War of the Rebellion: Serial 034 Page 0141 Chapter XXXV. SKIRMISH ON HARPETH RIVER, TENN.

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All the suitable [stock] has been taken out of this country, so it is impossible to mount my men.

I have the honor to remain, your most obedient servant,



Brigadier General JAMES A. GARFIELD,

Chief of Staff.

MARCH 8, 1863.-Skirmish on Harpeth River, near Triune, Tenn.

Report of Brigadier General James b. Steedman, U. S. Army.


Triune, Tenn., March 9, 1863.

GENERAL: Sunday morning my scouts advised me of the approach of the enemy with a large cavalry force. After getting my command in readiness to fight, I moved out to the Harpeth, 3 miles in front of my entrenchments, with 400 cavalry, a regiment of infantry, and one section of artillery, and discovered the enemy posted in the woods on the south bank of the river. He made several efforts to draw us across the river, and, failing in this, disclosed the position of his artillery, which was posted to rake the pike and ford at the crossing of the pike. After firing 25 or 30 rounds, and menacing our front by exhibiting a considerable force in line, he attempted to cross at a ford 1 mile below the pike, where a sharp skirmish ensued with three companies of the First East Tennessee Cavalry, posted at that pint of protect the crossing. Our cavalry repulsed the enemy, wounding 5 or 6, and having 2 of our men wounded. While the skirmish at the ford below the pike was going on, a slight skirmish occurred on the left, and my battery caused his artillery to retire.

For some reason, either because he was satisfied we were ready to fight, and strong enough to make a dangerous, if not successful, resistance, or apprehended trouble in his rear from the direction of Murfreesborough, he fell back at 2 p. m., and during the night retreated in the direction of Spring Hill.

I have ascertained to a certainty that the force was that of Van Dorn and Forrest, the same that repulsed and captured Colonel Coburn and his command in front of Franklin. The enemy's force is variously estimated at from 6,000 to 8,000. I have, of course, no means of estimating it except to take the reports of those who saw it all, and from these I am satisfied it was between 5,000 and 6,000, all mounted, with six pieces of artillery.

I have patrolled the country in every direction south of Harpeth 5 miles, and can report positively no enemy within that circle, and nothing beyond that for 5 miles, except small squads of cavalry. I know positively that the enemy fell back in the direction of Spring Hill.

I have established my camp three-quarters of a mile north of Triune, on the Nolensville pike; have a very strong position, with rifle-pits covering my front, and feel a perfect confidence in my ability to hold the position. All quiet in the direction of Franklin.

With esteem, yours, truly,


Brigadier-General, Commanding Third Division.

Brigadier General JAMES A. GARFIELD,

Chief of Staff,, Murfreesborough, Tenn.