Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Official Reports of the Campaign in North Alabama and Middle Tennessee, November 14, 1864-January 23, 1865: No. 195. — Report of Brig. Gen. John T. Croxton, U.S. Army, commanding First Brigade, First Division, of operations October 24, 1864-January 14, 1865.

No. 195. 

Report of Brig. Gen. John T. Croxton, U.S. Army, commanding First Brigade, First Division, 
of operations October 24, 1864-January 14, 1865. 

MAJOR: I have the honor to report that on the 24th of October, 1864, this brigade was on the Tennessee River, in compliance with the following order, viz:

NASHVILLE, October 13, 1864.



I have just ordered that the Ninth and Tenth Regiments Indiana Cavalry and the Tenth and Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry be mounted from the horses used by General Steedman, and they will be ordered to report to you to assist in guarding the river Send Colonel Roper's brigade to this place, as it is made up of detachments, and I desire to reorganize it and send it to the front as soon as possible. Get into position by the 14th or 15th at farthest, if possible, and report to me the point selected for your camp, and establish a line of couriers between it and Pulaski or Athens, whichever may be the nearest point of telegraphic communication.


GEO. H. THOMAS,        

Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

The effective strength of the brigade was about 1,000 men, two-thirds of whom were scattered from Lamb's Ferry to Florence, a distance of twenty-four miles, guarding the fords and ferries, and the remaining third in reserve, encamped near Center Star. General Thomas had promised to send the Tenth and Twelfth Tennessee and also the Ninth and Tenth Indiana to assist in guarding the river, but General Granger retained the latter-named regiments, and of the former only about 450 men reported, and these were so badly mounted and so carelessly managed that before the date mentioned they reported less than 200 effective men. These were stationed at Martin's Mills, three miles west of Florence, on the Waterloo road, and charged with watching Pride's, Garner's, and Cheatham's Ferries. On the evening of the 29th of October I obtained reliable information that Hood's entire army was at Town Creek, and would probably attempt to lay a pontoon bridge at Bainbridge during that night. I at once dispatched this information to General Thomas, and sent the Second Michigan Cavalry to re-enforce the guard at Bainbridge, a battalion to Raccoon Branch, two miles above Florence, and ordered the Tenth and Twelfth Tennessee from Martin's Mills to watch the ferry at Florence. No demonstration was made that night, but about 3 p.m. of the day following two brigades of Johnson's division, of Lee's corps, were suddenly thrown across the river in flat-boats, landing about three miles below Bainbridge, at a point never known or used as a ferry. The troops had been during the night previous crossed to an island near the northern bank, where they lay secreted during the day, and were rapidly crossed. As soon as it was discovered the troops above and below moved promptly to meet them, and fought until night-fall, but were unable to hold their ground. By that time the enemy had succeeded in driving them back until they held possession of the Huntsville and Florence road at Judge Posey's. During the night I gathered up all my available force at Shoal Creek bridge, at which point I remained, reconnoitering daily and driving in the rebel pickets in sight of Florence, until on the 5th of November my reconnoitering party was met and driven back by a column of rebel infantry, which proved to be Johnson's division. They attacked us at 10 a.m. at Shoal Creek, and, failing to drive us away, sent two brigades to a ford near the mouth of the stream, where they crossed and forced us to retire. The brigades recrossed during the night, and my outposts reoccupied the line of the creek.

On the 6th General Hatch arrived at Lexington with his division, and I reported to him. We remained in statu quo until the 20th, when the rebels began to move, and we accordingly by way of Lexington and Lawrenceburg until we joined the army at Columbia, on the 25th, where, by order of the general commanding the corps, I reported to Brigadier-General Johnson, under whose command I remained until we reached Edgefield.

On the morning of the 30th of November, when at Matthews' house, on the Franklin and Murfreesborough road, I was ordered to cross Harpeth and move to Douglass Church, on the Lewisburg pike, and if pressed by the enemy to recross the river at McGavock's Ford, one mile and a half from Franklin. About 10 o'clock the rebel advance attacked us, and skirmishing continued until about 2 o'clock, when their cavalry made a dash, and, being repulsed, moved up the river toward Hughes' Ford, while their infantry took their place I at once crossed my command, except the Second Michigan Cavalry, which was left to contest the advance of the rebel infantry, which it did very effectually, holding their position until nearly sundown, when, being forced to retire by overwhelming numbers, they recrossed the river just as the rebel cavalry that had crossed at Hughes' Mills made their appearance. I had just formed to meet them when Colonel Dorr reported the rebel infantry crossing between my position and Franklin, and, knowing the danger to the army from such a move, if successful, I left the First Tennessee and Second Michigan in position to resist the advance of the cavalry, and hurried with the Eighth Iowa and Fourth Kentucky Mounted Infantry to meet the infantry, and if possible drive them back. I discovered, however, the report to be unfounded, and at once moved' forward the Second Michigan and First Tennessee, while General Hatch moved on my left, and the whole of the rebel cavalry were driven back across the Harpeth.

On the morning of the 16th [15th] of December my command as ordered was in line of battle outside the intrenchments at Nashville and on the right of General Hatch, ready to move. When General Hatch moved, however, two brigades of infantry, said to belong to McArthur's division, were moving by the left flank across my front, and as soon as they were out of the way I moved forward, but found a rebel battery on the Charlotte pike which I could not pass, and as the troops on my right did not move up I wheeled the Second Michigan Cavalry to the right, and, supporting it with the Eighth Iowa, moved directly for the hills on which the rebels were posted, and from which they were driven at the first dash. I intended at once to mount and join General Hatch, but Colonel Alexander arriving directed me to remain, supporting General Johnson, which I did until sundown, when I proceeded, by order of the general commanding, to rejoin the corps on the Hillsborough pike. The rebels had already left General Johnson's front, and moving in the same direction as my brigade we encountered them on the Hardin pike, and I accordingly left the Fourth Kentucky Mounted Infantry at Williams' house to cover that road.

On the 17th [16th] my brigade was in reserve until nearly dark, when it was thrown across the Granny White pike, on the right of Knipe's division, but too late to accomplish its object. On the 18th [17th] we crossed the pike, passed around Brentwood, down the Wilson pike to Matthews' house, swimming the Harpeth at McGavock's Ford, encamping at Douglass Church, encountering only small parties of the enemy, and capturing near 130 prisoners.

Nothing of interest occurred until the 24th, when my brigade had the advance from Columbia on the Pulaski pike. We skirmished most of the day, and late in the evening drove the enemy across Richland Creek, capturing a few prisoners and a battle-flag. The Eighth Iowa Cavalry, Colonel Dorr commanding, had been sent by me to cover my right flank, and was directed to keep up communication with the First Tennessee, which formed the right of my line. Although 1 sent several times for it I was not able to get sight of it during the day, and at night in encamped several miles in rear of the brigade. Had it been up (and I know no good reason why it was not, as the firing indicated clearly the position of the brigade), we would, without doubt, have captured the enemy's artillery and many prisoners. After that day the brigade was not engaged.

On the 29th we were ordered from Bull's Mills to this place, with instructions to destroy Bear Creek bridge if practicable. As the transports had been lying in the river for four days (pointing clearly to the expectation of troops), and, as Hood's army reached Cherokee Station the night we reached Waterloo, I decided it was not possible to burn the bridge, and afterward, when it became possible, I determined it was not advisable. I sent Captain Johnston, Second Michigan Cavalry, and acting assistant inspector-general of my staff, with fifty men, over, on the night of the 6th instant, who captured and brought over an officer and 16 men of the Fourth Alabama Cavalry.

I send herewith a list of casualties in my command since September 1.* A report of prisoners captured has already been made the pro-vost-marshal.

I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN T. CROXTON,        
Brigadier-General of Volunteers. 
        Major BEAUMONT,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Cavalry Corps.

A D D E N D A.

Near Richland Creek, December 25, 1864. 
Lieut. Col. A. J. ALEXANDER,
        Chief of Staff, Cavalry Corps:

COLONEL: I have the honor to forward herewith a rebel battle-flag captured from Chalmers' division yesterday evening. The capture was made by Corpl. Harrison Collins, Company A, First Tennessee Cavalry. The corporal saw the rebel standard bearer, under the direction of a rebel major, trying to rally his men. He determined to have the flag; led a charge, killed the major, routed his men, and secured the flag.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

JOHN T. CROXTON,        
Brigadier-General, Commanding. 

* Omitted; shows 1 officer and 35 men killed, 8 officers and 107 men wounded and 6 men missing. 

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 45, Part 1 (Serial No. 93), p. 572-4

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