Buck Head, Ga., August 23, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the part taken by this brigade in the late expedition of General Kilpatrick in the enemy’s rear. In pursuance of orders received on the evening of the 17th, I furnished my command with rations for five days, and moved from camp shortly after midnight, reporting to Colonel Minty, of First Brigade, in charge of First and Second Brigades, with an effective force of 72 officers and 1,300 men. Lieutenant Bennett’s section of Board of Trade Battery reported for duty with me. Marched in rear of First Brigade for Sandtown, arriving there early the next morning. Remained in camp near Sandtown during the day, and reported at headquarters of Brigadier-General Kilpatrick. According to instructions received from him, marched again at sundown, the Third Cavalry Division being in column and Brigadier-General Kilpatrick commanding. My command now reduced about 100 men by the giving out of horses on the previous night’s march. Traveling all night, we crossed the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, near Fairburn, at daylight on the 19th. Having orders to destroy the road at this point, I detailed for this work the First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, who tore up half a mile of the track. Meanwhile, I had moved forward in column with the remainder of the brigade, the First Brigade holding the rear, and had not marched far when artillery was opened by a force of the enemy, who appeared in the woods on our left. I returned to the railroad, mounted the First Ohio, and formed line of battle in the woods. The First Brigade being now already engaged, I advanced my line to co-operate with the other brigade, and the enemy retired, and, after considerable skirmishing, was driven back through his camp, which we temporarily occupied. The column was then moved forward, my brigade taking the advance, and I soon found a force on my front; skirmished with them during the greater part of the day, driving them gradually toward Jonesborough until my advance guard drew near Flint River.
The enemy had taken a strong position on the farther bank and at the town, and engaged us sharply with musketry and artillery. Dismounting my command, I succeeded in pressing them slowly back, aided by the fire from our artillery, which had been directed upon their lines. We charged down to the bridge over the river, and after a few shots the regiments crossed on the bridge, which had been partially torn up. An advance toward the town was then made in tow lines on each side of the road, the Fourth U. S. Cavalry and First Ohio forming the first line and the Third and Fourth Ohio the second line, the Fourth Michigan being deployed as skirmishers in front. Some little firing occurred as the lines advanced, and the command moved into Jonesborough without further opposition. I then ordered forward my led horses, mean time employing a portion of the command in destroying the railroad, burning the track at and below the town for half a mile. At dark went into camp, and rested until 11 o’clock, when I was ordered forward to the breast-works on the south side of the town, remaining here till near daylight. I then moved it on the McDonough and Jonesborough road, covering the rear of the column, and, arriving at Pittsburgh, marched southwardly toward the railroad again, and at an early hour my rear guard (a battalion of First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry) was attacked by a force of cavalry and driven slowly back upon the column. Upon going to the rear and finding this battalion hard pressed, I brought the remainder of the regiment into position, ordered back the Third and Fourth Ohio Regiments, and succeeded in checking and driving the enemy. A portion of his force now appeared in my front, and between the brigade and the main column, having come in on a right-hand road; but the Fourth Ohio repulsed this demonstration, and, being then ordered forward, I marched in rear of First Brigade. Arriving near Lovejoy’s, on the Atlanta and Macon Railroad, I found the advance brigade engaged with an enemy in their front, and received orders to throw forward a dismounted battalion. Before this could be accomplished the skirmish line was forced back, and I dismounted my entire command, forming a line across the field on my left, and threw up a line of rail breast-works in the rear. The firing now became heavy on both sides. The First Ohio and a portion of the Fourth repulsed the enemy, then, falling back to the breast-works, held him in check until he desisted from firing, and enabled a section of our artillery to be withdrawn from the field. The command was then ordered back to their horses, to mount. Immediately after mounting I was directed to take position in rear of First Brigade, Second Division, and to follow it out (when a general charge was made shortly after), which was done. In this charge Captain William H. Scott, of First Ohio Cavalry, inspector on my staff and a most gallant officer, was severely wounded.
The column was now marched on the road toward McDonough, my brigade covering the rear. The motion of forming and moving out was slow, and the rebel infantry now closed up on my rear, a battalion of Third Ohio. The remainder of this regiment was at once dismounted to strengthen this line. The enemy presented a formidable front, extending well to my right, and parted in heavy volleys of musketry, while his artillery opened with excellent precision upon the other regiments in column on the road. Lieutenant Bennett was in position in rear, and worked his one piece with good effect. The enemy still pressed forward with increased numbers. The Third Ohio stood well their ground, pouring repeated volleys into the enemy’s ranks, and only fell back from overpowering numbers. Flushed with slight successes, the rebels now made a fierce onset, charging with their main force. In front of the Third Ohio was a declivity descending to marshy ground, and beyond this a creek. The enemy were on the farther side of this creek, and, riding by the side of Colonel Seidel, of the Third, I saw the force advancing to the creek, and directed him to hold the fire of his men, protected somewhat by breast-works, until they should cross, and then to fire rapidly and with precision. Immediately after this I observed Colonel Seidel raise his hand and motion for his regiment to fall back, the cause of this being that the enemy was coming up in heavy force on his right flank and the safety of the regiment being endangered. Just at this moment I was shot in two places, my horse having also been shot a moment before, and I was then forced to retire from the field, turning over the command to Colonel Eggleston, of First Ohio. The Third Ohio fell back, and was soon after relieved by the First Brigade. The command, all now moving forward, marched through McDonough and camped that night near Cotton River. On the morning of the 21st crossed Cotton Indian Creek, swimming the horses, and camped at night at Lithonia.
Arrived at Buck Head on the evening of the 22d. During the expedition the loss in my brigade was severe, but not great, when considering the forces it engaged. The loss inflicted upon the enemy is, of course, unknown, but he probably suffered severely.
To Lieutenant Bennett and his very efficient section of artillery much credit is due, as also to the First, Third, and Fourth Ohio for their admirable behavior under all circumstances. Officers and men all did well.
Below will be found a summary of casualties during the expedition, the major part of them occurring on the 20th.
To the officers of my staff who were with me on the expedition are due my thanks for promptitude on all occasions, and for efficient aid in the field and on the march; and I would recommended to the favorable notice of the general commanding the names of Captain William E. Crane, acting assistant adjutant-general; Captain William H. Scott, acting assistant inspector-general; Lieutenant E. S. Wood, aide-de-camp; Lieutenant H. H. Siverd, provost-marshal; Lieutenant J. N. Squire, ordnance officer; Lieutenant J. b. Hayden, acting commissary of subsistence, and Asst. Surg. John Cannan, medical director.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Fourth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, Commanding Brigade.
[Captain R. P. KENNEDY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Cavalry Division.