The Battle of Huntsville
(From The Official Records)
AUGUST 13, 1862. — Skirmish at Huntville, Scott County, Tenn.
Report of Col. WILLIAM CLIFT, Seventh Tennessee Infantry, including operations of his command in East Tennessee, July 1-October 31.
Somerset, Ky., October 28 [31 ?], 1862.
Dear Sir: I avail myself of the present opportunity of reporting to you my movements for the last three months. The way has been so blockaded by the enemy as to entirely prevent my reporting to you sooner.
I was ordered by Major-General MORGAN about June 1 to go to Scott County, Tennessee, and commence recruiting and making up the Seventh Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, and was also ordered that so soon as I had a sufficient number of men to attack the small bodies of rebel troops stationed in different parts of East Tennessee to do so. Accordingly about July 1 I made a scouting expedition to Montgomery, Morgan County, Tenn., to engage a party of rebels that were in the habit of coming up to that place from Kingston, Tenn., but the enemy had left on the day before we got to Montgomery, and we had to return without any engagement.
About July 20 I made another expedition to Anderson County, Tennessee. Our friends in that county had promised to provide means for us to cross Clinch River to engage some cavalry from Alabama that was stationed near Clinton, Anderson County, Tenn.; but no preparation was made as promised. I then turned my course, after taking several guerrillas prisoners near Clinton, Tenn., and returned by way of Wartburg and Montgomery, Morgan County, Tenn., to Huntville, Scott County, Tenn.
About August 8 I made another expedition into Anderson County, Tennessee, at the request of our Union friends of the county, who had again promised to provide means for us to cross Clinch River, but again failed and we were disappointed.
At intervals when I was not scouting I was busily employed fortifying an eminence near Huntsville, Scott County, Tenn.
On the morning of August 13, about 8 o’clock, our pickets were driven in by the enemy. My command, numbering about 250 men, were soon in order for battle. I was attacked about 9 o’clock by the enemy, numbering from 1,500 to 2,000 men. On the appearance of them in such disproportionate numbers my men (who were mostly new recruits) left my breastworks in wild confusion. But while I speak in dishonorable terms of a part of my command I am proud to speak in the most honorable terms of a part of the officers and men that remained under my command. About 50 men held our breastworks for one hour and forty minutes against the enemy, at least 1,500 men. Maj. JAMES S. DUNAN, Captains ROBINS, WILSON, and SHELTON fought with great coolness and deliberation. When our numbers in the breastworks were reduced to about 20 men I ordered a retreat, which was conducted in good order, carrying with them our guns without any loss.
My position in Scott County, Tennessee, has been very perilous until within the last few days; but I kep my men in the most obscure parts of the county, and posted my pickets from 20 to 25 miles from my camps and within a short distance of the enemy’s lines, and in this way I evaded collision with the enemy until General BRAGG’s army retreated out of Kentucky.
I again sent out a scouting party October 1 and we passed over the counties of Scott and Morgan and a part of Fentress County, Tennessee, capturing some prisoners and a little of the rebels’ property.
I sent out another scouting party about October 15, which returned on the 29th instant, and report that they passed over Scott, Morgan and Fentress Counties, Tennessee, and had a skirmish with FERGUSON’s guerillas, killing 4 of them, and among the number was the cruel murderer Captain MILLIKEN. They also captured some property.
On October 31 I sent out another scouting party from Somerset, Ky, to traverse the country toward Monticello and Jamestown, Tenn.; thence from the line of Kentucky and Tennessee to Post Oak Springs, in Roane County, Tenn., with a view of breaking up several guerrilla companies that are roaming in the mountains between the line of Kentucky and Tennessee and the Tennessee River and sometimes in the counties of Clinton and Wayne, Kentucky. I have been subsisting my troops on corn bread and beef since the fight at Huntsville, Tenn., at a cost to the Government from about 10 to 15 cents for each soldier per day and about the same for about 50 horses for mounted infantry.
I deem it highly indispensable to break up these guerrilla companies as speedily as possible, as there can be no safety to the peach of the country while they are permitted to exist.
About August 11 had a correspondence with General BOYLE, of Kentucky, in which he proposed to co-operate with me along the line of the States of Tennessee and Kentucky, and authorized me to mount a part of my men for that service. I find but little trouble in procuring horses, but find a great deal of trouble in getting saddles and bridles suitable for such a service. If the War Department will furnish me with cavalry saddles, bridles, &c., suitable for such service, I can place myself in a condition for active operations in a few days.
I hope for the future to be able to keep up a regular correspondence with you by way of Louisville, Ky.
Your obedient servant,
Colonel, Comdg. Seventh Regiment of Tennessee Vols.
The ADJUTANT-GENERAL U.S. ARMY.
FNB Chronicle, Vol. 7, No. 3 – Spring 1996
First National Bank
P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
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