JULY 14-18, 1864. - Operations in Webster and Union Counties, Ky., including skirmishes (14th) at Morganfield and (15th) at Geiger's Lake.
Report of Lieutenant Colonel Samuel F. Johnson, FIFTY-second Kentucky Infantry.
HOPKINSVILLE, KY., July 18, 1864.
SIR: I arrived at this point this morning and hasten to report to you. I have scouted all through the counties of Webster and Union and the adjacent country, and from what I have seen and done think I am able to make a tolerably full report of the condition of things and the necessities of this region. I frequently saw scattering guerrillas, and took some prisoners. Last Thursday, however, I came up with Sypert and about 150 men at Morganfield. Killed 5 of them and captured 2 more, whom I intend to kill. The next day, near Geiger's Lake, we came upon him again, with a force of over 300 men. They fought us desperately for over an hour, and then fled, breaking up into small squads, thereby making it impossible to pursue them successfully. Here we killed 24 men I know, and think there were at least 6 more killed, whom we did not find. Our loss was 1 man mortally wounded. I was frequently in their neighborhood and sent spies among them and into their very camps, and I can say positively that there are not less than 600 of them in the counties of Union, Henderson, and Webster. I think there are, if anything, more than that number. The truth is, that they are constantly crossing the Cumberland into, rather than out of, the country, and besides are augmenting their force by conscription and recruiting all the time. With the force I now have I feel that I can whip any number of them that would confront me, but I have not enough men to cut them off or to separate and pursue them. So that an engagement with them effects very little, for they will not fight when there is the least chance to avoid it, their object being chiefly to plunder and murder inoffensive Union citizens, especially the negroes who have been enlisted into the Federal service. This section is in a most terrible condition. The guerrillas are recruiting fast, taking every man who has been rafted into our service if he be white, and shooting him if black, and plundering everswimming stock across the Cumberland every day, and I believe will be able to raise at least three regiments in these counties if let alone, besides getting enough to subsist them, and carrying away a great deal more. Last Saturday La Fayette was robbed in this county; also Roaring Spring, just on the edge of Trigg County, and on yesterday they plundered Trenton, in Todd County. I believe that at this moment there is not a county in all this region from Logan down between the rivers which is not infested by more or less of these thieving scoundrels, and if some means be not adopted very speedily to rid the country of them and of their sympathizers the people will be ruined, and as it is would be just as secure if they were in the rear of Joe Johnston's army as where they are. I believe that with seven companies of the FIFTY-second, and complete control of them, I could rid the country of these guerrilla bands. I would like to have enough to post a company at Hopkinsville, one at Princeton, one at Rumsey, and one at Madisonville, and with three other companies to take possession of the post of Uniontown, on the Ohio, or, as would be better, of Morganfield, which is just seven miles back, with a good road to the river, and the rest of the regiment located between Elkton and Bowling Green, at such places as would best protect that section. I am confident that with energy and care we could by this means clean them out. Should this plan meet your approbation, I know that we could supply