Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Battle of Dutton Hill:

The North, 1,250 men, under the command
of General Gilmore, with orders to attack vigorously
The South, raiding Kentucky for supplies, now in
retreat (“over 2,600,
outnumbering
us over two to one”), under General Pegram, he
much disliked
& considered a fool by his own men. The advance began
as soon as the horses were fed, on the morning
of March 30th, 1862.

(The Shakers noted hard frost, & the potential
loss of the peach crop, the trees being in full bloom.)

From Buck Creek, some ten miles north
Of Somerset, the advance was soon engaged with
The rear guard of the retreat, forcing them
Back, until about noon, when the position
Of the main body was developed, strongly posted
On Dutton’s Hill.

“It soon became evident that we were greatly
outnumbered, and that if it had been the intention
of the enemy to draw us from beyond the support
of our infantry, so as to place us at a disadvantage, he had
apparently succeeded.”

“I formed line of battle
by placing Wolford (dismounted) on the right, in the woods, Garrard
and the artillery (one section of Rodman rifles and four mountain howitzers)
on open ground in the center, and Runkle (dismounted) on the left,
with open ground in his front, and the Somerset Road between him
and the center.”

Thus the entire command was placed in one line, but a fictitious
Reserve was improvised by posting horses, rear of center, partially
Concealed in the woods. “It was ascertained after the action
That the enemy regarded this as a strong cavalry reserve, and
It consequently counted passively as such during the action.”

“The fight commenced by artillery firing on both sides,
About 12:30 pm. At the same time a column of mounted troops
Was seen to leave the enemy in front of our center and disappear
In the woods in front of our right. Wolford
Was almost immediately hotly engaged with them, and
Unable to hold his own, was slowly forced back to his left and rear
Toward the road.”

“A small force of the enemy, passing entirely around Wolford’s
Right, gained the road in my rear, across which
The line was formed, and captured
Three horses from the ambulances attached to the command.”

At this juncture I ordered Runkle, on the left, and a portion
Of Garrard’s cavalry, in the center, under Major Norton,
To storm the hill.”

“This was done with great coolness
and gallantry,
and with but trifling loss to us,
as most of the enemy’s musket fire passed
over the heads of the advancing troops.”

“As the fighting still continued with great spirit in the woods
on my right, where our success in carrying the hill was not yet known,
I dispatched a portion of the cavalry
By the same route which the enemy had taken in his detour
In that direction, to attack him in the rear…

At the same time informing Colonel Wolford
Of this movement, with orders to make the best fight
He could
Until his succor arrived.”

The action was soon
Brought to a successful close in that part of the field,
For the enemy,
Finding himself attacked in the rear,
And knowing from this
That we must have carried the right
Of their line on the hill, fled
In confusion
By two roads
Toward the ford of the Cumberland River.

A rapid pursuit was ordered
As soon as the troops for that purpose could be
Got together,
And the enemy was found posted behind
Temporary defenses
In another strong position
About three miles south of Somerset.

As night had already set in,
And as my effective command had been
Reduced to about 900 men
By killed, wounded, stragglers, and
Detachments to guard prisoners, it was
Not deemed proper
To make a night attack.

The enemy withdrew during the night
And re-crossed the Cumberland River.

The only report which I made at the time
Of the action was contained in two
Telegraphic dispatches…

“I attacked the enemy yesterday
at a strong position of his own selection,
defended by six cannon,
near this town, fought him for five
hours, driving him from one position
to another, and finally stormed
his position and drove him in confusion
toward the river.
His loss
Is over 500 in killed,
Wounded, and prisoners.
Night stopped the pursuit, which will be renewed
In the morning.

We have re-taken between 300 and 400 cattle.”


So Gilmore recounted,
Louisville, KY., April 1, 1863

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