battle of Stone River he again rendered most important service, for which General Rosecrans, in his official report, returned his thanks to “the gallant and ever-ready Major-General Rousseau.” Since the twentieth of November, 1863, he has been in command of the important District of Tennessee, which he has controlled with consumate ability, and from which he was temporarily called to take the leadership of this important and daring raid upon the enemy's rear. On this expedition he penetrated further into the heart of the Confederacy, and struck a more telling blow upon the enemy's communication than any commander on a similar expedition has done during the war.

Colonel T. J. Harrison, of the Eighth Indiana, and Lieutenant-Colonel M. T. Patrick, of the Fifth Iowa, ably seconded General Rousseau throughout the expedition, and by their indefatigable efforts contributed materially to its success. In the fight of Coosa river and Chehaw Station they displayed coolness and courage, and were at all times energetic in the management of their respective brigades.

The different regiments under their command also behaved with the most commendable gallantry. The hardships and privations of the tedious march were endured uncomplainingly, and all were ready and eager at any time for a fight with the enemy. The laborious work of tearing up the railroad was entered into with most hearty good will. Officers and men worked with enthusiasm, feeling that they were accomplished an important service, and forgetting in the excitement the fatigue and weariness which the hard marching and loss of sleep had induced. General Rousseau expressed his gratification of their conduct in the highest terms.

It is making no invidious distinction among the many officers who promptly performed their duties to say that Captain E. M. Rugan, Thirteenth Wisconsin infantry, topographical engineer on General Rousseau's staff, rendered especially important service, by his thorough study of the topography of the country and his activity in obtaining information in regard to roads, etc. He was almost constantly in the advance. His services were acknowledged by the General commanding as almost indispensable. His professionable abilities have been acknowledged by his assignment to duty as Chief Topographical Engineer at department headquarters.

The staff of General Rousseau, during the expedition, was composed as follows: Captain Thomas C. Williams, Nineteenth United States Infantry, A. A. A. G.; Captain E. M. Rugan, Thirteenth Wisconsin infantry, Topographical Engineers; Captain Thomas A. Elkin, Sixth Kentucky cavalry, A. D. C.; Captain S. E. Mo-Connell, Seventy-first Ohio infantry, A. A. J. G.; Surgeon S. D. Waterman, Eighth Indiana cavalry, Medical Director;. Captain Alfred Matthias, Fifth Iowa cavalry, Provost Marshal; Lieutenant John Frey, Ninth Ohio, Quartermaster; [197] Lieutenant C. A. B. Langdon, Fifth Iowa cavalry, A. D. C.

The country along a great portion of the rout traversed is barren and thinly settled, but other portions are rich and fertile, and the plantations gave indications of wealthy owners. But little cotton was seen growing — the crops generally being wheat, rye, oats, and corn. The small grain was mostly standing in shooks in the field, and the crops were generally good. The corn crop is fair but rather irregular — some fields or parts of fields just hardening into “roasting ear,” while in others the stalks were but two or three feet high. The corn ground generally is not well cultivated-probably from scarcity of labor. On the whole, the appearance of the country and crops does not strengthen the opinion that the rebels are soon to be starved out. Nevertheless there is much destitution and scarcity of food among the poorer classes. The rebel government, with inexorable rigor, seizes all the necessaries of life for the use of the army. Not only is one-tenth of all products taken in the shape of tax, but plantations generally are worked exclusively for the benefit of the government. Their owners are enrolled in the service and then “detailed” to superintend the working of their own farms, the conditions being that all the surplus above what is consumed on the place is to be sold to the Confederate government at prices fixed by the authorities. This makes food difficult to be procured, except through their agents. At one house where a party of officers had dinner prepared for them, the woman was asked to name her price, but refused to do so, saying that if she had the money she could not buy flour with it, but asked that they would furnish her flour from a mill near by, as she could not procure it otherwise. She was the wife of a rebel soldier.

The country was not so completely deprived of stock as has been anticipated, and numbers of horses and mules were obtained along the rout. About three hundred fine mules were brought into our lines by the command.

Everything is under military control. The conscription law is vigorously enforced. Scarcely an able-bodied man is to be met with. Even the infirm and crippled, who are capable of doing light duty, are enrolled and detailed for such service as they are competent to perform. Tanners, millers, and others following occupations of necessity to the army or the community, are also enrolled, and then detailed to pursue their business for the benefit of the Government. Conscript officers are in every neighborhood, hunting down any who may have escaped conscription, or in any way evaded service. The most iron-heeled despotism prevails throughout, and individual rights and freedom are utterly trampled under foot. No “subjugation” could be more thorough than that under which the people of the South are placed by the rebel government.

The slaves along the rout were exceedingly anxious to follow the Yankees, but the rate of marching was too rapid for them to keep along on foot, and all the horses and mules to be found were needed for remounts for the men whose horses were daily giving out. Nevertheless a number succeeded in making their way. They would trudge along uncomplainingly, riding when they could get an animal, and walking at other times, and if asked where they were going, the invariable answer was, “Gwine wid you all.” They knew that they were leaving slavery behind them, and they were willing to risk all for the hope of freedom. About three hundred were with the command when it reached Marietta.

Many of the citizens fled in terror at the approach of the command, stripping their houses of their furniture and everything they could transport with them. The enormous lies so assiduously circulated by rebel papers and rebel officers as to the barbarous conduct of the Federal troops, even to the murdering of women and children, were really believed by some of the more credulous, and their flight was extreme. Those who remained even felt that they were incurring great risk, and were astonished to find that the dreaded Yankees were so different from what their imaginations had pictured them. General Rousseau's orders were stringent against depredations on private property. The following is an extract from an order issued at Ashville, and printed and distributed to the command:

Headquarters cavalry forces, in the field, July 13, 1864.
* * * * * *

There shall be no straggling under any pretext. Private houses will not be entered by soldiers on any pretext whatever, being a prolific cause of straggling. Such entries are generally made by those who maraud and rob. Such acts are denounced as unworthy a soldier, and will be summarily punished.

The Major-General, commanding, tenders his thanks to the command generally, for their good conduct and soldierly bearing, and hopes that such deportment will continue.

By order of

Owing to the hasty formation of the command, and the nature of the service, discipline could not be as strictly enforced as under other circumstances, but every effort was made to protect private property, except such as was necessary for the expedition; and it was acknowledged by a number of citizens, at different places, that the people suffered less from the Yankees than from the rebel soldiers. The prisoners taken were also surprised at being treated like men, and were unanimous in grateful expressions. It was impossible to take prisoners along during the trip. and consequently all were paroled except those captured on the last two or three days before reaching our lines. [198]

General Rousseau has demonstrated by this expedition that bold movements into the enemy's lines can be made and important results achieved against the enemy without the necessity of violating the usages of civilized warfare. His course entitles him to the nation's gratitude, while it will win for him the respect even of the rebels, at the same time that they are inspired with terror at the boldness and success of his movements.

It may be proper to add that a raid of the same general character as that made had been long since suggested by General Rousseau, though not precisely to the points to which this one was made. General Sherman's orders were fully carried out, and he has expressed the highest satisfaction at the result, the work accomplished having been fully up to his anticipations, while the good condition in which the command was brought, and with so slight loss, exceeded the most sanguine expectations.

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