O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XVII/1 [S# 24]
DECEMBER 15, 1862-JANUARY 3, 1863.
Forrest's Expedition into West Tennessee.
No. 11.--Report of Lieut. Col. Zephaniah S. Spaulding, Twenty-seventh Ohio
Infantry, of operations December 19, 1862-January 3, 1863,
including engagement at Parker's Cross-Roads.
HEADQUARTERS TWENTY-SEVENTH OHIO INFANTRY,
Corinth, Miss., January 20, 1863.
CAPTAIN: In compliance with circular-orders from brigade headquarters, in
relation to the part taken by this command in the late campaign in West
Tennessee, I have the honor to report that I left Oxford, Miss., on the
morning of the 19th ultimo, by railroad, with an agregate of 568 officers and
men, having left behind 2 commissioned officers and 92 men to guard the camp
and care for the sick, and proceeded to Jackson, Tenn., where we arrived about
5 p.m. I was ordered to bivouac for the night near the town; but upon
reporting to Colonel Lawler, commanding the trenches, I was ordered to the
front about 3 miles, with a battery of artillery, where I found General
Brayman, and from him received instructions to rest at that point. The next
morning, finding I had been sent out there without instructions, General
Brayman gave me my choice between joining his column or awaiting further
orders there. I accepted the latter, and about 10 o'clock received
instructions from General Sullivan in person to take up my line of march on
the Lexington road, as support to two batteries which had just arrived from
Jackson. During the day Colonel Fuller overtook us and assumed command.
Marched about 15 miles and bivouacked for the night, when one of my companies,
which had been detailed at Jackson, joined us, and my acting quartermaster
arrived with rations for the men.
On the 21st we returned to Jackson. Here we remained for six days, during
which time my men suffered a great deal for want of proper shelter, rations,
and cooking utensils, which were impossible to procure, Although we were
called upon to perform more than ordinary duty I do not think that the state
of affairs at Jackson warranted the treatment my command received.
On the 27th we moved by rail to Trenton, and on the morning of the 28th
started on the march toward Huntingdon, arriving there on the afternoon of the
29th. We bivouacked near the town, and spent the time until the morning of the
31st in gathering provisions and preparing them for use. In this we were
greatly benefited and aided by the inhabitants of the country, who proved
their loyalty and good feeling in a most substantial manner, bringing in to us
in considerable quantities corn-meal, pork, & c.
At daylight on the 31st we were on the road to Lexington. When about 10 miles
from Huntingdon we halted and General Sullivan came up. He gave orders to
remain there an hour or an hour and a half, and then push on; but receiving
notice a short time afterward that a scouting party of the enemy's had
suddenly appeared at the little town of Clarksville, about a mile ahead, and
had probably made the general a prisoner as he was passing through, Colonel
Fuller ordered an immediate advance, and I sent Company A, under First Lieut.
Theodore Sawyer, on ahead as skirmishers. Arriving at Clarksville we found no
enemy, but heard from citizens that a company of rebel cavalry, numbering
about 50 men, had dashed through the place, and that General Sullivan and
staff left the road and took to the woods in great haste to escape them.
Distant cannonading now being heard from the direction of Lexington, rendering
it probable that Colonel Dunham's brigade, which had left Huntingdon the
previous night, was engaged with the enemy, Colonel Fuller ordered the brigade
to move forward with all possible haste. From this time cannonading was heard
continually, and after an hour or two musketry was readily distinguished. A
citizen from the front gave information that our forces were fighting
Forrest's cavalry and needed aid. About noon we came in sight of the battle-
field. Firing had ceased on both sides, and flags of truce were passing
between the parties engaged. The enemy had surrounded Dunham's brigade on
three sides, so that we now came upon them in their rear. By order of Colonel
Fuller I formed my line on the left of the road, fixed bayonets, and charged
down the hill and across the open fields which lay between us and the enemy.
In an orchard we found a large number of rebel cavalry horses, with
equipments, &c., complete, being held by a detail made for that purpose, all
of which we captured. Pushing forward we captured three pieces of artillery
and one extra caisson, filled with ammunition, which was taken by the rebels
at Trenton. The enemy, being taken wholly by surprise, made but feeble
resistance. Those who were mounted, or whose horses were near at hand, escaped
with little loss, though a few saddles were emptied by some of the skirmishers
in Company A.
One man, Adam B. Elderkin, a private in Company E, was struck by a musket ball
just below the right knee; and Isaac Jenkins, a private in the same company,
received a flesh wound in the calf of the right leg, probably from the same ball.
These casualties, received during a change of front forward on left company,
by order of General Sullivan, were the only injuries sustained by my command.
It being so easy for the enemy to get out of our range, and they not being
disposed to give us combat, the engagement was not one of great bloodshed nor
Retiring from an advanced position on the left to the cross-road, I detailed a
force to drag off the field the captured artillery and collect the small-arms,
&c., which the enemy had thrown away or abandoned in their hasty retreat.
Companies K and B, which had been on duty the night previous at Huntingdon
and were not relieved on time, now joined us. That night we bivouacked on the
On the 1st instant marched to Lexington, where General Sullivan left us, and
returned with Dunham's brigade to Jackson, their place being supplied by a
brigade under Colonel Lawler. A supply train met us here, but, through the
fault of the officer fitting it out at Jackson, it contained flour (which we
could only use at disadvantage) instead of bread, and not coffee enough to
last the men a single day. For the want of this latter article my men suffered
extremely, being obliged to use corn or wheat instead, and that without sugar.
A good supply of such articles of the rations as could be easily managed upon
such occasions, and which I believe could have been procured for us, would
have saved much suffering by men who are ever ready to do their duty.
On the 2d instant, in company with the two other regiments of this brigade and
the brigade of Colonel Lawler, we moved toward Clifton, where it was supposed
the enemy would try to cross the Tennessee River Marched 23 miles before we
were allowed to halt for the night, in consequence of which many of the men
were rendered unfit for duty on the succeeding day. Our position for the night
was one of little comfort, the ground being thickly covered with rocks and stones,
added to which the rain fell in torrents, drenching the command to the skin.
About midnight firing and the long roll in front of us caused me to form my
line, but the alarm proved to be the picket guard of an Illinois regiment (the
Eighteenth, I believe) firing upon one another in the dark, by which several
were killed and wounded.
The next morning Colonel Fuller being ordered to make a reconnaissance to the
river, although information had been received that the enemy had completed his
crossing, I moved out and took the advance, preceded only by a handful of
cavalry. The road, naturally one of the worst ever traveled, had been rendered
almost impassable by the rain which kept up all day. The rocks under foot cut
up the shoes of the men, and the sticky clay actually pulled them off their
feet until I had 50 men barefooted.
Arriving at the river in time to see the enemy's pickets cross we found
ourselves as helpless as though we had come without arms. The enemy's
artillery opened upon us, but without damage. Our own artillery did not fire,
but immediately went to the rear. Colonel Lawler ordered me to remain opposite
the town until 4 p.m., to give the other regiments time to get started back,
and then return myself, which I did; but owing to this delay, by which nothing
was accomplished, night came on before we reached our camping ground, and
darkness made the march tenfold harder upon the men. Not being able to pick
their way they stumbled over rocks, sunk to the waist in mud-holes, bruised
their limbs, and rained clothing which they could not afford to lose.
Arriving at the point where we were to rest for the night we found our
knapsacks had been thrown out of the wagons and plundered by the Illinois
troops of the other brigade. Thus many of my men were left without a blanket
or change of stockings, at a time when the full allowance of clothing and
tents hardly suffices to render the soldier comfortable. Foraging upon the
country through which we passed had now been for several days our only means
of support, and continued to be so until our arrival at this place, on the 9th instant.
To Second Lieut. William E. Ells, of Company A, who acted as quartermaster,
and through whose efficient services we obtained provisions
sufficient to sustain life, the regiment is greatly indebted. I am proud to
acknowledge his worth. But the system adopted, by which the men had to steal
or starve, or in other words, forcing men to make extravagant marches without
a proper and sufficient supply of rations, and allowing, as was done, the
promiscuous seizing, without proper vouchers, &c., of everything that came
within reach, I most heartily condemn. It tended to destroy my discipline,
demoralize my command, and render a regiment of good and brave soldiers a
lawless mob. Of the marches thence to Bethel I have little to say; but I am
assured that I express the feelings of my entire command when I say it was
with pleasure that our connections were broken.
Arriving at this place on the 9th instant, with my regiment in a condition it
has never known in the eighteen months' hard service, the telling effect of
its campaign becoming more and more apparent, with 79 men unable, from lack of
shoes or from sickness or debility, to make the march from Bethel here, we
were received by General Dodge with an interest that showed his appreciation
of our condition, and a willingness to supply our many wants which will cause
us to ever hold him in high regard.
Of the actions of my officers during the battle and on the march I can only
speak in terms of praise.
I am, captain, with much respect, your obedient servant,
Z. S. SPAULDING,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Twenty-seventh Ohio Infantry
Capt. C. W. DUSTAN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Brigade