Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Late Somerset Battle

The battle, unlike the most of the war, grows larger the more that is known of it.  One hundred and ninety two dead bodies of the rebels were buried up to Tuesday night, and they were still found thick in the woods.  It was first supposed that the forces engaged were about equal, but it is now known that the enemy outnumbered us two to one.  The regiments under Gen. Thomas’s command at the time of the fight were the 10th Indiana, 4th and 12th Kentucky, 2d Minnesota, 9th and 14th Ohio, and 1st and 2d East Tennessee Regiments.  These eight regiments could not bring at the utmost over six thousand men onto the field and of these only about one half were actually engaged in the combat.  The consolidated morning report of the troops at Mill Spring last Friday has been found.  Crittenden had under him at that time and there, one thousand three hundred and twenty two men sick, and fourteen thousand two hundred and six men fit for duty.  And by papers found on the person of Gen. Zollicoffer, it appears that two new regiments reported for duty at Mill Spring on Saturday, the 18th.  The testimony of all the intelligent prisoners whom we took is to the effect that the whole force moved from their camp to the attack on Sunday, except a small guard on the north side, and “White’s old regiment,” a shattered and demoralized body of men on the south side of the river.  Not less than fifteen thousand men marched out to give battle as they supposed, to three regiments of Union troops.

It must not be thought however, that this large force was at all available to Crittenden. – A great proportion of it, perhaps one half, was the raw drafted levies of two months’ men, lately raised in Tennessee.  They have been coming to Crittenden in squads from one to five hundred for weeks.  Just organized into regiments, and armed principally with shotguns, they could not be supposed to add much to the strength of the rebel army and in case of such a panic as occurred were an element of positive weakness.  And they were even further useless because they had no hearts for a fight against the Union.  One of them coming near our lines rushed across to us, exclaiming “I am a Union man,” and immediately commenced firing on his late comrades!  We understand that there were about 10,000 of such troops at Knoxville.  We mean to carry guns to them and make them our first soldiers from their party of the country!

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, February 1, 1862, p. 3

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