Numbers 185. Report of Colonel William P. Innes, First Michigan Engineers,
of attack on wagon train near La Vergne, January 1.
HDQRS. FIRST REGIMENT MICHIGAN ENGINEERS AND MECHANICS, In Camp, January --, 1863.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with your orders, I broke camp at Mill Creek on December 31, at 7 a. m., and took up line of march for this point, sending my wagon train around by the pike, and went into camp at this point, about three-quarters of a mile south of the village of La Vergne, on the Murfreesborough pike.
About 2 o'clock on the following day my command, numbering 391 effective men, was attacked by a rebel force of cavalry under command of Generals Wheeler and Wharton and Colonel Morgan, of Alabama, said to number between 3,000 and 4,000 strong, with two pieces of artillery. They first dispersed the wagon guard and teamsters of the train going north, and fired and plundered about 30 wagons. The enemy attacked us with great fury, making seven distinct charges upon us, attacking us on every side, mounted and on foot, dashing forward in a gallant and determined manner, but were again and again severely repulsed by my gallant regiment. During the interval between their cavalry charges their artillery were throwing shot and shell, some of them causing considerable damage.
At about 5 o'clock the enemy sent in two flags of truce, demanding an immediate surrender of our position, which I peremptorily refused. They sent in another flag of truce, asking permission to bury their dead, which I refused, and returned for answer that I would bury their dead and take care of their wounded.
In the mean time I had dispatched a messenger to Colonel Burke, of the Tenth Ohio Infantry, stationed at Stewart's Creek, asking him for re-enforcements, which was promptly answered by that gallant officer, who immediately came to my rescue with a section of the First Ohio Battery, in command of Lieutenant Newell, and four companies of the Tenth Ohio; and, although he did not arrive until the enemy had retreated, yet too much credit cannot be given to that gallant officer for his promptness in coming to my aid, which he did under the double-quick.
It is impossible for me to make personal mention of either officers or men where all behaved so gallantly. Every officer was at his post and every man did his duty. The coolness and bravery of the officers was only equaled by the promptness and efficiency of the men.
The following is a statement of the casualties, as near as I have been able to learn: Our loss, 2 killed, 9 wounded, and 5 missing. Enemy's loss, 6 killed, buried by our men; 6 wounded, taken to our hospital, and 7 prisoners. From what I have been able to learn from prisoners, the enemy acknowledge their own loss of killed and wounded at between 40 and 50. We lost 41 horses and mules, and had 3 wagons entirely destroyed and others damaged by the bursting of shell.
I have the honor to remain, major, your most obedient servant,
WM. P. INNES,
Colonel, Comdg. First Regiment Michigan Engineers and Mechanics.
Major C. GODDARD,
A. A. A. G., Fourteenth Army Corps, Dept. of the Cumberland.