DECEMBER 15, 1862-JANUARY 3,
Forrest's Expedition into West Tennessee.
No. 10.--Report of Col. John W. Fuller,
Twenty-seventh Ohio Infantry, of
operations December 18, 1862-January 9, 1863, including engagement at
HDQRS. 1ST. BRIG., 8TH DIV., 16TH ARMY
DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Corinth, Miss., January 20, 1863.
CAPTAIN: In accordance with orders from
division headquarters I have the honor
to submit the following report of the part taken by that portion of my command
recently detached from the division while under General Sullivan's orders:
After 9 o'clock on the evening of December 18, when encamped near Oxford,
Miss., I received orders to proceed immediately with the infantry of my
command by rail to Jackson, Tenn., there to report to Brigadier-General
Sullivan. About midnight the Thirty-ninth Ohio, Colonel Noyes, left Oxford,
and at 3 o'clock the following morning the Twenty-seventh Ohio, Lieutenant-
Colonel Spaulding, followed. Leaving instructions for Colonel Sprague to follow
as soon as cars could be obtained for the transportation of his own
regiment and the Forty-third Ohio, I started for Jackson on the train
conveying the Twenty-seventh Regiment.
I did not reach Jackson until nearly 4 p.m. of the 19th. Immediately on our
arrival Colonel Spaulding was ordered by General Sullivan to report with his
regiment to Colonel Lawler to the front, and I learned from General Sullivan
that Colonel Noyes had been sent with his regiment in another direction to
report to General Brayman. I afterward learned that the Sixty-third and Forty-
third Regiments, upon reaching Bolivar, had been ordered by General Grant to
remain there for the defense of that place.
The following morning a General Order from General Sullivan announced that my
command would consist of the Twenty-seventh and Thirty-ninth Regiments of Ohio
Infantry, and would form the rear of the column. As soon as I could find the
regiments I marched in the direction of Lexington, overtaking the main column
about 10 miles east of Jackson. While halting here cannonading was heard in
the direction of Humboldt. After an hour's halt we continued the march until
about 19 miles distant from Jackson, where we bivouacked for the night.
The next morning at 6 o'clock we returned over the same road, my command,
which was in advance, reaching Jackson between 1 and 2 p.m.
On the 27th we went by cars to Trenton, where the Sixty-third Ohio rejoined
us. I reported, in accordance with General Sullivan's order, to General
Haynie, but General Sullivan arrived the same evening and assumed command.
About 5 a.m., December 28, we marched toward Huntingdon and bivouacked near
Shady Grove. The next morning, marching through McLemoresville, we reached
Huntingdon about 4 p.m.
On the 31st I marched at 5 a.m. on the
road toward Lexington, leaving behind
seven companies on guard duty, which General Sullivan said would march when he
was ready to start, and would form a rear guard. Between 10 and 11 a.m., while
my column was halting near Clarksburg, Generals Sullivan and Haynie, with
their respective staffs and a small escort of cavalry, overtook us. General
Sullivan ordered me to halt for an hour or an hour and a half till the rear
guard could rejoin me, and then passed on toward Clarksburg. Within ten
minutes afterward an orderly rode back at a gallop, saying that the enemy's
cavalry had got between my command and Generals Sullivan and Haynie, and that
these officers with their escort had ridden on through Clarksburg followed by
I moved forward, on a double-quick,
instantly, and upon reaching Clarksburg
learned from an officer of the Thirty-ninth Iowa (who had been accidentally
left on picket duty where Colonel Dunham's column had bivouacked the previous
night) that the enemy's force consisted of about 50 cavalry. This officer's
post was to the east of Clarksburg. The enemy had approached from the west and
took the road leading south, passing before this officer had an opportunity to
fire on them. I learned also that Generals Sullivan and Haynie left the road
directly after passing Clarksburg, taking an easterly direction. The enemy
upon reaching the same point probably saw my advance, as they filed out of the
road rapidly through the wood to the west.
After a halt of about ten minutes, learning nothing more, we continued our
march. Soon the sound of artillery in our front advised us that Colonel
Dunham's brigade was engaging the enemy, and we began to march in earnest.
The firing was first heard to the right of the point where the road from
McLemoresville crosses that leading from Huntingdon to Lexington; in half an
hour it was directly in our front; half an hour later it was all to the left of the crossing,
thereby rendering it certain that the enemy, who approached
from McLemoresville, was rapidly driving Colonel Dunham's brigade before him.
Very soon thereafter the rattle of musketry was distinct, and thinking the
hour a critical one for the small force, who were evidently fighting against
odds, I urged my men to their utmost speed. When within about 2 miles of
Parker's house an orderly galloped to the head of the column, saying, "General
Sullivan, who is coming up with the rear guard about 3 miles behind, orders
you to halt until he comes up." I directed Captain Dustan, assistant adjutant-
general of this brigade, to ride back to the general as fast as possible, to
explain the situation, and to ask that the order to halt be countermanded.
Immediately after Captain Dustan started upon this errand one of my orderlies,
who had been sent to the front to communicate with Colonel Dunham, returned.
He was unable to get through, as the enemy's position was between us and that
of Colonel Dunham's brigade. From near Parker's house, where they were in
force, the enemy had fired on him. When I learned this I felt assured that
General Sullivan would, if present and in possession of the facts, countermand
his order to halt, and I therefore directed that the men instead of halting
should move forward as rapidly as possible.
When the head of our column was within
about 200 yards of the hill which
commanded a view of the enemy's position, and where our column was deployed,
General Sullivan overtook me. The Twenty-seventh and Sixty-third Regiments
were at once formed on the left and the Thirty-ninth Regiment on the right of
the road, when we advanced upon the rear of the enemy's artillery, which was
feebly supported and abandoned (with but little fighting on his part) when we
approached. Our artillery took a position on the left (east) of the road, and
directly after opening fire two pieces followed the infantry until they
occupied ground side by side with the rebel guns, while the other piece was
moved to the west side of the road, where it was effectively used upon the
rebels who were escaping by breaking to the front and right of our lines.
Some hundreds of the enemy, who had dismounted and had been fighting as
infantry, had left their horses in the orchard and yard near Parker's house.
These horses were the first trophies which fell into our hands, and more than
300 of their riders thus rendered unable to get away surrendered themselves as
prisoners. A small train of wagons which the enemy had gained possession of
was captured in the road a short distance south of Parker's house, and one, at
least, of the guns belonging to Colonel Dunham's command was retaken from the
enemy in this road.
The dead bodies of our artillerists lying close to this gun attested the
fidelity and bravery with which the men of the Seventh Wisconsin Battery stood
at their posts until their last round of ammunition was expended.
Among the prisoners who surrendered were
several officers of prominence.
Lieutenant-Colonel Cox, of Cox's battalion, and Major Strange (Forrest's
adjutant-general), who, together with the captain commanding Forrest's body
guard, were unhorsed by a volley from the Twenty-seventh Ohio when riding off
the field with their general, and Colonel Black, who afterward escaped in
citizens' clothes, with several others whose names I have forgotten.
Before referring to our subsequent march I deem it a duty I owe to the
officers and men of my command (who had marched 7 miles within an hour and a
half to reach the field, and who after this exertion rushed forward with such
enthusiasm as to produce a panic in the enemy's ranks) to claim for them the
honor of capturing what was taken from the enemy at Parker's Cross-Roads, and
also of recapturing prisoners, artillery, baggage wagons, and animals which
before their arrival on the field had fallen into the hands of the enemy. When
we reached the field the enemy who, from the best evidence I could obtain,
were about double the number of Colonel Dunham's force, were in front and on
both flanks of that brigade. A flag of truce, which had not returned to
General Forrest when our guns opened, had, as Colonel Dunham informed me,
demanded an unconditional surrender. Firing had ceased for some fifteen
minutes prior to our arrival, nor did the command of Colonel Dunham fire a
shot at the enemy as he moved past their flanks to their rear.
About two hours after the enemy had precipitately fled General Sullivan
informed me that he was returning and was advancing upon our left and front.
By the general's direction I formed two regiments obliquely across the road
leading east from Parker's house and sent two companies (deployed as
skirmishers) about 400 yards to the front of this line, where they remained
until daylight of the following morning.
January 1 we marched through Lexington, bivouacking about 1 mile east of that
place. The next morning Generals Sullivan and Haynie, with the brigade of Colonel
Dunham, marched toward Jackson while my command, together with a brigade which
came up from Jackson under Colonel Lawler, marched toward the Tennessee River,
I having received orders to report with my command to that officer. When 5 or
6 miles east of Lexington we met several men who had escaped from the enemy
after roaching the river. From them we learned definitely that Forrest's
command (prisoners and stragglers excepted) had already crossed the river.
Taking these men to Colonel Lawler I respectfully requested that the infantry,
worn-out and half starved as it was and without shelter, be spared so long and
trying a march, and suggested that the reconnaissance be made by the cavalry ;
but Colonel Lawler informed me that he had no discretion in the matter. He had
no doubt of the correctness of these statements, he said, but the entire force
must march. That day we proceeded to within 8 or 9 miles of Clifton.
On the 3d my brigade was ordered to move toward Clifton. I was instructed to
use my own judgment as to the movement, to ascertain for myself whether the
enemy had all crossed the river, and, if I found such to be the fact, to
return. Upon reaching a point where the road to the furnace leaves that
leading to Clifton I ordered two regiments and my artillery to halt. After
examining the river near the furnace, which was done by a squad of cavalry,
and learning that the last of the enemy had crossed on the night of the 1st, I
sent the cavalry in advance on the Clifton road, and directed Lieutenant-
Colonel Spaulding, with the Twenty-seventh Ohio Infantry, to follow. Directly
after, however, Colonel Lawler came up and ordered my entire command to
advance. Upon reaching the river and learning that the road to Clifton ran
along the stream for 2 miles, and fearing that the enemy would use his
artillery from the opposite bank, I ordered all but the cavalry and one
regiment to halt here. But Colonel Lawler, who I was not then aware had
marched with the column, upon coming up countermanded the order. We found a
small picket on the road (of perhaps 15 men), who,
after exchanging shots with our cavalry, rapidly retired, crossed the river in a small
flat-boat, swimming their horses. As soon as our cavalry appeared opposite the
town the enemy began to shell them from batteries on the bluff. No damage was done,
however. Soon after, the enemy placed some rifled guns on the bank farther up the
stream and opened fire on the light field battery which was attached to my
command. No harm resulted, however. The battery, which I thought too light to
reply effectively, and the regiments which were marching with it were rapidly
moved back from the river out of range. A wagon loaded with ammunition was
twice struck and so disabled that we were compelled to abandon it. The animals
and ammunition, however, we brought away.
A flag of truce, accompanied by two rebel officers, crossed the river for the
purpose, as Colonel Woodward said, of making arrangements for an exchange of
prisoners. They were not permitted to pass our outposts and probably did not
gain much information.
An irregular fire of musketry was kept up for an hour or two with the enemy
during the afternoon, by order of Colonel Lawler, but I did not learn of
anything resulting, excepting a wound received by Colonel Lawler's assistant
adjutant-general, who was hit in the leg. The march of this day was more
severe on the men of my command than any I have witnessed. The road was
horrible, and the rain, which fell steadily, made it still more so.
On the 5th we marched toward Bethel, reaching that place on the 7th. The next
day we marched for Corinth, arriving on the afternoon of the 9th. Here, for
the first time in twenty-two days, we found shelter, full rations for the men,
and shoes for at least 150, who had marched barefooted for 50 miles.
The accompanying reports of commanding officers give a detailed account of the
movements of their respective regiments.
I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN W. FULLER,
Colonel Twenty-seventh Ohio Infantry, Commanding
Capt. GEORGE E. SPENCER,