Numbers 2. Report of Captain George R. Hall, One hundred and twenty-third New York Infantry.
ESTILL SPRINGS, TENN.,
March 17, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that yesterday (16th) at 1 p. m. I received intelligence of a citizen by the name of Martin Hays, sent by citizen named John P. Hefner, who tends a grist-mill about 2 miles from this post, that a band of rebel cavalry from 70 to 100 and Chattanooga Railroad, and said they were gong to throw off the first train of cars from Tullahoma and then blow up the bridge across Elk River.
On receiving this intelligence, I immediately reported it to Major Tanner, commanding One hundred and twenty-third Regiment New York Volunteers, and re-enforced my pickets accordingly, and awaited orders from the major; but receiving no definite orders and awaiting sufficient time for my patrols to return, not having sufficient force here to leave the stockade safe and meet the enemy, I took the engine of the construction train, which was here, and went to the regiment and reported the facts to the major, who immediately sent Company C to take the place of my company (E) and sent my company in pursuit of the enemy.
At 4.45 p. m. I left camp, marching with the main part of my company on the railroad, having a line of skirmishers on each side of the road a reasonable distance in advance. After proceeding nearly 1 1/2 miles I saw a train coming from Tullahoma, and watched in until it ran off the track, and heard the firing on the train. It was about one-half mile in advance of my skirmishers. I then field to the right into the woods and took the double-quick step in order to flank them, but they had got notice of my approach and commenced a retreat. I came up on their flank, opening upon them, which was returned by them, but made no stand of any account; formed line of battle twice, but as soon as we fired upon them they turned and ran. I pursued them about 1 1/2 miles, when my men became so much exhausted that farther pursuit would have been useless and I returned to the wreck, where I found the cars on fire, but succeeded in extinguishing the fire so that but three cars were burned. The engine was but little injured.
During the fighting, men captured from the cars were recaptured, and in about one hour the remainder of the prisoners came in-7 of the Twenty-seventh Indiana and 2 men of Company E, One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers; also Captain Beardsley, of the Twentieth Connecticut, and Lieutenant Williams. All wee robbed of everything valuable, not excepting their clothing. Two men of the First Michigan Engineers were wounded; also a citizen by the name of Stockwell-the latter seriously, the ball having passed through the left lung. One negro was killed and 1 wounded. The prisoners report that the rebels were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hughs, formerly of the Twenty-fifth Tennessee. The names of the other officers I could not learn. One of my company that is reliable told me that he counted 97 men, while a prisoner, and at the time 15 or 20 were out after the other patrols. The man spoken of above of my company was one of the patrols who were captured. They were