Report of Major Frank W. Mix, Fourth Michigan Cavalry, of operations August 18-22 (Kilpatrick’s raid).
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH MICHIGAN CAVALRY,
Before Atlanta, August 24, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Fourth Michigan Cavalry, under my command, in the late raid under General Kilpatrick:
On the 17th of August I received orders to have my command in readiness to march at 6 p. m., with five days’ rations, but, owing to some delay, we did not leave our camp until 2 a. m. on the morning of the 18th. Having the advance of the brigade, we moved off in a southwesterly direction. We marched very steady throughout the night, and about 6 a. m. arrived at a place called Sandtown, where we found the Third Cavalry Division. Here I received notice that we would remain through the day, and be ready to join the Third Division, under General Kilpatrick, for a raid on the Atlanta and Macon Railroad, which was to leave at sundown. At 6 p. m. I received orders that I would use my command as rear guard, and it was near 9 o’clock before I moved out of camp. We moved very slow though the night, making it very tiresome for both men and horses. At daylight on the morning of the 19th, when near the East Point railroad, artillery was distinctly heard in our front, and, by the movements of the advance, I learned the enemy were firing into our flank. The ambulances of the brigade were in advance of me, and attempted to follow the command and to dash past fire (and officer having them in charge). Instead of following the command, they turned to the right into a small bridle path. I had followed them to this point, and felt bound to save them, if possible, and accordingly moved my command in the same direction. After proceeding a short distance, I found the ambulances halted and no opening for them to escape, and that we were cut off from the rest of the command. I sent the ambulances to the rear, and formed the Third Battalion, under Captain Eldridge, on the left of the path facing the main road, which we had just left. About this tie I was joined by a battalion of the Seven Pennsylvania, under Major Andress. Being the senior officer, I ordered him to form his command on the right of the Third Battalion of Fourth Michigan. The enemy were moving toward the main road, and had already opened a heavy fire upon us. I ordered Major Andress and Captain Eldridge to move forward with their commands as skirmishers, and drive the enemy from the road. Captain Eldridge moved forward in fine style, driving the enemy before him, but Major Andress, with his battalion, soon left me without my knowledge, and I found my right unprotected. I ordered Captain Hathaway, commanding First Battalion of my regiment, to dismount his battalion and move it forward to assist Captain Eldridge; but before the movement was completed Captain Eldrdge sent me word that he had possession of the main road. I sent my adjutant (Lieutenant Dickinson), to the ambulances to have them fall in between the First and Second Battalions, and to charge out with us, as the enemy had full command of the road with his artillery. But no one could be found to take charge of them, some of them having been turned over and broken. Upon gaining this information, I ordered the command forward on the gallop, crossed the railroad, thence down the railroad on the left for about two miles, to Fremont’s Corners, closely followed on the gallop, crossed the railroad, thence down the railroad on the left for about two miles, to Fremont’s Corners, closely followed by the enemy. Here I found two battalions of the Seventh Pennsylvania, under Major Jennings. Here I formed the regiment and built a stockade across the road, where we held the enemy in check. They soon disappeared. I then sent Company K, Lieutenant Bedtelyon commanding, back to find our pack-mules (which had been cut off), and see if the ambulances could be found and brought out. He soon returned with the pack animals and three of the ambulances, the other three having been broken.
And here let me say that with proper management, or with some one to look after them, the ambulances could all have been brought out; but some of the drivers acted in a cowardly and unsoldierly manner, having abandoned their teams on the first appearance of danger. Sergeant Ray, of Company M, took one team from an ambulance he found upset and drove it in ahead of his horse. I soon received orders from Colonel Minty to join the command, which was waiting for me some three miles to the left. Upon joining the command, I learned that our brigade had been ordered to pass the Third Division and to follow Colonel Long’s brigade. We now moved forward at a good walk until 2 p. m., when artillery was heard again at the front, and the entire command was halted and artillery was used upon both sides for over an hour. I was then ordered to dismount my regiment and move to the front, and, under cover of the woods, move down to the skirmish line, which was then resting on Flint River, some two and a half miles from Jonesborough, on the Macon railroad. An advance was ordered, and, with the Second Brigade, Second Division, we crossed the river, driving the enemy in all directions. The command was now halted, and the advance given to the Fourth Michigan Cavalry. We moved forward, meeting with very little opposition, and reached the railroad at 5 p. m., Captain Van Antwerp being the first man on the road. The boys went to work with a good will, pulling up the rails and firing the road. Late in the evening I was ordered to mount my command and move in an open field, to unsaddle and groom my horses, and to build a stockade in my front, but ere it was completed we were ordered farther down the railroad to guard our left flank. Here we remained until 1 o’clock in the morning, the enemy continually trying our lines. At this time I was ordered to move up the road and be ready to fall back. At 2 a. m. the command commenced moving in the direction of McDonough, the First Brigade in the advance. We moved at a rapid pace until daylight, when we halted to feed our weary horses.
At 8 a. m. the advance again sounded and we moved forward, following the Seventh Pennsylvania, who were in the advance. Heavy skirmishing had already commenced in our rear. The command struck off to the right, leaving McDonough on our left, and here I learned that we were to make another attempt on the railroad at Lovejoy’s Station. We moved steadily along until within one mile and a half of the station, when I was ordered to take my regiment to the right, move down the railroad in that direction, and break the road as soon as possible, to prevent any trains coming to that point, and to lead the enemy in that direction. Throwing forward the Third Battalion, under Captain Eldridge, as skirmishers, we moved down to the road without meeting with any resistance. I immediately sent forward the Second Battalion, Captain Van Antwerp commanding, to join the third, and move across the track and cover our front while we destroyed the road. By the time we had made a breakage in the road, heavy firing was heard on my left in the direction of the main column. Soon portions of the Seventh Pennsylvania came running into my lines, and I learned they had been attacked in large numbers by infantry, and that the enemy were driving our lines back. I immediately withdrew the Second and Third Battalions and formed the regiment to receive the enemy, should they see fit to give me a call. Up to this time we had taken up two lengths of rails from the road and had fires built for several rods each way. I received orders from Colonel Minty at this time to move back to the forks of the road as rapidly as possible, to prevent being cut off from the main column. As soon as we reached the point we were ordered into line, and to throw up a stockade in our front. While building the stockade, twenty volunteers were called for to go with Colonel Minty and bring off a piece of artillery, which had become disabled, and which the gunners had been unable to bring off. Lieutenant Purinton and Company I responded nobly, every man going but enough to hold the horses, but before they reached the ground the piece was withdrawn. The fight had now become general, both in our front and rear, and we were ordered to the rear for the purpose of charging the enemy. We were formed in a large corn-field, under a hill, in a column of fours, the Fourth U. S. Cavalry on my left and the Seventh Pennsylvania on my right, in the same formation as my own command, for it was to be a charge of the entire brigade. We moved forward at a walk until we reached the top of the hill, from which point we could see the fields we were to charge over, and the enemy’s lines, which were in a piece of woods some half a mile distant, and from which they were sending their balls and shells in a very unpleasant manner. Colonel Minty gave the command and led off the charge in person, and the whole command dashed across the field, over ditches and fences, sobering the skirmishers of the enemy, who were trying to get out of our way, never once halting or faltering, although the enemy were plowing the field and thinning our ranks with their artillery. Upon reaching the woods I became separated from the command, and, becoming wounded about the same time, I did not join the command again for nearly an hour. After charging through, we moved about a mile back, where a line was formed composed of the different regiments. The command was son collected, and horses and mules belonging to the enemy, which were running in every direction, were picked up.
The charge had proved a complete success, the enemy having been completely routed. Many prisoners and 1 piece of artillery were captured. My wound having become troublesome, I turned the command over to Captain Eldridge. The command soon moved back, closely followed by the enemy’s infantry. Some three miles back, a line was formed of the Fourth Michigan, Seventh Pennsylvania, and the Third Ohio, to hold the enemy in check, and for one-half hour we had the hardest fighting that we had seen during the raid. At last we fell back, and the whole command moved off for McDonough. We passed through the town about dark, during a heavy rain. At about 11 p. m. we halted, and were permitted to go into camp for the night, the first time for three days and four nights which the men had been permitted to rest or sleep. We were up and ready for an early start in the morning, and 8 a. m. the command started for Atlanta.
The regiment is deserving of great credit for the manner in which they discharged their duties during the march. Where all did so well it is difficult to select any for special praise or notice. I am under many obligations to the officers of the regiment for their cordial support throughout the march, and particularly to Captains Eldridge, Hathaway, and Van Antwerp, battalion commanders.
I have to report the following as our list of casualties during the raid:*
FRANK W. MIX,
Major, Commanding Fourth Michigan Cavalry.
ACTG. ASST. ADJT. General, FIRST CAVALRY BRIGADE.