company to gather information, and, if possible, find Captain O'Hara. After proceeding about 5 miles Captain Burbridge joined Captain O'Hara, who reported the enemy at least 1,000 strong a few miles in front. In a short time the enemy's pickets came in sight.
On receiving this information I ordered Captain Burbridge to fall slowly back, using every endeavor to find out the strength of the enemy. The enemy appearing in large force, Captain Burbridge fell back and crossed Beech Creek. It was now dark. Ordering Lieutenant Fox, of the Second West Tennessee, to destroy the bridge and picket the road from the bridge, I fell back to within half a mile of Lexington. Here I was joined by 200 of the Fifth Ohio, under command of Adjutant Harrison. They were raw recruits, never having been under fire and never drilled.
At this place are two roads, the right-hand road called the old Stage road and the left the Lower road. Upon the old Stage road the bridge had been destroyed. Lieutenant Fox, as I afterward learned, failed to destroy the lower bridge.
About daylight of the 18th Major Funke, of the Eleventh Illinois, with the first battalion, advanced on the old Stage road, as I expected the enemy on this road. Colonel Hawkins, with two companies of his regiment, was sent on the Lower road to defend that crossing. Major Funke had advanced about 4 miles when he came on the advanced pickets of the enemy and immediately commenced skirmishing. He drove in their pickets, when he came upon a full regiment. He then fell slowly back, fighting all the way, his men in fine order, and holding at bay a much superior force for several hours.
In the mean time my two guns were placed in position commanding the crossing of the creek. Major Funke retreated across the creek, closely pursued by the enemy. As soon as the enemy's advance appeared Lieutenant McGuire opened with his guns, when they retreated hastily and in confusion. They attempted to place a gun in position, but it had no sooner made its appearance than it was dismounted by well-directed shot from our guns. Learning that the enemy were in great force on the Lower road, although there had been little firing in that direction, I ordered the guns to fall back with all possible dispatch, leaving Major Kerr and Captain Woods, of the Eleventh, and Lieutenant Overturf, of the Fifth Ohio, to protect the crossing.
When I gained my new position on the Lower road I found that the enemy were pouring in on all directions. I then ordered the force at the crossing to join me at the guns, first, however, sending Captain Hays, of the Second West Tennessee, to hold the point. I understand he did not fire a single gun. The force on the Lower road (the Second West Tennessee) came back in confusion and on the full run, pursued by the enemy. It was impossible to stop them.
Captain Burbridge, of the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry, who was in the rear of the guns, was ordered to advance, and, as soon as our men were out of the way, charge the enemy. This order was obeyed in splendid style, Captain Burbridge driving the enemy back; they made another attack on the guns, which was again handsomely repulsed. Before I ordered the guns to be brought back I was informed that one regiment between me and Jackson. I endeavored to bring a company of the Second West Tennessee to the right of the guns, but found it impossible. They were not very well equipped and had never before been under fire. They were rallied three times, but did not succeed in making a stand. Had they held the right for only a minute or two the guns