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JULY 5-21, 1864.--Expedition from La Grange, Tenn., to Tupelo, Miss.
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
MAJOR: I have the honor to make the following report of the action, marches, and part taken by the troops of the Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, in the late expedition to Tupelo; Miss.:
In compliance with orders from the general commanding Right Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps, as fast as the troops of the division were paid, I moved them by rail to Moscow, Tenn., and encamped near the river. On the 27th of June the command was marched to La Grange, Tenn., a distance of eleven miles, and agreeable to orders encamped near Wolf River, at which place we remained till the evening of 5th of July, when the command was marched to Davis' Mills, a distance of six miles, starting early on the morning of the 6th instant, preceded by the First Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, for Pontotoc, Miss. While there the command was almost constantly kept under arms on account of the enemy firing upon the pickets. Left Pontotoc, Miss., for Tupelo on the 13th instant. Upon arriving at Tupelo, Miss., First and Third Brigades, commanded, respectively, by Col. C. D. Murray, of the Eighty-ninth Indiana Infantry Volunteers, and Col. E. H. Wolfe, of the Fifty-second Indiana Infantry, were encamped in line of battle on the left of the Tupelo road, the Second Brigade, commanded by Col. James I. Gilbert, of the Twenty-seventh Iowa Infantry Volunteers, being encamped in the rear and on the left flank of the supply train as guard for the train.
On the morning of the 14th of July, heavy firing having been heard on the picket-posts, I ordered a line of skirmishers to be formed in front of my command. At 7 a.m., after drawing in our skirmishers, the enemy appeared in considerable force in front of the First Brigade, Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, commanded by Col. C. D. Murray, of the Eighty-ninth Indiana Infantry Volunteers, with the unmistakable intention of capturing the batteries and driving our line of battle in perfect disorder. The enemy were permitted to advance in solid columns upon our line through an open field. Our lines being concealed from their view by the brow of the hill, we were not discovered until the enemy had reached a point about twenty paces distant, when the troops of the First Brigade, Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps (composed of the One hundred and twenty-second Illinois Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Col. J. I. Rinaker; the Eighty-ninth Indiana Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Craven; the Fifty-eighth Illinois Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Captain Heelan; the Twenty-first Missouri Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Lieut. Col. Edwin Moore; the One hundred and nineteenth Illinois Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Col. Thomas J. Kinney), sprang to their feet, and, with a yell like that of demons, rushed forward, pouring into the ranks of the advancing foe a desperate volley of musketry, causing them to flee in the utmost disorder, exclaiming, "My God! my God!" The Third Indiana Battery, commanded by Lieutenant Burns, which was posted on the right of the First Brigade, and Battery G. Second Illinois Light Artillery, together with the Fifty-second Indiana Infantry Volunteers, and the One hundred and seventy-eighth New York Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Col. E. H. Wolfe, of the Fifty-second Indiana Infantry Volunteers, did admirable execution by the right and left oblique firing, causing the enemy to beat a hasty retreat in the utmost confusion. For about three hours the enemy kept shelling my lines, but was vigorously replied to by the batteries above mentioned, and with the effect of silencing one of his batteries, and compelling another to move out of range, which rendered their fire comparatively harmless. After pursuing the retreating enemy to the foot of the hill in front of our position, my lines halted, and for a few moments continued firing upon the scattered fugitives. They were then, after all resistance had ceased on the part of the enemy, ordered to march back to their original position in line of battle, which they did in good order. Too much praise cannot be awarded to Col. J. I. Rinaker and the officers and men of the One hundred and twenty-second Illinois Infantry Volunteers for the gallant manner in which they met the fire of the advancing foe. The above-named regiment being posted on the right of the First Brigade, Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, and immediately on the left of the First Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, by cross-firing on the columns advancing in front of the First Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, dealt a deadly and murderous fire. For the balance of the day the enemy left us undisturbed until 10 p.m., when, after driving in our pickets, a considerable force of the enemy came charging in on the left of the Third Brigade, evidently with the design of driving us from our eminence. The One hundred and seventeenth Illinois Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Col. R. M. Moore, of the Third Brigade, by order of Col. E. H. Wolfe, commanding brigade, moved by the left oblique, and in this attack bore a most important part, and to them due credit should be awarded for the prompt manner in which they met and repulsed the enemy on that occasion. The Second Brigade, commanded by Col. James I. Gilbert (composed of the Fourteenth Iowa Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Capt. William J. Campbell; the Twenty-fourth Missouri Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Maj. R. W. Fyan; the Twenty-seventh Iowa Infantry, commanded by Capt. Amos Haslip; and the Thirty-second Iowa Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Maj. Jonathan Hutchison), being held in reserve, were not engaged until about 10 p.m., when heavy skirmishing was heard on the left of the Third Brigade. The brigade was pushed forward in quick time, and deployed under a severe fire of the enemy, driving them and occupying the original position, said position being held for the remainder of the night.
On the 15th instant, at 10 a.m., I was ordered to abandon my position and move my command on the Tupelo road in the direction of Ellistown. In the afternoon, while halting west of Old Town Creek, the enemy appeared, and taking possession of a commanding position, commenced shelling our train. I immediately ordered Col. James I. Gilbert with his brigade to recross the creek, which order was promptly obeyed. The line scaled a fence, waded a stream, nearly waist deep, of water and mud, through the thick brush and timber; waded a second stream, as deep as the first, to the edge of a large field of growing corn, where they came in full sight of the rebel line, which, with its battle-flags waving in the sunlight, was boldly and firmly advancing, pouring in a destructive fire. The day being very hot, many of the men dropped by sunstroke, but by vigorous exertions of the gallant brigade commander, James I. Gilbert, the enemy was driven from his position with a loss of many killed and wounded. The Third Brigade, commanded by Col. E. H. Wolfe, of the Fifty-second Indiana Infantry Volunteers, was ordered across the creek to the support of the Second Brigade, where it took position on a ridge and on the right of the Second Brigade, where it remained until 6 o'clock next morning. The enemy not reappearing, I was ordered to withdraw my command and take my position in the column en route for Ellistown.
On the 17th instant left camp near Ellistown for La Grange, arriving there on the 21st instant, passing through New Albany and Salem. On the 22d instant I was ordered to proceed to Collierville, where my command took the cars for Memphis, Tenn., arriving the same day, distance marched by the command being 276 miles.
To all officers and men of the command I desire to return my heartfelt thanks for the able manner and soldierly conduct exhibited during this expedition. To Col. C. D. Murray, commanding First Brigade; Col. James I. Gilbert, commanding Second Brigade; and Col. E. H. Wolfe, commanding Third Brigade, I have to express my warmest thanks and admiration for the gallantry displayed on the field and on the march. To Lieut. James B. Comstock, acting assistant adjutant-general of the Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, specially I would say he has my heartfelt thanks for the heroic manner in which he conducted himself; ever present in the thickest of the fight, rendering all the assistance in his power to effect the object of the day. To Lieut. Charles H. Sweeney, Lieut. Henry C. Raymond, and Lieutenant Dustin, of my personal staff, I tender my sincere thanks for the able manner in which they discharged their duties.
A list of the casualties of my command has been furnished to the major-general commanding.(*)
I have the honor to be, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Maj. JOHN HOUGH,
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,
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