ON BOARD STEAM-BOAT HASTINGS, January 16, 1863.
Commanding Department of the Cumberland.
SIR: Agreeably to instructions received from Major Sidell by telegraph dated Nashville, January 13, 1863, a copy of which is hereto attached, I beg to state that I was one of the passengers aboard the steamer Hastings (in Government employ transporting wounded men from Nashville to Louisville) on the 13th instant, the day she was fired into by a party of rebel guerrillas of General Wheeler's cavalry brigade, under command of Colonel Wade. The Hastings had on board 212 wounded soldiers under charge of Surgeon Waterman, with instructions to report the same at Louisville. The Hastings left Nashville without any convoy. On nearing Harpeth Shoals we saw the burning hull of the steamer Charter, opposite a group of some half dozen or more small houses that had also been burned. A short distance below a fleet of six steamers were engaged in loading and unloading Government stores under the protection of the gun-boat Sidell, commanding by Lieutenant Van Dorn. Suspicions of some danger below I hailed Van Dorn and inquired as to who burned the boat and houses. He replied that the guerrillas had burned the steamer and that he had retaliated by burning the house. "Is there any danger below?" "No; " said he, "you can pass on safely. I have cleaned them out. " The steamer Trio also ladened with wounded was in advance of us some four or five miles. Believing all safe below we passed on. On reaching the head of Harpeth Shoals we saw the Trio lying to in a cover on the south bank of the Cumberland River, thirty-five miles from Nashville and thirty miles from Clarksville. Having heard the captain of the Trio say that he was nearly out of fuel I presume that he was taking on wood. On a nearer approach to her I discovered a company of cavalry drawn up in line on the bank just above the Trio. Two of the company took off their hats, waved them at us and ordered us to come to. I inquired, "Why, and what do you want? We are loaded with wounded and have no time to stop?" "Come to, or we will fire into you. " And at that instant the whole line came to a ready. being the only commissioned officer on board (not wounded) with the exception of Surgeon Waterman I immediately assumed command and ordered the captain of the Hastings to land. The boat in the meantime had moved past the designated landing point, and the guerrillas commander gave the order to fire and three volleys of musketry were fired all taking effect upon the upper and forward portion of the steamer. The volleys were followed by one discharge of cannon, the ball passing through the clerk's office on the discharge of cannon, the ball passing through the clerk's office on the starboard side and out on the opposite side of the cabin. I told them to cease firing as we were landing as rapidly as possible. On landing their boarded the steamer and ordered the men all to leave the boat as they must burn her. In connection with Doctor Waterman I urged the claims of humanity upon them, and finally through a personal acquaintance with Captain Burford, General Wheller's assistant adjutant-general, we extracted from them a promise to spare the boat on condition of the captain of the captain entering into bonds that she should cary no more supplies for the Army of the United States. I pass by a description of the horrible scenes enacted by Wade's men. They plundered the boat, even to the knives, forks, spoons, &c. ; rifled passenger's baggage; robbed wounded soldiers of their rations, and money from their pockets; took the officer's side arms, overcoats, hats, &c. I reasoned with their officers to no purpose, save Captain Burford, who