Numbers 4. Report of Colonel Speed S. Fry, Fourth Kentucky Infantry.
ZOLLICOFFER'S CAMP, WAYNE COUNTY, KY.,
January 25, 1862.
SIR: In compliance with your orders I herewith transmit my report of the part my regiment took in the engagement with the enemy on the 19th instant.
At about 6.30 o'clock in the morning I was notified by you in person that the enemy was rapidly advancing upon us, and ordered to call out my regiment, which was done as promptly as possible. I was directed by you to proceed at once towards the scene of action, the fight having commenced, and to "go and take a position in the woods." I had no information as to the strength or position of the enemy, and had to be governed entirely by my own judgment as to what was best to be done.
Upon arriving at a point where I could see their position I immediately determined to take mine on an elevated point in the field on the left of the road, filed my regiment to the left through the fence, and formed my line of battle parallel with and near to it, under a heavy and galling fire from the enemy, who were concealed in a deep ravine at the foot of the hill and posted on the opposite hill, distant about 250 yards. Their line extended around the ridge at the head of the ravine and onto the hill occupied by me, and within 50 yards of my right, covered throughout its entire extent by the fence separating the field and woodland and by the timber and thick undergrowth adjacent thereto. The engagement at once became very warm. Finding that I was greatly out numbered, and the enemy being under cover, I ordered my men to the opposite side of the fence in our rear, the enemy continuing to fire upon us all the while. After gaining this position the enemy was kept at bay until the arrival of re-enforcements, having made during the time two unsuccessful attempts to charge upon us with bayonets fixed and their large cane-knives unsheathed.
Some time after we crossed the fence I was notified by Lieutenant-Colonel Croxton that an attempt was being made to flank us on our right through the woods, with a view, no doubt, of coming up in our rear. As I did not see you upon the field, I assumed the responsibility of requesting through him that another regiment should be ordered up to engage the enemy on the right, while mine might attend more closely to the force in front. After waiting some time the arrival of the regiment, which Lieutenant-Colonel Croxton reported as approaching, and when it was certainly ascertained that the enemy was endeavoring to flank us on the right, I ordered him to bring up two companies from the left of the regiment, to prevent, if possible, the apprehended danger. It was promptly done, and the movement of the enemy checked.
As the right and center were under a much heavier fire and more directly engaged, I considered the transfer of those two companies more judicious than a change of position of the whole regiment, which could not have been executed without interrupting the continuity of my line of fire, which, as the enemy were near and pressing upon us, I held important to preserve unbroken. My command, thus disposed, held the enemy at bay until General Thomas arrived and, seeing the posture of affairs, immediately ordered up the Second Minnesota and Ninth Ohio Regiments. Very soon the enemy gave way, flying before our forces like chaff before the wind. My men replenished their cartridge-boxes, gathered up our