detachment of the First West Tennessee Cavalry was assigned to duty (dismounted) under Captain Thompson, in connection with an expedition to Trenton, and participated in the battles by which that post and Humboldt were retaken. It has since returned to this post.
On returning to this post I found the Forty-third Ohio, Colonel Swayne; Sixty-third Ohio, Colonel Sprague, and the Fiftieth Indiana, Colonel Dunhan, which had arrived for the defense of the post, then threatened hourly by a large force. Several thousand cavalry and mounted infantry, under Van Dorn (the same that had captured Holly Springs), had been for two days in the neighborhood seeking the favorable moment for the capture of Bolivar, evidently advised of its condition by parties resident here. Every preparation was made for defense and the utmost vigilance enforced.
On the 23rd sharp encounters took place between advanced parties, indicating the cautions advance of the enemy's entire force. At 11 p.m. the Sixth Illinois, Seventh Kansas, and the Third Michigan Cavalry arrived, under Colonel Grierson, 1,500 strong, sent by General Grant in pursuit.
At 3 o'clock on the morning of the 24th all was ready; the enemy drove in our mounted pickets a little after daylight; at 7 o'clock they appeared in force and drove in our infantry pickets. Having gotten possession of one of our entrenchments, which, owing to the smallness of our force we could not occupy, they fired upon a squad of men belonging to the Fiftieth Indiana, who stood their ground gallantly until the main body of the enemy approached in line of battle. Colonel Grierson prematurely brought his cavalry into full view of the enemy, by advancing to the ridge which they were approaching, and which would have soon brought them within the range of our guns. The enemy then retired, apparently to attack at another point. Preparations were made to meet them.
All attempts at a surprise being found vain, and our force too strong for direct attack the enemy relinquished the design upon Bolivar and sought elevation of his disappointment by rushing upon the feeble defenses at Middleburg. Colonel Graves, with a small portion of the Twelfth Michigan, about 140 in number, occupied the position, strengthened by a small stockade and a few available buildings, and favored by the nature of the ground. The remainder of his regiment was scattered along the railroad and on duty here, having been detailed to supply the vacancy created by the transfer of all other available forces to Jackson.
So soon as the design of the enemy upon Middleburg became apparent I directed Colonel Grierson to follow and precipitate his force upon the enemy's rear, being satisfied that Colonel Graves was fully prepared, and would with his little band make a gallant resistance, and hold out until aid could arrive. Though the distance is but 7 miles, Colonel Graves had, after a most gallant contest of two and one-half hours, beaten the enemy's vastly superior force and compelled him to retreat before the cavalry appeared.
The official copy of Colonel Graves' report is here furnished, from which the incidents of the battle and its results may be learned.*
I cannot withhold the expression of admiration and gratitude which the heroic conduct of Colonel Graves and his men inspire. Furiously assailed by a force twenty times their number, doubtless exasperated by failure at this point and flushed with confidence of an easy victory, they defended themselves with a skill,determination and success that
*See Numbers 21.