War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0548 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. Chapter LI.

Search Civil War Official Records

with the enemy, and thereby divert his attention until the other troops has reached the island. This strategy was successful. Every man reached the island in safety. Colonel Wilson is entitled to the commendation of his Government and the lasting gratitude for the faithful [manner] in which he performed this important and hazardous trust. Surrounded by 15,000 of the enemy for three days, he hung upon his flanks, assaulted him on every favorable occasion, and would retire to the hills when pushed. He subsisted upon supplies captured from the enemy. He made no effort to escape from his perilous situation, but faithfully remained in the discharge of his duty until every Confederate soldier was across the river and the enemy commenced his retreat, when, unmolested, he ferried over his regiment and joined his command. Colonel Wilson had only 2 men killed and 4 missing, while he killed and wounded about 75 of the enemy.

I reached Cherokee on the 6th of October, which place I left on the 21st of September. Apprehending that the enemy would make an effort to throw troops across the river, I ordered, on the 9th, Colonel Kelley, with his brigade and one section of Hudson's battery, commanded by Lieutenant Walton, to proceed to Eastport and prevent any advance in that direction. On the 10th the enemy moved up the river with two gun-boats and three transports. Colonel Kelley masked his forces until the enemy debarked a brigade of infantry and three pieces of artillery, when he opened fire upon them with his artillery. Two balls penetrated one gun-boat and a shell burst in one of the transports, causing it to be enveloped in steam and flame. The first fire from the artillery caused the boats to push off from shore. Many in attempting to reach the boat were drowned, 12 were killed on the bank, and a large number killed and wounded on the boat; about 30 prisoners captured, with 3 James rifled guns, 60 small-arms, 20 horses, 4 boat cables, with some artillery harness. It was evident that a preconcerted plan had been arranged to capture my command. At least 15,000 men had been thrown forward for this purpose. Troops from half a dozen different commands were at Florence, at which place the enemy expected to intercept my crossing. The cavalry, under the command of General Hatch, and infantry were sent from Memphis up the Tennessee to aid in my capture. They are still on the opposite bank of the river but prevented from crossing by my troops, who are watching their movements.

The official report of my provost-marshal shows that during the expedition I captured 86 commissioned officers, 67 Government employees, 1,274 non-commissioned officers and privates, 933 negroes, besides killing and wounding in the various engagements about 1,000 more, making an aggregate of 3,360, being an average of one to each man I had in the engagements. In addition to these I captured about 800 horses, 7 pieces of artillery, 2,000 stand small-arms, several hundred saddles, 50 wagons and ambulances, with a large amount of medical, commissary, and quartermaster's stores, all of which has been distributed to the different commands. The greatest damage, however, done to the enemy was in the complete destruction of the railroad from Decatur to Spring Hill, with the exception of the Duck River bridge. It will require months to repair the injury done to the road, and may possibly be the means of forcing the evacuation of Pulaski and Columbia, and thus relieve the people from further oppression.

During the trip my troops supplied themselves with boots, shoes, hats, blankets, overcoats, oil-cloths, and almost everything necessary for their comfort. The accompanying report* from Dr. J. B. Cowan, my chief


*Not found.