Report of Colonel Eli H. Murray, Third Kentucky Cavalry, commanding Third Division, of operations May 13-21 and August 18-23.
HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, THIRD CAVALRY DIVISION,
Camp Crooks, Ga., September 14, 1864.
[editor’s note: May portion of report not printed here since it doesn’t pertain to 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry]
On the 18th August, with the Second and Third Brigades of the Third Cavalry Division, commanded respectively by Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, Eighty Indiana Cavalry, and Lieutenant-Colonel King, Third Kentucky Cavalry, left Sandtown. The brigade of Colonel King in the advance met the enemy’s pickets at Camp Creek, driving them to Stevens’ cross-Roads. Here Colonel Jones taking the advance, and from there distant about one mile we again encountered the enemy, driving them down a cross-road. Here Colonel Jones engaged them with a severe fight until the whole column passed, when he joined the rear, Colonel King’s brigade again in advance of the column, driving the enemy before them. In crossing the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, Colonel jones found the enemy on our flank, who succeeded in entirely severing the column and cutting him from it. Charging through the enemy under a heavy fire of small-arms and artillery, he again it, the command of Colonel Minty taking the advance. I brought up the rear, moved with the column to Jonesborough. By direction of the general commanding the expedition, I ordered Colonel Jones to move and take position in the south part of town, afterward to move down the railroad, holding the front and watching the flank while the brigade of Colonel King destroyed the railroad. This work was done quickly and effectually for about one mile and a half. Colonel Jones found the enemy fully one mile and a half from the southern limits of the town. Here was a severe fight. King’s brigade immediately prepared for action. The Fifth Kentucky joined on to Jones’ left, the Ninety-second supporting Jones and the Fifth covering his right flank. The enemy were here in force, and barricaded. The darkness of the night would of itself make it difficult to dislodge even a small force. With the disposition above named my whole command advanced, and after quite a severe fight it was found impossible to dislodge the enemy. His force, as afterward ascertained and reported by Colonel Jones, was two brigades of cavalry, under Armstrong and Ross, and one brigade of infantry, under Colonel —. The conduct of the men here was shortly of high commendation. Everything calculated to confuse men we had here to contend with – an utter ignorance of the formation of the ground, the darkness of the night, with heavy rain, and the only information of the enemy’s position was gained by receiving his volleys of fire. Withdrawing, we joined the column on the McDonough road; marched till daylight, and, after feeding, moved with the column in direction of Lovejoy’s, the rear of Jones’ command skirmishing with the enemy’s cavalry, reaching Fosterville in advance. Forces under Colonel Minty were heavily engaged. King’s brigade immediate formed for their support and also holding a line to his left, Jones on a commanding elevation covering our rear. Both he and King immediately barricaded their front. Jones was soon attacked heavily. With his position the enemy were kept at bay. Captain Beebe, Tenth Wisconsin Battery, here reported with his four guns to Colonel Jones. The led horses of the whole command were immediately collected to the rear of King’s line. The enemy’s shots, both from front and rear, covered our entire lines. General Kilpatrick ordered me to cover the withdrawal and mounting of Minty’s command, which was done by King’s brigade; also to hold the rear, now becoming our front, which was done by Jones, until due preparations were made to enable us to charge the enemy. Everything ready, Jones’ men mounting and King’s withdrawing from the enemy upon one side, but to meet him upon another. The order was given to charge, Jones’ brigade charging down the road, King’s on his left, when the most terrific, yet magnificent, charge ever witnessed was made. The enemy’s guns opened with canister, but Beebe, true as steel, covered our onset, following Jones after our men had crossed and trampled the enemy’s lines, myself charging with the advance of the Eighth Indiana; passed on to the enemy’s cannon, which they held until we were within a few yards of them. No movements could have been more properly executed than they were throughout the whole charge. The saber and the horses’ hoofs were about our only weapon. My command was soon massed in column in the rear. With orders, I moved for McDonough; thence to Cotton Indian Creek, where we camped that night. In the morning, by a difficult and dangerous ford, crossed that creek, moving to Lithonia, thence to Decatur, and to our old camp at Sandtown, arriving on the 23d, having made a complete circuit of Atlanta and the rebel army.
To Lieutenant-Colonel Jones and King and their brigades, and to Captain Beebe and his Tenth Wisconsin Battery, my thanks are due for their noble bearing during our various engagements and throughout the entire expedition. To my staff officers, whose duties were most arduous, I most earnestly tender my thanks.
For report of casualties, list of prisoners and guns, and enemy’s battle-flags captured, see the accompanying reports. Sergeant McClure, the non-commissioned officers and orderlies with me, did well their part.
Very respectfully submitted.
E. H. MURRAY,
Colonel 3rd Kentucky Vet. Vol. Cavalry, Commanding Division.
Captain J. E. JACOBS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Cavalry Command.