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SEAC: KILPATRICK’S SCOUTS ARRIVE


KILPATRICK’S SCOUTS ARRIVE

A Federal Soldier (Source: U.S. Army).Shouts of encouragement announced the arrival of Captain Northrop and his scouts. On the way to the camp the scouts had encountered many men from the 3rd Brigade and 4th Brigade (dismounted), who had been added to the ranks of the Scout Company.

Crossing Nicholson Creek at the Blue’s Rosin Road ford at a gallop, the 200 mounted Federals charged up the ridge in an attempt to reach the house. As they crested the ridge they collided with the Confederates. Faced with a camp full of Confederates, they quickly halted.

From the crest of the ridge a cloud of blue smoke billowed upward as the scouts and Confederates opened fire simultaneously. Heartened by the sight of reinforcements passing through them in a charge, the Federal line responded by surging up the hill.

Captain Northrop, Kilpatrick’s Chief of Scouts (Northrop 1912):

We were followed by from one hundred fifty to two hundred mounted men who had escaped from this captured camp. We had to pass through the men who had been driven from the camp to the swamp, where they had made a stand and at this time were fighting on the defensive. We dashed through them. They thought it was the arrival of 1st Brigade, and they sang out, ‘Here comes the 1st Brigade!’ and, led by General Kilpatrick, they followed us in a charge.

Separated from Lieutenant Stewart and the detail and trying to escape the battle, Posey Hamilton and his friend Ed Knight recrossed the battlefield. As they neared the crest of the ridge, they encountered Captain Northrop and his scouts.

Posey Hamilton (Hamilton 1921):

A Yankee company had moved in and formed in line, all mounted on good horses, well dressed and armed with pistols, between us and the big tent. We were coming back toward them for two hundred yards, and they were firing at us with pistols at a rapid rate. A few men were following us, and some of them were wounded and dropped out. We kept going toward them until to within about sixty yards, when we turned a little east and passed in about forty yards of the cavalry company. They had almost ceased firing at us at that time. Neither of us or our horses was hit.

It was a very narrow escape. While we were maneuvering in front of that Yankee cavalry company General Wheeler’s men were over the hill west of the big tent fighting like the mischief. After Knight and I had passed by the cavalry company and reached the top of the hill, we met Gen. W.W. Allen, our division commander, who was riding a big slick black horse he had captured at the big tent, his horse having been killed in the charge.

Couriers sent by Lieutenant General Wheeler to Brigadier General Dibrell and Lieutenant General Hampton returned, reporting Dibrell’s Brigade could not be found and Lieutenant General Hampton was believed to be on the field. Lieutenant General Hampton had brought both Lieutenant General Wheeler’s and Major General Butler’s reserves onto the field, thus denying their use by either commander. The situation grew increasingly desperate. The dismounted Federals had reached the crest of the ridge, prompting hand-to-hand fighting as the mounted Confederates waded into them.

Lieutenant Stetson Reaches His Guns

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