5, Engagement at Metamora near Hatchie Bottom
The report on the engagement at Metamora is perhaps one of the most clear descriptions of company movements to be found concerning the Tennessee Civil War experience. Also it seems best to fit the heretofore ambiguous definition of "engagement."
HDQRS. FOURTEENTH Regt. ILLINOIS INFANTRY, Hatchie Bottom, near Metamora, Tenn., October 6, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to report to you as follows concerning my command in the battle of the 5th instant:
Being in camp, 2 miles west of Metamora, on the Memphis and Corinth road, on the morning of the 5th instant, at about 7 o'clock, I was ordered by Brig.-Gen. Veatch to move out in rear of the Forty-sixth Illinois (Col. Davis). After marching nearly a mile in the direction of Corinth I was ordered by Gen. Veatch to form my regiment in line of battle at right angles with the road and on the left of the Twenty-fifth Indiana (Col. Morgan), throw out skirmishers, and advance. In this order I marched until near the summit of the ridge on which stands the village of Metamora. Here I halted while a battery was placed in advance and to my right. My skirmishers were thrown forward to the edge of a waste field on the opposite side of the ridge, where they were able to observe the movements of the enemy and had full view of his guns. A brisk cannonading ensued and my skirmishers reported the enemy moving a column of infantry to our left. Fearing he meditated an attack on my flank I requested Lieut.-Col. Rogers, commanding the Fifteenth Illinois, which was to my left and rear, to throw out skirmishers to the left, which he did. After the cannonading had continued half an hour I was ordered by Gen. Veatch to advance and charge across a field which lay between my front and the enemy, the Twenty-fifth Indiana still on my right and the Fifteenth Illinois to my left and rear. This charge was handsomely executed to near the center of the field, when, being within our front. Here I commanded a halt and ordered my men to cease firing, being informed that a portion of the force in the woods were our own men. A heavy volley of musketry poured into my ranks convinced me that this was not the case, and I again gave an order to advance, which was instantly obeyed by every officer and soldier of my command.
Volley after volley of musketry was delivered into our ranks from the enemy concealed in the woods; but, undaunted, my men, with a defiant yell, pressed onward in double-quick over the fences and ditches, and soon possessed themselves of the cover of the enemy, he having fallen back across a narrow field to a strip of timber bordering on the Hatchie River. This being the extent to which the enemy could fall back, he poured a murderous and continuous fire into our ranks until we had advanced to within a few paces of the river bank. Here we captured several hundred prisoners and a number of small-arms.
I was then ordered by Gen. Veatch to throw out skirmishers across the river, which I had hardly done when I was ordered to recall them that the woods might be shelled. My skirmishers being in, I immediately received an order from Gen. Veatch to move my command across the river and form a line of battle on the left of the road and parallel with the river. I at once moved over the bridge by the right flank, and formed on the right by file into line in line of battle as ordered. Notwithstanding the enemy poured upon us a terrific fire of shell and canister this movement was executed in splendid style, every man coming up steadily and promptly into line. Finding no regiment in line to support me in a charge upon the enemy, and believing it folly to hold my command under a fire so murderous to no purpose, I ordered them to take shelter under the bank of the river. This they had hardly down when I discovered re-enforcements coming over the river, and at once ordered my men to advance to the front and left across an open space to a heavy wood. The ground to be passed over was being swept by grape and canister, but the men, encouraged by their officers, came promptly up and moved at double quick to the point designated and entered the woods in line of battle, prepared to meet the enemy, but he had fallen back. I then threw out skirmishers in front to the edge of an open field, who reported the enemy formed in line of battle to my right and front, on the brow of a hill, supporting a battery. A heavy fire from the battery rained down upon us, but the woods prevented it from doing us serious damage. My right battalion was also exposed to a galling fire of musketry, but my whole command remained in perfect line and never manifested the least uneasiness. In this position we remained for some time, receiving and returning an almost continuous fire.
I was then ordered by Gen. Veatch to move forward, which I did in quick-time, my skirmishers moving in advance. I soon entered the field, and when I had advanced some distance was ordered to halt. My skirmishers reported that the enemy was planting a battery on a commanding eminence to my right and front. This fact I reported to my commanding general (Veatch), and he at once ordered me to charge it. I was preparing to execute the order when my skirmishers reported a heavy line of infantry just over the ridge to my front. This I also made known to Gen. Veatch, and he ordered me to use my own judgment concerning the propriety of charging it under such circumstances. By this time the battery was silenced, and I advanced my command to near the summit of the hill, where it remained for some time, while the woods in front were being shelled by our batteries. I then threw forward skirmishers into the woods, who soon returned and reported that the enemy had fled.
I fell it my duty to state that my command did its whole duty, obeying every order given with and an understanding. My officers were constantly at their posts, ever cheering their men, both by their words and their acts, with one single exception.
To the acting field officers, Capt. Cornman, acting lieutenant-colonel; Capt. Smith, acting major, and to Adjutant McKnight, I am much indebted for the good conduct of my men under very trying circumstances. Accompanying this you will find a list of the killed and wounded of my command, which under the circumstances was not heavy.
With much respect, I remain, your most obedient servant,
CYRUS HALL, Col., Comdg. Fourteenth Regt. Illinois Volunteers.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt. I, pp. 325-326.
5, Affair at Christiana*
Report of Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Ruger, U. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade, First Division, Twelfth Army Corps.
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., FIRST DIV., TWELFTH CORPS, Christiana Station, Tenn., October 9, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report in relation to the surrender recently made of this post, as follows:
On Monday, the 6th [5th] instant, a force of probably 500 or 600 of the enemy's cavalry, under command of Col. Harrison, commanding brigade, left the main body on the turnpike from Murfreesborough to Shelbyville, and appeared at this point between 1 and 2 p. m., and demanded the surrender of the post.
The force here consisted of detachment of Eighty-fifth Regt. Indiana Volunteers of 3 commissioned officers and 45 enlisted men, commanded by Capt. James E. Brant, Company E, Eighty-fifth Indiana Volunteers. He at first refused to surrender, but on ascertaining that the enemy had artillery (two pieces, as I am informed) in position to open fire on the stockade into which he had retired, he surrendered his command.
The enemy remained in vicinity about one hour, destroying tank, pump, warehouse, two cars loaded with forage, and doing slight damage to side track. The main body left by same road they came, a small portion going toward Murfreesborough along railroad.
The stockade at this point was insufficient to resist musket balls, as I am informed. It was burned by the enemy. This report is made on information obtained in most part from citizens here at the time.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOS. H. RUGER, Brig.-Gen. of Volunteers, Comdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 30, pt. II, p. 722.
* Ed. note - Dyer's Battle Index for Tennessee refers to this as an affair. There is no established method of determining a skirmish from an affair or an engagement. We have to trust the judgment of those who reported the fight as to the designation for the given combat incident.
5, "Rebels About - Cattle Drove Attacked"
Lieut. Blizzard of the 4th Tennessee Cavarly, who was in charge of a force detailed to bring a large drove of cattle to this city from Johnsonville, reports that on yesterday he was attacked by about one hundred and fifty rebels within fifteen miles of this city (Nashville). His force consisted of about sixty men, one half of whom were killed or wounded and captured, the others making their escape and arriving here in safety. A general stampede occurred among the cattle, and a large number of them are straying through the country. Lieut. B. was fired upon twice, and his horse fell down with him....
Nashville Daily Press, October 6, 1864.
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