Arriving at the Coldwater, Major Henry, With the Missouri and Ohio Cavalry, crossed over. I was left to guard the bridge and await Major Henry's return, With orders to hold it "at all hazards. " Major Henry returned in about two hours. At the Coldwater our advance guard discovered and drove off 5 mounted men. I did not see them. We bivouacked that night about half-way between Coldwater and Hernando. Just as we halted for the night, our advance guard (about a quarter of a mile in advance) was fired on by a small squad of mounted men, who immediately turned and fled. When this was reported to Major Henry, he said, "It is only a squad of guerrillas; I apprehend no danger here," or words to that effect.
Although the pickets (our pickets) fired frequently during the night, the soldiers were not aroused. When I reported to Major Henry, very early next morning (Friday, 19th), he said, "There are 200 rebels, With two pieces of artillery, near by, waiting for us, and we must go out and whip them. " A very dense fog was prevailing at the time we left our bivouac, which continued until quite late that morning. We marched about one-half a mile toward Memphis, when our advance guard was fired on by two small cannons or howitzers, throwing canister, which passed over our heads.
Being then in a lane, we threw down the fence on our left, and formed line of battle in an open field, my command on the right. We were ordered to keep our lines unbroken, and not to fire. In a few minutes a small squad of the enemy appeared, coming out of the woods near our right. By the long guns they carried, I judged them to be mounted infantry. They fired a few shots, mortally wounding 1 man and 1 horse of my command.
We were now marched by the left flank, and formed on three sides of a hollow square, my command fronting on a small ravine, which I was ordered to "hold at all hazards. " The Ohio cavalry were posted at right angles With and near the right of my line.
I could not see the enemy for the fog, but could plainly hear him advancing through the ravine. I threw out a platoon of skirmishers, covering the whole front of my battalion, who dismounted and at once briskly engaged the enemy's skirmishers at short range. I held my position under a heavy fire until the enemy charged With a heavy column of Cavalry, breaking my line, and for an instant throwing I into confusion. The whole force then retreated through the timber to a large open field, across which the enemy followed us closely. On the opposite side of the field we rallied, turned, and charged the enemy across the field, back into the woods, when he, receiving re-enforcements, drove us again from the field. We then retreated in tolerable good order, although closely followed by the rebels for several miles, until we came to a bridge over a branch of Coldwater, which we broke in crossing. It was here that we suffered our greatest loss. The enemy did not pursue beyond the broken bridge, and we met With no further molestation. I saw Major Henry in the field where we made the charge. He seemed to be endeavoring to rally his men. I never saw him afterward.
The following is a list of casualties occurring in my command. *
* * * * * * * Sergt. C. H. Blessing, commanding Company B; Sergt. James Burke, commanding Company D, and Sergt. Henry Anglemire, who commanded Company M after the loss of Lieutenant Crawford, are all deserving of
*Nominal list, omitted, shows 1 killed and 21 MISSING.