Report of Brigadier General P. R. Cleburne, C. S. Army, commanding Fourth Division.

 

HDQRS. 2D BRIGADE, 4TH DIV., ARMY OF KENTUCKY
Richmond, KY, September 1, 1862

Confederate Brigadier General Patrick CleburneMaj. Gen. E. KIRBY SMITH
Commanding Army of Kentucky


GENERAL: On the morning of the 29th ultimo I was ordered by you to advance on the Richmond road to a point where the road emerged from a gap in the hills about 5 miles from the foot of Big Hill, and to act as advance guard of the army.
About 5 p.m. I heard cannonading in my front, and learned that Colonel Scott's cavalry were being driven in and they had already lost one of the mountain howitzers. Subsequently the cannonading ceased, and Colonel Scott, coming into camp, informed me he was encamped in the road in my front; that our whole front was well picketed; that the enemy were not advancing. Still feeling uneasy about our situation, with an unknown force of the enemy in our front, I determined, as a matter of precaution, to form line of battle facing the supposed direction of the enemy. This was not accomplished until some time after dark. I then warned commanders of regiments at the first alarm to bring their regiments to their prescribed positions on this line, and then dismissed them, retaining, however, my battery and company of sharpshooters on the line. I had scarcely dismissed them, however, before firing and yelling was heard in our front, and almost simultaneously a multitude of stragglers, consisting of part of Colonel Scott's cavalry brigade, sick men, baggage wagons, servants leading horses, came flying in in the utmost consternation, closely pursued by the whole of Colonel Metcalfe's command of United States cavalry, who were firing on them and yelling as though they were all excited with liquor. I reformed my line rapidly, leaving the road clear. When within 25 steps two companies of the Forty-eighth Tennessee fired on the enemy's advance and checked it. The enemy then dismounted one regiment of cavalry and again advanced. It was very dark and they could not see my line of battle, but they kept up a continuous fire on our camp-fires, which were blazing brightly 300 yards in our rear. A few sharpshooters were now pushed forward, the enemy showing great reluctance to advance, and in spite of curses and threats, which we could plainly hear, the whole force of the enemy precipitately retreated.
In this affair we had but one man wounded. The enemy had several dangerously wounded. We captured 30 prisoners, 100 stand of arms, and several horses. The enemy retreated in such haste they cut the reins of their horses, which, as before stated, they had hitched for the purpose of advancing on foot, fearing it would take too much time to unhitch them. My men slept in line of battle without any supper, and at daylight again advanced in search of the enemy.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

P. R. CLEBURNE,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Second Brigade

 

HDQRS. DEPT OF E. TENN., Knoxville, TENN, November 16, 1862

Respectfully forwarded. Owing to movement from Kentucky this communication, being mislaid, could not be sooner forwarded.

E. KIRBY SMITH,
Lieutenant-General

 

Richmond, KY, September 1, 1862

Maj. Gen. E. KIRBY SMITH
Commanding Army of Kentucky

GENERAL: On the night of the 29th ultimo I was informed by Colonel Boggs, of your staff, that you desired me to move forward with my division and the two batteries attached at daylight and attack the enemy, supposed to be immediately in my front. At daylight I commenced the movement. The Second Brigade and the battery of Captain Douglas (commanded by Col. B. J. Hill) was in front. The First Brigade, under Acting Brig. Gen. Preston Smith, with the battery of Captain Martin, followed at the distance of a quarter of a mile. I sent the Buckner Guards (a company of Scott's cavalry) in front to find the enemy. Half a mile north of the village of Kingston the cavalry encountered the advance guard of the enemy and soon after discovered their line of battle about 500 or 600 yards in rear of their advance guard. Going forward to reconnoiter I could distinctly see their first line facing us at right angles to the Richmond road, with one regiment to the right of the road, the others in the timber to the left. They had a battery masked near the Richmond road. I immediately placed Colonel Hill's brigade in line behind the crest of a low hill which ran parallel to and about 500 yards from the enemy's line. I placed Douglas' battery on the crest near my center. I ordered Smith's brigade to be formed in line within supporting distance; he accordingly formed his brigade in line behind the crest of a second hill in my rear. While making these dispositions the enemy, showing only one regiment, kept up a ridiculous fire on us from a little mountain howitzer which they had captured the day before from Colonel Scott.
I now ordered the battery of Captain Douglas to open on what appeared to be a squad of cavalry on the Richmond road. In a moment this squad disappeared, unmasking a battery, which opened a rapid fire. I sent out skirmishers along our front and toward our right flank, and extended my line to the left across the Richmond turnpike with a strong company of skirmishers. This company held the regiment of the enemy's infantry on the same side of the road in check during the whole of the first fight and effectually protected my left flank. Finding a good position for a second battery I sent orders to acting Brig. Gen. Preston Smith to send Martin's battery to the front. I placed it on the hill near the right of my brigade and opened on the enemy. At this juncture I received an order from you, directing me to avoid a general battle until General Churchill's division could get up. I now directed the artillery to fire very slowly and not waste a round. The battle continued a mere fight of artillery and skirmishers for over two hours, when the enemy commenced moving toward my right flank, driving back my skirmishers on that flank. I ordered a regiment of Smith's brigade (the One hundred and fifty-fourth Tennessee) to be sent forward, and placed it in line on the right of my brigade. A close fire soon commenced on the right, and became so heavy I found it necessary to sustain the right with a further re-enforcement. I detached Col. [L. E.] Polk, commanding the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Arkansas Regiments, to the support of the One hundred and fifty-fourth Tennessee. A very heavy musketry fight ensued, and learning that the enemy were still concentrating against my right, and believing that General Churchill must now be within supporting distance, I ordered Acting Brig. Gen. Preston Smith to immediately move forward the remaining three regiments of his brigade, to place them on the right of the line already engaged, and if his line overlapped that of the enemy to lap around their left flank. At this time it was evident that the enemy had staked everything on driving back or turning our right flank and that they had weakened their center to effect this object. I therefore determined the moment I could hear Smith's musketry on the enemy's left flank to move Hill's brigade rapidly on the center. With this view I galloped to the right to satisfy myself that Smith's brigade was getting into position. I found them moving into the position rapidly and in admirable order. I then moved back to give my personal attention to the advance of Hill's brigade, including the two batteries. Before I got far, however, I was addressed by Colonel Polk, who was being carried wounded to the rear. I stopped an instant to reply and while doing so received a very painful wound in the mouth, which in a few minutes deprived me of the powers of speech and rendered my further presence on the field worse than useless. I sent aides to inform General Preston Smith of my mishap and to direct him to take command of the division; also to inform Colonel Hill and yourself of the situation of affairs.
Including the batteries, I had less than 3,000 men in my division.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

P. R. CLEBURNE,
Brig. Gen., Comdg, Fourth Division, Army of Kentucky


 

 

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