Kentucky, January 22, 1862
We have had quite hard times since we left Lebanon. We marched two days on good roads, and then on roads that were softened by a three weeks’ rain. The roads had not been finished, just the timber removed, many hundred wagons had to use this road. We worked from early morning till late at night and traveled about seven miles a day. At last we came to within six miles of Tolecoffers camp and put our tents up there the 17th of January. Many regiments came in here, many of them without provisions, we had plenty provisions. Many officers visited our officers.
I have been cook for our officers now for two weeks.
I was out in the rain all day Saturday, the 18th. In the evening I did not feel well and could not eat. Sunday morning I felt much worse and had intended to go to the doctor, but just then the drums began to give the alarm. I forgot the doctor and medicine, grabbed my gun and ammunition, but left everything else behind, even the overcoat. It was seven in the morning when we left our camp double quick thru mud up to our knees. We marched a mile, then were ordered to “halt”.
The Rebels’ cannon balls came thick and fast around us for the first time. The Rebels were about eight thousand in number.
On our side at first the tenth Indiana regiment and the fourth Kentucky regiment was in fire about seven and one half hours. They were then out of ammunition. We stood ready with forty rounds of ammunition in our bags.
We (2nd Minnesota regiment) and 9th Ohio regiment were then ready to take their place, but a command was heard to retreat.
All that heard the command stepped back in great disorder, but a half minute later we found the command to be false, so we stepped forward again to the same place, where now the enemy was ready to use bayonets. We were then about two rods from the enemy, and an old rail fence between us. Believe me we used our guns to the best advantage. We stood there firing at the enemy about half an hour, bullets whistled and bark from the trees came down like hail from the heavens.
For several minutes the old rail fence was used by both sides, the Rebels put their guns thru the rail fence from their side, and we from our side. We were near enough to use bayonets, but we used our guns. The gunpowder smoke was so thick that we could only sometimes get a glimpse of our enemy through the smoke.
Our bullets got to be too many for our enemies so they went on the run. At a two hundred yard distance many of them were shot. We kept on firing as long as we could see a single Rebel.
As soon as the shooting was over we looked over the battleground for the men in our company. Evend said he looked first for Peder and I. We lost only one man in our company. He was an American by the name of Thompson.
Thompson and a Rebel had both fired at the same time, and had been so close together that the powder had burned their faces and both fell.
Thompson was the best one we had in our company, and he was the soldier next to me. It gave me undescribable heartrending pain when he fell.
A man by the name of Mebol was wounded and that is all the loss we had in company E.
Of our regiment thirteen fell and twenty-two were wounded. Of the four regiments mentioned forty-four were killed, and I don’t know yet how many wounded.
Of the Rebels at least three hundred fell.