JOTTINGS FROM THE 102 — No. 6.
CAMP NEAR FRANKFORT, Ky., Oct. 26.
Since writing my last letter we have been engaged in a general chase after John Morgan, the guerrilla chief. Rumors that Lexington had been retaken by the rebels reached our camp during last Saturday. While on dress parade in the evening the news was confirmed, with the additional statement that Morgan's cavalry was only twelve miles distant from our camp. Shortly afterwards a body of union cavalry, probably 800 strong, came dashing by at break-neck speed, from the direction of Frankfort, next came a battery, and then a large force of infantry in wagons — some drawn by four mules, some by six — all making the quickest possible mule-time. "Fun ahead," thought we, and that night rolled ourselves into our blankets with the full expectation of hearing the long roll before morning. About midnight it sounded, and hastily equipping ourselves, we were soon on the march towards Frankfort, however, instead of Lexington. What did it mean? Where could we be going? We knew not, then, but have since learned the object of our Monday morning walk. It appears that Morgan had heard of our cavalry, infantry and mule-wagon movement against him, and was making good time from Lexington — southeast of this place — towards Lawrenceburg, a point nearly south of Frankfort, and distant thirteen miles — from our camp, fifteen miles distant. Our business was to intercept him at Lawrenceburg. After passing through Frankfort we halted some time, probably waiting dispatches. Starting again, we marched in quick time until daylight — then in the gray of the morning were ordered to halt, form in line of battle and load our guns. This done, we continued on to Lawrenceburg; but the game had escaped. Morgan had passed through the town an hour and a half before our arrival. Our cavalry, wagon-mounted infantry and a battery of light artillery continued the pursuit. I have not learned the result. This much, however, is evident, the guerrilla chief would have been intercepted and probably the main body of his band captured, if the force that went out from the place had been mounted. Although the plan to catch the rebels was well designed, I think the result justifies the opinion that yesterday's severe marching was rather a painful verification of the remarks made in my last letter in regard to the ineffectiveness of infantry in a guerrilla war, and our great need of more cavalry.
The reader will pardon these criticisms — the opinions expressed are honestly entertained. Of course Uncle Sam will neither take my advice nor make me commander-in-chief, but as our armies are controlled almost as much by our editors as by our generals, I shall not have criticised in vain if the Arugs and other influential journals, should be induced thereby to agitate the subject.
We learned at Lawrenceburg that our cavalry had taken 27 prisoners and one wagon loaded with stores. Morgan captured between 200 and 300 of our cavalry the day before at Lexington. The horses and everything valuable were taken from the men. The cavalry was commanded at the time by an Ohio captain. All were paroled. During the time they were held as prisoners, the captain was introduced by Morgan to his mother, who resides in Lexington. His sabre and revolver were returned to him. In lieu of a good horse, however, he was compelled to come away on an old "crow-bait," which the rebels placed at his disposal. I am told that this mode of trading horses is quite common among the guerrilla bands — the rider of an inferior horse immediately making a forcible exchange whenever he finds one that is better.
We rested a few hours near Lawrenceburg — some sleeping, others munching hard crackers and eating smoked ham. The return march was made in slower time. Many of the boys, however, were completely worn out as they well might be, having marched fully thirty miles. We reached our old camp about 7 o'clock in the evening, and found a very good supper — hot coffee, fried crackers, &c., ready for us. The boys who had been left in camp, had heard of our coming and immediately went to work to welcome us in a manner becoming soldiers. Their kindness as well as their coffee was fully appreciated.
With weary limbs we retired to rest, confidently believing that when the old-fashioned sail-vessels succeeds in making better time than the present last-going steamer — when the stage-coach of fifty years ago travels faster than the modern locomotive, or when men can be found who are able to trot faster than "Patchen" or "Flora Temple," we will be able to capture John Morgan with infantry.
Yours truly, S.F.F.