War of the Rebellion: Serial 059 Page 0242 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. Chapter XLIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

Gillespie ordered another halt. He then took 10 men as a guard and went in search of meat, which was supposed to be concealed somewhere in the swamp. He returned in about an hour, and directed me to send a sergeant and 4 men back to the squads which we had left as guards, with orders for the men of the Third Iowa to join those of the Fifty-third Illinois, the whole to return in a body to the Canton road and there await our return. After having sent the sergeant and 4 men back, Lieutenant Gillespie directed me to follow him. I did so, and after traveling about two hours we came out on the Canton road at a point about 7 miles northeast of our camps. Soon after striking the Canton road we discovered a squad of mounted men following in our rear. I paid but little attention to them at first, thinking their squad too small to trouble us. We had gone but a short distance farther when one of the men came up from the rear, and reported a strong force of the enemy pursuing us. Our position at this time not being a good one, I pushed on until I gained the top of a large hill. Here I halted, dismounted my men, and formed a line across the road. I had barely time to accomplish this when the enemy came in sight, about 50 in number. They were coming at a gallop and in bad order, the leader being some distance in advance of his men. I ordered my men not to fire until I gave them orders to do so. The rebel leader came up to within about 40 yards of me, when I ordered him to halt. He did so. He having on a blue shirt or jacket under his great coat, I asked him who he was, as I was in some doubt upon that subject. He replied by shouting, "Who are you?" By this time several of his men came up with him, and I could see that they wore the Confederate uniform. I then ordered my men to fire. Our first volley turned and confused them, and our second emptied two saddles and sent them flying back in the direction from which they came. We kept up our fire as long as they were in sight. As soon as they were out of sight I gave the order to mount, and pushed on until I came near the road where the squads from the Fifty-third Illinois and Third Iowa had been ordered to meet us. About this time a man who was some distance in the rear came up and reported to me that the enemy were coming on again with a force larger than before. We were by this time at the road where the Third Iowa sergeant and his squad were ordered to report. Here we found Lieutenant Gillespie, who had been missing since the first attack. He reported that the sergeant and squad had not yet come up. Thinking it best to wait as long as possible for them, I ordered the men to dismount and form line, leaving every fourth man to hold horses. We then went back a short distance and formed on the brow of a small hill to wait for the enemy to approach. We waited but a short time before they came, this time about 150 strong. They came up in good order, formed line, and attempted to charge us. Our first fire broke and confused them. They retreated a short distance, formed line, and again came up at a charge, but with no better success than before. Our first volley turned and scattered them and emptied several saddles. Their leader soon formed them, and again they came up at full gallop. Again were they repulsed. This time their leader tumbled from his saddle, and was not seen to rise again. About this time a man from the Thirty-third Wisconsin Infantry was severely wounded. I ordered 2 men to take him to the rear, put him on a horse, and start with him for camp. When this was done I ordered the men to fall back and mount; then we started for camp, traveling as fast as our worn-out horses and mules could go without leaving men behind.