Captain of Company K of the 2nd Tennessee Infantry (Union)

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Captain Joseph Dickson Underdown
Captain Joseph Dickson Underdown
Joseph Dickson Underdown (1827 – 1898) was Captain of Company K of the 2nd Tennessee Infantry USA. He was captured at Rogersville, Tennessee on Nov 6th, 1863, Underdown was held at Libby Prison in Richmond and later Camp Asylum in Columbia, South Carolina, where he escaped in February 1865. The hardluck Union 2nd Tennessee Infantry, more of it's members die in POW camps than any other regiment in the Union Army -- 417 Enlisted men and 1 officer died in captivity.

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Civil War (Union) 1

Army 1
Captain 1
Service Start Date:
1861 1
Service End Date:
1865 1

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Page 551


Numbers 1.


Report of Colonel Israel Garrard, Seventh Ohio Cavalry, commanding United States forces.


MORRISTOWN, November 6, 1863.


GENERAL: I was attacked this a. m. and totally defeated. I lost my guns and two-thirds of my command; rebel force not known, as they were continually sending their troops forward. I think the whole of the Second Tennessee is lost. About one-half of the Seventh [Ohio] Cavalry is lost.


The rebel cavalry was following us this side of Bull's Gap.


Very respectfully, your obedient servant,




Colonel, Commanding.





Numbers 2.



Report of Major Daniel A. Carpenter, Second Tennessee (mounted) Infantry.


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, September 14, 1864.


SIR: Having but recently been released from a rebel prison, I have the honor to embrace the earliest opportunity to submit the following report of the affair which led to the capture of a large part of the Second East Tennessee Mounted Infantry on the 6th of November last:


On the 5th of November, 1863, the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, Second East Tennessee Mounted Infantry Volunteers, and four guns of Captain Phillips' (Second Illinois) battery were encamped 4 miles east of Rogersville, Tennessee, Major McIntire commanding the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, myself commanding the Second East Tennessee Mounted Infantry, and a lieutenant, name unknown, commanding the artillery; the whole under command of Colonel Garrard, of the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. Late in the afternoon Colonel Garrard informed me that the rebels were crossing Holston River at Kingsport, Tennessee, 18 miles east of our encampment. About 12 o'clock that night he (Colonel Garrard) ordered me to detail 50 men, under a good officer, and have them to report to him at 2 o'clock the following a. m., for the purpose of going out on a scout. Accordingly Captain Marney, Company A, and Lieutenant Jones, Company E, were detailed, with 50 enlisted men, and ordered to report to Colonel Garrard at the appointed hour, which they did, and were ordered by him to proceed to the Carter Valley road and up said road to where Captain Rogers, with a company of home guards doing picket duty, was posted.


Captain Marney arrived at Captain Rogers' quarters at the specified time. Colonel Garrard had ordered Captain Marney to take Captain Rogers' company, together with his 50 men, and proceed up Carter Valley about 9 miles and establish a line of pickets from the Carter Valley road to the Kingsport road, informing him (Colonel Garrard) of everything they could learn concerning the movements of the enemy.


While Captain Marney and his men were waiting on Captain Rogers to get ready to start, Captain Marney discovered a body of mounted men moving rapidly toward them from the direction of Kingsport. Captain Marney asked Captain Rogers if he had pickets out, to which Captain Rogers replied he had. Just at that moment a brigade of rebels with drawn sabers charged upon Captain Marney and his men. The road being narrow, the rebels ran over Captain Marney and his men, making a large portion of them prisoners. The rebels tarried but a few moments, left a small squad with the prisoners, and proceeded toward Rogersville. Very near all of the men captured escaped and returned to our camp in advance of the rebels, and informed Colonel Garrard of what had happened; this was about sunrise. Previous to this time Colonel Garrard had ordered me to strike tents, load my wagons, saddle my horses, and be ready to move or fight at any moment. Colonel Garrard came very soon to my quarters. I had everything ready, and was just finishing my breakfast. He informed me the rebels were at that time in Rogersville; requested me to have my train to move out on the Rogersville road a short distance and halt.


Near this time the train of the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry came up. I ordered my train to fall in behind said train; they did so and then halted. Colonel Garrard informed me he would take the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and move down toward Rogersville and see if he could ascertain anything from the rebels, at the same time ordering me to send out two companies east of our camp to meet the enemy if they should come from the direction of Carter's Valley; also ordered me to detail 50 men and send them east of our camp to hold a hill and prevent the enemy from occupying it. This was promptly done. Colonel Garrard moved with the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry toward Rogersville, but had not gone far when I heard a volley of musketry, and very soon the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry returned at full speed; a number of them had thrown their guns down and were in a perfect state of confusion.


Major McIntire, of the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, came to me and stated that Colonel Garrard was killed and I would have to take command of the forces. I requested Major McIntire to try and collect his men, they being completely demoralized. He said the panic and confusion in his regiment resulted from the death of Colonel Garrard. At this time two guns of Phillips' battery were nearly a half mile east of our position without support. I immediately dispatched Lieutenant Shaw, of the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, to order the two guns to fall back across the creek and take position near where I was with the remainder of my regiment. Lieutenant Shaw delivered the order, and the lieutenant commanding the guns remarked that the rebels were within 100 yards of his position in a ditch, and would certainly capture them if he attempted to move, though he thought he could keep them at bay for a while with grape and canister. Lieutenant Shaw directed him to do so and returned. By this time Colonel Garrard arrived; he had lost his hat and was, seemingly, very much excited. He stated the rebels were coming from Rogersville, and ordered me to move with my regiment in that direction, to the edge of the woods, and advance two companies as skirmishers. Colonel Garrard accompanied me, pointing out the position he wished my regiment to occupy. He requested me to tie my horses and put as many men in the fight as I could; that we would not try to escape, but whip the rebels if possible, ordering me to hold the position assigned me at all hazards until further orders from him. I ordered Captain Carns to move forward with companies C, G, and B as skirmishers. He did so, and soon met the enemy and commenced a brisk skirmish, driving them back some 300 yards. I then ordered Captain Carns to return to me.


At or near this time the rebels charged and captured the two guns east of----Creek near the house of Mr. Russell. They then moved toward our camp. The Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry was formed near the camp and supporting the two guns yet remaining in our possession. Colonel Garrard sent me orders to send three companies to support the two guns. I started three companies under command of Captain Carns; when he got in sight of the point ordered to, he discovered the rebels had taken the guns. They (the rebels) raised the yell and commenced advancing from every direction on my position. I sent an orderly to inform Colonel Garrard if he did not assist me I would soon be completely surrounded. By this time Captain Carns returned; he had been cut off from me by the rebels, and very nearly the whole of the three companies captured. Captain Carns informed me that Colonel Garrard and the whole of the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry had left the field, and were across the Holston River.


The 50 men detailed to hold the hill east of our camp, also the two companies sent east of our camp, had been skirmishing some time.


When the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry left the field they, the two companies and 50 detailed men, were compelled to fall back to my position. A number of them were captured in returning. At this time I did not have more than 200 men who had ammunition, and was completely surrounded by at least 4,000 rebels, who were within 75 yards of us, demanding a surrender. They had already possession of my horses, and were killing and wounding my men at a fearful rate. I summoned the officers of my regiment and consulted with them as to what measures best to adopt. All instantly agreed that a surrender was the only thing possible, so I at once surrender myself and command. William Russell, of Company A, was shot and killed after we had grounded arms.


The officers and men of Captain Phillips' (Second Illinois) battery discharged their duty nobly.


We were marched the whole of the night following our capture. During that night a number of the men effected their escape.


The officers and men of the Second East Tennessee Mounted Infantry performed their duty with the most gratifying coolness and courage, and were only induced to surrender to greatly superior numbers after all hope of further successful resistance was gone. The position in which we were placed by Colonel Garrard I was ordered to hold until he should give me directions to abandon it, and it was in carrying out my instructions that the regiment was captured.


Colonel, I some time since made application for a court of inquiry to investigate the circumstances of our capture, and as statements have been made prejudicial to the good name of my regiment, I respectfully reiterate my request for a court of inquiry, in order that the blame may be placed where it properly belongs. I feel fully satisfied that when the facts of the case are known, the officers and men of the Second East Tennessee Mounted Infantry will be found to have done their whole duty.


As the time of service of my regiment will soon expire, I respectfully urge that the court my be ordered at as early a day as practicable.


Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Major Second East Tennessee Mounted Infantry.



Lieutenant Colonel G. M. BASCOM,


Assistant Adjutant-General.


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