Kilpatrick reports on his near capture by Wade Hampton’s cavalry. Still no mention of having to run off in his nightshirt, though.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY COMMAND,
In the field, N. C., on Chicken Road,
Eleven Miles from Fayetteville, March 11, 1865.
Major L. M. DAYTON,
Asst. Adjt. General, Military Division of the Mississippi:
MAJOR: You will remember that I stated in my last communication from Solemn Grove that Hardee was marching rapidly for Fayetteville, but that Hampton and Wheeler were still in rear, and that I would endeavor to cut them off. The information was correct. Hampton, however, was found to be moving upon two roads-the Morganton road and a road three miles farther to the north,, and parallel to it, just south and east of Solemn Grove. I posted upon each road a brigade of cavalry, and learning that there was a road still farther north, upon which some of the enemy’s troops might move, I made a rapid night march with Colonel Spencer’s little brigade of there regiments and 400 dismounted men and one section of artillery, and took post at the point where the road last mentioned intersected the Morganton road.
During the forepart of the evening I left General Atkins and joined Colonel Spencer with my staff and actually rode through one of General Hampton’s divisions of cavlary, which by 11 o’clock had flanked General Atkins and was then encamped within three miles of Colonel Spencer. My escort of fifteen men and one officer was captured, but I escaped with my staff.
General Atkins and Colonel Jordan discovered about 9 o’clock that, while the enemy was amusing them in front, [he] was passing with his main force on a road to his right. These officers at once pulled out and made every effort to join me before daylight but failed to do so, owing to the bad roads and the almost incessant skirmishing with the enemy, who was marching parallel to him, and at some points not a mile distant. Hampton had marched all day, and rested his men about three miles from Colonel Spencer’s position at 2 o’clock in the morning, and just before daylight charged my position with three divisions of cavalry-Humes’, Allen’s, and Buttler’s.
Hampton led the center division-Butler’s-and in less than a minute had driven back my people, had taken possession of my headquarters, captured my artillery, and the whole command was flying before the most formidable cavalry charge I have ever witnessed. Colonel Spencer and a large portion of my staff were virtually taken prisoners.
On foot I succeeded in gaining the cavalry camp, a few hundred yards in rear, and found the men fighting with the rebels for their camp and animals, and we were finally forced back some 500 yards farther to a swamp impassable to friend or foe.
The enemy, eager for plunder, failed to promptly follow us up. We rallied, and at once advanced upon the enemy. We retook the cavalry camp, and, encouraged by our success, charged the enemy, who was endeavoring to harness up my battery horses and plundering my headquarters. We retook the artillery, turned it upon the enemy about my headquarters, not twenty steps distant, and finally forced him out of my camp. We re-established our lines, and for an hour and a half foiled every attempt of the enemy to retake it.
At about 8 o’clock General Mitchell, with a brigade of infantry, came within supporting distance, having rapidly marched to my assistance across the country from the plankroad. He at once moved up into position, and remained with me until 1. 30 o’clock, rendering me every assistance possible. The enemy did not, however, make it necessary for the infantry to fire a single shot.
General Mitchell has my thanks and deserves great credit for the rapid march over a broken country, the soldierly feeling displayed, and anxiety to assist me. We lost 4 officers killed, 15 men, and 61 severely wounded, and several others slightly wounded, and 7 officers wounded, and we have lost in officers and men about 100. I do not think it will exceed that number, and may fall short of it.
The enemy left in my camp upward of 70 killed, including many officers, and a large number of wounded. The enemy made nothing by the attack, save some 25 or 30 valuable horses about headquarters. We captured about 30 prisoners during the day and about 150 horses and equipments, which the enemy were forced to abandon in a swamp into which he was driven by a charge made by the Fifth Kentucky Cavalry. We held the only road upon which the enemy could move to Fayetteville without moving across the country to a road about five miles distant. I find, however, a portion of Hampton’s cavalry passed during the night upon a road running between my present position and Little River. The main portion of his force, however, has not yet passed.
I am now within two miles of the road mentioned, and as soon as my command has fed will move to intercept that portion which has not yet passed. I have written you in detail, that you may fully know all that has taken place. Prisoners taken from Allen’s, Humes’, and Butler’s divisions differ as to the movements of Cheatham’s command. Some say that it is moving upon the railroad, others that it is dee, and will probably take a road north of Little River. The information is not, however, reliable. We have marched over the worst roads I ever saw, and have had scarcely forage for the past two days, Hardee having taken nearly everything in the country. My command very much needs rest.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
P. S. -Colonel Spencer informs me that it was a charge made by Captain Hinds’ First Alabama Cavalry, and not Fifth Kentucky Cavalry, which drove the enemy into the swamp, resulting in the capture of their horses and animals.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., March 11, 1865.
General KILPATRICK, Commanding Cavalry:
GENERAL: I have just received your report and read it with great satisfaction. I feared it was worse, as the enemy claims from 200 to
400 prisoners, which were conducted through Fayetteville. You may rest a couple of days, and then be ready to cross the river. I think there are some of the enemy that failed to escape across the bridge. You might send a strong foraging party up to the Little River bridge and burn the railroad bridge. The enemyhave sent a good dela of ordnance up toward the coal mines on the railroad. I would like to have it and the cars and locomitove destoryed, but can hardly spare time. We will lay the pontoons to-morrow and cross Monday. I am at the arsenal. I did not get a dispatch from you at Solemn Grove.
W. T. SHERMAN,