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- The Army of the Cumberland - 10/43 -


from his crossing of the Cumberland River, while Buell had one hundred and five miles to travel before he could intercept him at that place. Bragg's advance had reached and attacked Munfordville before Buell's army had arrived at Bowling Green. On Bragg's advance under General Chalmers, arriving at Munfordville, his cavalry engaged the attention of the garrison there under Colonel John T. Wilder, while the artillery and infantry were being placed in position. On the 13th, demand was made of Wilder to surrender. This he refused to do. With the early light of the next day an assault was made by the enemy, which was repulsed with heavy loss. Two detachments reported during the day, reinforcing Wilder's command. One of them was under Colonel Dunham from Louisville, who, being Wilder's senior in rank, assumed command. On the following day a second demand for surrender was made by Chalmers, who represented his command sufficiently large to capture the place. Dunham refused to comply with this demand, and the enemy then withdrew, going north. Two days later the rebels made another attack on the works and were again repulsed. In the afternoon Bragg appeared in person before the town, and sent, under a flag of truce, another demand for the surrender of the command, as the garrison of the place was surrounded by an entire army, and to assault would only be a needless sacrifice of human life. This was declined, but with the request from Colonel Dunham that Bragg suspend hostilities to give time for consultation. This Bragg agreed to do until nine o'clock in the evening. Dunham, who had succeeded in opening communication with General Gilbert at Louisville, telegraphed him the facts, and added that he feared he would have to surrender. Gilbert telegraphed back an order placing Dunham in arrest, and ordering Wilder to assume command. At the Council of War that was held by Wilder it was determined that the place should not be surrendered without personal inspection by the commanding officer that Bragg's statements as to his force and situation were true. Wilder, under Gilbert's orders, assumed command at seven o'clock in the evening, and notified Bragg of the result of the consultation, proposing, with Bragg's permission, to satisfy himself as to the truth of his statements. Remarkable as it appears, this proposition was agreed to by Bragg, and Wilder, under escort, investigated the enemy's lines prepared for assault, and counting forty-five cannon in position, supported by 25,000 men, he concluded it was impossible to further successfully defend the place. He reported the facts to the Council of War, and the demand for the surrender was acceded to at two o'clock in the morning of the 17th. Under the terms of the capitulation the troops marched out with the honors of war at daylight, retained their sidearms and private property, and were at once paroled. This attack on Munfordville by Bragg established the fact that it was not his intention to press on to Louisville, and the advantage Buell derived from the delay attending this attack was in a measure some compensation for the loss of the place.

Bragg then took position at Prewitt's Knob, where Buell moved with his entire army, Thomas having reported on the 20th. The two armies confronted each other at this point for three days, and disposition was made for battle. On the 21st, while the troops were being placed in position by Thomas, under order of Buell, the enemy retreated, marching for a short distance toward Louisville, then turned to the right, and took position near Bardstown. Bragg claimed in his official report that after maneuvring unsuccessfully for four days to draw General Buell into an engagement, he found himself with only three days' rations on hand for his troops "and in a hostile country," that even a successful engagement would materially cripple him, and as Buell had another route to the Ohio, to the left, he concluded to turn to the right, send to Lexington for supplies to meet him in Bardstown, and commenced the movement to that place. This gave Buell an open road to Louisville, of which he immediately availed himself, and on the 29th, the last division of the Army of the Ohio reached that city. The place was under the command of Gilbert, who had nothing but new levies of inexperienced troops. These Buell incorporated with the brigades of his Army of the Ohio, and on the morning of the 30th, after furnishing his command with needed supplies, moved his army out of Louisville against the enemy. The movement was delayed by a day, by Halleck's order relieving Buell and placing Thomas in command. The latter remonstrated against this order, and at his request it was withdrawn. The next day Buell again assumed command, with Thomas announced in General Orders as second in command, and commenced the advance movement of his army in five columns.

Chapter VI.

Battle of Perryville

The main portion of the army had been organized into three corps, designated the First, Second, and Third, under McCook, Crittenden, and Gilbert, respectively. General Sill, in command of two divisions, was ordered to move on the left toward Frankfort, to hold in check the force of the enemy under Kirby Smith at that place. The other columns marched by different routes upon roads converging upon Bardstown, through Shepardsville, Mount Washington, Fairfield, and Bloomfield. Each column engaged the enemy's cavalry and artillery in a series of skirmishes from within a short distance of Louisville. As the army approached Bardstown the resistance constantly increased, retarding Buell's advance, and enabling Bragg to effect his withdrawal from that place, which was accomplished eight hours before the arrival of Buell's army. A sharp cavalry engagement occurred at this place between Buell's advance and Bragg's rear-guard, when the whole of Bragg's command retired, taking the road to Springfield. At Bardstown Buell received information that a junction of Bragg's and Kirby Smith's commands would be made at Danville. He ordered McCook to advance from Bloomfield on the Harrodsburg road, and directed Thomas to move with Crittenden's corps on the Lebanon road, which passes four miles south of Perryville, with a branch to the latter place, while he accompanied Gilbert's corps, which moved on the direct road to Perryville. After leaving Bardstown, Buell learned that Kirby Smith's force had crossed to the west side of the Kentucky River, near Salvisa, and that Bragg was concentrating either at Harrodsburg or Perryville. He at once ordered McCook to change his line of march from the former road, and to proceed direct to Perryville. On the afternoon of October 7th, Buell, with Gilbert's corps, arrived in front of the rebels in strong force three miles from Perryville, where he immediately drew his troops up in line of battle. Advancing the cavalry and artillery, supported by two regiments of infantry, the rear guard of the enemy was pressed to within two miles of the town, when it was discovered that the rebels were concentrating for battle. Orders were sent by Buell to Crittenden and McCook to march at 3 o'clock on the morning of the 8th, and for them to take position as early as possible on the left and right of the centre corps respectively, the commanders themselves to report in person their arrival, for orders, the intention being to make the attack that day if possible.

McCook did not receive this order until 2.30 o'clock, and was on the march at five. Owing to the difficulty of finding water for his command where the troops were expected to encamp, Thomas, on the night of the 7th, moved off the direct line of march some six miles and was delayed several hours in reaching his position on the field. During the night some pools of water were discovered in small creek about two miles and a half from Perryville. Colonel Dan McCook with the Thirty-sixth Brigade was ordered forward, and, after a sharp engagement, secured possession of the pools, and a supply of bad water for Gilbert's troops was obtained.

On October 1st, Bragg, leaving Polk in command at Bardstown, under orders to slowly retire to Bryantsville, started for Lexington. Here he ordered Kirby Smith with all his forces to Frankfort, to assist in the installation services of the rebel Provisional Governor of Kentucky at the capital of the State. At Lexington, on the 2d, learning of Buell's movements from Louisville, Bragg ordered Polk in writing--sending two copies to him--to advance at once, "with his whole available force, by way of Bloomfield, toward Frankfort, to strike the enemy in the flank and rear." Polk was informed in the order that Kirby Smith would at the same time attack the front.

On the 3d, Polk received the orders, and, submitting them to a council of war, decided not to obey them, but to move as originally ordered. Of this Bragg was notified in time to prevent the attack on Buell's front with Smith's command alone. Giving orders for the supplies that had been accumulated in Lexington to be sent to Bryantsville, Bragg, on the 6th, proceeded to Harrodsburg, where he met Polk at the head of his column that had left Bardstown on the 3d. On the 7th, Bragg ordered Polk to move Cheatham's division back to Perryville, and to proceed to that point himself, to attack the Federal force, immediately rout them, and move rapidly to join Kirby Smith. These orders were given under the impression that Buell's command was so separated that his right and left were sixty miles apart. Bragg also sent Wither's division to Kirby Smith at Frankfort, who reported himself threatened by a large force on his front--the troops under Sill.

Early on the morning of the 8th an attempt was made by the enemy to drive Colonel McCook from his position at the creek. He was supported by Mitchell's and Sheridan's divisions, who were ordered up and directed to hold the position until the entire army was prepared to attack. The assault was made with great spirit on Colonel McCook, but the enemy was handsomely repulsed. Buell anticipated an attack on Gilbert's corps in its isolated position in the early morning, but nothing occurred until after the arrival of McCook's corps on the Maxville road, between 10 and 11 o'clock, when he at once formed his command, of Rousseau's and Jackson's division, in line of battle on the left of Gilbert, Rousseau on the right, and sent his cavalry to the front to make a reconnoissance toward Perryville. Thomas arrived and took position with Crittenden's corps about twelve o'clock.

On McCook getting his command into position, he reported to General Buell in person, who ordered him to send out a force to the Chaplin River, and find out the position of the enemy in his front. During McCook's absence Rousseau had advanced the right of his line a half mile to obtain a supply of water, for which the troops were suffering. On seeing this, the rebels opened a heavy fire with some twenty pieces of artillery. Rousseau moved his other troops to support his right, and, posting Simonson's and Loomis's batteries, returned the enemy's artillery fire.

When McCook returned to his command, seeing that a good position on high ground could be occupied by our troops on the left and front of Rousseau's new line and near the river, he at once sent skirmishers into the woods at that point, to find out if the enemy held the position. He also directed Jackson to form a new line of battle with his division nearer the stream, and sent the skirmishers forward to the river as soon as this was done, where they obtained the needed supply of water. On the formation of the new line, as no heavy force of the enemy had been encountered, McCook, at about


The Army of the Cumberland - 10/43

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