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1863 April 11: The Battle of Somerset and Other News

April 11, 2013

The Battle of Somerset, also known as the Battle of Dutton’s Hill, was fought on March 31, 1863, in Kentucky.  Quinacy A. Gillmore’s first independent command came at the head of a cavalry expedition against Confederate General John Pegram. Although he is best known for engineering and artillery, Gillmore defeated the Confederates at the Battle of Somerset. He was given a brevet promotion to colonel in the U. S. Army.  Pegram retreated south of the Cumberland River leaving behind horses and much of his confiscated cattle, as you will see in the article.

From the April 11, 1863, issue of The Polk County Press.

The News.

From below we learn that the water continues to pour through the cut at Lake Providence.  Nearly all the town is submerged, and the troops have been compelled to move their encampments farther up the river.  The tugs pass into the lake, but the current is too strong for the transports.

The health of the troops is good, but the buffalo gnats are said to be killing great numbers of Government horses.

It is believed that all the expeditions, including the one down the Yazoo Pass have returned, or are returning to Young’s Point, where it is said there are nearly 9,000 transports, and the “Bulletin” says the federal battery opposite Vicksburg has silenced the rebel battery on the opposite shore.

At a Union meeting recently at Richmond, Wayne county, Ind., farmers attended with a string of wagons nearly a mile long, loaded with supplies for the families of soldiers in the field.

A dispatch from Washington says that a draft of about 200,000 men will soon be made to fill up the old regiments, and that the conscripted men will be sent at once to the regiments in the field instead of camps of instruction.

John O. Brown, recently sentenced to death for introducing Knights of the Golden Circle into the camps of Indianapolis, has turned State’s evidence, and been pardoned by the President.¹  His testimony will be used against parties at the May term of the U.S. District Court.

Gov. Tod [David Tod] has been arrested for kidnapping Dr. Olds.  The Governor gave bail to appear before the Court of Common Pleas in June and was released.²

The general term of the Supreme Court of New York, has decided that United States legal tender notes are Constitutional and valid as to debts contracted before the passage of the law making such notes a legal tender.  All the four Judges concurred.

Kentucky is quiet.  Gen. Burnside [Ambrose E. Burnside] was received at Lexington by an immense crowd whom he addressed.  The popular impression is that he is a kind and earnest man.  He was busy till noon with Gen. Gilmore [sic: Quincy A. Gillmore] looking over the affairs of the Department, when he left for Paris, Ky.

In the examination of a paymaster’s account in the office of the Second Comptroller of the Treasury, the following declaration was set opposite the name of James Kennedy, Farrier, Company B., Purnell Legion, Maryland volunteers, on the pay roll as received at the office,—“Will not receive his pay for his services, having joined for the good of the cause and not for pay.”  Against which declaration the paymaster had noted “never paid.”

It is stated that Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] has got a battery in a position to bombard Vicksburg and was about ready to open fire.  The attack on Fort Pemberton has recommenced.  The telegraph says there are 3,000 boats at Young’s Point.

The 71st Indiana regiment captured and paroled by rebels last fall, has been exchanged, and will be ordered at once into active service.

Gen. Gillmore, with 1,400 men met the enemy at Somerset, Ky., 2,600 strong, and after a fight of six hours, defeated them, capturing 600 prisoners, re-capturing 2,000 head of stolen cattle, and killing 40 and wounding 160 of their troops.  Our loss was 10 killed and 25 wounded.

Out of the 25,000 deserters from the Army of the Potomac, less than 1,000 have returned thereto under the President’s proclamation.

1.  A transcription of the Order for Pardon and Release of John O. Brown can be read on the University of Michigan’s Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln website. The order is dated April 1, 1863.
2.  Ohio Governor Tod recommended the federal military arrest of Dr. Edson B. Olds, who he suspected of being a Copperhead leader. Olds sued him for kidnapping and had the governor briefly arrested. The Ohio Supreme Court issued a writ of habeas corpus and Tod was released.
Edson Baldwin Olds (1802-1869) had been an Ohio member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1849 to 1855. He was a leading Peace Democrat and an outspoken opponent of the Radical Republicans. Olds was arrested by military authorities on August 12, 1862, after Tod sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of War William H. Seward accusing Olds of discouraging enlistments and stating that Olds was a “shrewd, cunning man, with capacity for great mischief, and should at once be put out of the way.”

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