OCTOBER 17, 1864. - Skirmish at Eddyville, Ky.
Report of Colonel John D. Abey, Thirteenth U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery.
SMITHLAND, KY., October 20, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that I left Louisville on the 15th instant, in order to repair to Eddyville, Lyon County, Ky., in obedience to Special Orders, Numbers 212, paragraph III, from headquarters District of Kentucky.
On the way hitherward I learned, through Colonel H. T. Burge, Forty-eight Kentucky Mounted Infantry, that the post assigned to me was taken by the rebel forces under Brigadier-General Lyon, and in order to ascertain the facts in the case I proceeded from this post, on the 18th instant, by the gun-boat Brilliant, Numbers 18, to that point, and there learned the following particulars: That the rebels, under General Lyon (whose home is in Eddyville), with a force variously estimated at from 200 to 600 men, came into the vicinity of Eddyville and attacked, at about 5 a m., with about forty men, its garrison, stationed in the country court-house, and composed of some twenty men of the Forty-eighth Kentucky Mounted Infantry, commanded by Captain H. M. Hiett and Lieutenant John T. Rushing, and eight officers of the Thirteenth Regiment U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery (stationed there on recruiting service) and some twenty-seven of their recruits. After a very short resistance (owing, I heard, to the scarcity of ammunition) the garrison surrendered, or rather capitulated, on what conditions I have been unable to ascertain. The officers of the Thirteenth Artillery and the captain of the Forty-eight Kentucky Mounted Infantry were then carried or led off by the rebels some two miles from the village, when the gun-boat Silver Lake, Numbers 2, came up, shelled the town, and took the wife of General Lyon as hostage. Word having been sent out to the general of this fact, he at once paroled the officers, but carried off the colored recruits. Two of the recruits subsequently escaped, one carrying or running off two of their horses. Captain Sutherland (who had come there contrary to my orders) jumped through the widow of the second story, dislocated his ankle in the fall, and go shot in the arm on reaching the ground. One rebel got wounded; since died. Having no garrison whatever to enforce my authority as post commander or to protect myself, I felt compelled to return to this post, where I am now awaiting further attacks from the enemy. I learned from reliable authority that General Lyon boasted that he expected Forrest up soon and intends to make Eddyville his permanent headquarters. In that case either he or I would have to leave, the place being too small for both of us. Should you deem it expedient to hold that point (which, if fortified by the rebels, might create serious annoyance to the navigation of the Cumberland River, and would have to be retaken with considerable loss, owing to the peculiar topographical features of the site) and intrust me with its defense, I pledge myself (if supported on the flanks by gun-boats) to defend it to the last extremity. To enable me to accomplish this I should ask about 400 men, colored troops, and one half battery of artillery. I believe I could, in about ten working days, so intrench the position as to render abortive an attack of far superior forces.
I have the honor to be, general, your most obedient servant,
JNO D. ABEY,
Colonel, Commanding Thirteenth Regiment U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery.
Brigadier General H. EWING,
Commanding Second DIVISION, District of Kentucky.