War of the Rebellion: Serial 034 Page 0554 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXV.

Search Civil War Official Records

The separate reports, herewith inclosed, of the commanders of different cavalry battalions show how their commands were shifted from hand to hand between the infantry division commanders.

In the evening of July 1, I received orders from the general commanding cavalry to take what force I had in camp, and two pieces of artillery, and move at once to Hillsborough, and thence to Pelham; staying that he, with my First Brigade and the whole of the First Division, would join me next morning. I left Manchester at 11 p. m., passing General Crittenden's corps, in camp, in camp, a mile before reaching Hillsborough, and stopped to feed the horses 2 miles beyond Hillsborough, on the road to Pelham. When ready to start, I received an order from the general commanding the department to stop at the place where the order found me, and move by the most direct route toward Decherd Station, on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad.

At 5 a. m. July 2, I moved back to Hillsborough, and thence toward Decherd by direct road leading through Morris' Ford, on Elk River, 10 miles from Hillsborough. About a mile and a half before reaching the ford, the advance guard met the enemy's cavalry pickets, which were driven back and across the river at the ford. Two companies of the Fourth Ohio followed them rapidly, and, when approaching the ford, were fired upon by the enemy's sharpshooters from the opposite shore.

The river at this point forms a horseshoe curve, the road running into the curve, and the ford being at the culminating point of the bend, as a matter of course. The opposite shore occupied by the enemy was low, rising gradually back of our position, on which slope on the road were two houses, distant, respectively, one-third and two-thirds of a mile from the ford.

The companies at the ford were re-enforced by others; half of the men were ordered to fight on foot, and sharp skirmishing commenced.

At this time, 8.30 a. m., I sent a dispatch to the general commanding, advising him of what we had encountered, supposing him to be on his way to Hillsborough or on this side of it.

Learning that there was another ford, called Shallow Ford, 1 1\2 miles above Morris' Ford, on our left and almost in our rear, I sent Lieutenant Shoemaker, commanding my escort, with a few men, to ascertain whether that ford was guarded by the enemy. He approached ford; was fired upon from the opposite shore, and wounded. One company was ordered at once to guard that ford, and one piece of artillery moved to Morris' Ford, and opened on the enemy's skirmishers with canister. Three shots drove them back from the slope, and, consulting with Colonel Long, we decided to send a dozen dismounted men across the river, and, if the enemy retreated, to send across four mounted men across the river, and, if the enemy retreated, to send across four mounted companies.

Although I considered the position at Morris' Ford of the greatest importance to the enemy, being on the flank of their army, retreating from Tullahoma to Cowan, I could not ascertain whether it was strongly occupied, and was on the point of sending the four companies across the river, when, happily, the enemy opened on us with shrapnel and shell from a battery of four guns in position below the ford. This showed plainly that there was a force superior to ours, which consisted of on 500 men and two pieces of artillery. My artillery was withdrawn from the ford, and placed at the first house, on somewhat more elevated ground, and, after a few shots from one of the guns posted there, the enemy ceased firing, and withdrew his battery, the reason of which, as ascertained afterward, was that the third shot of our gun dismounted one of the enemy's pieces. This was at 10.30 a. m., and I