Today in History:

129 Series I Volume XX-I Serial 29 - Murfreesborough Part I


were approaching in very heavy force close by. This was about 5 a.m. Tuesday. Colonel Johnson at once halted with two of his men, who were in company (one unarmed), and waited the advance of the Yankee column. Drawing his revolver, he ordered his armed companion to do likewise, and but a moment had elapsed before three men (the advance of Carter's Abolition army) halted in his front not more than 15 feet from him, asking at the same time if they were not a part of the Ninth Pennsylvania. Colonel Johnson made no reply, but ordered them to surrender. One of them, a sergeant, made a motion to draw his pistol, when Colonel Johnson fired and killed him; the other two surrendered, and were turned back prisoners, and returned with horses and guns (of the dead man also) to Colonel Clay's camp. The main column of the enemy was not over 100 yards in rear of this advance guard. They counter-marched immediately, entered an old field a quarter [of a miles] in rear of their turning point, deployed in line of battle, remained until sunrise, then returned by the road they had come some mile or more, and took a right-hand road to Blountsville and Union. No one doubts but their first intention was to burn Bristol and take possession of all the trains, stores, &c., and destroy them first, which could have been as easily done as to take Union and destroy the bridges at that point. The appearance of a force in front on this route deterred them. I suggested, when I reached Colonel Clay's camp, that he should scout all the roads leading to Blountsville and Union, find out where the enemy was, and then act accordingly; and after giving him all the information I possessed in regard to the roads and country, proposed to go with his scouts and place them over all the different routes (three in number) and aid them in finding out what course the enemy had taken. This he consented to, and, after scouting all the roads in the direction of Union and Blountsville, by 12 or 1 p.m. found the enemy at Blountsville; a portion having advanced to Union, burned the depot and railroad bridges and county bridge, proceeding next in the direction of Watauga Bridges, on same evening (Tuesday), and burned that. General Marshall had news, by telegraphic communication from Morristown, Tenn., of their approach at 10 p.m. Monday. He ordered Clay and Colonel Slemp's infantry to take position at Bristol and defend the railroad if attacked. He never reached Bristol until Wednesday morning at 1 o'clock, as he told me. Colonel McClelland and myself called on Colonel Marshall Wednesday morning, gave him an idea of the country, and proposed to map the same for him. This duty devolved upon Mr. Blair and myself, while Colonel McClelland proposed to lead a party of scouts in the direction of Blountsville and Union, and find out enemy's position and report.

General Marshall had at Bristol and near by Clay's battalion (near 450 men, cavalry) and Colonel Slemp's regiment (in 1 mile) of infantry (about 750 men); besides, he had in rear of Yankees at Kingsport Colonel Johnson's command (over 300 men, cavalry); in all, 1,500 efficient men, on the ground, to meet this invasion of not over 1,200 to 1,500 Abolitionists, who were jaded and worn out, sleeping on their horses, and leaving their camps, coats, oil-cloths, and arms along the road. So jaded and worn out were they that the officers had to be traversing the line from one end to the other continually, pricking up the horses with their sabers and closing up the column scattered for 2 to 3 miles along the road, four-fifths of them asleep, having been riding constantly day and night for five days; so say the prisoners taken by Colonel Johnson.

On Wednesday noon Colonel Giltner's regiment of cavalry (800 strong) filed into Bristol and went into camp. Wednesday night Gen-