War of the Rebellion: Serial 034 Page 0301 Chapter XXXV. EXPEDITION TO MONTICELLO, KY., ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

At daylight I visited, with Lieutenant-Colonel Holeman, Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, of the Twentieth Michigan Infantry, and Major Rue, volunteer aide from the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry, and others, the advance pickets.

On Sunday [10th], at 8 a. m., the enemy drove in the advance picket. I ordered the men to cover themselves as well as possible, and fire slowly and deliberately, we occupying a strong position in the Narrows of Horseshoe Bottom. This continued some four hours, when I ordered one pieces of cannon to be crossed over the river, being determined to discover the numbers and intention of the enemy. The other piece I ordered to the top of a hill, on the other side of the river, in order to cover our retreat if it became necessary; also all men on the north side of the river to be held in readiness to secure the same thing.

At 3.50 o'clock, after seven hours and fifteen minutes' skirmishing, I got one pieces of artillery in position. I then massed most of the Twentieth Michigan Infantry and one battalion of the Twelfth Kentucky Cavalry (dismounted), and armed with carbines, and ordered them when the cannon opened on the enemy to charge them. The fight instantly became terrific. Our men, led on by their gallant officers, charged on a house and lot by which the enemy were covered, and carried everything before them. Finding the enemy had made a fortress of the house, I had it shelled. It became a hand-to-hand contest, and we drove them gallantly over a quarter of a mile, when Morgan arrived with seven fresh regiments, but, fortunately, his battery still behind, and immediately precipitated them upon us. Before the overwhelming mass, of at least ten to one, our men had to retire from the open field to the cover of the timber in the Narrows. It was then that one piece of artillery was of signal service. The enemy advanced, not a line, but is masses, and I had shell after shell thrown into their midst until they scattered in every direction.

The men being exhausted, some having been in two days' fight with nothing to eat since the day before, and convinced of the overwhelming force of the enemy, and having fought ten times our number for forty-five minutes, I determined to retreat. We quietly did so, retiring the 450 men who had been in the fight, and advancing the reserve of 125 men of dismounted Twelfth Kentucky Cavalry, under command of Captain Harrison. The men marched deliberately and it the best order to the river, 3 miles distant.

I retired with the men, to bend every effort to have them crossed as rapidly as possible. While doing so, a messenger, Lieutenant-Colonel Holeman, came in and informed me that Captain [William J.] Davis, Major-General Morgan's adjutant-general, had come in under flag of truce, to demand my unconditional surrender. I sent word back by Lieutenant-Colonel Holeman that I would never surrender while there was a shot in the locker. In the mean time, Morgan becoming impatient, withdrew his flag of truce, and said he would move directly upon our lines. Captain Harrison, commanding reserve of 125 men, sent him word to let himself in. Lieutenant-Colonel Boyle, who had come up during the fight, conducted the retreat of the reserve (he being ranking officer) with marked ability, judgment, and coolness. Lieutenant-Colonel Holeman was with him. Leaving three men, an advance picket - who were within conversational distance of the enemy's picket - as a sacrifice, he quietly withdrew. Marching slowly and deliberately to the river, we soon crossed them to the opposite side, where they were perfectly secure. The cannon, with the horses, had previously been crossed and put in position to secure retreat. The three pickets of Company B, Twelfth