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"Here the fight commenced in good earnest" - Thomas G. Scott, Second Minnesota

Thomas G. Scott

Appearing in the February 6th, 1862 edition of the Perrysburg Weekly Journal is this account of the Battle of Mill Springs. Written on January 25th by Thomas G. Scott, who was serving in the 2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Scott was a sergeant in Company E. Having mustered in on July 5th, 1861, he would go on to serve a full four years, mustering out of the 2nd Minnesota on July 16th, 1865. He would be wounded in action at Missionary Ridge on November 25th, 1863. Promoted to Sergeant Major, then Second Lieutenant, he would end the war as Captain.

Born in Pennsylvania, after the war he would reside in St. Peter, Minnesota, and would pass away on July 30th, 1877 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, apparently having served as a deputy sheriff in that region. He is buried in Fort Smith at Oak Cemetery.

The Somerset Battle.

Camp Dick Robinson, Ky.,

January 25th, 1862

Friend Bell: We are now victoriously on the banks of the Cumberland river, five miles south of Somerset. "We have met the enemy and they are ours." On last Sunday morning, while we were encamped at Camp Hamilton, two miles west of Fishing Creek, the enemy advanced upon us from their entrenchments at Beach (Beech) Grove, (known as Zollicoffer's entrenchments) and at 5 o'clock A. M. firing commenced between our pickets and the advance of the enemy. Our pickets kept up a close continual fire upon them, and at the same time slowly fell back upon the 10th Indiana regiment, who had gone to their relief - they being encamped about three-fourths of a mile nearer the line of attack than any other of the forces of this division at this camp, and of whom the pickets were a part. There is but little cleared land in the vicinity of the engagement, the 10th Indiana had formed in line of battle in the woods partly and partly behind a fence enclosing an old worn out field. Here the fight commenced in good earnest. Our regiment (2d Minn.) moved immediately upon hearing the firing, as did also the Ohio 9th, the Kentucky 4th, and Tennessee 1st and 2d; but of the last named regiments the 2d Minnesota was considerably in the advance, and formed in line of battle within one-fourth mile of the firing to receive orders. There we were visited by a few shots from the rebel artillery, which were thrown with great precision, the first ball passing over and within six foot of my head, breaking ground a few paces in the rear. But we did not have to wait long, and were immediately marched to the scene of action, relieving the Indiana 10th, who had now run short of cartridges. We took their position with the exception that our line extended to the left, a greater portion of it extending along the fence, and from behind this fence we delivered our first volley upon the enemy, who were fortified in line of battle in a ravine on the other side of the fence - their left running up to the fence on our right. Nothing separated the forces but the fence. In the rear of the ravine was another ravine, in which another line of the enemy was formed. With these two lines we contended for one hour in almost a hand to hand conflict. The smoke was thick, and at first our boys fired too high, but they gradually learned their position. The enemy fought well and bravely, until Zollicoffer fell mortally wounded, when they fled, leaving everything behind them in their confusion and hurry. We captured about 300 prisoners, and closely pursued them into their entrenchments, when night came on and we halted in front of their works, sent over a few shells to let them know we were there, and then laid us down to rest, tired and hungry. It was then we discovered that we eaten nothing for twenty-four hours. Next morning, a few more shell, and then entered their entrenchments and found them containing no enemy. I can give you no idea of the amount of property falling into our hands. About 16,000 or 18,000 horses, 600 or 800 mules, 400 wagons, tents without number, 23 cannon, mounted with caissons well filled with grape canister and shell, ammunition of all kinds, blankets, knap-sacks, small arms of every kind, and but a limited supply of commissary stores, which I think accounts for their giving us battle outside of their entrenchments. Defending their entrenchments, they would have been almost impregnable.

Our boys behaved most gallantly. The fire from our line was one continuous volley, and, strange as it may appear, I did not see nor hear of single instance of want of presence of mind, on the part of our boys, but they would fire, load, laugh and joke. My position was upon the extreme left of the Regiment. We were, without defence, thrown out into open ground, within fifty yards of the enemy's lines and here was our greatest loss. Balls rained thick and fast. Three men fell within six feet of me - two killed instantly, one mortally wounded - and this was my first chance of getting hold of a gun, which I picked up, after carrying the wounded man to a less exposed position, and then returned for his cartridge box, but the boys had taken out his cartridges, and the box was empty.

One of our boys, in kneeling to fire through the lower rails of the fence, discovered a gun pointed through from the opposite side of the fence, he caught hold of it and drew it out of the enemy's hands, whereupon secesh called " quarter."

But I must close. You will direct as before, except you will change from "Serg't Co. E," to Serg't Major, 2nd Regiment Minnesota Volunteers. My first duty as Sergeant Major was performed upon the field, and my station is, in battle, on the extreme left of the regiment - Adjutant upon the right. I came out untouched by rebel bullets, but felt the wind of quite a number. Our direction now is, I believe, through Cumberland Gap to Knoxville, Tennessee - but for the present we are stationed here to await orders, and may remain here for one week, or but a couple of days. I am not positive what may be our direction, but think as above stated the most likely. I captured in the entrenchments and have now in use a couple of very nice comforts that once were the property of Gen. Zollicoffer. I also had a quantity of gold lace taken from his cap but I cannot find it. The forces actually engaged upon our side were the 10th Indiana, 2d Minnesota, 9th Ohio and part of the Kentucky 4th, in all, but 3,500 men. Upon their side there was engaged about 9,000, according to the statement of prisoners, who are much surprised on account of being well treated by us. Their orders were to neither ask nor give quarter, and take no prisoners. Their army is completely demoralized, routed and disbanded. They are now scattered all over the State of Tennessee. Letters in their camp state that they were 20,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry, 4 batteries of artillery, 6 guns each. Inside of the fortifications winter quarters were erected for 20,000 troops, at an immense amount of labor.

T. G. Scott.

P. S. - The loss on our side is 40 killed and 130 wounded. The rebel loss, in killed and buried upon the field by our men, is 326, and the number wounded is hard to find out - perhaps 400. Many were drowned in attempting to swim the Cumberland. Their loss in killed and wounded and prisoners may amount to 1,600.


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