O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XVII/1 [S# 24]
DECEMBER 15, 1862-JANUARY 3, 1863.
Forrest's Expedition into West Tennessee.
No. 15.--Report of Col. John I. Rinaker,
122nd Illinois Infantry,
of skirmish at Clarksburg and engagement at Parker's CrossRoads.
HEADQUARTERS 122D ILLINOIS INFANTRY
Saulsbury, Tenn., August 25, 1863.
COLONEL: In compliance with the request
contained in your circular letter of
August 20, 1863, from Memphis, Tenn., I submit as a response thereto, by way
of certified statement, the following report of the part taken by the One
hundred and twenty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry in the little battle of
Parker's Cross-Roads, east of Jackson, Tenn., and 10 miles north of Lexington,
Henderson County, Tenn., on the 31st day of December, 1862. I have perhaps
indulged in more particularity of statement than is consistent with the plan
you have adopted, even contemplated, or the subject of the statement deserves, but have,
though hurriedly done, endeavored to do so with reasonable clearness:
On the night of the 27th of December,
1862, at 11.30 o'clock, nine companies
of the regiment under my command (One hundred and twenty-second), numbering
527 men, including officers and men, with the Fiftieth Indiana, Colonel
Dunham; Thirty-ninth Iowa, Colonel Cummings, and Seventh Tennessee Infantry,
Colonel Rogers, and three pieces of artillery of Seventh Wisconsin Battery,
with 50 men from Eighteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry (mounted), numbering
in all 1,800 men, constituting what was called the Third Brigade, and
commanded by Col. Cyrus Dunham, Fiftieth Indiana, moved from Trenton. Next day
the Ohio brigade, Colonel Fuller commanding, with the remainder of the Seventh
Wisconsin Battery, followed us, it numbering near 2,000 men.
We marched to Huntingdon, Carroll County, where we arrived on the evening of
the 29th of December, 1862. We marched with the brigade from Huntingdon at
noon on the 30th and reached Clarksburg on the night of the same day. Here the
advance of our brigade had a slight skirmish with the flankers of Forrest's
forces, he (Forrest) having gone from a point north of Huntingdon via
McLemoresville to the south and then the west, toward Parker's, on the
Huntingdon and Lexington road, during the night of the 29th and the day of the
30th, and was then with his main force 6 miles west of us.
On the morning of
the 31st day of December we moved forward about
sunrise at quick-time south toward Lexington, Henderson County, for about 6
miles, to Parker's Cross-Roads, where the advance of our brigade met the
advance of the rebels and skirmishing immediately began, the rebels being
driven back into the woods west of the Lexington road, on the road leading
from McLemoresville to Clarksville, on the Tennessee River--Clarksville, a
small crossing merely.
The mounted infantry of the Eighteenth Illinois were sent forward through the
woods and drew the fire of the rebel artillery, they then using six pieces. At
this time the Ohio brigade had not started from Huntingdon, about 12 miles
distant. The three regiments--the Seventh Tennessee, having about 300 men,
remained at Huntingdon--were moved forward to Parker's house, at the cross-
roads, and thence west in front of the rebels. The enemy's guns were masked
and in position, commanding the road. One of our guns was put in position and
fired at random, we then not being able to see the enemy. To that shot the
rebels responded with several pieces, at once dismounting our gun. At this
point it was determined to form our line a half mile to the southeast, in a
wood facing the west and north, with an open field between us and the enemy.
The movement was executed without casualty. The wagons were placed in our
rear, and the two remaining guns with our brigade placed in position, my
regiment occupying the center of the line and supporting the guns, which then
had less than 20 rounds of ammunition; the Fiftieth Indiana on the right, well
advanced and deployed as skirmishers; Thirty-ninth Iowa on my left and in
line. At this time the rebels, over 6,000 strong, advanced against our
position in two columns; the smaller one, about 2,000 strong, advanced toward
our front; they being mounted were thrown into confusion by our shells,
without suffering much punishment, and were then driven by our skirmishers on
to their main force, which was advancing across the field on our right flank,
and had so far advanced as to flank us, compelling us to change our front to
the north, so that our next line was along the north side of the wood,
pasture, or field in which we were, facing the north and the open field. By this
time our artillery was out of ammunition and the guns were soon from loss of
horses rendered useless and were run into a ravine and temporarily abandoned.
The change of front was made under a severe fire of small-arms, from which 15
or 20 men of my regiment (One hundred and twenty-second Illinois) were
wounded, among them the captain of Company A. Pending this move on our part
the rebels had obtained a ridge in the field in our new front, in shape of an
arc of a great circle, behind the crest of which they had placed ten pieces of
artillery at distances varying from 300 to 600 yards, and as we came into line,
facing the north and in front of the rebels' guns, they opened upon us most
furiously with grape, canister, shell, and solid shot. This artillery was supported
by over 2,000 dismounted infantry, their whole force having been mounted.
Our guns were of no service to us at this time, our ammunition being all gone.
The One hundred and twenty-second Illinois was then advanced close up to the
north fence and commenced to return the rebels' compliments. This lasted one
hour and fifteen minutes, the rebels all the time firing their artillery with
great rapidity and considerable accuracy; also keeping up a heavy fire from
their infantry supports. During this time the One hundred and twenty-second
Illinois---that is, the companies present---held their places and responded
rapidly and with accuracy, considering the character of guns they had, and yet
have--altered Harper's Ferry muskets.
In the mean time about six companies of the Thirty-ninth Iowa had been moved
away, leaving our left exposed and enabling the enemy to concentrate their
fire on our front, and leaving it in the power of the rebels to flank us on
the left and get into our rear in a hollow running nearly parallel to our line
and covered from their own artillery, and within 150 yards of the rear of our
line. At this moment I was struck just below the right knee, severing the
artery, and soon so reducing me that I was unable to take any active part in
the fray. Then I directed my lieutenant-colonel to give attention to the enemy
in our rear, as they had opened upon us from that direction, while he was
tying a compress upon my leg to stop the loss of blood. He immediately about-
faced the regiment, fixed bayonets, and charged the enemy, three times our
number, and put them to utter, hopeless flight. This move threw the whole
rebel force into confusion on that side, and those who were north of us, in
what had been our front, supposing themselves cut off, fled, leaving several
pieces of their artillery, from which the horses had been shot during the hour
and fifteen minutes' fight preceding the charge. At the end of the bayonet
charge, which was made under the direction and control of Lieutenant-Colonel
Drish of my regiment, the One hundred and twenty-second Illinois found itself
in possession of several hundred prisoners, and at this time the Fiftieth
Indiana, which had occupied a position somewhat retired in the last line and
at an angle of twenty-five degrees to our line, making the extreme right
considerably retired, now being faced about, also pressed the rebels, the
Indianans' line serving to flank the enemy (and I may say here the Indianians
did well), and the portion of the Thirty-ninth Iowa, having just a moment
previously occupied a position far to our rear and left, also closed up and
pressed upon the opposite flank of the rebels, making the rout of Forrest's
men complete. Forrest was unable to rally his men again, and was in full retreat
when the Second Brigade came in sight, the appearance of which greatly added
to the celerity of the rebels' flight and afforded our gallant Ohio friends no
opportunity to participate in the rout of a force we could have destroyed had
the Second Brigade arrived in time, which they would have done but for the
genius for tardiness exhibited by General Sullivan, who moved and traveled
with and controlled the movements of the Ohioans, and was in command of the
expedition from Jackson, whence the movement was made. The rebels left a large
number of killed and wounded on the field, a large quantity of small-arms, a great
many horses, Colonel Dunham says 7 pieces of his artillery, and above 500 prisoners.
My regiment lost 1 commissioned officer killed, Lieutenant Bristow, of Company
H; 2 wounded, the colonel, and Capt. William B. Dugger, Company A; and 70 men
killed and wounded, 16 of whom were killed dead on the field and 8 or 10
stragglers were taken prisoners. The officers present were the colonel,
lieutenant-colonel, all the captains except of Company I and Company G,
Captain Sawyer and Captain Cowen; all of the lieutenants except those of
Company I and Second Lieutenant Halderman, Company A, First Lieutenant
McKnight, Company H, and First Lieutenant Holt, of Company D, who were absent
by proper authority. None of my officers present failed to do their whole duty. This
was the first battle the regiment was ever in. The men behaved like old soldiers,
and after the first fire their shots told and were very effective. The fight commenced
about 9 a.m. and lasted, including the time occupied in maneuvering after the
first firing, till about 3 p.m., when firing entirely ceased.
Colonel Dunham commanded the brigade and is a gallant soldier. His regiment
was on our right while in line and was en gaged some time before my regiment
was, it having fought for a time, as skirmishers. While my regiment was in
line it fired between 20 and 30 rounds. The regiment reached its quarters on
the return after the battle at Trenton, Tenn., at midnight on the 5th of
January, 1863. The regiment was at a skirmish at Town Creek in the
last of April, 1863, but suffered no loss. I was not present.
I have the honor to be, colonel, your obedient servant,
JOHN I. RINAKER,
Col. One hundred and twenty-second Illinois Infty. Regt.
I certify on honor the foregoing written papers contain a true and correct
statement of the facts as they transpired at the times and places therein
mentioned, according to my best recollection and belief.
JOHN I. RINAKER,
Col. One hundred and twenty-second Illinois Infty. Regt.
Col. A. L. CHETLAIN,
President of Board, &c.