About sunset we encamped for the night, the enemy reported immediately ahead. We placed a very large picket force around our encampment, and all the men of each regiment received orders to sleep on their arms, expecting an attack before daybreak the following morning. The battery reported that they might, perhaps, need more ammunition. Colonel Coburn ordered them to send immediately for more. My wagon-master, Enos Harlbut, was also sent to Franklin, and Colonel Coburn sent a report of the skirmish with the enemy, and also that we were again near them. The regiments were ordered to be formed in line of battle at 4 a. m.
In the morning we ascertained that the battery only received some 48 rounds of shell.
My wagon-master arrived at 2 o'clock. He informed Colonel Coburn that General Gilbert had not sent any answer, and, by calculation, he thought that the enemy could not be more than 600 or 700 strong that we skirmished with the day before.
About that time, 6 a. m., March 5, two negroes were brought to Colonel Coburn; said that they escaped from the enemy, and that the enemy were strongly re-enforced, and Van Dorn close by. Colonel Coburn then drew out his orders, looked at them closely, and then said, "My orders are imperative, and I must go on or show cowardice."
About this time Colonel Jordan came up. Colonel Coburn ordered Colonel Jordan to send the two negroes immediately to General Gilbert, that he might hear the statements made by the two negroes. Colonel Coburn then examined a map of the country ahead, together with Colonel Jordan, and, finding two roads that were running nearly parallel to the road we were on, the distances estimated at from 1 to 3 miles from our route, said he to Colonel Jordan, "I wish you to send a sufficient force of cavalry on each of these roads to apprise me of any danger of a flank or even rear movement of the enemy, and I will delay my forces a sufficient length of time for them to give said information."
Between 8 and 9 o'clock that morning we were again on the road, the regiments of the First Brigade ahead of the train and the One hundred and twenty-fourth Ohio in the rear. It soon became necessary to throw out skirmishers. The Second Michigan advanced as skirmishers, reaching nearly to both roads, and kept on advancing and firing, the enemy slowly retreating. At this time I went to the head of our forces, to consult Colonel Coburn concerning the train. He was then talking with Colonel Jordan (were within one-fourth of a mile of Thompson's Station), and had just said, "On these two points I thought the enemy were going to make a stand." Here the enemy opened a masked battery on us. The cavalry were immediately ordered under cover of the hill to our right, and I was ordered to bring up three pieces of cannon and place them on an elevation on the left and the two remaining pieces on the right elevation. By the time the battery on the left opened on the enemy another battery opened on us. The regiments of the First Brigade were brought up in line of battle to support the two batteries. The Twenty-second Wisconsin, commanded by Colonel Utley, and the Nineteenth Michigan, commanded by Colonel Gilbert, were ordered a little up the base of the hill on the left to support that battery, and the Thirty-third Indiana, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Henderson, and the Eighty-fifth Indiana, commanded by Colonel Baird, to support the battery on the right, when they were ordered to lie down and keep concealed. The battery on our right then opened on the enemy, and a brisk cannonading ensued. I went back to the train and ordered my wagon-master to have the train turned, there