Reports of Brigadier General Charles Cruft, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.
NEAR MATTHEWS' HOUSE, September 16, 1863.
CAPTAIN: The fact of an attack by cavalry of the enemy on the picket guard of this brigade, which occurred on the 10th instant, near Pea Vine Creek, Ga. (on the road leading from Rossville to Ringgold), has been heretofore promptly reported, with a list of officers and men captured. The matter has been since more fully investigated than was possible at the time of the occurrence and a detailed report thereof is now respectfully submitted.
The brigade left Rossville on the morning of the 10th instant, at 6 a..m., in advance of the division column. On leaving camp an advance guard was detailed and properly posted, with skirmishers, road party, and reserve, to precede the column. This advance consisted of a battalion of four companies of the First Kentucky Volunteer Infantry to wit, Companies B (Lieutenant Hammond commanding), D (Captain Jones commanding), G (Lieutenant Brown commanding), K (Lieutenant Hornung commanding), the whole under command of Major A. R. Hadlock. Lieutenant John A. Wright, my aide-de-camp, accompanied the party, and was charged with the execution of my instructions.
After crossing Missionary Ridge and the west fork of Chickamauga River, the road passed over a considerable range of hills at the foot of which, on the east, was a valley of near 2 miles in width, through which ran Pea Van Creek. When the head of the column reached the top of the hill, above the valley, it was halted, by command of Major-General Palmer (who happened to be riding with me at the time), for the purpose of exploring the valley. From this point a large portion of the valley could be overlooked, and something could be seen of the roads running through it. Dust was observed at points along these roads indicating movements of the enemy's cavalry. General Palmer furnished me with a small mounted force to precede the infantry battalion and explore the valley. This force consisted of a portion of the division escort (Lieutenant Shaw, Company C, Seventh Illinois Cavalry, commanding) and a portion of Company-, Fourth Michigan Cavalry (Captain
commanding), in all numbering some 60 or 70 men. Captain Norton (and perhaps others), of general Palmer's staff, accompanied the cavalry. The battalion of the First Kentucky was ordered by me to follow the cavalry, and take post within supporting distance of it beyond Pea Vine Creek, and there hold the road at all hazards. The skirmishing became quite spirited shortly after the cavalry crossed the creek, but the retiring reports of the carbines indicated that our men were driving the enemy. The brigade column passed down the hill, crossed the creek, and, in accordance with orders from General Palmer, was passing into camp. It had been expressly enjoined that the flanks of the camp should be well explored and speedily protected. A few hundred feet east of the creek the woods became dense. Along the margin of the woods two good roads intersected the main road nearly at right angles, the one on the left leading to Graysville, about 2 1/2 miles distance, that on the right southward toward La Fayette. At the time the column crossed the creek the firing at the front had diminished and soon altogether ceased.