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Battle of Tazewell, Tennessee
August 6, 1862
Anecdotes from the History of Company B, 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Web Author's Notes:
The 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as part of Col. John F. DeCourcey's 26th Brigade, marched south from their stronghold at Cumberland Gap toward the small town of Tazewell, Tennessee, on August 2, 1862. The purpose of their expedition was to find and acquire forage and supplies for the Federal garrison holding Cumberland Gap. During several days of foraging and extended trips further south of Tazewell, some periodic skirmishes with Rebel cavalry were encountered but the troops were successful in filling their wagons with much needed food and hay for their animals. Col. DeCourcey knew a large Confederate force was camped south of the Clinch River, not too distant from Tazewell, however, did not anticipate any major engagement would take place. On the Wednesday morning of August 6, however, DeCourcey would be confronted by a vastly superior Rebel force.

There exists a number of detailed accounts of the Battle of Tazewell. As with all such events, the accounts differ, somewhat, and certain facts told by each are inconsistent. However, by reading each account one can eventually gain a rather clear picture of the actions and movements that occurred that warm summer day, 15 miles south of Cumberland Gap.

The following are several anecdotes from the Battle of Tazewell as written in the Hi so try of Company B, 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, original source and author unknown:

When the boys tried to get out of their predicament at Tazwell, Tenn., found themselves surrounded by thousands of confederates who fired a volley at them at such close range that it must have killed every man but for the fact the enemy was on ground much above them and over shot them. it now seemed every man for himself. There was a little three cornered field there, which sloped from three sides into the valley into which most of the boys got and began to scatter, Detwiler, on seeing this in great earnestness called out "Boys, boys, by hoky let's rally." But rally was impossible with thousands of rebels on all sides of them and they were nearly all made prisoners.

Under a Brush Heap.

George Henderson and Jonathan Cornell took refuge under a brush heap, and in the excitement were not discovered. All day long rebel troops tramped by them not one hundred feet away, while they lay prone upon their stomachs in close communion with themselves. near midnight when all was still they crawled out and started toward Knoxville, in an effort to surround the enemy. Towards morning they came to a colored man's house, who kept them under the bed all day, while the good mammy fed them on corn pone. At night the colored man piloted them to a union man's house, and he in turn did the same service, and in four days they appeared in camp smiling and happy.

Got the Colonel.

read additional account and see image of Col. Gordon

Paul Wilder and John McCluggage made a break for liberty through this little field and across the road, when they found their way blocked, and they squatted down in a clump of bushes to await developments. Presently Col. Gordon of the 11th Ga. regiment came riding up this road all alone, and discovering them drew his revolver and ordered their surrender; quick as thought two hammers clicked and two French rifles were pointed at him, not twenty feet away, and he was in turn ordered to ground his arms and come to them. The chances were uneven, and the muzzle of those guns were not a cheering sight, and being surrounded by his own men, within easy call, he decided to humor them, and rode up into the bushes.

Now, says Paul, we'll get out of here. You remain on your horse, and I will go before lead the way and let down fences, and John you keep right behind him, with your gun cocked, and if he makes the least effort to betray us, shoot him through the heart. I'll do it, says John, and the march was commenced, and they passed within speaking distance and in plain view of two rebel brigades, and on account of the excitement were not discovered.

It was an exceedingly hot day, and when they landed their prisoner at DeCourcy's headquarters they were well nigh exhausted.

DeCourcy ordered the horse cared for and as the rebel Col. sat on the ground, and saw his men scampering back over the hill followed by the terrible cannonade of Foster's battery, he heaved a sigh and said, Well, this beats hell.

But such was his treatment as a prisoner by our men, that he was unstinting in his praise. In a couple of weeks an exchange was affected and the boys were all back, save Capt. Edgar who undertook to run the gauntlet and to get out, and was shot through the head and instantly killed.

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