and third Ohio as rapidly as the inferior capacity of the engine would permit, but our progress was slow and we did not arrive at Henderson's Station until midnight when we found the bridge at that place partially destroyed and the track burned. After considerable delay, I succeeded in repairing the injuries sufficiently to cross the train.
Passing on 2 miles, I found the bridge over Ripley Creek burned and totally destroyed. I was therefore compelled to disembark my men in order to proceed any farther. Upon my arrival at this place (Ripley Creek), I heard the report that the One hundredth Ohio had been taken prisoners. I pressed on with the intention of relieving the regiment or ascertaining the exact condition of it. When near the scene of the last fight I learned the report to be true.
After the fight of the morning, Lieutenant-Colonel Hayes withdrew from Telford's to Limestone Station. At half past 1 p.m. he was again attacked by the enemy, who had been considerably re-enforced. After an engagement of two hours and a half he was compelled to surrender to the enemy. Their force is variously estimated at from 1,000 to 1,800, having two Parrott guns and three mountain howitzers. The force of the enemy was chiefly mounted men.
From all I can gather the defense of Lieutenant-Colonel Hayes was very determined and stubborn, he only yielding after a protracted engagement to an overpowering force. Before the surrender the enemy had destroyed the railroad for 6 miles in his rear, and he was entirely surrounded. I cannot learn definitely the loss of killed and wounded, but do not think it very heavy. The number of prisoners taken was about 200. One company that went up was guarding Lick Creek Bridge and escaped capture, with probably 20 others. I approached near to the pickets of the enemy, and found them camped near the battle-field in force. The One hundred and third Ohio with me had a fighting force about 375 men, one company having been left at Morristown, and as the force of the enemy was reported at the lowest estimate over 1,000 with five pieces of artillery, I deemed it entirely imprudent to to risk an engagement, especially as my chief object was to occupy a location on the railroad as a base of operations for my cavalry and protect the road. I intended to attempt to hold Henderson's Station, but upon withdrawing to it I ascertained that the enemy was moving upon my flank and rear with 700 or 800 cavalry, with the evident design of burning the bridges and trestle below Greeneville and destroying the road, cutting off my communications by railroad. As I was entirely powerless against cavalry with such an object in view, I saw no alternative but to withdraw or suffer the fate of the One hundredth Ohio. I accordingly withdrew the One hundred and Third Ohio, with my entire train, and have stationed it at Lick Creek and Seven Pond Bridges, being the most important bridges nearest to Greeneville. There are two trestles near Greeneville, which should be guarded, but it would be too hazardous to weaken and scatter my already too inferior force. I hope to be able to preserve the entire line of railroad to Greeneville to-night, but you can see difficulty of guarding 75 miles of road with so small a force against 1,200 or 1,500 cavalry.
I have brought the train down to this place and will load it with one section of Colvin's battery, and 50 cavalry of my brigade, which will arrive here to-night and re-enforce the One hundred and Third Ohio. If the road is not destroyed this evening I will advance to-morrow and occupy and hold Greeneville. It is reported that the