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Re: 1st Louisiana Calvary and the Sack of Athens
In Response To: Re: 1st Louisiana Calvary ()

I would like to have more documentation of Scott's operations in northern Alabama during the spring of 1862. Here are articles from the Mobile Advertiser and Register:


On Thursday Col. Scott, with his Louisiana Cavalry, burnt the Limestone bridge across Limestone creek between Decatur and Huntsville, and about twelve miles from the latter place. He caught two provision trains of the enemy, burnt twenty cars, and killed and wounded thirty-four federals. On Friday he engaged the enemy’s cavalry at Elk River, and repulsed them, though he had but half his force, the remainder having already crossed the river. In this affair thirty-five of the enemy were killed. The whole Confederate loss in this expedition was four men killed, five wounded, and twelve horses.

May 15, 1862 -- FROM NORTH ALABAMA

A correspondent of the Memphis Appeal gives us the following account of the gallant deeds of Scott’s Louisiana Cavalry in North Alabama.

COURTLAND, ALA – May 4, 1862

Editors Appeal: Scott’s Louisiana cavalry have performed some most daring exploits in this and the Athens neighborhood within the last ten days.
Advancing with a portion of his regiment towards Tuscumbia, John Scott frightened the Federals out of the place by a very simple ruse. Capturing a well known negro, who from his intimacy with the Yankees in Tuscumbia, was a fit subject, he complied wit the darkey’s pleadings for release, only on said darkey giving his parole that he would not tell the Yanks that Price and fifteen thousand men were advancing on them. Of course the darkey made tracks for his friends in Tuscumbia and swore that the hills were crowded with Price’s men. The burning of the stores at Florence and immediate evacuation of Tuscumbia was the consequence.
In the meantime, Capt Cannon, of Scott’s regiment, made a night march across the mountains, and daringly charged upon the whole column of retreating Federals whilst they were on the road seven miles above Tuscumbia. The Federals gave way in every direction and Cannon retired with twenty-seven prisoners, having killed and wounded thirty more. Cannon’s loss was two men slightly wounded.
Advancing with about one hundred and fifty men, Scott attempting to cut them off between Courtland and Decatur, but Mitchell, who commanded the Federals, made railroad time and crossed the Decatur bridge, destroying it afterwards.
Nothing daunted, Col Scott crossed the Tennessee at Lamb’s Ferry. And came up with Mitchell at Athens, on the first day of April. The enemy drew up in line of battle and for a short time made somewhat of a show of fight. One or two shells from Lieut. Holmes’ howitzers, a charge and they retreated in double quick through Athens.
Their forces consisted of the 18th Ohio Regiment, and one company of dragoons. Scott had but 162 men at the time of making the charge, and this small force was necessarily divided in pursuit of the enemy, and capturing their wagons, camp &c. The entrance of Scott’s regiment into Athens was a triumphant one. The streets were lined with exultant ladies and shouting men. The former gathered in a body and presented Scott with a Confederate flag, which they had kept hidden.
In the meantime Scott dispatched Cannon, with a small force of thirty men, to destroy the Limestone creek bridge. This the gallant Cannon accomplished, though not before a hard fight, in which he killed nine and wounded many. He fired into a passing train, dropping the Feds like flies, from the tops of the cars.
He then burned the bridge, and by this means threw off a locomotive and twenty car loads of provisions, including 1000 sacks of coffee, all of which he burned.
The next day Mitchell came down upon Scott, whilst the latter was crossing Elk river. Scott’s entire command had then come up, and he had 275 men, and three small howitzers, to oppose 3000 infantry, one regiment of dragoons, and one piece of artillery, which was the force brought down from Huntsville to intercept Scott.
The enemy did not make any attack until all of the regiment had crossed except 111 men.
Upon this small body the 4th Ohio regiment of cavalry charged in splendid style. They were received by our boys with a yell and a perfect sheet of bullets and buckshot, which drove them back in wild confusion with the loss of sixteen killed, including Col. Kloskie, their commander.
Out of ammunition, and having waited in vain for promised reinforcements, Scott was compelled, in view of the overwhelming force opposing him, to recross the Tennessee river, which he did in splendid style, without the further loss of a single man or horse.
His total loss in all these encounters was three killed, seven wounded, and five missing, together with some ten or fifteen horses killed. In killed, wounded and prisoners, the enemy certainly lost 150 or 200 men.
The spoils of the 18th Ohio camp, which was taken at Athens, were rich beyond description. Tents, overcoats, wagons, horses, blankets, guns, ammunition, were all brought over the river in safety, except the last mentioned articles, which were lost by the upsetting of the flat in Elk river.
Scott has almost cleared North Alabama of Yankees, and something is now in prospect that will cast a glow of delight over “true and faithful” Middle Tennessee.

Scott's welcome by citizens undoubtably provoked what is known in history as the "Sack of Athens". This took place next day when Col. John B. Turchin's Federal troops retook the town. They proceeded to wreck stores, enter homes and rob citizens. When asked about troops being allowed to pillage the town, Turchin explained, "Treachery to the Union is a terrible crime". Evidently President Lincoln agreed, as he pardoned and promoted the Russian immigrant following his conviction by a U.S. court martial.

The following current news article provides further detail:

Readers may also be interested in this study from a Northern perspective:

Brig. Gen. Basil Turchin

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