Report of Captain Samuel E. Lawyer, Seventh Illinois Mounted Infantry, of capture of train (July 5) near Tilton, Ga.
ROME, GA., July 22, 1864.
SIR: I would respectfully state the following facts as they came to my knowledge, in regard to the burning of the train on the U. S. military railroad between Dalton and Tilton, Ga., on the evening of the 5th instant:
About 11 a. m. on that day, a lady came to my camp at Keith's tank, and reported to me that a force of rebels, from 300 to 400 strong, was within two miles and a half from my camp, but moving in a direction from it. I immediately sent two men of my command out with orders to mount themselves on the first horses they could find, and scout in the direction the enemy was reported to be, and ascertain his movements. About 1 o'clock a boy came in and reported to me in substance the same as the lady had. He estimated the enemy's strength at 500 and over, reported them about three miles from my camp, and moving in a direction from it across the mountain. They had inquired of him how many Yankees were at the tank, which led me to believe that would be the point of attack. I immediately advised you of the information I had received; I also, at the same time, advised the commander at Dalton. My scouts came in about 5.30 p. m. and reported that a mounted force, estimated at 300, had crossed over the mountain three miles and a half east of us. At 3 p. m. I sent my relief patrol down the railroad. I doubled said relief, adding three more men and a non-commissioned officer to it, with strict instructions to be in the alert. At 6 p. m. I sent patrol Numbers 2 down the road to relieve Numbers 1, with same instructions; said patrols met a quarter of a mile this side of the end of their beat. Just as the patrols met, the train that was attacked passed them, with a construction train closely following it. When the first train was fired into, the construction train came back, bringing my patrols on it. I had my command under arms from the first information I had of the enemy, and as soon as I heard the firing I ordered Captain Knowlton, with his company and the patrol guard, to take the construction train (which was coming back) and go down to the relief of the train that was attacked. I also told the engineer of this train to take them around the curve below, about one mile and three-quarters form my camp. He ran the train around the curve and was met by the enemy and fired into before he could stop his engine. Captain Knowlton and his men jumped off the train under the fire of the enemy, and formed the men for action. I will here refer you to Captain Knowlton report,* herewith inclosed. Nine cars of the train that was attacked had broken loose from the train and ran back down the grade three-quarters of a mile. The enemy followed this part of the train back, which will account for their meeting Captain Knowlton's command so far this side of where the train was thrown off. As soon as I heard that Captain Knowlton was engaged with the enemy, I ordered Lieutenant Hubbard, with twenty men, to go to his (Captain Knowlton's) support. Just at this time my pickets fired at what they supposed
* Not found.