Noonday Creek, Ga., June 21, 1864.
Since my last report to 11th June, I have been almost daily engaged with the enemy, generally light skirmishing, with but small loss. At 10 a. m. yesterday I sent one battalion Fourth U. S. Cavalry to examine the road leading to the Marietta and Canton road. On crossing the creek they struck the rebel pickets and drove them to the Marietta road, which I then occupied with the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, sending one battalion south to the Big Shanty road, where from 600 to 700 of the enemy were found, and a small patrol north to McAfee’s Cross-Roads, who met only small scouting parties. I placed vedettes on the hills east of the Marietta road, who reported scouting parties for the rebels scattered throughout the country.
About 4 p. m. I received orders from the general commanding the division to cross the creek with the remainder of my brigade, and camp for the night. As I was moving out with the Fourth Michigan I received a report from Major Jennings, commanding Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, that he had been attacked from the north. On joining him I found that he was skirmishing sharply, and was being slowly driven.
I ordered a charge, which was splendidly made by Captain Newlin’s battalion, Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry. The enemy was driven nearly a quarter of a mile when Captain Newlin ran into William’s brigade and was repulsed. The enemy then charged, but were repulsed by a countercharge of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry.
Kelly’s division now advanced, Anderson’s (late Allen’s) brigade on the right of Williams, and the Tennessee (late Humes’) brigade moving well to the right of Anderson’s. Two battalions of the Fourth Michigan formed line to meet Anderson’s brigade, and I sent two battalions of the Fourth Regulars to meet the Tennessee brigade.
Anderson advanced in good style, the Confederate with sabers, supported by the Fifth Georgia with pistols. Three times these two regiments charged the two battalions of Fourth Michigan, but each time they were driven back in confusion.
A fresh force now appeared on my right. Those in front advanced steadily, though slowly. One of my pieces of artillery was rendered temporarily unserviceable by the miserably defective ammunition lately issued. I was, therefore, compelled to fall back, although momentarily expecting re-enforcements.
Major Vail with the Seventeenth Indiana (dismounted) now reported to me. I formed the regiment facing northeast, but had scarcely done so when Allen’s (late J. T. Morgan’s) brigade advanced directly on its right flank. I ordered an immediate change of front to meet this new force, which was held in check for about ten minutes by a battalion of the Fourth Regulars under Lieutenants Fitzgerald and Davis.
Colonel Miller reported to me with two more regiments from his brigade. I placed one of them on a wooded hill to the right, and the other in the woods to the left of Major Vail.
My position was now in the shape of a horseshoe, with the bridge across Noonday Creek in my rear. Most of our horses were still southeast of the creek, which is perfectly impassable for either man or horse except on the bridge, and even there, the bottom, about half a mile in width, was in such a condition that horses were up to their girths in the mud and floating rails, of which the road (?) is formed. This morning the road is so much worse that it is impassable for ambulances, and our dead had to be brought over on pack-mules.
I dismounted the Seventh Pennsylvania and a part of the Fourth Michigan to fill the gaps between Colonel Miller’s regiments, and sent the Fourth Regulars and the remainder of the Fourth Michigan to form line at the base of the hill northwest of the creek, and the two pieces of artillery to take position on the rising ground back of them.
Before these arrangements could be completed the general attack was made, Kelly’s division and Williams’ brigade on my left, and Martin’s division, supported by Dibrell’s brigade, on my right. The left was quickly driven back, but rallied behind a fence where a battalion of the Fourth Regulars had formed, about 100 yards south of the creek.
Lieutenant-Colonel Biggs, with the One hundred and twenty-third Illinois and apart of the Seventeenth Indiana, on the right of the line, was completely surrounded, but repulsed the enemy handsomely. By this time the rebels had got within range of the artillery on the hill north of the creek, which, together with Lieutenants Robinson’s and Bennett’s sections, opened on them with good effect, and night closing around us the enemy withdrew, leaving us in possession of the field.
I cannot speak too highly of the gallantry displayed by the Seventh Pennsylvania and Fourth Michigan when attacked by such overwhelming numbers in the early part of the engagement, nor of the splendid manner in which Colonel Biggs, with the One hundred and twenty-third Illinois and part of the Seventeenth Indiana, repulsed the enemy when they were completely surrounded and cut off from the remainder of our small force.
Inclosed I hand you report of casualties, which I regret to have so heavy.
The rebel loss is undoubtedly very severe; their ambulances were busy all last evening and this carrying off their dead and wounded from the position where the first fighting took place, while many of their dead lie nearer to us. One scouting party reports 7 lying on the road, one of them a captain. One of our wounded men, who was a prisoner during the night, states that he saw over 100 of their dead away, and that a lieutenant, who took him prisoner, stated that their loss was heavier than they had ever experienced before. I have sent in 3 lieutenants and 10 enlisted men prisoners.
The force of rebel cavalry now in front of us is as follows:
Martin’s division: Iverson’s brigade, First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Sixth Georgia; Allen’s (late Morgan’s) brigade, First, Third, Fourth, Seventh, and Fifty-first Alabama. Kelly’s division: Anderson’s (late Allen’s) brigade, First, Third, Fifth, Eighth, and Tenth Confederate, and Fifth Georgia; —-, (late Humes’) brigade, First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Sixth Tennessee. Humes’ division: Harrison’s and a Texas and Arkansas brigade. Independent brigade: Dibrell’s, five Tennessee regiments; Williams’, five Kentucky regiments.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Captain KENNEDY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Cavalry Division.