War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0513 Chapter LI. FORREST'S RAID INTO ALABAMA AND TENNESSEE.

Search Civil War Official Records

meet the raiders, but the major-general commanding requiring the services of the Twelfth Indiana Cavalry, 800 strong, and the Fourth Tennessee Cavalry, 550 strong, the former being sent to Tullahoma, and the latter to Nashville, my reserve, much reduced by sickness, was entirely absorbed in filling the places of these regiments. On the 20th of September Wheeler's force, variously estimated at from 4,000 to 6,000 cavalry, was at or near Courtland, where it was rumored he was preparing his force to recross the river or attack Decatur. Roddey, at the same time, was reported at Shoal Creek with three regiments. Other rebel forces, it was stated, were also in the same district. On the same day we received information that a force of 700 men passed Somerville going toward Guntersville, and finally General Clanton, with a considerable force, was at Larkin's Landing, where it was said he was building boats preparatory to crossing the river. I might add here that I had some time previously apprehended that General Forrest might also invade Middle Tennessee, inasmuch as Major-General Smith's forces had been withdrawn to Missouri, and intimated the same to the general commanding the army, but was assured by him that I had nothing to fear from General Forrest. With this assurance I made the best disposition that occurred to me with my now much reduced command, to watch these large forces of the enemy in my immediate front, and guard the river and railroad. I made the following dispositions: I requested the naval officers commanding gun-boats, and ordered Captain Naylor, commanding the Stone River, to patrol the river from Larkin's Landing to Whitesburg, and occasionally to Decatur. Colonel Minnis, THIRD Tennessee Cavalry, at Athens, I ordered to Rogersville and Lexington to co-operate with Colonel Spalding, who left Pulaski on the afternoon of the 21st for Shoal Creek, to look after the enemy there. I had a few days previously sent a squadron of cavalry to Florence, to watch the enemy's movements opposite that place. Notwithstanding all these precautions, the enemy, in considerable force, made his appearance unannounced at the plantation of Jack Harris, five miles from Decatur, on the afternoon of the 23rd of September. As soon as this information was received Colonel Prosser, with 280 cavalry, Second Tennessee, all the available cavalry at this post, was sent to drive them off. Colonel Given, One hundred and second Ohio, was directed to send his regiment to protect the road and re-enforce Athens. Most of his regiment being on picket he sent in its stead a detachment of 360 men, composed of 150 of the One hundred and second Ohio and 210 of the Eighteenth Michigan Infantry, under the command of Lieutenant- Colonel Elliott. Colonel Prosser drove the enemy back to Athens, killing 5, wounding a number, and making 9 prisoners, where he found Forrest with his command of what he then supposed to be 3,000 or 4,000 men. He extricated his command from this position with considerable forces, without leaving posts defenseless, to send to the relief of Athens. I was already on my way with 250 infantry and about 250 cavalry, expecting to find Lieutenant-Colonel Elliott at the break in the road five miles from Athens, when it was reported that the fort at Athens had surrendered, and the detachment sent to its relief had most gallantly fought its way through Forrest's force to within sight of the fort, only to find that it had been most basely and cowardly surrendered to the enemy, with its ample garrison of 600 men, by Colonel Campbell without firing a gun, after Forrest's demand for its surrender. The conduct of the detachment of the Eighteenth Michigan and One

33 R R-VOL XXXIX, PT I