O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XVII/1
DECEMBER 15, 1862-JANUARY 3, 1863
Forrest's Expedition into West Tennessee

No. 13.--Report of Col. John W. Sprague, Sixty-third Ohio Infantry,
of operations December 18, 1862-January 9, 1863 including
engagement at Parker's Cross-Roads.

HEADQUARTERS SIXTY-THIRD OHIO INFANTRY,
Corinth, Miss., January 19, 1863.

COLONEL: In pursuance of your order received this day requiring a report of
the part taken by my command in the recent campaign in Tennessee, I have the
honor to state that the Sixty-third and the Forty-third Ohio Regiments left Oxford,
Miss., by cars on December 19, 1862, for Jackson, Tenn. On arrival the same
evening at Bolivar, Tenn., I received an order by telegraph from Major-General Grant
to disembark the two regiments at that place and make the best disposition in my
power to defend the railroad and public stores at and near Bolivar. General Brayman,
the commander of the post, being absent, and finding myself the senior officer, I
assumed command and at once made such disposition as I thought necessary to
hold the place, which was then threatened by cavalry and mounted infantry under
Van Dorn and Jackson. For this purpose I used the cotton found deposited there.
The enemy, however, made no further demonstrations than slight skirmishing with
our pickets and vedettes. On the evening of the 23d General Brayman returned with
four pieces of artillery, and still later Colonel Lee arrived with a large force of cavalry,
and the next day easily drove the enemy from that part of the country. On December
27 General Brayman ordered me to proceed with the Sixty-third Ohio Regiment to
Jackson and report to Brigadier-General Sullivan. On arriving there by railroad I was
ordered to proceed to Trenton, Tenn., where we arrived the same evening, and were
again brigaded with the Twenty-seventh and Thirty-ninth Ohio Regiments under your
command. December 28 marched to Shady Grove, 16 miles. December 29 marched
to Huntingdon (county seat of Carroll County), distance 16 miles. On December 31
marched in the direction of Lexington, Tenn. We started at daylight. About 10 o'clock
a.m. cannonading was heard in front. Our march now became rapid, as it was
supposed the Second Brigade had intercepted and engaged the enemy. About 12 m.
musketry was plainly heard, and our pace was still increased so that the double-quick
was taken at times. At 1.30 p.m. we arrived at Parker's Cross-Roads, 16 miles from
our starting point in the morning. It was at this point that the Second Brigade, under
Colonel Durham (consisting of the Fiftieth Indiana, Thirty-ninth Iowa, One hundred and
twenty-second Illinois, two companies of the Eighteenth Illinois, and three guns of the
Seventh Wisconsin Battery), had engaged the enemy under General Forrest. Firing had
ceased for nearly half an hour before we reached the scene of the engagement.
Emerging from the woods into large open fields the enemy were discovered by us.
Under your orders I formed my regiment in line of battle at double-quick on the left, or
easterly, side of the road and advanced at the same gait for about 200 yards, when I
received an order to move by the right flank to the right, or west, side of the road. I again
moved forward in line of battle at double-quick for a short distance and was then ordered
back to the east side of the road and to advance in line of battle on the enemy, which
was done as rapidly as possible. The ground was soft and miry, but notwithstanding this
and the long and rapid march made by my command the men responded with hearty
cheers, and at a double-quick rushed forward to engage the enemy, who seemed to be
panic-stricken, They fled in the utmost confusion and so rapidly that we could get but
a few telling shots at them. In their rout they passed along the front and near the Second
Brigade, but no fire was opened upon them by the Second Brigade. I have not learned the
cause. If the enemy had been vigorously attacked by them a much larger number of
prisoners would, in my opinion, have been taken. As it was, a large number of the enemy
passed along unharmed to our left. I then changed front to the left and advanced some
500 or 600 yards, taking possession of a brass 8-pounder gun from which the enemy had
fled. From this point Company B, under Lieut. Charles J. McGinnis (Capt. Charles E. Brown
acting as major), and Company A, under Capt. Frank T. Gilmore, were sent to the front as
latter captured a second brass 8-pounder, and farther on a caisson and some horses which
the enemy were endeavoring to take from the field. After a slight skirmish they concluded
to save themselves and leave the caisson. Captain Gilmore took possession of it, which
with the guns mentioned was brought in and delivered over to you. The enemy being
mounted were soon entirely beyond our reach (except about 300 prisoners captured) and
were safely on the road to cross the Tennessee River. Next morning we were ordered to
march in pursuit and reached a point about 2 miles south of Lexington, where we
bivouacked. On January 2 we marched to a point near Bath Springs, and again bivouacked.
That night a very heavy rain visited us, and all were thoroughly soaked. On the morning of
January 3 we again commenced the pursuit of the flying horsemen, but scores of witnesses
told us the enemy had safely crossed the river; but to see for ourselves we marched on,
under orders, to a point on the river opposite Clifton, exchanged a few shots with the enemy
across the river, and marched back again. This day's march (18 miles) was one of the
hardest I have ever witnessed. The ains had made the roads deep with mud, in which were
hidden bowlders, making the footing so uncertain that men could be seen every moment
falling on their faces in the mud and water. We arrived at Bath Springs on our return the
same evening. On the morning of the 5th our march for Bethel was commenced. We made
16 miles and bivouacked. Next morning (the 6th) resumed march, making 16 miles, and
bivouacked near Robinson's Mill. On the 7th we again marched 17 miles and bivouacked at
Bethel. On the 8th marched for Corinth, through Purdy, making about 16 miles, and on the
9th arrived at Corinth, and encamped about 1 mile south of the town, where I presume it is
proper to state our campaign in Tennessee ended.

It is proper to state that from the time we left Oxford, on December 19, until January 9, we
were without a particle of camp equipage or baggage, and from the time we left Trenton,
December 28, our only subsistence was such as could be gathered along the road, which
was a very scanty supply of corn-meal and meat, and these had to be prepared without
cooking utensils and a part of the time without salt. The hardships, privations, exposures,
and fatigues of the campaign told fearfully on the officers and men of my command, but good
order and discipline were preserved through the efficiency of company officers and the
high soldierly qualities of the men. Lieut. J. S. Antrim was taken prisoner December 31 by
the enemy, while acting as regimental quartermaster and foraging for the regiment. Private
James Orr, Company C, was missing on the evening of January 3, and has not since been
heard from.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN W. SPRAGUE, Colonel.

Col. J. W. FULLER,
Commanding Brigade

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