Contributed by Kenneth Biggs, 2000
The south presented no more colorful character
than that of General John Hunt Morgan. While an Alabamian by birth he had been
located at Lexington, Kentucky for a number, of years prior to the outbreaking
of the Civil War. In 1861 he rode into almost legendary fame. He and his men
furnished their own horses, the very highest bred of the blue grass section of
Kentucky. On these noble mounts they ranged far and wide, raiding, skirmishing
and fighting full scale battles.
They were heroes in the South and outlaws in the North.
Morgan seemed to be especially fond of Gallatin and Hartsville and their beautiful surroundings. Full scale battles were fought at both these places as well as several skirmishes and the destruction of the tunnel near South Tunnel.
As Hartsville was then in Sumner County and as Sumner and what is now Trousdale County furnished The Ninth Tennessee Cavalry Regiment mentioned herein, the fact of the local men in this regiment makes it really Sumner County History.
The Battle of Hartsville
General John Hunt Morgan (Click here to view a photo
of General John Hunt Morgan) was one of the most brilliant and
colorful of the Confederate Generals. He was born in Alabama, raised in Kentucky and gave the
Yankees "Hell" from Alabama to Ohio.
Morgan is remembered as the Confederate Raider. A cavalryman who deployed his men to fight as infantrymen. Yet he was more than that to the world in which he lived. The tuberlance of his spirit, his hopes and aspirations were those of the old South which died forever at Appamattox. The pride of the people was very much interwoven with the achievements of Morgan. He was a soldier in the modern sense.
He was probably the only General in the Civil War to have a newspaper in his command. From New York State came Gordon E. Niles, fired with belief in the cause of the Confederacy. A practical newspaper man and printer, Niles carried his profession as a printer. While Morgan's Command was at Hartsville, Tennessee a sleepy little town on the Cumberland River in what was then Sumner County, Niles found an old printing press and type in a deserted building and established the command's own newspaper, The Hartsville Vidette. It made its appearance "Semi-occasionally" as per a notice carried on the masthead. It was printed on scraps of wrapping paper or wallpaper as paper was already getting hard to get.
From the first edition of this newspaper we get the following description of the Battle of Hartsville.
Morgan Kept the Yankees on the Run
With a spirit and brilliancy never surpassed
and never in any other war carried out so extensively and successfully, the
Confederate Cavalry swooped down upon Middle Tennessee, captured supplies and
garrisons, cut the communications of the Union armies, impeded their movements,
disconnected and altered their plans." This quotation very ably tells the
actions of the Confederate army in the Battle of Hartsville which is the
subject of this article.
The Federal commander had placed strong garrisons at Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Castalian Springs and Hartsville, this being necessary to cover the crossing of the Cumberland River against Rebel Cavalry, should they essay to at- tack our roads and trains. The troops at Hartsville were so placed as to guard the ford and approaches from nearby towns and for picket duty and scouting.
When Col. Absolom B. Moore was placed in command of the Federal troops at Hartsville he increased the Vidette and picket force and every approach to his camp was well guarded, the Vidette being about 1-1/4 miles and the pickets one-half mile from camp. The country for mires was scout ed every day by the cavalry force and every precaution taken to guard against surprise.
The Federal command wanted to make sure his left flank was not surprised. General John Hunt Morgan and possibly General Braxton Bragg had other ideas. It was an ex- posed position and a move against it looked fairly safe considering the location of other Federal forces.
On Thursday, December 4 before the Battle of Hartsville, Mr. John Hinton, a citizen who lived in or near Hartsville, rode leisurely out the pike, through the pickets, stop- ping at the widow Kirby's some four miles east of the village. His destination was some two miles further on and across the Cumberland River to the home of a Mr. Frank Kirby but he was so closely watched by the Yankee pickets that he felt sure that they would halt, and perhaps search him if he started to cross the river which would be fatal to him as he had a paper showing the strength and position of the Federal forces at Hartsville. Hinton explained the situation to Mrs. Kirby and her daughter, a young girl of sixteen or eighteen years of age. The latter immediately offered to carry the paper to her Uncle Frank. With a woman's wit and a veteran's courage, she ripped a slat out of her old sunbonnet, wrapped the paper around it, stitched it up, and with the sunbonnet dangling negliently off the back of her neck, she mounted her horse, and rode leisurely toward the river , dodging the keen eye of the pickets, crossed the river at an unknown ford, and rode' up to her uncle's house. Mr. Kirby was on the lookout for Hinton and when his niece appeared was much disappointed and greatly concerned, thinking perhaps he had been arrested and everything discovered. A look and a word from the girl explained the situation. A few moments after she entered the house, Mr. Kirby's little son, a lad of some ten or twelve years, crawled over the yard fence, whistling, as he walked towards the woods, ostensibly to drive up the cows, but once within the shadows, he quickened his pace, and was soon delivering his message to Morgan's pickets who were expecting it.
The attack was set for Sunday, December 7th. Morgan was at Baird's Mill, thirty miles away, and the Cumberland River, deep and swift, lay between him and his enemy. His task was to cross the river, attack and return without being cut off. As a diversion two brigades of General B. F. Cheatham's division with Wheeler's Cavalry were to make a demonstration on the Nashville Road on the Union front. This completely distracted attention from the real point of attack. Under these conditions Morgan made his march to Hartsville.
Winter had arrived early in the Cumberland Valley. A cold north wind whistled through the cadard while a seven inch snow covered the ground. Morgan began his march from Baird's Mill December 6, 1862, with four regiments and one battalion of cavalry under Colonel Basil W. Duke and two regiments of Infantry and Cobb's Artillery Batters, from Hanson's brigade, under Col. T. H. Hunt.
When they reached Lebanon they were greeted by friends with warm food and drink. A young girl was filling the haversack of Private James A. McDonald when he asked her what he could bring her as a token of appreciation. "A live Yankee," she replied tossing her head. After leaving Lebanon, in the late afternoon it began snowing hard, the big flakes sticking to the feather in Morgan's big, cocked hat.
Night closed over the valley as the column moved north toward the river. The Infantry had been promised it could ride part of the way by changing with the cavalry. The change was-made a short distance from Lebanon. The change was extremely bad for both Infantry and cavalry. The feet and legs of the infantry had become thoroughly soaked by their walking In the snow. Therefore, when they mounted the horses their feet and legs began to freeze, and they began to clamor to walk. The cavalry, being remounted, began to, suffer In turn. This caused confusion, shouting and cursing. Horses were not gotten to their owners in the darkness. It was all Morgan and his officers could do to straighten out the men and get them to the river. As the men marched to Hartsville they were joined by citizens that lived along the road. By ten 0' clock at night the Confederates reached the river, at a point far from any known road, Watson's Landing, and began to cross Immediately. Oliver Dickinson had two boats on the river and the Infantry used these boats to cross. Later Mr. Dickinson was imprisoned for this. During the crossing R. J. Bean of the eighth Kentucky had fallen behind while helping some of the boys. He lost the ford and got soaking wet while crossing, then his clothing froze to him. The Infantry was now about ten miles from the enemy.
While the infantry was crossing at Watson's Landing, Basil Duke carried the cavalry to find another crossing. Duke had a problem in finding a ford because the river was up. When a ford was finally found the approach was so difficult that the men had to ride up in single file and leap from a four foot ledge into the river. Duke led the way 'and plunged into the icy water and the others followed. Soon the river was covered with swimming horses. By three 0' clock in the morning of the seventh of December half the cavalry had crossed. They hurried to meet Morgan at their rendezvous. They met a short distance from Hartsville, between the Union camp and the Gallatin and Hartsville Pike. This was near the Huffines' home. The officers went into the home and the men built a fire with rails from a nearby fence to warm themselves. The officers at once made them put out the fire lest the Federal pickets see it. Major R. S. Stoner's Battalion with two cannons had been left on the south side of the Cumber1and to prevent escape of the enemy by the Lebanon Road and to cover their own retreat after the battle. Col. J. D. Bennett's ninth Tennessee Cavalry, a local regiment, was ordered to enter Hartsville, attack any Federal forces they might find and to take possession of the Castalian Springs, Lafayette and Carthage roads so as to prevent escape of the enemy.
Morgan knew that a large Federal force was at Castalian Springs, about six miles away. Thus for his attack to be successful it would have to be swift and sure. Duke was sent to drive the Federal pickets and as dawn broke, long lines of Federal troops were seen forming in front of the town. Morgan had been informed that they numbered about fifteen hundred, but there were more than two thousand. Duke looked them over and remarked to Morgan. "You have more work cut out for you than you bargained for." "Yes," Morgan replied, "You gentlemen must whip and catch these fellows and cross the river in two hours and a half or we'll have six thousand more on our backs."
This was a soldierly decision made by Morgan. He would have been justified in calling off the attack under the circumstances. He was greatly outnumbered, part of his cavalry had not come across the river, which was between him and safety and a large reinforcement was at Castalian Springs, six miles away. He ordered the battle to begin.
This was a beautiful Sunday morning, the ground white with snow and as they formed battle lines on a slight elevation the sun came up over the Cumberland hills bright and beautiful. No more peaceful morn never looked upon two combatants so lovely and serene as shown in that Cumberland valley so .lovely and serene in sight of the little village of Hartsville, Tennessee.
Company A of the one hundred and fourth Illinois was acting Provost Guard of the town. A portion of Bennett's Cavalry were to capture them. Gano's and Breckenridge's regiments were sent to circle right and left respectively and come up behind the Federal camp. The cavalry was posted on the left with Cobb's Battery on the right. The Infantry held the center of the Rebel line.
The Union forces were plainly in sight about three fourths of a mile away. Those in front were in a pasture with large trees and little or no undergrowth. The Union left was on an elevation almost free of trees but with a lot of stone which gave some protection from the Rebels.
The Federal troops were eating breakfast while the Rebels were advancing from the river. Information from Union officers, Col. Linberg and Capt. Good show no videtts, pickets or camp guards in the direction of the Rebel advance. A negro servant of an officer of the Union forces ran into camp shouting at the top of his voice, "The Rebels are coming." Capt. Carlo Piepho immediately ordered "the long roll" to be beaten. The Rebel cavalry was coming up by fours and forming a line on the opposite side of a ravine about 400 yards from the Union camp. The bugle's blast had ordered "double-quick," and then again "Full speed." As the hooves of these fifteen hundred horses came in contact with the frozen ground at race horse speed, it was like the sound of a mighty wind, as it would tear through some unbroken forest. As the Rebel cavalry came into position they were halted, counted off into fives, and gave their horses to the men who had been counted off as horse holders. The men who did not have guns ran along the line hunting horse holders with guns, who gladly gave up their guns. They then lined up and waited for the command to go forward.
While the Rebels were forming in line they were not disturbed by the Union Artillery. The Union Infantry stood at "order arms" and allowed the Rebels to dismount and advance as skirmishers to within 100 yards before they commenced firing.
They also allowed the Rebels to advance their artillery without disturbing them.
The Rebel infantry and cavalry now dismounted, wet, cold and hungry, dashed forward with a wild Rebel yell. The Federal skirmishers gave back on their main line and all was in readiness for the Rebel attack. The Second Indiana Cavalry was dismounted and all but company G were ordered to defend the camp. Company G was ordered to start skirmishing with the Rebels. The Second Indiana was ordered back and sent to protect the flanks of the infantry. Up to this time, about three-fourths of an hour, no attacks were made on the Union line, and no fighting had occurred except by the skirmishers of company G.
The attack was made by the Confederate infantry and Artillery simultaneously. At the same time a large number of the cavalry went to the flanks and rear of the Union men. The cavalry was held in check during the battle and did not materially assist the infantry.
The battle was on and five thousand muskets were belching forth their leaden messengers as regularly and rapidly as possible. The roar was continuous and deafening and the sameness only broken by the cannons roar, adding to the din.
On the Confederate left Colonel Duke dismounted Cluke' s and Chenault's men, about 340, and drew them up in a large field in front of and a little to the right of the Union line, which was then forming. Duke was that the artillery and infantry were in position, therefore he ordered his men to advance on the double. Chenault, on the left, was directed to march on the Union flank: There was almost a fatal mix-up in the flanking movements at this time according to old timers in Hartsville. The cavalry being dismounted was perhaps a little too anxious to begin battle. They opened fire on the men who were on their flank. This was Chenault's men and George St. Leger Grenfell, Morgan's Adjutant saw what was happening. Clad in a raincoat and his beloved red skull cap and flashing his saber he rode boldly into the thick of the firing, shouting to the over anxious infantry to cease fire. Thus a near catastrophe was stopped. Chenault's men then pressed forward and drove the Federals back nearly half mile without a check. Then the Rebel right wing fell upon the Union left and center. Colonel Duke then ordered a halt until the infantry had commenced their attack on the Federal left wing which caused a retreat of the whole line.
The timely arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Huffman and Major Steele with 100 men and the gallant manner threw themselves into the fight had a very decided effect on the battle. They were late entering the battle because they had just crossed the river.
In the heat of the battle a Confederate soldier saw a Yankee aiming directly at one of his best friends. His gun was empty but pointing the empty gun at the Yankee he shouted to him to drop his gun. The Yankee did not. He was then told, with emphasis, to drop his gun or get his brains blown out. The Yankee obeyed and was sent to the rear a prisoner.
When Colonel A. B. Moore, Union Commander saw the right wing of the Rebels beginning to fall back as mentioned above, he ordered a charge, feeling sure of cutting their way through the Rebel lines. Just at this time the one hundred and sixth Ohio stampeded which caused more Rebel fire to be turned on the one hundred and eight Ohio. This command of an inexperienced officer and had ammunition which did not fit their Austrian Muskets. They were soon flanked on their right and gave way in confusion. Colonel Moore withdrew his order for a charge, creating more confusion. He then ordered the one hundred and fourth Illinois to hold The Rebels' until he could withdraw his artillery to another position about 200 yards from their former positions and to the edge of the river-bank. He then ordered the one hundred and eighth to form line and support the artillery but they were too scattered to give any more assistance. The one hundred and fourth Illinois were ordered to fall back to the artillery which they did fighting every inch of the way. Just at this time an artillery cassion of Cobb' s Rebel battery was struck by a Yankee shell and blown up causing many Rebel casualties.
At this time the Union left and center were attacked by, Colonel Hunt's Rebel infantry. The Federal color bearer was shot and they then fell back in confusion and ran to their camp in a disorderly crowd. Here they were opened upon by the Confederate artillery. Now being completely surrounded and half of them having already been captured when they deserted their position. Here Colonel Moore decided to surrender as more fighting would only increase the number of dead and wounded. He further justified himself by claiming to be outnumbered ten to one. He had hoped that by this time reinforcements from Castalian Springs would have arrived. He had encouraged his men to fight hard telling them help would come from Castalian Springs. One hour later when the Federal forces were marched from camp as prisoners of war the reinforcements still had not arrived. Reinforcements were on the way by Colonel Moore did not know it. The Rebel detachment of the Ninth Tennessee Cavalry under command of Corp. J. H. Freedle had gobbled up the courier sent from Castalian Springs to find out the true state of affairs. As this courier did not return to report another courier was sent to get near enough to Hartsville to learn if help was needed. Upon his return a large force was started, they to found Corp. Freedle on their way and were delayed until too late to be of any help.
As this was the first time under fire for part of Morgan's forces they were glad indeed to see the white flay of surrender. One of them expressed himself in these words, "Never in my life have I looked upon anything so beautiful, so charming and so soul-satisfying as that white rag given to the breeze by the hand of a surrendered Yankee."
The battle lasted about an hour and a quarter, actual combat. The Union forces were not surprised. They faced each other in line of battle over an hour before hostilities. Morgan had 500 cavalry there in time for the battle. He had 700 infantry and a battery of artillery. In all, about 1,300 men. He captured 1,800 men, 1,800 stand of arms, a large amount of ammunition, clothing, quartermaster stores, and 16 wagons.
After the battle one of the Yankee prisoners served the Rebels with hot coffee that had been boiling during the battle. The Rebels pronounced the coffee first class and it was really appreciated after their experience with snow, ice water and hunger.
Captain Joseph Good and his men had been returned to camp after surrendering and as arrangements were being made to cross back across the river, they decided to escape. They dashed across a road and hid under the roots of a tree and remain hidden until reinforcements arrived after the battle. They also saved their regimental colors by tearing them off the staff and hiding them on their persons.
Morgan heard of reinforcements coming from Castalian Springs and he and his men got all the empty wagons they could manage and getting them loaded, directed them to Hart's Ferry. A lot of Morgan's men were armed with Austrian rifles and muskets, some had no arms at all. These Austrian weapons were immediately discarded and the men armed themselves with Springfield rifles, leaving many arms on the field. These wagons and the prisoners were started across the waist deep river at Hart's Ferry.
The rebel cavalry crossed many times taking a prisoner behind them each trip.
Captain Tipton of Morgan's command was ordered to see to the destruction and burning of supplies that could not be removed. He partly succeeded in this task. Tents were burned but because of haste and because of reinforcements a lot had to be left.
As soon as cannonading was heard at Castalian Springs the Federal commander sent a courier to ascertain the cause oft he firing. This man did not return as previously mentioned. He then sent another courier to go near enough to Hartsville to ascertain if a battle was really in progress. He then ordered 5,000 men under arms, ready to march at a minutes notice. About this time the sound of musketry from the direction of Hartsville was heard by a Yankee picket out in that direction. This information was immediately relayed to the commander at Castalian Springs. A small detachment of the Seventh Kentucky Cavalry (Union) was sent as skirmishers to be followed by the entire Union force. The first plan was only to go within supporting distance and remain there until needed. Learning of the seriousness of conditions this command proceeded on towards Hartsville.
Morgan, knowing that he was in need of more time on his retreat, ordered two regiments out towards this threatened danger to hold the Yankees in check until the main command could cross the Cumberland. Colonel Cluke in charge of this duty, not being a Tennessean did not know the country well. Finding Corp: Freedle already on duty in that direction, sent him out to meet the enemy.
Freedle concealed his men well in a thick forest along me side of the road on the west side of Hartsville and awaited the coming of the enemy. As the first of the Federal force came in range, Freedle and his men opened fire, killed several. Thinking they were faced by a large Confederate force they were thrown into confusion and sought cover. Freedle and his men fired several volleys into them and beat a fast retreat. It took the Federals several minutes to recover from their confusion. After several such forays Corporal Freedle and his men hastily beat a retreat to catch General Morgan and the Confederate force by now across the river. As Corp. Freedle rode through Hartsville he stopped to see his family who lived on the north side of town. As Freedle was leaving he saw the Federal forces coming over the hill into Hartsville. He was fired on but escaped.
When the Union forces of the reinforcing column neared Hartsville they saw a heavy column of smoke from burning supplies that had been fired by the retreating rebels. They pushed on rapidly and found that the troops had surrendered and the enemy in retreat. In full view some of the rebels could be seen crossing the river, some loaded wagons were still in the river. Upon being fired on, the wagons were abandoned and their drivers fled across the river. Several hundred rebel cavalry could be seen on the south side of the river moving leisurely along the Lebanon road. Each appeared to have a man behind him on his horse. The Union commander said, "Pursuit was impractible because it would take at least an hour and a half to cross the river and ascend the bank on the south side." Also, he was afraid of Rebel strength across the river.
A large amount of provisions was saved by Federal forces, most of which Morgan had purposely left behind for the use of his wounded men whom he had been forced to abandon. He also left a wagon and four mules to haul wood for the wounded and one of his Surgeons in care of the wounded. Near the battlefield the Union forces found a house containing wounded rebels who were paroled. On the field were found fifteen dead rebels, among whom were three officers. These were buried by the Federal soldiers. Eleven wagons and thirteen mules were recaptured. The recaptured property was hauled to Castalian Springs.
Losses in the battle were Federals 58 killed, 204 wounded, and 1, 734 captured. Total 2,096. Confederate losses 139 in all.
Colonel Moore, in reporting the battle officially stated that he thought himself badly outnumbered. He stated that he believed Confederate strength over 5,000 besides a considerable number of private citizens.
The rebels were much less in number and poorly armed. In fact some of armed at all. Morgan had promised his men three things from this battle; namely horses, guns and overcoats. Here Union prisoners heard a new command. "Come out of those overcoats." Colonel Moore's report was very unsatisfactory. His dismissal from the service for incompetency was recommended. President Lincoln finally allowed him to resign on account of Disability. The battle of Hartsville was his first and last fight.
As a result of the battle of Hartsville, Morgan was promoted to Brigadier-General. Morgan was in great favor. This victory provided a much needed stimulant after Brag's failure in Kentucky. Measured in the larger terms of warfare Hartsville had been a small engagement. Comparatively few men had been engaged, and victory has been brilliant and complete. However, it had no important strategic results. It failed to upset or seriously delay Rosecran's advance against Bragg's army at Murfreesboro. In no way did it affect the relative positions of the opposing armies. But it was a victory and the only victory served the people at the moment. It stiffened southern morale and received acclaim which the mesmerism on Morgan's name and deeds always inspired.
Morgan was lavish in praise of his command, saying that they had marched fifty miles in cold winter weather, the ground covered with snow, crossed the river several times, fought a largely superior force strongly posted within six miles of their supports and brought off the prisoners all within a space of thirty hours.
Morgan, however, was a lucky man. Had the Union commander at either Hartsville or Castalian Springs had patrols out as they should, the outcome would very likely been different.
The arrival at Murfreesboro of General Joseph E. Johnson at this time and his praise for the performance on rebel forces under Morgan and his recommendation for promotion to Brigadier-General for Morgan immediately, saying, "He is indispensable," had its effect.
A few days later Murfreesboro was visited by one of even higher rank. President Jefferson Davis. Beaming Generals watched while Presidential hands received one of the three sets of Union Colors that Morgan's men had brought away.
This marked the conclusion of one of the boldest and most successfully executed operations of the war.
It would not be fitting to leave unmentioned our local boys from Colonel Ward's Ninth Tennessee Cavalry who were casualties in this battle.
As previously mentioned the entire Confederate Cavalry was under command of Colonel Basil W. Duke, ranking cavalry commander. and had difficulty in crossing the Cumberland River. In fact, not all of them succeeded in crossing in time to be in the battle. Although crossing began about 3 A. M. Only one horse at a time could approach the river down a path to a limestone ledge from which they were forced to jump several feet down into the river. Some horses refused the leap and had to be pushed off the ledge, horse and rider often going entirely under the icy water. Some fifteen men from the entire command were so nearly frozen that they had to be left to be captured after the battle. Bay, Thomas, Co. C. Feet frozen. Detailed as Teamster. Buchanan. Frank. Co. A and F. Mortally wounded. Died. Freedle. 0. H. Co. C. Wounded in action.
Heath, A. L, Co. E. Horse fell on him while charging the enemy. Injuring spine. Injury forced leaving service.
Kirkham, Thomas Euel, Co. E. Frozen stiff from being thrown by horse into river. Captured and paroled. Took Rheumatism.
Wooten, W. B., Co. D. Seriously wounded. Carried home by John P. Carter.
REPORT OF BRIG. GEN. JOHN H. MORGAN C. S. ARMY COMMANDING EXPEDITION MORGAN'S HEADQUARTERS
Cross-Roads, near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, December 9, 1862.
Sir: I have the honor to lay before you, for the information of the general commanding, a report of the expedition against the Federal force at Hartsville:
I left these headquarters at 10 A. M. on the 6th instant, With 1,400 men of my own command, under the orders of Colonel Duke; the Second and Ninth Kentucky Infantry, command by Colonel T. H. Hunt; Captain Robert Cobb's battery of artillery, two small howitzers, and two rifled Ellsworth guns belonging to my own command. At Lebanon I received information that no change had been made in the number of the Federals at Hartsville, their number being still about 900 infantry and 400 cavalry with two pieces of artillery. I found afterward that their force had been consider- ably underrated. I proceeded with the infantry and artillery to puryear's Ferry on the Cumberland River, sending the cavalry, under the orders of Colonel Duke, to pass at a ford some seven miles below the point where we were to rendezvous. I passed my troops with great difficulty, there being but one boat, and about 5:30 on the morning of the 7th I arrived at Hager's Shop, 2 miles from the Federal camps. I found that Colonel Duke, with his cavalry, had only just marched up, having crossed the ford with difficulty, and that one regiment of his command, 500 strong. Colonel R. M. Gano's had not reported. Major R. G. Stoner & battalion, had been left on the other side of the Cumberland, with two mountain howitzers to prevent the escape of the enemy by the Lebanon road, and Colonel J. D. Bennett's Ninth Tennessee Cavalry regiment had been ordered to Hartsville to picket the road leading to Gallatin, and to attack any of the enemy they might find in that town, to take possession of the Castalian Springs, Lafayette and Carthage roads, so as to prevent the escape of the enemy. This reduced my force considerably, but I determined to attack, and that at once. There was no time to be lost; day was breaking, and the enemy might expect strong reinforcements from Castalian Springs should my arrival be known. Advancing, therefore, with the cavalry, closely followed by the artillery and infantry, I approached the enemy's position. The pickets were found and shot down. The Yankee bivouac fires appeared to cover a long line of ground, and gave me to suppose that their numbers were much greater than I anticipated. On nearing their camp the alarm was sounded, and I could distinctly see and hear the officers ordering their men to fall in preparing for resistance. Colonel Duke then dismounted Colonels Cluke's and Chenault's regiments, in all about 450 men, drawing them up in line In a large field in the front and a little to the right of the enemy's line, which was then forming, and seeing that the artillery were m position, he ordered his men to advance at the double-quick, and directed Colonel Chenault, who was on the left, to oblique, so as to march on the enemy's flank. His men then pressed forward, driving the Federals for nearly half a mile, without a check, before them, until their right wing was forced back upon their own left wing and center. Colonel Duke then ordered a halt until the infantry had commenced their attack on the Federal left wing, which caused a retreat of the whole line. At this juncture Lieutenant- Colonel J. M. Huffman and Major Theophilias Steele, of Gano's regiment, came up with about 100 men of that regiment, who had succeeded in crossing the ford and threw their small force into the fight: My dismounted cavalry, under Colonel Duke, had only been skirmishing previously to this for about twenty minutes; but seeing that Colonel Hunt, with the infantry, was pressing hard upon the Federal left, he ordered an advance upon the right wing and flank of their new line. It gave way and ceased firing, and soon after surrendered.
Colonel Duke reports that his men fought with a courage and coolness that could not be surpassed.
Colonels Cluke and Chenault led on their men with the most determined bravery, encouraging them by voice and example.
The timely arrival of Lieutenant- Colonel Huffman and Major Steele and the gallant manner in which they threw themselves into the fight, had a very decided effect upon the battle at the point at which they entered.
The artillery under Captain Cobb did most excellent service, and suffered severely from the enemy's battery, which fired with great precision, blowing up one of his caissons and inflicting a severe loss on that arm.
The infantry conducted themselves most gallantly, the Second Kentucky suffering most severely.
Colonel Bennett's regiment, as I have said before, was not in the fight, having been sent on a special service, which was most efficiently performed, 450 prisoners having been taken by them and 12 Federals killed.
Thus sir, in one hour and a half the troops under my command, consisting of 500 cavalry, Colonel Gano's and Colonel Bennett's regiments and Major Stoner's command not participating in the fight, 700 infantry, and a battery of artillery, in all about 1,300 strong, defeated and captured three well disciplined and well formed regiment of infantry, with a regiment of cavalry, and took two rifled cannon-the whole encampment on their own ground and in a very strong position taking about 1,800 prisoners, 1,800 stand of arms, a quantity of ammunition, clothing, quartermaster's stores, and 16 wagons.
The battle was now won. The results exceeded my own expectations, but still I felt that my position was a most perilous one, being within 4 miles in a direct line, and only 8 by the main Gallatin road, on an enemy's force of at least 8,000 men, consisting of infantry, cavalry and artillery, who would naturally march to the aid of their comrades on hearing the report of our guns. I, therefore, with the assistance of my staff, got together all the empty wagons left by the enemy, loaded them with arms, ammunition and stores, and directed them immediately to Hart's Ferry .There was no time to be lost. The pickets placed by my assistant adjutant- general on the Castalian Springs road sent to report the advance of a strong body of Federals, estimated at 5,000 men. I sent Colonel Duke's regiment to make a show of resistance, ordering Colonel Gano's regiment, which had arrived in support. In the meantime I pressed the passage of the ford to the utmost. This show of force caused a delay in the advance of the enemy, who had no idea of the number of my men, and probably greatly overrated my strength, and gave me time to pass the ford with infantry, artillery and baggage wagons, the horses of my cavalry being sent back from the other side of the Cumberland River to carry over the infantry regiments.
It was time to retreat. The enemy attacked our rear , but was kept at bay by the two regiments before specified, aided by four guns I had previously ordered to be placid in position on the south side of the Cumberland, looking forward to what was now taking place. The banks of the river on both sides are precipitous, and the stream breast deep, but our retreat was effected in excellent order. We lost not a man, except three, badly wounded, that I was reluctantly forced to leave behind. Cavalry, infantry, guard, guns and baggage train safely crossed, with the exception of four wagons, which had been sent by another route, and which are still safely hidden in the woods, according to accounts received today.
In justice to my brave command, I would respectfully bring to the notice of the general commanding the names of those officers who contributed, by their undaunted bravery and soldier-like conduct, to the brilliant success; which crowned the efforts of the Confederate arms: To Colonel Hunt, of the Ninth Kentucky, commanding the infantry, I am deeply indebted for his valuable assistance; his conduct and that of his brave regiment was perfect; their steadiness under fire remarkable. The Second Kentucky also behaved most gallantly and suffered severely; 62 men killed and wounded, three regimental officers left dead on the field, sufficiently testified to their share in the fight and the resistance they had to encounter. Colonel Duke's regiment paid also a high price for its devotion. It went into the field 230 strong; had 6 officers, with 21 non-commissioned officers and privates, killed and wounded, besides 6 missing. Colonel Duke, commanding the cavalry, was, as he always has been, "the right man in the right place." Wise in counsel, gallant in the field, his services have ever been invaluable to me. I was informed by my adjutant-general that Colonel Bennett, in the execution of the special service confided to him, and in which he so entirely succeeded, gave proof of great personal gallantry and contempt of danger: I owe much to my personal staff: Major D. H. Llewellyn, Capts. Charlton H. Morgan, Rufus K. Williams, and Lieut: Robert Taylor, acting as my aide-de-camp, gave proofs of great devotion, being everywhere in the hottest fire.
Major Llewellyn received the sword of Colonel Robert R. Stewart and the surrender of his regiment. Capts. Morgan and Williams' horses were killed under them, Lieut. Taylor was severely wounded. My orderly sergeant, Craven Peyton, received a shot in his hip and had his horse killed by my side. I must crave forgiveness if I add, with a soldier's pride, that the conduct of my whole command deserved my highest gratitude and commendation.
Three Federal regimental standards and five cavalry gideons fluttered over my brave column on their return from this expedition. With such troops, victory is enchined to our banners, and the issue of a contest with our Northern opponents, even though they are double our force, no longer doubtful.
I have the honor to be, sir, with the highest respect your most obedient servant.
JOHN H. MORGAN Brigadier-general
To Colonel George William Brent
Chief of Staff
I should like to add here that the Craven Peyton mentioned above as being wounded, was to critically wounded to be moved. Being left and captured he fretted himself to death in a few days.
Report of Col. Absolom B. Moore, one hundred and fourth Illinois Infantry
commanding Thirty-ninth Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS 104th REGIMENT ILLINOIS INFANTRY. Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill. February 25, 1863.
GENERAL: Having been exchanged as a prisoner of war, and released from my confinement in a rebel prison. I hasten to give you my report of the battle of Hartsville, Tennessee, which occurred December 7. 1862.
The Thirty-ninth Brigade, consisting of the one hundred and fourth Illinois Infantry, One hundred and sixty and one hundred and eighty Ohio Infantry, the Second Indiana Cavalry, one company of the Eleventh Kentucky Cavalry and a section of Captain Nicklin's Indiana battery was placed under my command on the 2nd of December, 1862, in consequence of Col. Scott, of the Nineteenth Illinois, who was commanding the brigade, returning to his regiment. I entered upon my duties, and did all that I could to be in readiness if we should be attacked. Our position on the banks of the Cumberland River was the same occupied by the brigade that was there before our arrival from Tompkinsville, Ky. The vidette and picket stations were selected by Col. Scott before he gave up the command. Upon my taking command, I increased the vidette and picket force, and every possible avenue of approach to our camp was well guarded the vidette being about 1-1/2 miles and the pickets about one- half mile from camp. The country for miles around was scouted every day by the cavalry force of my command, and every precaution was used to give us timely warning of the approach of the enemy, should they attempt to attack us.
On Saturday night, December 6, 1862, General John H. Morgan of the rebel army, started from Baird's Mills. 8 miles south of Lebanon, Tennessee, and 25 from Hartsville, for the purpose of attacking me at Hartsville. His force consisted of six regiments of cavalry, two regiments of infantry (the Second and Ninth Kentucky) and fourteen pieces of artillery. Besides this overwhelming force, the citizens between Hartsville and Lebanon joined the rebel force, until they numbered between 5,000 and 6,000 men. This force, with the exception of about 1,000 cavalry crossed the Cumberland River, under cover of night, between our position and that of the force stationed at Castalian Springs. The advance guard of the rebels was dressed in the Federal uniform, and succeeded in deceiving my videttes and capturing them with- out firing a gun. The enemy then pushed on with their entire force toward our camp. The pickets gave the alarm, and held the rebels in check until my force was in line of battle and ready to receive them. The brigade fell promptly in line, and commenced the battle by attacking the enemy before he had time to form. The infantry force of the rebels were mounted on horses, behind the cavalry. The entire rebel force dismounted about a mile from camp and fought as infantry with the exception of Bennett's cavalry, which dashed into the town of Hartsville to capture Company A of the one hundred and fourth Illinois, who were acting provost guard in the town. The 1,000 cavalry before mentioned parted from the main body and crossed the river 8 miles north of camp, but this latter force did not arrive in time to participate in the fight, but succeeded in capturing the cowards who had deserted us in the time of need.
My forces consisted of about 450 men of the one hundred and fourth Illinois, 250 effective men each of the one hundred and sixth and one hundred and eighth Ohio, 280 men of the Second Indiana Cavalry, and the Eleventh Kentucky Cavalry, and a section of the artillery 1,800 men, I had sent on Saturday, December 6, 1962, to Gallatin as a guard to our provision train, three companies of infantry, one company of cavalry, and 30 mounted infantrymen, amounting to nearly 200 men, and a great many being sick in hospital at the time of the attack, left me with but the small force of about 1,200 men to contend with 5,000 of the rebels and their artillery of fourteen guns, some of them 12 pounders.
The battle commenced at 6:45 A. M. and continued until 8: 30 A. M. an hour and three quarters. The One hundred and fourth Illinois fought heroically, and maintained their position. The Second Indiana Cavalry and the Eleventh Kentucky Cavalry also did nobly. The One hundred and sixth Ohio acted shamefully, and left us in the midst of the fight, many of the men running for shelter in the tents of the One hundred and eighth Ohio which were in the rear of our line of battle. All efforts of myself and Lieutenant- Colonel Stew art of the Second Indiana Cavalry, to rally them were unavailing.
The One hundred and eighth Ohio, being entirely destitute of field officers, fought well for a short time, but were soon thrown into confusion and retreated, although Captain Piepho and other officers of the regiment did their utmost to keep the men in front of the enemy and to stand their ground. The section of artillery under command of Lieutenant Green did good execution, and all men connected with the battery did their duty nobly and brave.
After the battle had raged furiously for some time, and seeing the rebels in front commence wavering under the severe and deadly fire of my men, I gave the order to charge, feeling confident that we could cut our way through the rebel ranks. Immediately upon giving the order, the stampede of the One hundred and sixth commenced, which then, brought a tremendous fire upon the One hundred and eighth Ohio, they being the center, and were soon flanked on the right, and gave in confusion. I withdrew the order to charge, and directed the One hundred and fourth to hold the rebels in check until I drew our guns, now entirely unsupported on the right to another position. They did so. The guns were moved on the top of the bluff, on the edge of the river, about 200 yards from their former position. I then ordered the One hundred and sixth and the One hundred and eighth to form by the guns, but they were so scattered that it was impossible to expect any further assistance from them. I then ordered the One hundred and fourth to fall back to the guns, which they did in good order, contesting every inch of the ground. After arriving at the guns, arid forming in our new position, and many of the One hundred and fourth being kill- ed and wounded, and being now completely surrounded, and one half of my force captured by deserting their position without orders, I was compelled to surrender, as fighting longer would only increase the number of killed and wounded, as we were contending against a force of ten to one after forming in our new line of battle. I am unable to give you a list of killed and wounded, but presume that during my absence as a prisoner of war you have received intelligence from other sources. The rebel loss, according to their own statement to me was about 400 killed and wounded, the greater part of whom were carried from the field.
I have given you a correct history of the battle, and supposed that after fighting for one and three quarter hours we would certainly receivements, and had they come to us promptly from Castalian Springs the result would have been different.
I indulged the hope, and encouraged the men to fight one hour and we would be re-enforced, but, after one and three quarter hour hard fighting, we were compelled to surrender, and another hour passed before we were marched out of camp, and still no help, to Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart and Major Hill, of the Second Indiana Cavalry; Captain Slater, of the Eleventh Kentucky Cavalry; Lieutenant- Colonel Hapeman and Major Widmer, of the One hundred and fourth Illinois, and all the officers and men of the foregoing regiments and companies, who acted with great coolness and bravery upon the battlefield, and to each and to all of them, I feel indebted for aiding and assisting me in our struggle 10 overcome the enemy, and our comrades remained firm we could have held out until re-enforcements arrived. Captain Piepho, of the One hundred and eighth, also performed his duty well. Capt. W. Y. Gholson, my acting assistant adjutant general, while attempting to rally the One Hundred and sixth Ohio, was shot and soon expired. He was a brave and noble young man. Lieut. Jacob Dewald, my aid de camp, was very active in carrying my orders to all parts of the field. And, in conclusion of this part of my report, I will say 1 love every man that fought; I hate every dog that ran. It was the first time that any-of me infantry engaged in the battle were under fire.
I respectfully request that, when the officers of the Second Indiana Cavalry are released as prisoners of war, and the lieutenant-colonel and the major of the One hundred and fourth Illinois Infantry are also released, you will give me a court of inquiry in the matter and if I have done anything wrong, or neglected my duty, I am willing to be censured, but I have a consciousness that I did my duty the best I could. I also wish to have the conduct of every officer who ran like a coward from the field fully inquired into. I took the command of the brigade the 2nd of December, and on the morning of the 7th the fight occurred. I had never received any orders from any source to take command, nor instructions from any source whether I was to have command, or otherwise, except as the command was handed over to me by Colonel Scott.
I have the honor to submit this report direct to you, learning that General Dumont had resigned.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
A. B. MOORE
Colonel 104th Illinois Infantry and Comdg. 30th Brigade. To Major-General
This was Colonel Moore's first, last and only battle. His dismissal from service was recommended but President Lincoln allowed him to resign of disability. (Not physical)
As ,this, immediate section of Middle
Tennessee furnished an entire regiment of cavalry, recruited in and around
Hartsville to serve in Morgan's Cavalry, it seems appropriate to give at this
time some information as to the composition of this command.
It was organized September 1, 1862 as the 9th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion with eight full companies. On November 24, 1862 by the addition of two additional companies it became a regiment, known officially as the 9th Tennessee Cavalry. The two additional companies, I and K were not composed of local men.
This command was recruited by Col. James D. Bennett and was the second command recruited by him. The first, being the 7th Cavalry Battalion, afterwards part of the famous 2nd Tennessee Cavalry.
From this command he resigned along with all his captains and most of his Lieutenants when Gen. Bragg ordered the complete reorganization of his entire army at Murfreesboro in 1862.
There has never been a History of The Ninth Tennessee Cavalry written, and we do not propose to do so here, still some information seems very appropriate, and we do include a few facts regarding the regiment.
When Col. Bennett came home after resigning his previous command he was in poor health, having been wounded at Shiloh the previous April.
The 9th when first organized was poorly organized and armed and as most of them were without previous military experience and poorly armed, then were experimented on by Union forces and chased over several counties. However, they also met again at some pre-determined place. Their first arms were almost all shotguns. We quote here a law passed by the Confederate at Richmond.
"Each man that may be mustered into service, and who shall arm himself with a musket, shotgun, rifle or carbine, accepted as an efficient weapon, shall be paid the value thereof, to be ascertained by the mustering officer under such regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of War, if he is willing to sell the same, and if he is not, then he shall be entitled to receive $1.00 per month for the use of said received and approved musket, rifle, shotgun or carbine."
Regimental rosters of all the companies of this regiment show that the men were promised to be paid $12.00 for the shotguns with which they armed themselves. This, of course, was never paid.
However, they soon armed themselves by captures and to a great extent, mounted themselves. Just before the battle of Hartsville General Morgan told his dismounted men that they would be mounted by captures after the battle.
It was not long before they were able to stand their ground against the best of northern forces and became one of the best Cavalry Regiments in the Confederate Service.
Even though we would like nothing better than to continue with a history of this regiment to the very end in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, space will not permit it here. In a latter and larger volume we hope to be able to give a complete regimental history including service records of each individual.
Colonel James D. Bennett died of wounds December 23, 1862. Lt. Col. William W. Ward succeeded him in command. Was captured at Athens, Ga. May 8, 1865.
Major Robert A. Alston succeeded Ward as Lt. Col. and was captured at Springfield, Ky., June 12, 1864.
Go to the Members of the 9th Cavalry.
Go to Sumner County In The Civil War by Edwin L. Ferguson, for more military units.