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On the 19th of August there was an engagement which, at that early stage of the war, before battles had become so stupendous in dimension and so frequent as to stale curiosity, caused no little excitement. Gen. Fremont's official dispatch is as follows:
"St. Louis, August 20,1861, "To Colonel E. D. Townsend:
"Report from commanding officer at Cairo says that Colonel Dougherty, with three hundred men, sent out yesterday at seven o'clock from Bird's Point, attacked the enemy at Charleston, one thousand two hundred strong, drove him back, killed forty, took seventeen prisoners, fifteen horses, and returned at two o'clock this morning to Bird's Point with a loss of one killed and six wounded. Col. Dougherty, Capt. J ohnson and Lieutenant-Colonel Ransom are among the wounded.
"Our forces under General Prentiss are operating from Ironton in the direction of Hardee. J. C. Fremont,
A reconnoissance by Capt. Abbott having ascertained the strength of the foe occupying Charleston, reported it to Colonel Dougherty as one thousand and that an attack on the Union forces was appointed that very night. The St. Louis Democrat thus reports it:
"'We are going to take Charleston to-night' said Colonel Dougherty. 'You stay here, and engage the enemy until we come back—we shall not be gone long. Battalion, right face, forward, march I' and on we went, company E ahead, company A next, and so on. * Double quick' was given, and the two front companies only responded. Arriving at the town, we ascertained for the first time, that the four rear companies were detached. A few minutes' delay and we were ordered forward without them. The pickets fired upon us, and we followed them in. We dispersed the cavalry, capturing twenty-one horses and rushed on, the bullets whistling around our heads like hail, but we shooting down and dispersing the enemy. We charged furiously on, carrying everything before us. Colonel Dougherty, Capt. McAdams and Capt. Johnson, and leaders of companies A and E, one hundred and twenty-five men, alone engaged the whole force. At the court-house the enemy made a stand. Here Lieutenant-Colonel Ransom of the 11th Ills, who had volunteered to accompany the expedition, inquired of Colonel Dougherty what should be done next. 'Take the court-house or bust,' was the emphatic answer—and we did take it.
"The volleys from the windows passed over our heads, or fell at our feet. Those who did not escape from the windows, were killed or taken prisoners, and when we emerged from the house, the enemy were to be seen fleeing in the distance. We leisurely retraced our steps. At the railroad track we met the detached portions of our regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hart. * * * * They had fallen in with the flying enemy and killed sixteen of them. All returned to Capt Kansom's Gallantky. 171
Abbott's encampment, with twenty-one horses and eighteen prisoners, having been less than two hours absent. * * * We killed about sixty or seventy of the enemy and probably wounded twice that number. There were some fearful contests—some hand-to-hand righting. The enemy were impaled upon the bayonet, pulled from their horses, knocked over with the butt of the gun, or of the pistol, and so bold and impetuous was every movement, that the enemy fled in confusion. Before morning, our cavalry succeeded in capturing a camp of rebel cavalry above town, and brought in forty horses and thirty-three prisoners."
Capt. William Sharp, of company A, was killed. A correspondent of the 1ST. Y. Tribune relates the following of Lieutenant-Colonel Ransom!" He was urging his men to the charge, when a man rode up, and called out, 'What do you mean? You are killing our own men.' Ransom replied, 'I know what I am doing; who are you?' The reply was, 'I am for Jeff. Davis.' Ransom replied, 'You are the man I am after,' and instantly two pistols were drawn, the rebel fired first, taking effect in Colonel Ransom's arm near the shoulder. The Colonel fired, killing his antagonist instantly." This was a single instance of the courage which made that gallant young officer so great a favorite, and inspired his men when he came to command a brigade or division with such admiration for his personal courage as made them ready to follow anywhere that he should lead.
Another spirited engagement between the Union forces commanded by Colonel J. B. Plummer of the 11th Missouri and the Confederate troops under Brigadier-General Jeff. Thompson occurred near Fredricktown, Mo., on the 21st of October. Colonel Plummer received orders, on the 17th from General Grant, commanding the district of Southeast Missouri, with head-quarters at Cairo, to move out and cut off Thompson, and on the following morning marched with about fifteen hundred men composed of the 17th Illinois, Colonel Leonard F. Ross; the 20th, Colonel C. C. Marsh; the 11th Missouri, Colonel Pennabaker; Lieut. White's section of Taylor's Battery, and Captain Steward's and Lansden's companies of cavalry. Arriving at Fredericktown on Monday the 21st at 12 M. he found the foe gone and the town in possession of Colonel W. P. Carlin (called Carlile in Greely's History) of the 38th Illinois. Colonel Carlin waved his seniority and gracefully reported to Colonel Plummer for orders. With his force were the 21st and 33d Illinois regiments commanded by Colonels Alexander and Hovey, six companies of the 1st Indiana Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Baker, and the 11th Wisconsin, "Colonel Murphy, and one section of Major Schofield's battery. A rapid march of half a mile from the village and the enemy was discovered by Captain Stewart. Colonel Ross threw forward two companies as skirmishers, and then advanced his regiment into a cornfield to support them. The artillery of Taylor's battery, under White, which had been masked upon the slope of a hill opened with effectiveness. The 17th Illinois was soon engaged with the main body of rebel infantry, commanded by Colonel Lowe. The other regiments deployed to the right and left of the road as they came up, and the 38th came promptly on the field as soon as permitted. Under the steady advancing fire of the Illinois 17th and 20th, and Wisconsin 11th, the enemy was falling back, and soon broke and fled in disorder, the retreat having become a rout. On the right the rebel force under Thompson in person, which had also been retreating was rallied, and made a stand with a gun in battery. With a wild shout and ringing sabers the Indiana cavalry charged the battery and carried it, but not being duly supported, the enemy carried off the gun. Here fell the brave Major Gavitt, and Captain Highman. The rout soon became general, and they were pursued some twenty-two miles. The rebel Colonel Lowe was killed with nearly two hundred others, and eighty prisoners captured—the number of their wounded is not stated. The Union loss was six killed and sixty wounded.