Near Atlanta, Ga., August 24, 1864.
CAPTAIN: At 1 a. m. on the 18th instant I marched from camp at this place with the First and Second Brigades of the Second Cavalry Division. At 6 a. m. I halted on the banks of the Utoy Creek, and in obedience to orders from Brigadier-General Garrard, commanding Second Cavalry Division, reported to Brigadier-General Kilpatrick, commanding Third Cavalry Division, at Sandtown. In accordance with orders from General Kilpatrick I marched at dusk same day, following the Third Division, and marched all night.
August 19, about break of day my advance (the Second Brigade) crossed the Atlanta and Montgomery Railroad. The rear brigade was sharply attacked on the left flank by artillery and dismounted cavalry. The Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry cut through and the column divided. Major Jennings, commanding Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, and Major Mix commanding Fourth Michigan Cavalry, attacked the enemy with vigor, drove him from the ground, and reunited the column. At this point I lost 3 ambulances, which were driven into the woods by the drivers and broken. I was here ordered to take the advance with my two brigades and push the enemy, Ross’ brigade, to Flint River. The woods were thick, and impracticable for cavalry. The Second Brigade was, therefore, dismounted. We advanced steadily, driving the rebels before us, until we arrived at Flint River, where I found the bridge destroyed, and the enemy in position on the opposite bank. His guns were soon silenced by Lieutenant Bennett’s section of the Board of Trade Battery. General Kilpatrick ordered up all the artillery, eight pieces, and shelled the rebel rifle-pits by volleys. After the firing of the fourth volley, my men in line advanced at the double-quick, and took, shelter behind a fence on the bank for the river, and their fire soon drove the enemy from his works. We then crossed on the stringers of the ruined bridge, which was quickly repaired, and one section of the Board of Trade Battery, under Lieutenant Robinson, crossed. I was directed by General Kilpatrick to drive the rebels from, and take possession of, the town of Jonesborough. I deployed the Fourth Michigan as skirmishers. The Fourth United States and First Ohio, with a section of artillery between them, moved in line, and Third and Fourth Ohio followed I advanced, steadily driving the rebels, Ross’ and Ferguson’s brigades, before me into the town, where they took possession of the houses and opened a sharp fire on us. I ordered the section of artillery into the skirmish line, and directed Lieutenant Robinson to shell every house from which a gun was fired, and in five minutes I had possession of Jonesborough. The railroad buildings were quickly destroyed and a portion of the track torn up. I was then ordered to take position across the railroad, facing toward Atlanta, to cover the Third Division which had been ordered to tear up the track. About 10 p. m. I was ordered to take up a new position near the Third Division, which was about moving farther south to continue the work of destruction. As soon as I had moved Colonel Murray attempted to advance, but found the enemy in force and strongly posted in his front. A flank movement was now directed. The general ordered that my own brigade should take the advance and that I myself, with the Second Brigade, should remain to cover the movement. The column marched toward McDonough for about five miles, then, turning to the right, moved directly toward Lovejoy’s Station, on the Macon road. As the rear of the column turned to the right the rebel cavalry came up with it, and a sharp skirmish ensued between them and Colonel Long’s brigade, ending in the repulse of the rebels a little after daybreak.
August 20, when within one mile of Lovejoy’s Station the Second Brigade rejoined the First at the head of the column. At this point the road forks, one branch leading to the station and the other to a point on the railroad quarter of a mile north. On this, the right-hand road, I detached the Fourth Michigan, with orders to gain possession of and destroy the railroad. The column moved directly for the station, driving a small squad of rebels before it. When within quarter of a mile of the railroad, I received a report from Major Mix, commanding Fourth Michigan, that he had succeeded in gaining the road, without meeting with any opposition, and was then engaged in destroying it. At this moment the advance was fired upon pretty sharply. I immediately dismounted it and, together with the remainder of the regiment (Seventh Pennsylvania), sent it forward to clear the woods, but finding that a fire was maintained on my right, I sent one battalion Fourth U. S. Cavalry, to extend the line in that direction; but before it could gain its position, and entire brigade of rebel infantry rose from the brush in our front, delivered a terrific volley, and rushed forward with a yell. Our little force, scarcely 300 men, appeared for a moment to be annihilated; the Second Brigade formed rapidly. The Chicago Board of Trade Battery came into position, and the enemy was quickly checked, but from the woods in our front, and on the left flank, a galling fire was kept up, and the battery was forced to fall back, leaving one piece, which had been disabled, on the ground, and having lost 7 percent of their men. The gun was, however, immediately after, brought in by volunteers, taken off the broken carriage, and placed in a wagon. The rebel cavalry now attacked u heavily in the rear. The general ordered me to withdraw my command and form it on the right of the road, facing to the hen rear, and prepare for a charge. I formed the First Brigade in line of regimental columns of fours, the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry on the right, the Fourth Michigan in the center, and the Fourth United States on the left; the Second Brigade in rear of the First, in close column, with regimental front, with orders to follow the First Brigade, but the ground being very unfavorable for such a movement, Colonel Long broke by fours, and moved down the road in rear of the Fourth U. S. Cavalry. Gaps were made in the first fence by a line of skirmishers, and I moved forward at the trot until we got under the enemy’s fire, when I gave the commands “gallop” and “charge,” and we swept down on the rebel breast-works. The ground we had to pass over was very disadvantageous for a charge, being very much cut up by rain gullies, and intersected by half a dozen high rail fences. The rebels held their position, behind their works, until we were almost on them, when they turned and fled in confusion. We were soon among them, and hundreds fell beneath our keen blades. The race and slaughter continued, through woods and fields, for about three miles, when I collected and reformed my command. In this charge we captured 3 pieces of artillery and 3 stand of colors, viz: Third Texas Cavalry and Benjamin Infantry, captured by the Fourth U. S. Cavalry, and the Zachary Rangers, captured by the Fourth Michigan Cavalry. General Kilpatrick ordered me to cover the march of the column to McDonough. Colonel Long immediately took position with the Second Brigade, and before the head of the column had moved he was attacked by Cleburne’s division of infantry. For nearly three hours they were held in check by Colonel Long, who was here wounded in the arm and thigh. The command of the brigade then devolved on Colonel Eggleston, First Ohio Cavalry. The Third Division being out of the way, I placed the Fourth Michigan and Seventh Pennsylvania in position, with Lieutenant Bennett’s section of artillery, and directed Colonel Eggleston to retire with his brigade. Cleburne followed closely and vigorously attacked the new line, but our rail breast-works protected the men and our loss was comparatively small, although the enemy’s shells were thrown with great precision. Shortly after the retreat of the Second Brigade one of our guns burst and the other was rendered temporarily unserviceable by the wedging of a shell. As soon as the road was clear, I withdrew, mounted the First Brigade. The march was continued until 2 a. m. on the 21st, when we bivouacked north of Walnut Creek.
August 21, we were in the saddle shortly after daybreak. At about 6 a. m. we arrived on the south bank of Cotton River, which was flooded, and the bridge destroyed. This we were compelled to swim, losing in the operation 1 man and about 50 horses and mules. It being impossible to bring across the wagon which contained the gun, it was destroyed and the gun buried. I camped at Lithonia, on the Georgia railroad. August 22, returned to camp, near Peach Tree Creek, passing through Latimar’s and Decatur.
Every officers and soldier in the command acted so well, so nobly, so gallantly, that under ordinary circumstances they would be entitled to special mention. Day and night, from the 28th to the 23d, these gallant men were without sleep and almost without food. During that time they marched and skirmished incessantly, fought four pitched battles, and swam a flooded river, and all without once complaining or murmuring.
I cannot close this necessarily long report without calling attention to the gallant and magnificent manner in which the Chicago Board of Trade Battery was fought, by Lieutenants Robinson and Bennett, on every occasion on which it was brought into action. Colonel Long, commanding Second Brigade, and all the regimental commanders, distinguished themselves by the able manner in which they handled their commands. Captain McIntyre, commanding Fourth U. S. Cavalry, rendered himself conspicuous by his gallantry when he was attacked by a brigade of infantry at Lovejoy’s, and also by the manner in which he led the charge of his regiment on the 20th.
Private Samuel Waters, Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, rode in advance of his regiment, and made good use of his saber during the charge. Private Douglas, Fourth U. S. Cavalry, rode with Captain McIntyre during the charge, and brought in 15 prisoners, 4 of them commissioned officers. Private William Bailey, Fourth Michigan Cavalry, especially distinguished himself by riding through a narrow gap in the fence, in front of the rebel artillery, galloping into the battery, and shooting the captain dead on the spot. I beg most respectfully to call the attention of the general to these three gallant private soldiers.
I also beg to call the attention of the general commanding to the officers and men mentioned in the report of Captain McIntyre, commanding Fourth U. S. Cavalry, inclosed herewith. Captain McIntyre’s is the only sub-reports as yet received by me.
I regret to have to announce the loss of Captain Thompson, Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, my brigade inspector, and one of the most gallant soldiers in the service; he was wounded, and I fear is now a prisoner in the hands of the enemy.
Inclosed herewith I hand you return of casualties.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel 4th Michigan Cav., Commanding First Brigadier, Second Cav. Div.
Captain ESTES,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Cavalry Division.