fell back slowly to Elk River bridge, ordering men at next block- house to evacuate and fall back and report at Elk River block- house. Colonel S. finding himself being flanked on his right and left, by the enemy crossing at the fords above and below him, felt compelled to abandon the bridge and fall back to save his command From capture, first ordering the colored troops and their commands to hold block-house long as possible, as he expected to have re- enforcements in the morning, and would undoubtedly reoccupy the ground, which they did not do, leaving with, if not before, the cavalry at or about 3 in the morning. Bridge was destroyed and enemy moved on, Colonel S. falling back slowly and fighting as he retired. Block-houses and bridges one after another were struck by the enemy and destroyed. No fighting of any consequence being done by any of the colored troops at any of them, except tunnel trestle, on the 26th, where quite a fair stand was made. The troops continued falling back slowly until the arrival of re-enforcements on the 26th, when they (the re-enforcements) took up position at dark and allowed my troops to proceed to Pulaski, where they camped for the night, and finally, on the 27th, the engagement became quite general, and lasted nearly all day, my same mounted command being engaged with various successes, our troops falling back and forming battle line on east side of the town, upon which the last shot was fired.
On morning of the 28th the enemy were found gone. Colonel Spalding's command was ordered to find out direction taken by the enemy, which he did and then returned to this post.
My casualties have been large, particularly in captured men, and the same are given in accordance with the best post data at my disposal.
For the particular parts taken by the separate commands I most respectfully refer the general commanding to the reports of the several officers, forwarded herewith and made a part hereof. *
Outside of the colonel troops (and excepting them at Sulphur Branch trestle and tunnel trestle, and believing they would have fought at Athens if opportunity had been given them) the command has fought bravely and well, and is entitled to credit.
Many officers and men particularly distinguished themselves, but where all did so well it would be invidious to particularize; yet in the case of Colonel W. H. Lathrop, who fell so gallantly fighting at his post, with the last words upon his lips, "Do not surrender the fort," I feel that I shall be pardoned in mentioning his name as one of the gallant and most noble men of my command, who, although dead, yet lies, and to whom reference can be made as a bright example for all to pattern after.
To my staff officers, orderlies, and scouts I have to make my acknowledgment for the promptness and efficiency exhibited by them during the many trying days through which we passed.
And in conclusion, I desire most particularly to thank the actresses, Miss Ada Gray and Mrs. Lowry, who of their own accord administered to the wants of the wounded men in hospital during many days and nighty,
JOHN C. STARKWEATHER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Decatur.
*Report of Colonel George Spalding, Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, commanding Fourth Cavalry DIVISION, Army of the Cumberland, the only one found. See p. 536.