been made to provision the command, to increase the means of crossing the river, and to perfect the works for defense, under the charge of a skillful engineer officer, Captain Sheliha.
When I first heard that the enemy was approaching in front it was my opinion that I could not retire with my command-artillery, transportation, camp and garrison equipage, baggage, and cavalry horses-from Beech Grove to Mill Springs without information of such a movement reaching the enemy, and a consequent attack during the movement and heavy loss. I was out of reach of support or re-enforcement. Under these circumstances I determined not to retreat without a battle. I decided that it was best to attack the enemy, if possible, before the coming re-enforcements from his rear should arrive and before the Somerset force could cross Fishing Creek. I could reasonably expect much from a bold attack and from the spirit of my command.
On the evening of the 18th I called in council Brigadier-Generals Zollicoffer and Carroll and the commanding officers of regiments and of cavalry and artillery; and there it was determined, without dissent, to march out and attack the enemy under General Thomas on the next morning. Accordingly Generals Zollicoffer and Carroll were ordered to move their brigades at midnight in the following order
1st. The brigade of General Zollicoffer, in the following order: In front, the independent cavalry companies of Captains Saunders and Bledsoe; then the Fifteenth Mississippi Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Walthall; then the Nineteenth Tennessee, commanded by Colonel D. H. Cummings; then the Twentieth Tennessee, commanded by Colonel Battle; then the Twenty-fifth Tennessee, commanded by Colonel S. S. Stanton; then four guns of Rutledge's battery, commanded by Captain Rutledge.
2nd. The brigade of General Carroll in this order: In front, the Seventeenth Tennessee, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Miller; then the Twenty-eighth Tennessee, commanded by Colonel Murray; then the Twenty-ninth Tennessee, commanded by Colonel Powell; then two guns of McClung's battery, commanded by Captain McClung.
In rear were the Sixteenth Alabama, as a reserve, commanded by Colonel W. B. Wood, and the cavalry battalions of Lieutenant-Colonel Branner and Lieutenant-Colonel McClellan.
Soon after daylight on the morning of January 19 the cavalry advance came in contact with the pickets of the enemy, after a march of near 9 miles, over a deep and muddy road. With a few shots the enemy's pickets were driven in, retiring about a quarter of a mile to a house on the left of the road. From this house and woods in the rear of it quite a brisk firing was opened upon the head of the column. Skirmishers having been thrown forward, General Zollicoffer's brigade was formed in line of battle and ordered to advance upon the enemy, whom I supposed would come out from their camp, which we were now approaching, to take position. The road here extended straight in front for near a mile towards the north.
A company of skirmishers from the Mississippi regiment, advancing on the left of the road, after sharp firing, drove a body of the enemy from the house and the woods next to it, and then, under orders, crossing the road, fell in with their regiment. Following this company of skirmishers on the left of the road to the point where it crossed to the right, the regiment of Colonel Cummings [Nineteenth Tennessee] kept straight on, and, crossing a field about 250 yards wide at a double-quick, charged into the woods where the enemy was sheltered, driving back the Tenth Indiana Regiment until it was re-enforced.