No. 4. Report of Lieut. Colonel Milton Barnes, Ninety-seventh Ohio Infantry.
HDQRS. NINETY-SEVENTH REGIMENT OHIO VOL. INFANTRY,
December 6, 1862.
COLONEL: In compliance with your order to report the part taken by the Ninety-seventh Regiment as escort for the forage train in our encounter with the enemy this day, and the result, I have the honor to report the following, viz:
Under your instructions, I proceeded with the regiment, in charge of the Twenty-first Brigade train, to the outposts of General Sill's division, where I found a train on the route from that division with an escort of three regiments, commanded by Colonel Buckley. He informed me that it would not be safe to venture out beyond with one regiment only, and suggested that I should accompany him, and unite our forces, which I did, and reported to him for orders. I proceeded, following in the rear of his train to a point about 2 miles beyond a brick church, on the railroad. Here the whole train had halted. I had previously thrown three companies to the rear of our own brigade train, and the quartermaster in charge had reported the train all right. I then went forward, after heavy firing in the advance, and met Colonel Buckley, who immediately ordered me forward, with five companies of my command, to support the Louisville Legion, which I did, taking with me the remaining two also. I formed in order of battle in the rear of that regiment, and deployed one company (Company E, Captain Egan) to the left. This company advanced as skirmishers until they reached the brow of the hill on the left, bearing to the front through a piece of woods into an open field, where they discovered the enemy in force, mounted. Several rounds were fired by them and several from the enemy, which, overreaching them, took effect in the battle-line of the regiment, resulting in the death of 1 man and the slight wounding of another. I then moved across the ravine through the woods to the support of my skirmishers, and gained a position under the brow of the hill, and discovered there a large body of rebel cavalry, retreating and bearing around to the right, at a distance beyond the range of musketry. Considerable firing was now heard on our right an din our rear, and I saw the Louisville Legion retreating back the road toward the train. I awaited orders, but receiving none, I moved slowly back to where I had first left the train, which still remained there, but Colonel Buckley had gone back some distance toward the railroad, with a portion of his forces and battery, and I suppose was engaging a rebel battery which I learned had been planted in our rear, and was attempting to cut off our retreat. By this time it became evident that we were almost, if not quite, surrounded, and would have to cut our way through. The train I found was moving rapidly to the rear. In the mean time I had received no orders what to do. I agreed with Colonel Anderson, of the Ninety-third Ohio Volunteers, to take the left and he the right of the road again. While doing so, a furious charge was made upon the train from the right by a regiment of rebel infantry and of cavalry from the woods on the opposite side of the hill, but Colonel Anderson coming up promptly, they gave way. I was moving rapidly in that direction, when I received an order from Colonel Buckley to form in order of battle on the right of the road, and move to the front to support the battery, which I did, the train still moving on it that direction.