War of the Rebellion: Serial 034 Page 0170 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXV.

Search Civil War Official Records

rard's cavalry, in the center, under Major Norton, to storm the hill. This was done with great coolness and gallantry, and with but trifling loss to us, as most of the enemy's musketry fire passed over the heads of the advancing troops. As the fighting still continued with great spirit in the woods on my right, where our success in carrying the hill was not yet known, I dispatched a portion of the Seventh Ohio Cavalry, by the same route which the enemy had taken to make his detour in that direction, to attack him in the rear, at the same time informing Colonel Wolford of this movement, with orders to make the best fight he could until this succor arrived. The action was soon brought to a successful close in that part of the field, for the enemy, finding himself attacked in the rear, and knowing from this that we must have carried the right and center of their line on the hill, fled in confusion by two roads toward the fords of the Cumberland River. A rapid pursuit was ordered as soon as the troops for that purpose could be got together, and the enemy was found posted behind temporary defenses in another strong position about 3 miles south of Somerset.

As night had already set in, and as my effective command had been reduced to about 900 men by killed, wounded, stragglers, and detachments to guard prisoners, it was not deemed proper to make a night attack. The enemy withdrew during the night and recrossed the Cumberland River.

The only report which I made at the time of the action at Somerset was contained in two telegraphic dispatches to Major-General Burnside, commanding Department of the Ohio, which he communicated to the General-in-Chief, as follows:

LOUISVILLE, KY., April 1, 1863.

Major-General HALLECK,

General-in-Chief, Washington:

The following dispatch has been received from General Gillmore, giving the details of his successful attack upon the enemy in Central Kentucky:

SOMERSET, KY., March 31, 1863-2 a. m.

I attacked the enemy yesterday in a strong position of his own selection, defended by six cannon, near this town, fought him for five hours, driving him from one position to another, and finally stormed his position, and drove him in confusion toward the river. His loss is over 300 in killed, wounded, and prisoners. The enemy outnumbered us two to one, and were commanded by General Pegram in person. Night stopped the pursuit, which will be renewed in the morning. We captured two stand of colors. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing will not exceed 30. Scott's famous rebel regiment was cut off from the rest and scattered.

Q. A. GILLMORE,

Brigadier-General.

The entire rebel force has been driven our of Central Kentucky, and much of their plunder has been recaptured. Their reported force has been greatly exaggerated, as well as the amount of plunder taken by them. I have this moment received a second dispatch from General Gillmore, dated this morning, from Stigall's Ferry, on the Cumberland River, as follows:

I underrated the enemy's force in my first report of yesterday's fight. They had over 2,600 men, outnumbering us more than two to one. During the night their troops recrossed the Cumberland in three places. We have retaken between 300 and 400 cattle. Pegram's loss will not fall short of 500 men. I will be in Lexington to-morrow.

Q. A. GILLMORE,

Brigadier-General.

The alacrity with which the troops were concentrated, and the vigor and gallantry of their attack, are highly commendable.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General, Commanding.

Soon after the battle of Somerset, I turned over the command of the District of Central Kentucky to Brigadier General O. B. Willcox, and was subsequently assigned to duty elsewhere.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Q. A. GILLMORE,

Major-General, Commanding.