UNION SOLDIER'S ACCOUNT OF KILPATRICK'S RAID. Kilpatricks
Raid-Ordered to the Front-Enemy's Artillery Silenced-We Destroy
the Railroad-Hot Work at the Railroad-Plan Our
Formation-Stampeding the Horses-The Enemy Charges-Sleeping
on Horseback-Swimming the River-Camped at Last.
AFTER the war ended I made a friend of Robert M. Wilson of Illinois,
who served in the Fourth United States Cavalry, and he kindly wrote
out and sent me his account of this raid, and by way of parenthis I
here insert it, as it may be of interest: The following account of the
Kilpatrick Raid, made in August 1864, written partly from memory  
and partly from a letter written August 28, 1864, by Captain Robert
Burns, acting assistant adjutant-general of the First Brigade,
Second Cavalry Division, I acting as orderly for him part of the time
on the raid. I was detailed at brigade headquarters as a scout
during the Atlanta Campaign and until General Wilson took our
regiment as his escort. On the 17th of August, 1864, at one o'clock,
AM, ours and Colonel Long's Brigade (The First and Second), of the
second Cavalry Division, all under command of Colonel Minty, left
our camp on Peach Tree Creek, on the left our army northeast of
Atlanta, at seven o'clock next morning, reported to General Kilpatrick
at Sand Town on the right of our Army, having during the night
passed from one end or flank of our Army to the other. We
remained in Sand Town until sundown of  the 18th, when we
started out to cut the enemy's communications south of Atlanta.
Two other expeditions, Stoneman's and McCook's, well equipped,
before this had been ruined in attempting the same thing. We,
however, imagined we were made of sterner stuff, and started off in
good spirits.

The command consisted of Third Cavalry Division (Kilpatricks),
under Colonel Murry, about 2700 men, and two brigades of our
division (the Second), under the command of Colonel Minty, about
2700 men also-the whole commanded by Kilpatrick (or Kill Cavalry
as we always called him) & away we went, Third Division in
advance. The night was beautiful moonlight one, and we would
have enjoyed it more if we had not been up all the night preceding.
We did not go more than three miles before we ran into the
enemy's pickets, when we had to go more slowly, the division
driving them before us, dismounting to feel the woods on both
sides, etc, etc. Consequently it was morning when we reached the
Atlanta & West Point Railroad near Fairburn. At Red Oak we had
torn up about a half mile of track when the rear battalion of the
Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry was suddenly attacked by a force of
dismounted men and artillery. Just back of where our column was
struck were the ambulances, the darkies leading officier's horses,
pack mules, etc, etc. Several shells dropped among them, and they
thought kingdom had come, sure. The Fourth United States
Cavalry, being near the ambulances, soon drove the enemy away.
All this time the head of the column kept moving on, as time was
precious and we could not stop for slight scrimmages. General
Kilpatrick, not being satisfied with the progress made by his
advance, ordered our brigade to take the front and Murry the
rear.(We had learned before starting that it was expected we, our
division, would do all the fighting,) Long's brigade, in advance, had
not gone more than half a mile when he found a strong force of the
enemy in his front. He had to dismount his men to drive the enemy
from the rail barricades they ahd made, but he would find them in
the same position half a mile farther on. Long kept his men
dismounted, having number 4 lead the horses. I was close up with
the advance with Colonel Minty. We drove the enemy steadily but
slowly back, until we came to the valley through which Flint River
runs, when they were reinforced by Ferguson's brigade of cavalry
(we had been fighting Ross' bigade thus far), and opened on us
sharply with artillery when we commenced descending the hill, the
shells and bullets rattling lively around us. Two guns of our
battery-we had with us four guns of Chicago Board of Trade which
belonged to our division, and Murry had with him four guns of the
Eleventh Wisconsin Battery- were soon brought upand succeeded
in silencing the enemy's artillery, the first striking an artilleryman
and blowing him to pieces. Our division were then all dismounted
and moved fowarded at the double quick under fire of our eight
guns, and drove the enemy clear through Jonesboro, crossing the
bridge on the stringer. Our brigade (First) had the advance, being
nearly all deployed as skirmishers. When we seized the railroad for
which we had started, and we commenced to smash things
generally. The track was torn up for about two miles, the depot and
public buildings burned, and destruction was let loose. While this
was going on the enemy returned to the attack, and our division
was sent to meet them, The Third Division turning the rails. The
enemy were driven southward and we were pushed that way, to
shove them farther back. Before was darkness and death, behind
the burning buildings and smoking ruins, and now it began to
thunder, lightning, and pour down rain in torrents. All this time
General Kilpatrick had one of his
bands behind us playing Yankee Doodle & other patriotic airs. It
appeared as if defeat was comming, for we could hear the whistle
of the cars in front of us and knew that the enemy was being
reinforced from below. We then determined to flank them, so about
midnight our brigade, followed by the Third Division, moved
southeasternly
direction about seven miles, Long's brigade being left to cover the
rear. When seven miles out we stopped to feed, close to 6 AM,
about a mile from Murry's Division, but were little protected, as both
hills were cleared and the valley had but few trees in it. Our brigade
was ordered to mount and move forward when Colonel Long's
brigade was attacked by the cavalry that followed us from
Jonesboro. The enemy's forces consisted of the brigades of Ross,
Ferguson, and Armstrong, about 4500 men. Our brigade moved on
and turned sharply to the right, in a southwesterly direction, to strike
the railroad again about eight miles below Jonesboro. I stayed on
the hill with captain Burns, for a short time, to witness the
skirmishes between Long and the enemy. From where we were all
our maneuvers could be distinctly seen, as also the enemy, who
would advance upon our men, only to be driven back. It was a
beautiful sight. "By Heaven, it was noble sight to see-by one who
had no friend or brother there." & Captain Burns, myself following,
now galloped off to over take our brigade, which we soon did.
Colonel Long had orders to follow as quickly as possible, Colonel
Murry to come after. We (our Brigade) pushed for Lovejoy Station.
When within a mile and one half of the railroad we halted for the
rest of the command to join us. About a mile from the railroad the
road forks, the two prongs striking the railroad about a mile apart. A
few hundred feet in front of and parallel to the railroad another road
ran. The Fourth Michigan was  sent by the righthand road to the
railroad, whiched it reached without any trouble; the rest of the
brigade took the left-hand prongof the road, having the last mile or
two been driving off about a dozen cavalrymen. As we neared the
railroad the firing became hotter and hotter. The seventh
Pennsylvania Cavalry was dismounted and sent forward to the
woods-one battalion, four companies, of it had been advance
guard. Hotter grew the firing, and the horses of the advance who
had been dismounted came hurrying back. The Fourth United
States (Regulars) were then dismounted and sent in. Captain
Burns was sent back to hurry up two of Long's regiments, but
before this could be done theSeventh Pennsylvania and Fourth
Regulars were driven from the woods in some confusion. We had
run on a brigade of infantry who were lying in the woods behind
barricades at the side of the railroad, and a force of the enemy was
also pushed in on the right, where the Fourth Michigan were at
work. Long's brigade was put in position to check the advancing
Confederates, and our battery brought up, as the woods before us
were swarming with enemy, the Forth Regulars and Seventh
Pennsylvania were placed in support of the battery. Poor fellows,
they were badly cut up.
One of Long's regiments was formed near the fork of the road, the
Fourth Michigan was being placed there, and the enemy tried again
and again to take our battery. It fought magnificiently, and the guns
were made to radiate in all directions and did splindid work, our
men supporting them well. One of the guns, by the rebound, had
broken its trail off short, so that it could not be drawn from the field.
When the rest of the pieces had been withdrawn Colonel Minty
called for men to draw off the piece by hand. Captain Burns took
about twenty men of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry down and helped
pull it off, though the enemy were very close to us. While this was
taking place, heavy firing was heard in our rear, for the cavalry with
which we had been fighting had followed us, and had us in a pretty
tight box, as follows: a brigade of infantry in our front and a party on
our left, a division moving on our right and but a short distance off,
three brigades of cavalry in our rear. Stoneman and McCook threw
up the sponge under like circumstances. We decided we must
leave the railroad alone, and crush the enemy's cavalry, and
consequently withdrew from fighting the infantry, who now became
very quiet, probably expecting to take us soon.
The command was faced to the rear as follows: Our brigade was
formed on the right hand side of the road, each regiment in
columns of fours (four men abreast); the fourth Regulars on the
left, fourth Michigan center, Seventh Pennsylvania on the right,
Long's brigade formed in close columns with regimental front, that
each regiment formed in line, the men side by side, boot to boot,
thus: MINYY'S BRIGADE
FOURTH U. S.
FOURTH MICHIGAN
SEVENTH PENSYLVANIA
LONG'S BRIGADE FIRST OHIO
THIRD OHIO
FOURTH OHIO
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