MARCH 25-26, 1863.-Skirmishes near Louisa, Ky.
Report of Brigadier General Julius White, U. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY,
Louisa, Ky., March 30, 1863.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that on the evening of the 24th instant I was informed that the enemy was advancing on this place, being distant 20 miles, on the West Liberty road, at sunset. I immediately ordered a reconnaissance by cavalry, under the immediate charge of Colonel G. W. Gallup, of the Fourteenth Kentucky Infantry, who met the enemy 10 miles out, advancing rapidly, with an evident intention of surprising this command at or before daylight of the next morning. A short skirmish ensued, after which both parties halted till morning, when the enemy resumed the advance, the detachment under Colonel Gallup, in obedience to my orders, falling back, skirmishing with the enemy toward the position I had selected for defense, and where during the morning I had placed my artillery in position (four 6-pounders) and made such dispositions of the troops as was in my opinion best. The enemy appeared in sight, just outside the range of my guns, at about 3 p. m. of the 25th, and, after reconnoitering my position, went into camp. During the night of the 25th, desultory firing was kept up between the outposts, the enemy, as I supposed, endeavoring to effect lodgment as near as possible on the right flank of my line, with a view to a general attack at daylight on the 26th. No demonstration having been made, however, I ordered a reconnaissance, which showed that the enemy had retired. After ordering the cavalry and part of the Thirty-ninth Kentucky Mounted Infantry in pursuit, with directions to attack and harass the rear guard of the enemy if overtaken, but to refrain from attack, if the whole force should be present, till the remainder of my command could reach supporting distance, I prepared the latter with three days' rations, loaded all the spare mules and horses with forage, and moved out with all my available force to the attack. Reaching a point about 10 miles distant, I learned from the advance that the enemy had encamped 20 miles out the night previous, and had taken up the line of march again. Being all mounted, the pursuit by infantry, which constituted a large part of my command, was hopeless, especially as my men had been under arms most of the time for forty-eight hours. I then countermarched the command and returned to camp. The enemy numbered by actual count between 1,700 and 1,800, all mounted infantry. My force consisted of about 750 effective, exclusive of the Second Battalion Tenth Kentucky Cavalry, which, being armed only with pistols and sabers, is in this mountainous region comparatively useless, except for guard or outpost duty. The enemy, dismounting, take the steep, broken hillsides, which are inaccessible for cavalry, and, keeping out of pistol range, render light cavalry little more than spectators.
The conduct of the troops under my command was in all respects satisfactory. The skirmishing which occurred demonstrated to the enemy that he would not obtain possession of our position without a severe struggle.
Among officers whose conduct was admirable, I deem it proper to mention Colonel G. W. Gallup, Fourteenth Kentucky; Major [R.] Rice, First Squadron Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, and Captains [C. S.] Rogers and [L. M.] Clark, of the Tenth Kentucky Cavalry, who fully evinced the qualifications requisite to gallant and efficient officers.