War of the Rebellion: Serial 073 Page 0742 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

Search Civil War Official Records

learn. Deeming it possible that they might attempt the passage of the Holston at McMillan's Ford, some two miles below here, I had kept pickets there over night, from whom I learned at an early hour that some few persons had attempted the crossing during the night, but at a shot from the picket had abandoned the attempt. Supposing the ford more difficult than it really was, I sent ten men early on Wednesday morning, with instructions to dispute the passage of the river to the last moment. By 11 a.m. the brisk firing at the ford induced me to re-enforce the party there with twelve men. At 12 m. the re-enforcement returned with the information that the enemy had crossed in large numbers, and had probably captured the original ten sent out. Up to this time no particular demonstrations had been made from the south side of the river opposite the post, although squads of mounted men had been seen on almost any eminence near the woods. By 2.30 p.m. a very fair line had been formed by the enemy, reaching from near the railroad, that being their right, to the McMillan Ford below, and from the ford on the north side of the river across to a point some three-quarters of a mile above the fort, thus very nearly encircling our post and force. During the night previous Captain John H. Colvin, commanding Colvin's battery, Illinois Light Artillery, aided by his efficient lieutenant, John S. Huntsinger, had placed his artillery, and as far as possible prepared for the reception of General Wheeler and escort. My right, fronting the north, rested on the river above the fort, in charge of Lieutenant William Wilson, Company D, First Ohio Heavy Artillery, aided by Lieutenant Miller, of same regiment, and my left under command of Captain Samuel Bryan, Company B, Tenth Michigan Cavlary, while the center was in charge of Lieutenant E. A. Botsford, Company L, Tenth Michigan Cavalry. Rifle-pits between the fort and bridge were occupied by men in charge of Lieutenant D. A. Dodge, Tenth Michigan Cavalry, assisted by Lieutenant C. C. Mingus, of First Ohio Heavy Artilery. This disposition of men had all been effected long ere the enemy had formed. Thus situated, skirmishing commenced at about 2.30 p.m., and was kept up with slight intervals till dark.

Sharpshooting was practiced by the enemy from both sides the river, but principally from behind dwellings and other covers on the south side of the river. Up to 3 p.m. nothing had occurred to demand the particular attention of Captain Colvin, but at about that hour a force grouped sufficiently to elicit a shot, the effect of which was a very sudden dispersing of the group. For some two hours the captain paid his respects to numerous portions of the enemy's lines, always producing a very decided impression upon them. Some buildings behind which the sharpshooters had covered themselves were slightly damaged, barely enough to cause an abandonment of the premises. At about 5 p.m. diversion from my left was made by an attack upon the enemy's rear by a detachment of the Tenth Michigan Cavalry, under command of Major I. C. Smith, and at about the same time the enemy commenced shelling with three pieces of artillery planted on the south side of the river. Their first efforts seemed directed against the rifle-pits upon my left, which seemed, in the judgment of the enemy, to be the vulnerable point. A few well-directed shots from the fort diverted them from that point and called forth and effort upon the front, but failing to accomplish anything, out of sheer chagrin and madness, they threw shells without much regard as to whom they injured or where they went, and fin