Report of Major General William Nelson, U. S. Army, commanding Army of Kentucky.


August 31, 1862

Union Major General William Nelson
GENERAL: I have to report that on yesterday morning at 2.30 o'clock I, much to my surprise, received a dispatch from General Manson, stating that the enemy was in force in his front and that he anticipated an engagement. I immediately sent couriers, with orders for him not to fight the enemy, but to retreat by way of the Lancaster road. I had ordered General Dumont to proceed from Lebanon to Danville, where he would find further orders. Also Col. Charles Anderson, with a brigade of three infantry regiments, to proceed in the same direction, it being my intention to mass the troops, knowing that the enemy would not cross the Kentucky River while 16,000 men were on their flank. My anxiety was such that I started myself to see that the troops at Richmond moved in the proper direction and in order. Upon my arrival at Lancaster, at 9.30 a.m., I heard the artillery. I procured fresh horses and took the Richmond road, but was compelled to take by-paths because of the enemy's cavalry on it and being accompanied only by a single member of my staff. I arrived on the field, 3 miles south of Richmond, at 2 p.m., and found the command in a disorganized retreat or rather a rout.
With great exertion I rallied about 2,200 men, moved them to a strong position, where I was confident I could hold them in check until night, and then resume the retreat. The enemy attacked in front and on both flanks simultaneously with vigor. Our troops stood about three rounds, when, struck by a panic, they fled in utter disorder. I was left with my staff almost alone. The enemy's cavalry was now in our rear, and the panic at such height that it was a sheer impossibility to do anything. What the motive of General Manson was in bringing on an action under the circumstances, and marching 5 miles to do so, I will leave him to explain to you.









Text Source - The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Image Source - The Library of Congress




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