Numbers 5. Report of Lieutenant William O'Connell, Fourth U. S. Cavalry.
CAMP NEAR MURFREESBOROUGH, TENN.,
May 22, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken in the engagement on the morning of the 22nd instant by the Fifth Squadron Fourth U. S. Cavalry, consisting of Companies D and I, which formed the advance guard of an expedition commanded by Major General D. S. Stanley, which proceeded from Murfreesborough, Tenn., on the night of the 21st instant.
On arriving within about 4 miles of the enemy, having command of the advance guard, I was ordered by General Stanley to move forward at a rapid pace and capture all their pickets. In compliance with the orders received, I moved forward rapidly, and passed one picket stationed on the left of the road, who ran off at my approach, and a second picket stationed in a lane off the main road, who challenged and ran off through a dense belt of timber, near which he was posted. In order to cut off communication which those pickets evidently ran to convey, I made no effort to capture them, but increased the rapidly of my speed, and succeeded in arriving in sight of the first camp before any intelligence had reached there of my approach, and by that time, owing to rough roads and horses unable to keep up, my force did not exceed 45 men. Having plainly seen their camp fires, I immediately ordered a charge, and succeeded in capturing that camp entire, killing and wounding many, capturing arms and ammunition, all the horses and horse equipage, as well as all the miscellaneous camp equipage therein accumulated.
Nobly and bravely I was assisted by Second Lieutenant F. C. Wood, whose horse was shot in several places and himself very severely, if not mortally, wounded, after which I pursued a few who succeeded in making their escape to a second cam, which I also captured, having in like manner charged it. I drove the enemy therefrom a distance of nearly one-fourth of a mile, over a very rough and rocky country, into a forest of heavy timber, where they formed, and were apparently determined to give me battle, having at this time discovered my strength. I then rallied and formed my command, which was much reduced in number from the necessity of leaving a sufficient guard to take charge of my prisoners. Here I gave them battle, having Company I fighting on foot, but finding that support did not reach me as timely as I expected, I retired slowly and steadily, with a view to secure my prisoners and prevent their being recaptured; but having only retired about 20 paces, I found Colonel Long, Fourth Ohio Cavalry, with a portion of his regiment had come up, and immediately rendered gallant assistance. Simultaneously a portion of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry to the right and the Fourth Regulars, who passe in column through the center of the camp, led by Captain Otis, who deployed his command as foragers and drove the enemy out of sight.
About three-quarters of an hour after I had captured they cam, the
regimental flag of the enemy was found by some stragglers and kept as a trophy, though rightly belonging to me, and could have been in my possession had not the necessity of pursuing the enemy been a matter of greater importance than giving attention to a minute search of what the contents of the camp might be; therefore, claiming a legitimate right to that flag, I would respectfully submit the matter for the consideration of the general commanding the expedition.
The casualties in my command are: Second Lieutenant Wood, Fourth