FEBRUARY 22, 1864-Skirmish on Calfkiller Creek, Tenn.
Report of Colonel William B. Stokes, Fifth Tennessee Cavalry [Union].*
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES, Sparta, Tenn., February 24, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report that I arrived at this place on the 18th instant with Companies A, B, G, I, K, and L, of the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry. I have occupied all of the deserted houses in the town with my men, barricaded the streets strongly, and fortified around my artillery. Since my arrival I have been engaged in scouring the country and foraging, the forage being very scarce and at some distance from the town. I have ascertained that the country is infested with a great number of rebel soldiers under Colonels Hughs, Hamilton, Ferguson, Carter, and Bledsoe, the whole force being under Colonel Hughs, a brave, vigilant, and energetic officer. There is little or no robbing being done by the guerrillas, their attention being directed toward my men. Colonel Hughs' command is well armed, having secured the best of arms when on their raids into Kentucky. They number at least 600 fighting men.
On the 22nd instant, two companies of my command of Hughs, Ferguson, Carter, and Bledsoe. After fighting some time they were surrounded and overwhelmed. The officers [6 in number] with 45 men have come in through the hills.
Yesterday Carter made a dash on one of my picket-posts. He had 6 of his men dressed in Federal uniform. The remainder were dressed in gray, and as those dressed in our uniform approached the vedettes they told them not to shoot, that the rebels were after them; and as those in gray appeared a few yards in the rear of those in blue hallowing to them to surrender the story appeared very plausible, and the ones in blue immediately rushed upon the reserve pickets. Four of my pickets were killed-3 after they had surrendered and the other after he had been captured. A great many of the rebels were dressed in our uniform at the time the two companies were attacked, and several of my men were killed after they were captured. Hughs himself does not allow this barbarity, but his subordinate officers practice it.
I have to fight for every ear of corn and blade of fodder I get.
Deserters from the rebel army are constantly joining Hughs. The people are thoroughly and decidedly disloyal, but a great many are taking the oath. The oath of allegiance has been found on the persons of several soldiers we have killed. The country is rocky and mountainous, and very had for cavalry to operate in. I have to fight rebel soldiers and citizens, the former carrying the arms and doing the open fighting; the latter, carrying news and ambushing.
Portions of Companies C, F, and H arrived to-day. The greater part of these companies remained at Nashville, being without horses. I earnestly urge that they be mounted as soon as possible, and ordered to report to me. Their services are needed very much here, and not at the city of Nashville. Horses are required to mount my men. There are no serviceable ones in the country, the rebels having taken all of
*See also Colonel Hughs' report of operations in Middle Tennessee, January 1-April 18, 1864, p.55.