Reports of Colonel Robert H. G. Minty, Fourth Michigan Cavalry, commanding First Brigade.
Near Blake’s Mill, Ga., September 13, 1864.
CAPTAIN: In accordance with orders from headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, I have the honor to hand you the following report of the operations of this brigade during the campaign ending in the occupation of Atlanta.
I have from time to time forwarded to headquarters Second Cavalry Division reports of the various battles, skirmishers, and raids in which the brigade has been engaged during the campaign. This report will therefore be to a great extent a summary of those already made.
On the 30th of April, 1864, I marched from Columbia, Tenn., with over 2,200 men, 1,994 being included in the class mounted and equipped.
May 10, arrived at Villanow, Ga., having crossed the Cumberland, Raccoon, Lookout, and Pigeon Mountains and Taylor’s Ridge, and having been on about half forage of grain and entirely without long forage during the march.
May 15, I was ordered by General Garrard to make a demonstration on Rome to cover an attempted crossing of the Oostanaula by the Third Brigade. I met the enemy strongly posted at Farmer’s Bridge (Armuchee Creek), and after a sharp skirmish the fourth Michigan carried the position by a charge, killing 1 captain and 9 men, and capturing 6 men. I drove them to within two miles of Rome, where I found Jackson’s division of cavalry in position supported by a division of infantry. A sharp fire was opened on me by their artillery. I fell back to Farmer’s Bridge and rejoined General Garrard, who had failed to make the crossing. May 16, crossed Oostanaula at Lay’s Ferry.
May 17, moved on right flank of General Garrard ordered open battalion Fourth Michigan to move down the Kingston road, and as the enemy was in full retreat, to charge whatever they found. Lieutenant-Colonel Park met the enemy within one mile of Woodland, and drove them sharply to within two miles of Kingston, where he ran into a force of infantry, and as same time was attacked in rear and on both flanks by the whole of Ferguson’s brigade of cavalry. Colonel park fought his way back to Woodland, losing 4 officers and 24 enlisted men.
May 19, marched to Kingston, where I received orders from General Garrard to move to Gillem’s Bridge (five miles) at the gallop and to hold the bridge at all hazards. Arriving at the bridge I threw up barricades and rail breast-works, which were handed over to Third Brigade on their arrival. This five-mile gallop rendered about 300 horses totally unserviceable.
May 20 to 22, picketed and scouted on the Etowah River.
May 23, marched to Van Wert.
May 24, marched to near Dallas, and had a sharp skirmish with the enemy, Fourth Michigan losing 1 officer and 2 men.
May 25 and 26, picketed on right of the Army of the Tennessee. On evening of 26th had a sharp skirmish with Ferguson’s brigade, Fourth Michigan and Seventh Pennsylvania charging and driving them three miles. The Fourth Regulars on special duty with General McPherson.
May 27, with Fourth Michigan, Seventh Pennsylvania, and Seventy-second Indiana, I attacked and drove Ferguson’s and Armstrong’s brigades. Leaving Seventy-second Indiana and Seventh Pennsylvania to hold the ground, with the Fourth Michigan and one section of artillery I moved in rear of rebel lines and shelled their works. Same evening I received from division headquarters an extract from a letter written by General McPherson, which is as follows: “Colonel Minty with his brigade did good service to-day. He drew four regiments of infantry from in front of our right to fight him.”
May 28 to June 1, picketed close into flank of Army of the Tennessee. On the night of 1st of June the First with Third Brigade covered the withdrawal of Army of the Tennessee from entrenchments in front of Dallas.
June 2, marched to west end of Allatoona Pass.
June 3 to 7, picketed Allatoona, Cartersville, &c.
June 8, marched to Acworth.
June 9, in connection with Third Brigade made reconnaissance on Kennesaw Mountain, and drove Martins’ division of cavalry and one brigade of infantry from three lines of beast-works at and near big Shanty, inflicting on them heavy loss.
June 10, moved toward McAfee’s Cross-Roads.
June 11, attacked Martins’ division at McAfee’s Cross-Roads; drove it one mile, carrying one lie of breast-works. Toward night received an order from General Garrard to fall back on Third Brigade, west of Noonday Creek.
June 12 to 14 picketing and scouting.
June 15, moved south on Bell’s Ferry and Marietta road, skirmishing with the enemy all day.
June 16 to 19, picketing, scouting, and slight skirmishing.
June 20, received orders from General Garrard to cross Noonday Creek and go into camp. Was attacked by Wheeler with six brigades, viz: Allen’s, Iverson’s, Anderson’s, Ahnnon’s, Williams’, and Dibrell’s. About 500 men of Seventh Pennsylvania and Fourth Michigan, with Lieutenant Griffin’s section of Chicago Board of Trade Battery, fought Williams’, Hannon’s, and Andersons’ brigades for over two hours. The Seventh Pennsylvania and Fourth Michigan each made one saber charge, and two battalions of Fourth Michigan repulsed three saber charges made by Anderson’s brigade of regular cavalry. Colonel Miller reported to me with three regiments from his brigade. I directed him to form on the hills around the bridge over Noonday. One battalion Fourth U. s. Regulars checked the advance of Allen’s and Iverson’s brigades on my right flank and enabled me to fall back on Colonel Miller. The six brigades of rebels dismounted and charged my new line. The artillery, which I had placed in position across the creek, opened on them and they were repulsed. I withdrew across the creek and reported to General Garrard. My loss was heavy, being in the Fourth Michigan and Seventh Pennsylvania 55, and Third Brigade 10. The rebel papers acknowledge a loss of 75 killed.
June 21 and 22, picketing and scouting.
June 23, in connection with Second and Third Brigades made demonstrations across Noonday; slight skirmishing.
June 24 to 26, picketing and scouting.
June 27, the division (dismounted) made a demonstration across Noonday. The position occupied by First Brigade was shelled by three rebel batteries. The fire was sharply replied to by Lieutenants Griffin and Robinson, with two sections of Chicago Board of Trade Battery.
June 28 to July 2, picketing and scouting.
Night of July 2 the left of the army moved from in front of Kennesaw, Second Cavalry Division covering the movement.
July 3, marched through Marietta.
July 4, picketing and skirmishing on the left.
July 5, Seventh Pennsylvania drove the rebels through Roswell across the Chattahoochee.
July 6 to 8, picketing and scouting.
July 9, dismounted and waded the Chattahoochee in rear of Third Brigade; threw up breast-works and held the ground until dark, when General Newton’s division, of the Fourth Corps, relieved us.
July 10 to 16, picketing and scouting.
July 17, crossed Chattahoochee on McAfee’s Bridge and marched to near Cross Keys.
July 18, First Brigade, followed by the Third, made a raid on the Augusta railroad and destroyed about five miles of track.
July 19 and 20 picketing and scouting.
July 21, marched from Old Cross Keys to Rock Bridge via Decatur (thirty-seven miles), arriving at Rock Bridge at break of day on the 22d.
July 22, after two hours halt marched to Covington and, together with Third Brigade, tore up about five miles of track.
July 23, marched to Lawrenceville.
July 24, marched to Decatur.
July 25 and 26, in camp near Decatur.
July 27, the division marched through Decatur to Flat Shoals (First Brigade in advance) to cover General Stoneman’s raid on the Macon railroad; same night our pickets were attacked by Allen’s brigade of rebel cavalry. Fourth Michigan moved out (dismounted); erected barricades and lay in line of battle all night.
July 28, at break of day discovered that we were completely surrounded by three divisions (nine brigades) of rebel cavalry. About 10 a. m. Third Brigade, dismounted, with one battalion Fourth Regulars on each flank, charged the rebels on the Lithonia road, and drove them in confusion.
July 29, in camp near Lithonia.
July 30, marched from Lithonia to Cross Keys (thirty miles).
July 31, went into camp near Buck Head.
August 1 to 14, First and Third Brigades, dismounted, relieved the Twenty-third Corp sin the trenches on the extreme left of the army. During this time did duty as infantry. Occasional slight skirmishing with the enemy. Horses with no exercise and on half forage of grain and no long forage the whole time.
August 15, left the trenches and rejoined our horses.
August 16, picketing.
August 17, First and Second Brigades marched at 12 p. m. for Sandtown, arriving there at 6 a. m.
August 18, marched at sunset on the Kilpatrick raid on the Macon railroad.
August 19, attacked on the left flank by artillery and dismounted cavalry. The Seventh Pennsylvania and Fourth Michigan attacked with vigor and repulsed the rebels. The Fourth Regulars and Fourth Michigan, together with the Second Brigade, forced the passage of Flint River near Jonesborough, the Seventh Pennsylvania at same time covering rear of column. In the advance from Flint River and the capture of Jonesborough, Fourth Michigan had the advance, followed by Fourth Regulars and Second Brigade, and drove Ferguson’s and Ross’ brigades of cavalry out of town. The brigade assisted in tearing up about two miles of track. About 10.30 p. m., being attacked from the south, General Kilpatrick directed that the column should move toward McDonough, about five miles, and then march on Lovejoy’s Station, in rear of the rebel force. He directed that the First Brigade should take the advance, and that I should remain with Second Brigade to cover the movement.
August 20, on nearing Lovejoy’s Station the First Brigade was in advance, followed by the Second. Within one mile of the station the Fourth Michigan was detached on a road diverging to the right, and succeeded in gaining the railroad and tearing up and burning a portion of the track. The Seventh Pennsylvania, at the head of the column, drove a small force of the rebels before them, until within a quarter of a mile of the railroad, where they met with spirited opposition. The woods were heavy with a thick undergrowth. I dismounted the Seventh Pennsylvania, but found that the left of the enemy overlapped our right. I then sent three squadrons of the Fourth Regulars to extend our line and one squadron, mounted, to cover the left flank. The remaining two squadrons were covering the rear. At the moment the Fourth Regulars dismounted, Reynolds’ brigade of infantry (seven regiments) poured in a heavy volley, and, jumping out of the railroad cut, rushed forward over our line of less than 300 men, killing, wounding, or capturing 5 officers and over 60 men. The Second Brigade and the Chicago Board of Trade Battery quickly formed and gallantly checked the rebels. The Seventh Pennsylvania and Fourth Regulars were immediately reformed. The carriage of one of the guns was broken by the enemy’s fire, and when the battery fell back it was left on the field, but a few volunteers shortly after brought it in, when it was taken off the carriage and placed in a wagon. The column being attacked in rear, General Kilpatrick directed me to withdraw my command and form for a charge on the attacking force. I ordered in the Fourth Michigan, mounted the Fourth regulars and Seventh Pennsylvania, and moved into the field south of the McDonough road, facing east. I formed my brigade (now reduced to a little over 700 of all ranks) in line of regimental column of fours, the Seventh Pennsylvania on the right, the Fourth Michigan in the center, and the Fourth regulars on the left, and directed Colonel Long to form in brigade column with regimental front in rear of First Brigade.
I sent a few men from each of my columns to charge as foragers, and remove portions of the first fence, and moved forward at the trot until I arrived on the top of the rising ground behind which we had formed, when we rushed forward at a gallop. One fence still intervened between us and the rail barricades, from behind which the rebels were firing. On a hill to my left a battery of three guns was pouring canister into our ranks as rapidly as they could load and fire, while four guns on a hill in front of my right was shelling us at long range. The leading horses, in trying to leap the fence, knocked off some of the top rails, and gaps were soon made, through which the columns poured. The rebels held their position until we were within about ten rods of them, when they broke from their cover and scattered in the wildest confusion, but scarcely a man escaped without a saber-stroke. After passing over the open ground and through a belt of timber, I had the really sounded, got my men together and reformed. General Kilpatrick directed me to cover the march of the column to McDonough. I directed Colonel Long to take the rear. Before the Third Brigade had broken into column on the road, Colonel Long was attacked by a heavy force of infantry, but gallantly held his ground until the Third Division had got out of the way. I dismounted the Seventh Pennsylvania and Fourth Michigan, and formed them, with one section of the Chicago Board of Trade Battery, to cover the retreat of the Second Brigade, which was at this time sorely pressed. The Fourth Regulars was entirely out of ammunition, and I had to send it to our rear. The Ohio Regiments fell back in good order, and the new line received and repulsed the enemy. From rapid firing, one of my guns burst and a shell wedged in the other. The two regiments held their position until the Second Brigade moved off; then fell back, mounted, and followed the column. About 2 a. m. I arrived north of Walnut Creek.
August 21, marched at daybreak; at about 6 a. m. arrived on south bank of Cotton River. The bridge had been destroyed. We were, therefore, compelled to swim the stream. The wagon with the dismounted gun could not be taken across. We, therefore, buried the gun and destroyed the wagon. Camped at Lithonia.
August 22, marched to camp near Buck Head, via Decatur, having made the circuit of Atlanta and both armies since 12 o’clock on the night of the 17th, and having marched and fought every day and night during that time with the exception of the night of the 21st, when we lay at Lithonia.
August 23 and 24, in camp picketing.
August 25, fell back from before Atlanta to Vining’s Station, north of the Chattahoochee River Part of the Fourth Michigan covering the rear of the retiring infantry.
August 26, in camp.
August 27, marched to near Sandtown and camped near Sweet Water Creek.
August 28 to September 10, in camp, picketing and scouting the country from Campbellton to Marietta. The thirteen days we lay at this point is the only time during the whole campaign that we had full forage for our horses.
During the campaign we were fighting thirty-one days, exclusive of the fifteen days we did picket duty in front of the trenches, and in the same time the headquarters of the brigade marched 925 miles.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
[Captain KENNEDY.]