Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crossing the Salt

On his second day at Taylorsville,  General Alexander McCook sends the following intelligence report to the Department office at Louisville, and receives orders to cross the Salt River.  This crossing will remove the last physical barrier between the opposing armies.

Notice the gentle prodding he gives the commander regarding timely notice of movement.  This representative of the Fighting McCook Family seems to think there is no reason to further delay the battle, while Buell is apparently following in the footsteps of General Halleck at Corinth.  Considering the wealth of bourbon stored at Bardstown, however, these Confederates are not likely to sneak out in the middle of the night as did Beauregard.  Corinth was, after all void of supplies and full of disease when it was abandoned to the scorching southern sun.  The prospect of spending a few weeks at Bardstown in the autumn is certainly more alluring than a summer in Corinth.

The Old Talbott Tavern has been Bardstown's preferred watering hole since 1790. 
(photo by SL Foster, all rights reserved)


TAYLORSVILLE, KY., October 4, 1862.
Colonel J. B. FRY, Chief of Staff:

I have just met a man who left Springfield, by way of Fairfield and Bloomfield, this morning. He says there are no organized forces at either place; only a few companies to guard the mills. There were a few moments ago two deserters of the First Louisiana came to my pickets. They left camp at Bardstown yesterday morning after guard mounting. They say Bragg's entire army is there, and that they intend to fight. They have no intrenchments, and the force as far as they know is 60,000. They say they have a great many recruits since they came to Kentucky, and that they have a considerable number not armed. I have my cavalry out on the Frankfort road to see what is going on between Lawrenceburg and Hardinsville. The citizen I spoke of at first says Bragg passed through Springfield to Lexington; that Buckner was with him. Polk is in command at Bardstown, for every report says Bragg passed Springfield on Monday last.

What step shall I take about supplies for the divisions here and the ones at Shelbyville? I hear our train from Bowling Green got up safely.Please keep me advised timely of any movement required of me. My new division moves very well. I think the enemy can be found in force at Bardstown. The deserters say they heard their captain and their colonel talking when on picket. The plan was to draw Buell to Bardstown; then Kirby Smith to come on our rear between us and Louisville. Sill sends a report, and which was forwarded to him this morning, that General Stevenson had come down through Cumberland Gap, Danville, and Lawrenceburg, and intended to march on Hardinsville. How true I do not know.

Respectfully, &c.,
Major-General, Commanding First Corps.

P. S.- 5 P. M. Your dispatch to cross Salt River just received. I will move at once.

I t appears that Buell's fan-shaped departure from Louisville, with his left flank directed toward Smith at Frankfort and his right toward Bragg at Bardstown will put a hitch in the Confederates' plan to draw the Army of the Ohio into Bardstown.

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