Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete by U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, P. H. Sheridan

Part 35 out of 43

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 5.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

A short time subsequent to these occurrences, Colonel Elliott was
made a brigadier-general, and as General Pope appointed him his
Chief-of-Staff, I, on the 11th of June, 1862, fell in command of the
brigade by seniority. For the rest of the month but little of moment
occurred, and we settled down into camp at Booneville on the 26th of
June, in a position which my brigade had been ordered to take up some
twenty miles, in advance of the main army for the purpose of covering
its front. Although but a few days had elapsed from the date of my
appointment as colonel of the Second Michigan to that of my
succeeding to the command of the brigade, I believe I can say with
propriety that I had firmly established myself in the confidence of
the officers and men of the regiment, and won their regard by
thoughtful care. I had striven unceasingly to have them well fed and
well clothed, had personally looked after the selection of their
camps, and had maintained such a discipline as to allay former

Men who march, scout, and fight, and suffer all the hardships that
fall to the lot of soldiers in the field, in order to do vigorous
work must have the best bodily sustenance, and every comfort that can
be provided. I knew from practical experience on the frontier that
my efforts in this direction would not only be appreciated, but
requited by personal affection and gratitude; and, further, that such
exertions would bring the best results to me. Whenever my authority
would permit I saved my command from needless sacrifices and
unnecessary toil; therefore, when hard or daring work was to be done
I expected the heartiest response, and always got it. Soldiers are
averse to seeing their comrades killed without compensating results,
and none realize more quickly than they the blundering that often
takes place on the field of battle. They want some tangible
indemnity for the loss of life, and as victory is an offset the value
of which is manifest, it not only makes them content to shed their
blood, but also furnishes evidence of capacity in those who command
them. My regiment had lost very few men since coming under my
command, but it seemed, in the eyes of all who belonged to it, that
casualties to the enemy and some slight successes for us had repaid
every sacrifice, and in consequence I had gained not only their
confidence as soldiers, but also their esteem and love as men, and to
a degree far beyond what I then realized.

As soon as the camp of my brigade was pitched at Booneville, I began
to scout in every direction, to obtain a knowledge of the enemy's
whereabouts and learn the ground about me. My standing in drawing at
the Military Academy had never been so high as to warrant the belief
that I could ever prove myself an expert, but a few practical lessons
in that line were impressed on me there, and I had retained enough to
enable me to make rough maps that could be readily understood, and
which would be suitable to replace the erroneous skeleton outlines of
northern Mississippi, with which at this time we were scantily
furnished; so as soon as possible I compiled for the use of myself
and my regimental commanders an information map of the surrounding
country. This map exhibited such details as country roads, streams,
farmhouses, fields, woods, and swamps, and such other topographical
features as would be useful. I must confess that my crude sketch did
not evidence much artistic merit, but it was an improvement on what
we already possessed in the way of details to guide the command, and
this was what I most needed; for it was of the first importance that
in our exposed condition we should be equipped with a thorough
knowledge of the section in which we were operating, so as to be
prepared to encounter an enemy already indicating recovery from the
disorganizing effects of his recent retreat.

In the immediate vicinity of Booneville the country was covered with
heavy forests, with here and there clearings or intervening fields
that had been devoted to the cultivation of cotton and corn. The
ground was of a low character, typical of northeastern Mississippi,
and abounded in small creeks that went almost totally dry even in
short periods of drought, but became flooded with muddy water under
the outpouring of rain peculiar to a semi-tropical climate. In such
a region there were many chances of our being surprised, especially
by an enemy who knew the country well, and whose ranks were filled
with local guides; and great precautions as well as the fullest
information were necessary to prevent disaster. I therefore
endeavored to familiarize all with our surroundings, but scarcely had
matters begun to shape themselves as I desired when our annihilation
was attempted by a large force of Confederate cavalry.

On the morning of July 1, 1862, a cavalry command of between five and
six thousand-men, under the Confederate General James R. Chalmers,
advanced on two roads converging near Booneville. The head of the
enemy's column on the Blackland and Booneville road came in contact
with my pickets three miles and a half west of Booneville. These
pickets, under Lieutenant Leonidas S. Scranton, of the Second
Michigan Cavalry, fell back slowly, taking advantage of every tree or
other cover to fire from till they arrived at the point where the
converging roads joined. At this junction there was a strong
position in the protecting timber, and here Scranton made a firm
stand, being reinforced presently by the few men he had out as
pickets on the road to his left, a second company I had sent him from
camp, and subsequently by three companies more, all now commanded by
Captain Campbell. This force was dismounted and formed in line, and
soon developed that the enemy was present in large numbers. Up to
this time Chalmers had shown only the heads of his columns, and we
had doubts as to his purpose, but now that our resistance forced him
to deploy two regiments on the right and left of the road, it became
apparent that he meant business, and that there was no time to lose
in preparing to repel his attack.

Full information of the situation was immediately sent me, and I
directed Campbell to hold fast, if possible, till I could support
him, but if compelled to retire he was authorized to do so slowly,
taking advantage of every means that fell in his way to prolong the
fighting. Before this I had stationed one battalion of the Second
Iowa in Booneville, but Colonel Edward Hatch, commanding that
regiment, was now directed to leave one company for the protection of
our camp a little to the north of the station, and take the balance
of the Second Iowa, with the battalion in Booneville except two sabre
companies, and form the whole in rear of Captain Campbell, to protect
his flanks and support him by a charge should the enemy break his
dismounted line.

While these preparations were being made, the Confederates attempted
to drive Campbell from his position by a direct attack through an
open field. In this they failed, however, for our men, reserving
their fire until the enemy came within about thirty yards, then
opened on him with such a shower of bullets from our Colt's rifles
that it soon became too hot for him, and he was repulsed with
considerable loss. Foiled in this move, Chalmers hesitated to attack
again in front, but began overlapping both flanks of Campbell's line
by force of numbers, compelling Campbell to retire toward a strong
position I had selected in his rear for a line on which to make our
main resistance. As soon as the enemy saw this withdrawing he again
charged in front, but was again as gallantly repelled as in the first
assault, although the encounter was for a short time so desperate as
to have the character of a hand-to-hand conflict, several groups of
friend and foe using on each other the butts of their guns. At this
juncture the timely arrival of Colonel Hatch with the Second Iowa
gave a breathing-spell to Campbell, and made the Confederates so
chary of further direct attacks that he was enabled to retire; and at
the same time I found opportunity to make disposition of the
reinforcement to the best advantage possible, placing the Second Iowa
on the left of the new line and strengthening Campbell on its right
with all the men available.

In view of his numbers, the enemy soon regained confidence in his
ability to overcome us, and in a little while again began his
flanking movements, his right passing around my left flank some
distance, and approaching our camp and transportation, which I had
forbidden to be moved out to the rear. Fearing that he would envelop
us and capture the camp and transportation, I determined to take the
offensive. Remembering a circuitous wood road that I had become
familiar with while making the map heretofore mentioned, I concluded
that the most effective plan would be to pass a small column around
the enemy's left, by way of this road, and strike his rear by a
mounted charge simultaneously with an advance of our main line on his
front. I knew that the attack in rear would be a most hazardous
undertaking, but in the face of such odds as the enemy had the
condition of affairs was most critical, and could be relieved, only
by a bold and radical change in our tactics; so I at once selected
four sabre companies, two from the Second Michigan and two from the
Second Iowa, and placing Captain Alger, of the former regiment, in
command of them, I informed him that I expected of them the quick and
desperate work that is usually imposed on a forlorn hope.

To carry out the purpose now in view, I instructed Captain Alger to
follow the wood road as it led around the left of the enemy's
advancing forces, to a point where 'it joined the Blackland road,
about three miles from Booneville, and directed him, upon reaching
the Blackland road, to turn up it immediately, and charge the rear of
the enemy's line. Under no circumstances was he to deploy the
battalion, but charge in column right through whatever he came upon,
and report to me in front of Booneville, if at all possible for him
to get there. If he failed to break through the enemy's line, he was
to go ahead as far as he could, and then if any of his men were left,
and he was able to retreat, he was to do so by the same route he had
taken on his way out. To conduct him on this perilous service I sent
along a thin, sallow, tawny-haired Mississippian named Beene, whom I
had employed as a guide and scout a few days before, on account of
his intimate knowledge of the roads, from the public thoroughfares
down to the insignificant by-paths of the neighboring swamps. With
such guidance I felt sure that the column would get to the desired
point without delay, for there was no danger of its being lost or
misled by taking any of the many by-roads which traversed the dense
forests through which it would be obliged to pass. I also informed
Alger that I should take the reserve and join the main line in front
of Booneville for the purpose of making an advance of my whole force,
and that as a signal he must have his men cheer loudly when he struck
the enemy's rear, in order that my attack might be simultaneous with

I gave him one hour to go around and come back through the enemy, and
when he started I moved to the front with the balance of the reserve,
to put everything I had into the fight. This meant an inestimable
advantage to the enemy in case of our defeat, but our own safety
demanded the hazard. All along our attenuated line the fighting was
now sharp, and the enemy's firing indicated such numerical strength
that fear of disaster to Alger increased my anxiety terribly as the
time set for his cheering arrived and no sound of it was heard.

Relying, however, on the fact that Beene's knowledge of the roads
would prevent his being led astray, and confident of Alger's
determination to accomplish the purpose for which he set out, as soon
as the hour was up I ordered my whole line forward. Fortunately,
just as this moment a locomotive and two cars loaded with grain for
my horses ran into Booneville from Corinth. I say fortunately,
because it was well known throughout the command that in the morning,
when I first discovered the large numbers of the enemy, I had called
for assistance; and my troops, now thinking that reinforcements had
arrived by rail from Rienzi, where a division of infantry was
encamped, and inspirated by this belief, advanced with renewed
confidence and wild cheering. Meantime I had the engineer of the
locomotive blow his whistle loudly, so that the enemy might also
learn that a train had come; and from the fact that in a few moments
he began to give way before our small force, I thought that this
strategem had some effect. Soon his men broke, and ran in the utmost
disorder over the country in every direction. I found later,
however, that his precipitous retreat was due to the pressure on his
left from the Second Iowa, in concert with the front attack of the
Second Michigan, and the demoralization wrought in his rear by Alger,
who had almost entirely accomplished the purpose of his expedition,
though he had failed to come through, or so near that I could hear
the signal agreed upon before leaving Booneville.

After Alger had reached and turned up the Blackland road, the first
thing he came across was the Confederate headquarters; the officers
and orderlies about which he captured and sent back some distance to
a farm-house. Continuing on a gallop, he soon struck the rear of the
enemy's line, but was unable to get through; nor did he get near
enough for me to hear his cheering; but as he had made the distance
he was to travel in the time allotted, his attack and mine were
almost coincident, and the enemy, stampeded by the charges in front
and rear, fled toward Blackland, with little or no attempt to capture
Alger's command, which might readily have been done. Alger's
troopers soon rejoined me at Booneville, minus many hats, having
returned by their original route. They had sustained little loss
except a few men wounded and a few temporarily missing. Among these
was Alger himself, who was dragged from his saddle by the limb of a
tree that, in the excitement of the charge, he was unable to flank.
The missing had been dismounted in one way or another, and run over
by the enemy in his flight; but they all turned up later, none the
worse except for a few scratches and bruises.

My effective strength in this fight was 827 all told, and Alger's
command comprised ninety officers and men. Chalmers's force was
composed of six regiments and two battalions, and though I have been
unable to find any returns from which to verify his actual numbers,
yet, from the statements of prisoners and from information obtained
from citizens along his line of march, it is safe to say that he had
in the action not less than five-thousand men. Our casualties were
not many--forty-one in all. His loss in killed and wounded was
considerable, his most severely wounded--forty men--falling into our
hands, having been left at farm-houses in the vicinity of the

The victory in the face of such odds was most gratifying, and as it
justified my disinclination--in fact, refusal--to retire from
Booneville without fighting (for the purpose of saving my
transportation, as directed by superior authority when I applied in
the morning for reinforcements), it was to me particularly grateful.
It was also very valuable in, view of the fact that it increased the
confidence between the officers and men of my brigade and me, and
gave us for the balance of the month not only comparative rest, but
entire immunity from the dangers of a renewed effort to gobble my
isolated outpost. In addition to all this, commendation from my
immediate superiors was promptly tendered through oral and written
congratulations; and their satisfaction at the result of the battle
took definite form a few days later, in the following application for
my promotion, when, by an expedition to Ripley, Miss., most valuable
information as to the enemy's location and plans was captured:

"JULY 30, 1862.--3.05 P. M.

"Washington, D. C.

"Brigadiers scarce; good ones scarce. Asboth goes on the month's
leave you gave him ten months since; Granger has temporary command.
The undersigned respectfully beg that you will obtain the promotion
of Sheridan. He is worth his weight in gold. His Ripley expedition
has brought us captured letters of immense value, as well as
prisoners, showing the rebel plans and dispositions, as you will
learn from District Commander.

"W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General.
"C. C. SULLIVAN, " "
"G. GRANGER, " "
"W. L. ELLIOTT, " "
"A. ASBOTH, " " "



After the battle of Booneville, it was decided by General Rosecrans,
on the advice of General Granger, that my position at Booneville was
too much exposed, despite the fact that late on the evening of the
fight my force had been increased by the addition of, a battery of
four guns and two companies of infantry, and by the Third Michigan
Cavalry, commanded by Colonel John K. Mizner; so I was directed to
withdraw from my post and go into camp near Rienzi, Mississippi,
where I could equally well cover the roads in front of the army, and
also be near General Asboth's division of infantry, which occupied a
line in rear of the town. This section of country, being higher and
more rolling than that in the neighborhood of Booneville, had many
advantages in the way of better camping-grounds, better grazing and
the like, but I moved with reluctance, because I feared that my
proximity to Asboth would diminish to a certain extent my
independence of command.

General Asboth was a tall, spare, handsome man, with gray mustache
and a fierce look. He was an educated soldier, of unquestioned
courage, but the responsibilities of outpost duty bore rather heavily
on him, and he kept all hands in a state of constant worry in
anticipation of imaginary attacks. His ideas of discipline were not
very rigid either, and as by this time there had been introduced into
my brigade some better methods than those obtaining when it first
fell to my command, I feared the effect should he, have any control
over it, or meddle with its internal affairs. However, there was
nothing to do but to move to the place designated, but General
Granger, who still commanded the cavalry division to which the
brigade belonged, so arranged matters with General Rosecrans, who had
succeeded to the command of the Army of the Mississippi, that my
independence was to be undisturbed, except in case of a general
attack by the enemy.

We went into camp near Rienzi, July 22, sending back to the general
field-hospital at Tuscumbia Springs all our sick--a considerable
number--stricken down by the malarial influences around Booneville.
In a few days the fine grazing and abundance of grain for our
exhausted horses brought about their recuperation; and the many large
open fields in the vicinity gave opportunity for drills and parades,
which were much needed. I turned my attention to those disciplinary
measures which, on account of active work in the field, had been
necessarily neglected since the brigade had arrived at Pittsburg
Landing, in April; and besides, we had been busy in collecting
information by scouting parties and otherwise, in prosecution of the
purpose for which we were covering the main army.

I kept up an almost daily correspondence with General Granger,
concerning the, information obtained by scouts and reconnoitring
parties, and he came often to Rienzi to see me in relation to this
and other matters. Previously I had not had much personal
association with Granger. While I was at Halleck's headquarters we
met on one or two occasions, and the day I joined the Second Michigan
at Farmington I saw him for a few moments, but, with such slight
exception, our intercourse had been almost exclusively official. He
had suggested my name, I was told, to Governor Blair, when the
Governor was in search of an officer of the regular army to appoint
to the colonelcy of the Second Michigan Cavalry, but his
recommendation must have been mainly based on the favorable opinions
he had heard expressed by General Halleck and by some of the officers
of his staff, rather than from any personal knowledge of my capacity.
Of course I was very grateful for this, but some of his
characteristics did not impress me favorably, and I sometimes wished
the distance between our camps greater. His most serious failing was
an uncontrollable propensity to interfere with and direct the minor
matters relating to the command, the details for which those under
him were alone responsible. Ill-judged meddling in this respect
often led to differences between us, only temporary it is true, but
most harassing to the subordinate, since I was compelled by the
circumstances of the situation not only invariably to yield my own
judgment, but many a time had to play peacemaker--smoothing down
ruffled feelings, that I knew had been excited by Granger's freaky
and spasmodic efforts to correct personally some trifling fault that
ought to have been left to a regimental or company commander to
remedy. Yet with all these small blemishes Granger had many good
qualities, and his big heart was so full of generous impulses and
good motives as to far outbalance his short-comings; and
not-withstanding the friction and occasional acerbity of our official
intercourse, we maintained friendly relations till his death.

In pursuance of the fatal mistake made by dispersing Halleck's forces
after the fall of Corinth, General Don Carlos Buell's Army of the
Ohio had been started some time before on its march eastward toward
Chattanooga; and as this movement would be followed of course by a
manoeuvre on the part of the enemy, now at Tupelo under General
Braxton Bragg, either to meet Buell or frustrate his designs by some
counter-operation, I was expected to furnish, by scouting and all
other means available, information as to what was going on within the
Confederate lines. To do the work required, necessitated an increase
of my command, and the Seventh Kansas Cavalry was therefore added to
it, and my picket-line extended so as to cover from Jacinto
southwesterly to a point midway between Rienzi and Booneville, and
then northwesterly to the Hatchie River. Skirmishes between outposts
on this line were of frequent occurrence, with small results to
either side, but they were somewhat annoying, particularly in the
direction of Ripley, where the enemy maintained a considerable
outpost. Deciding to cripple if not capture this outpost, on the
evening of July 27, I sent out an expedition under Colonel Hatch,
which drove the enemy from the town of Ripley and took a few
prisoners, but the most valuable prize was in the shape of a package
of thirty-two private letters, the partial reading of which disclosed
to me the positive transfer from Mississippi of most of Bragg's army,
for the purpose of counteracting Buell's operations in northern
Alabama and East Tennessee. This decisive evidence was of the utmost
importance, and without taking time to read all the letters, I
forwarded them to General Granger July 28, in a despatch which
stated: "I deem it necessary to send them at once; the enemy is
moving in large force on Chattanooga." Other than this the results
of the expedition were few; and the enemy, having fled from Ripley
with but slight resistance, accompanied by almost all the
inhabitants, re-occupied the place next day after our people had
quitted it, and resumed in due time his annoying attacks on our
outposts, both sides trying to achieve something whenever occasion

The prevalence of a severe drought had resulted in drying up many of
the streams within the enemy's lines, and, in consequence, he was
obliged to shift his camps often, and send his beef-cattle and mules
near his outposts for water. My scouts kept me well posted in regard
to the movements of both camps and herds; and a favorable opportunity
presenting itself, I sent an expedition on August 14 to gather in
some animals located on Twenty-Mile Creek, a stream always supplied
with water from a source of never-failing, springs. Our side met
with complete success in this instance, and when the expedition
returned, we were all made happy by an abundance of fresh beef, and
by some two hundred captured mules, that we thus added to our trains
at a time when draft animals were much needed.

Rations for the men were now supplied in fair quantities, and the
only thing required to make us wholly contented was plenty of grain
for our animals. Because of the large number of troops then in West
Tennessee and about Corinth, the indifferent railroad leading down
from Columbus, Ky., was taxed to its utmost capacity to transport
supplies. The quantity of grain received at Corinth from the north
was therefore limited, and before reaching the different outposts, by
passing through intermediate depots of supply, it had dwindled to
insignificance. I had hopes, however, that this condition of things
might be ameliorated before long by gathering a good supply of corn
that was ripening in the neighborhood, and would soon, I thought, be
sufficiently hard to feed to my animals. Not far from my
headquarters there was a particularly fine field, which, with this
end in view, I had carefully protected through the milky stage, to
the evident disappointment of both Asboth's men and mine. They bore
the prohibition well while it affected only themselves, but the trial
was too great when it came to denying their horses; and men whose
discipline kept faith with my guards during the roasting-ear period
now fell from grace. Their horses were growing thin, and few could
withstand the mute appeals of their suffering pets; so at night the
corn, because of individual foraging, kept stealthily and steadily
vanishing, until the field was soon fringed with only earless stalks.
The disappearance was noticed, and the guard increased, but still the
quantity of corn continued to grow less, the more honest troopers
bemoaning the loss, and questioning the honor of those to whose
safekeeping it had been entrusted. Finally, doubtless under the
apprehension that through their irregularities the corn would all
disappear and find its way to the horses in accordance with the
stealthy enterprise of their owners, a general raid was made on the
field in broad daylight, and though the guard drove off the
marauders, I must admit that its efforts to keep them back were so
unsuccessful that my hopes for an equal distribution of the crop were
quickly blasted. One look at the field told that it had been swept
clean of its grain. Of course a great row occurred as to who was to
blame, and many arrests and trials took place, but there had been
such an interchanging of cap numbers and other insignia that it was
next to impossible to identify the guilty, and so much crimination
and acrimony grew out of the affair that it was deemed best to drop
the whole matter.

On August 27 about half of the command was absent reconnoitring, I
having sent it south toward Tupelo, in the hope of obtaining some
definite information regarding a movement to Holly Springs of the
remainder of the Confederate army, under General Price, when about
mid-day I was suddenly aroused by excited cries and sounds of firing,
and I saw in a moment that the enemy was in my camp. He had come in
on my right flank from the direction of the Hatchie River, pell-mell
with our picket-post stationed about three miles out on the Ripley
road. The whole force of the enemy comprised about eight hundred,
but only his advance entered with my pickets, whom he had charged and
badly stampeded, without, on their part, the pretense of a fight in
behalf of those whom it was their duty to protect until proper
dispositions for defense could be made. The day was excessively hot,
one of those sultry debilitating days that had caused the suspending
of all military exercises; and as most of the men were lounging or
sleeping in their tents, we were literally caught napping. The alarm
spread instantly through the camp, and in a moment the command turned
out for action, somewhat in deshabille it is true, but none the less
effective, for every man had grabbed his rifle and cartridge-box at
the first alarm. Aided by a few shots from Captain Henry Hescock's
battery, we soon drove the intruders from our camp in about the same
disorder in which they had broken in on us. By this time Colonel
Hatch and Colonel Albert L. Lee had mounted two battalions each, and
I moved them out at a lively pace in pursuit, followed by a section
of the battery. No halt was called till we came upon the enemy's
main body, under Colonel Faulkner, drawn up in line of battle near
Newland's store. Opening on him with the two pieces of artillery, I
hurriedly formed line confronting him, and quickly and with but
little resistance drove him in confusion from the field. The sudden
turning of the tables dismayed Faulkner's men, and panic seizing
them, they threw away every loose article of arms or clothing of
which they could dismember themselves, and ran in the wildest
disorder in a mad effort to escape. As the chase went on the panic
increased, the clouds of dust from the road causing an intermingling
of friend and foe. In a little while the affair grew most ludicrous,
Faulkner's hatless and coatless men taking to the woods in such
dispersed order and so demoralized that a good many prisoners were
secured, and those of the enemy who escaped were hunted until dark.
When the recall was sounded, our men came in loaded down with plunder
in the shape of hats, haversacks, blankets, pistols, and shotguns, in
a quantity which amply repaid for the surprise of the morning, but
did not excuse the delinquent commander of our picket-guard, who a
few days later was brought to a realizing sense of his duty by a

Shortly after this affair Captain Archibald P. Campbell, of the
Second Michigan Cavalry, presented me with the black horse called
Rienzi, since made historical from having been ridden by me in many
battles, conspicuously in the ride from Winchester to Cedar Creek,
which has been celebrated in the poem by T. Buchanan Read. This
horse was of Morgan stock, and then about three years old. He was
jet black, excepting three white feet, sixteen hands high, and
strongly built, with great powers of endurance. He was so active
that he could cover with ease five miles an hour at his natural
walking gait. The gelding had been ridden very seldom; in fact,
Campbell had been unaccustomed to riding till the war broke out, and,
I think, felt some disinclination to mount the fiery colt. Campbell
had an affection for him, however, that never waned, and would often
come to my headquarters to see his favorite, the colt being cared for
there by the regimental farrier, an old man named John Ashley, who
had taken him in charge when leaving Michigan, and had been his groom
ever since. Seeing that I liked the horse--I had ridden him on
several occasions--Campbell presented him to me on one of these
visits, and from that time till the close of the war I rode him
almost continuously, in every campaign and battle in which I took
part, without once finding him overcome by fatigue, though on many
occasions his strength was severely tested by long marches and short
rations. I never observed in him any vicious habit; a nervousness
and restlessness and switch of the tail, when everything about him
was in repose, being the only indication that he might be
untrustworthy. No one but a novice could be deceived by this,
however, for the intelligence evinced in every feature, and his
thoroughbred appearance, were so striking that any person accustomed
to horses could not misunderstand such a noble animal. But Campbell
thought otherwise, at least when the horse was to a certain degree
yet untrained, and could not be pursuaded to ride him; indeed, for
more than a year after he was given to me, Campbell still retained
suspicions of his viciousness, though, along with this mistrust, an
undiminished affection. Although he was several times wounded, this
horse escaped death in action; and living to a ripe old age, died in
1878, attended to the last with all the care and surrounded with
every comfort due the faithful service he had rendered.

In moving from Corinth east toward Chattanooga, General Buell's army
was much delayed by the requirement that he should repair the Memphis
and Charleston railroad as he progressed. The work of repair obliged
him to march very slowly, and was of but little use when done, for
guerrillas and other bands of Confederates destroyed the road again
as soon as he had passed on. But worst of all, the time thus
consumed gave General Bragg the opportunity to reorganize and
increase his army to such an extent that he was able to contest the
possession of Middle Tennessee and Kentucky. Consequently, the
movement of this army through Tennessee and Kentucky toward the Ohio
River--its objective points being Louisville and Cincinnati--was now
well defined, and had already rendered abortive General Buell's
designs on Chattanooga and East Tennessee. Therefore extraordinary
efforts on the part of the Government became necessary, and the
concentration of National troops at Louisville and Cincinnati to meet
the contingency of Bragg's reaching those points was an obvious
requirement. These troops were drawn from all sections in the West
where it was thought they could be spared, and among others I was
ordered to conduct thither--to Louisville or Cincinnati, as
subsequent developments might demand--my regiment, Hescock's battery,
the Second and Fifteenth Missouri, and the Thirty-sixth and
Forty-fourth Illinois regiments of infantry, known as the "Pea Ridge
Brigade." With this column I marched back to Corinth on the 6th of
September, 1862, for the purpose of getting railroad transportation
to Columbus, Kentucky.

At Corinth I met General Grant, who by this time had been
reestablished in favor and command somewhat, General Halleck having
departed for Washington to assume command of the army as
General-in-Chief. Before and during the activity which followed his
reinstatement, General Grant had become familiar with my services
through the transmission to Washington of information I had furnished
concerning the enemy's movements, and by reading reports of my fights
and skirmishes in front, and he was loth to let me go. Indeed, he
expressed surprise at seeing me in Corinth, and said he had not
expected me to go; he also plainly showed that he was much hurt at
the inconsiderate way in which his command was being depleted. Since
I was of the opinion that the chief field of usefulness and
opportunity was opening up in Kentucky, I did not wish him to retain
me, which he might have done, and I impressed him with my conviction,
somewhat emphatically, I fear. Our conversation ended with my wish
gratified. I afterward learned that General Granger, whom General
Grant did not fancy, had suggested that I should take to Cincinnati
the main portion of Granger's command--the Pea Ridge Brigade--as well
as the Second Michigan Cavalry, of which I was still colonel.
We started that night, going by rail over the Mobile and Ohio road to
Columbus, Ky., where we embarked on steamboats awaiting us. These
boats were five in number, and making one of them my flag-ship,
expecting that we might come upon certain batteries reported to be
located upon the Kentucky shore of the Ohio, I directed the rest to
follow my lead. Just before reaching Caseyville, the captain of a
tin-clad gunboat that was patrolling the river brought me the
information that the enemy was in strong force at Caseyville, and
expressed a fear that my fleet could not pass his batteries.
Accepting the information as correct, I concluded to capture the
place before trying to pass up the river. Pushing in to the bank as
we neared the town, I got the troops ashore and moved on Caseyville,
in the expectation of a bloody fight, but was agreeably surprised
upon reaching the outskirts of the village by an outpouring of its
inhabitants--men, women, and children--carrying the Stars and
Stripes, and making the most loyal professions. Similar
demonstrations of loyalty had been made to the panic-stricken captain
of the gunboat when he passed down the river, but he did not stay to
ascertain their character, neither by landing nor by inquiry, for he
assumed that on the Kentucky bank of the river there could be no
loyalty. The result mortified the captain intensely; and deeming his
convoy of little further use, he steamed toward Cairo in quest of
other imaginary batteries, while I re-embarked at Caseyville, and
continued up the Ohio undisturbed. About three miles below
Cincinnati I received instructions to halt, and next day I was
ordered by Major-General H. G. Wright to take my troops back to
Louisville, and there assume command of the Pea Ridge Brigade,
composed of the Second and Fifteenth Missouri, Thirty-sixth and
Forty-fourth Illinois infantry, and of such other regiments as might
be sent me in advance of the arrival of General Buell's army.
When I reached Louisville I reported to Major-General William Nelson,
who was sick, and who received me as he lay in bed. He asked me why
I did not wear the shoulder-straps of my rank. I answered that I was
the colonel of the Second Michigan cavalry, and had on my appropriate
shoulder-straps. He replied that I was a brigadier-general for the
Booneville fight, July 1, and that I should wear the shoulder-straps
of that grade. I returned to my command and put it in camp; and
as I had no reluctance to wearing the shoulder-straps of a
brigadier-general, I was not long in procuring a pair, particularly
as I was fortified next day by receiving from Washington official
information of my appointment as a brigadier-general, to date from
July 1, 1862, the day of the battle of Booneville.



I reported to Major-General Nelson at the Galt House in Louisville,
September 14, 1862, who greeted me in the bluff and hearty fashion of
a sailor--for he had been in the navy till the breaking out of the
war. The new responsibilities that were now to fall upon me by
virtue of increased rank caused in my mind an uneasiness which, I
think, Nelson observed at the interview, and he allayed it by giving
me much good advice, and most valuable information in regard to
affairs in Kentucky, telling me also that he intended I should retain
in my command the Pea Ridge Brigade and Hescock's battery. This
latter assurance relieved me greatly, for I feared the loss of these
troops in the general redistribution which I knew must soon take
place; and being familiar with their valuable service in Missouri,
and having brought them up from Mississippi, I hoped they would
continue with me. He directed me to take position just below the
city with the Pea Ridge Brigade, Hescock's battery, and the Second
Michigan Cavalry, informing me, at the same time, that some of the
new regiments, then arriving under a recent call of the President for
volunteers, would also be assigned to my command. Shortly after the
interview eight new regiments and an additional battery joined me,
thus making good his promise of more troops.

A few days later came Nelson's tragic end, shocking the whole
country. Those of us in camp outside of the city were startled on
the morning of September 29 by the news that General Jefferson C.
Davis, of the Union Army, had shot General Nelson at the Galt House,
and the wildest rumors in regard to the occurrence came thick and
fast; one to the effect that Nelson was dead, another having it that
he was living and had killed Davis, and still others reflecting on
the loyalty of both, it being supposed by the general public at first
that the difficulty between the two men had grown out of some
political rather than official or personal differences. When the
news came, I rode into the city to the Galt House to learn the
particulars, reaching there about 10 o'clock in the forenoon. Here I
learned that Nelson had been shot by Davis about two hours before, at
the foot of the main stairway leading from the corridor just beyond
the office to the second floor, and that Nelson was already dead. It
was almost as difficult to get reliable particulars of the matter at
the hotel as it had been in my camp, but I gathered that the two men
had met first at an early hour near the counter of the hotel office,
and that an altercation which had begun several days before in
relation to something official was renewed by Davis, who, attempting
to speak to Nelson in regard to the subject-matter of their previous
dispute, was met by an insulting refusal to listen. It now appears
that when Nelson made this offensive remark, Davis threw a small
paper ball that he was nervously rolling between his fingers into
Nelson's face, and that this insult was returned by Nelson slapping
Davis (Killed by a Brother Soldier.--Gen. J. B. Fry.) in the face.
But at the time, exactly what had taken place just before the
shooting was shrouded in mystery by a hundred conflicting stories,
the principal and most credited of which was that Davis had demanded
from Nelson an apology for language used in the original altercation,
and that Nelson's refusal was accompanied by a slap in the face, at
the same moment denouncing Davis as a coward. However this may be,
Nelson, after slapping Davis, moved toward the corridor, from which a
stairway led to the second floor, and just as he was about to ascend,
Davis fired with a pistol that he had obtained from some one near by
after the blow had been struck. The ball entered Nelson's breast
just above the heart, but his great strength enabled him to ascend
the stairway notwithstanding the mortal character of the wound, and
he did not fall till he reached the corridor on the second floor. He
died about half an hour later. The tragedy cast a deep gloom over
all who knew the men, for they both had many warm personal friends;
and affairs at Louisville had hardly recovered as yet from the
confused and discouraging condition which preceded the arrival of
General Buell's army. General Buell reported the killing of Nelson
to the authorities at Washington, and recommended the trial of Davis
by court-martial, but no proceedings were ever instituted against him
in either a civil or military court, so to this day it has not been
determined judicially who was the aggressor. Some months later Davis
was assigned to the command of a division in Buell's army after that
officer had been relieved from its command.

Two Confederate armies, under General Kirby Smith and General Braxton
Bragg, had penetrated into Kentucky, the one under Smith by the way
of Cumberland Gap, the other and main army under Bragg by way of the
Sequatche Valley, Glasgow, and Mumfordsville. Glasgow was captured
by the enemy on the 17th of September, and as the expectation was
that Buell would reach the place in time to save the town, its loss
created considerable alarm in the North, for fears were now
entertained that Bragg would strike Louisville and capture the city
before Buell could arrive on the ground. It became necessary
therefore to put Louisville in a state of defense, and after the
cordon of principal works had been indicated, my troops threw up in
one night a heavy line of rifle-pits south of the city, from the
Bardstown pike to the river. The apprehended attack by Bragg never
came, however, for in the race that was then going on between him and
Buell on parallel roads, the Army of the Ohio outmarched the
Confederates, its advance arriving at Louisville September 25.

General Buell immediately set about reorganizing the whole force, and
on September 29 issued an order designating the troops under my
command as the Eleventh Division, Army of the Ohio, and assigning
Brigadier-General J. T. Boyle to command the division, and me to
command one of its brigades. To this I could not object, of course,
for I was a brigadier-general of very recent date, and could hardly
expect more than a brigade. I had learned, however, that at least
one officer to whom a high command had been given--a corps--had not
yet been appointed a general officer by the President, and I
considered it somewhat unfair that I should be relegated to a
brigade, while men who held no commissions at all were being made
chiefs of corps and divisions; so I sought an interview with General
Buell's chief-of-staff, Colonel Fry, and, while not questioning
Buell's good intentions nor his pure motives, insisted that my rights
in the matter should be recognized. That same evening I was assigned
to the command of the Eleventh Division, and began preparing it at
once for a forward movement, which I knew must soon take place in the
resumption of offensive operations by the Army of the Ohio.

During the interval from September 25 till October 1 there was among
the officers much criticism of General Buell's management of the
recent campaign, which had resulted in his retirement to Louisville;
and he was particularly censured by many for not offering battle to
General Bragg while the two armies were marching parallel to each
other, and so near that an engagement could have been brought on at
any one of several points--notably so at Glasgow, Kentucky, if there
had been a desire to join issue. It was asserted, and by many
conceded, that General Buell had a sufficient force to risk a fight.
He was much blamed for the loss of Mumfordsville also. The capture
of this point, with its garrison, gave Bragg an advantage in the race
toward the Ohio River, which odds would most likely have ensured the
fall of Louisville had they been used with the same energy and skill
that the Confederate commander displayed from Chattanooga to Glasgow;
but something always diverted General Bragg at the supreme moment,
and he failed to utilize the chances falling to him at this time,
for, deflecting his march to the north toward Bardstown, he left open
to Buell the direct road to Louisville by way of Elizabethtown.

At Bardstown Bragg's army was halted while he endeavored to establish
a Confederate government in Kentucky by arranging for the
installation of a provisional governor at Lexington. Bragg had been
assured that the presence of a Confederate army in Kentucky would so
encourage the secession element that the whole State could be forced
into the rebellion and his army thereby largely increased; but he had
been considerably misled, for he now found that though much latent
sympathy existed for his cause, yet as far as giving active aid was
concerned, the enthusiasm exhibited by the secessionists of Kentucky
in the first year of the war was now replaced by apathy, or at best
by lukewarmness. So the time thus spent in political machinations
was wholly lost to Bragg; and so little reinforcement was added to
his army that it may be said that the recruits gained were not enough
to supply the deficiencies resulting from the recent toilsome marches
of the campaign.

In the meanwhile Buell had arrived at Louisville, system had been
substituted for the chaos which had previously obtained there, and
orders were issued for an advance upon the enemy with the purpose of
attacking and the hope of destroying him within the limits of the
"blue grass" region, and, failing in that, to drive him from
Kentucky. The army moved October 1, 1862, and my division, now a
part of the Third Corps, commanded by General C. C. Gilbert, marched
directly on Bardstown, where it was thought the enemy would make a
stand, but Bragg's troops retreated toward Perryville, only resisting
sufficiently to enable the forces of General Kirby Smith to be drawn
in closer--they having begun a concentration at Frankfort--so they
could be used in a combined attack on Louisville as soon as the
Confederate commander's political projects were perfected.

Much time was consumed by Buell's army in its march on Perryville,
but we finally neared it on the evening of October 7. During the
day, Brigadier-General Robert B. Mitchell's division of Gilbert's
corps was in the advance on the Springfield pike, but as the enemy
developed that he was in strong force on the opposite side of a small
stream called Doctor's Creek, a tributary of Chaplin River, my
division was brought up and passed to the front. It was very
difficult to obtain water in this section of Kentucky, as a drought
had prevailed for many weeks, and the troops were suffering so for
water that it became absolutely necessary that we should gain
possession of Doctor's Creek in order to relieve their distress.
Consequently General Gilbert, during the night, directed me to push
beyond Doctor's Creek early the next morning. At daylight on the 8th
I moved out Colonel Dan McCook's brigade and Barnett's battery for
the purpose, but after we had crossed the creek with some slight
skirmishing, I found that we could not hold the ground unless we
carried and occupied a range of hills, called Chaplin Heights, in
front of Chaplin River. As this would project my command in the
direction of Perryville considerably beyond the troops that were on
either flank, I brought up Laiboldt's brigade and Hescock's battery
to strengthen Colonel McCook. Putting both brigades into line we
quickly carried the Heights, much to the surprise of the enemy, I
think, for he did not hold on to the valuable ground as strongly as
he should have done. This success not only ensured us a good supply
of water, but also, later in the day, had an important bearing in the
battle of Perryville. After taking the Heights, I brought up the
rest of my division and intrenched, without much difficulty, by
throwing up a strong line of rifle-pits, although the enemy's
sharpshooters annoyed us enough to make me order Laiboldt's brigade
to drive them in on the main body. This was successfully done in a
few minutes, but in pushing them back to Chaplin River, we discovered
the Confederates forming a line of battle on the opposite bank, with
the apparent purpose of an attack in force, so I withdrew the brigade
to our intrenchments on the crest and there awaited the assault.

While this skirmishing was going on, General Gilbert--the corps
commander--whose headquarters were located on a hill about a mile
distant to the rear, kept sending me messages by signal not to bring
on an engagement. I replied to each message that I was not bringing
on an engagement, but that the enemy evidently intended to do so, and
that I believed I should shortly be attacked. Soon after returning
to the crest and getting snugly fixed in the rifle-pits, my attention
was called to our left, the high ground we occupied affording me in
that direction an unobstructed view. I then saw General A. McD.
McCook's corps--the First-advancing toward Chaplin River by the
Mackville road, apparently unconscious that the Confederates were
present in force behind the stream. I tried by the use of signal
flags to get information of the situation to these troops, but my
efforts failed, and the leading regiments seemed to approach the
river indifferently prepared to meet the sudden attack that speedily
followed, delivered as it was from the chosen position of the enemy.
The fury of the Confederate assault soon halted this advance force,
and in a short time threw it into confusion, pushed it back a
considerable distance, and ultimately inflicted upon it such loss of
men and guns as to seriously cripple McCook's corps, and prevent for
the whole day further offensive movement on his part, though he
stoutly resisted the enemy's assaults until 4 o'clock in the

Seeing McCook so fiercely attacked, in order to aid him I advanced
Hescock's battery, supported by six regiments, to a very good
position in front of a belt of timber on my extreme left, where an
enfilading fire could be opened on that portion of the enemy
attacking the right of the First Corps, and also on his batteries
across Chaplin River. But at this juncture he placed two batteries
on my right and began to mass troops behind them, and General
Gilbert, fearing that my intrenched position on the heights might be
carried, directed me to withdraw Hescock and his supports and return
them to the pits. My recall was opportune, for I had no sooner got
back to my original line than the Confederates attacked me furiously,
advancing almost to my intrenchments, notwithstanding that a large
part of the ground over which they had to move was swept by a heavy
fire of canister from both my batteries. Before they had quite
reached us, however, our telling fire made them recoil, and as they
fell back, I directed an advance of my whole division, bringing up my
reserve regiments to occupy the crest of the hills; Colonel William
P. Carlin's brigade of Mitchell's division meanwhile moving forward
on my right to cover that flank. This advance pressed the enemy to
Perryville, but he retired in such good order that we gained nothing
but some favorable ground that enabled me to establish my batteries
in positions where they could again turn their attention to the
Confederates in front of McCook, whose critical condition was shortly
after relieved, however, by a united pressure of Gilbert's corps
against the flank of McCook's assailants, compelling them to retire
behind Chaplin River.

The battle virtually ended about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, though
more or less desultory firing continued until dark. Considering the
severity of the engagement on McCook's front, and the reverses that
had befallen him, I question if, from that part of the line, much
could have been done toward retrieving the blunders of the day, but
it did seem to me that, had the commander of the army been able to be
present on the field, he could have taken advantage of Bragg's final
repulse, and there would have remained in our hands more than the
barren field. But no attempt was made to do anything more till next
morning, and then we secured little except the enemy's killed and
most severely wounded.

The operations of my division during the engagement pleased. General
Gilbert very much, and he informed me that he would relax a rigidly
enforced order which General Buell had issued some days before,
sufficiently to permit my trains to come to the front and supply my
almost starving troops with rations. The order in question was one
of those issued, doubtless with a good intent, to secure generally
the safety of our trains, but General Gilbert was not elastic, and on
the march he had construed the order so illiberally that it was next
to impossible to supply the men with food, and they were particularly
short in this respect on the eve of the battle. I had then
endeavored to persuade him to modify his iron-clad interpretation of
the order, but without effect, and the only wagons we could bring up
from the general parks in rear were ambulances and those containing
ammunition. So to gain access to our trains was a great boon, and at
that moment a more welcome result than would have been a complete
victory minus this concession.

When the battle ceased General Gilbert asked me to join him at
Buell's headquarters, which were a considerable distance to the rear,
so after making some dispositions for the evening I proceeded there
as requested. I arrived just as Buell was about to sit down to his
supper, and noticing that he was lame, then learned that he had been
severely injured by a recent fall from his horse. He kindly invited
me to join him at the table, an invitation which I accepted with
alacrity, enjoying the meal with a relish known only to a very-hungry
man, for I had eaten nothing since morning. Of course the events of
the day were the chief topic of discussion--as they were during my
stay at headquarters--but the conversation indicated that what had
occurred was not fully realized, and I returned to my troops
impressed with the belief that General Buell and his staff-officers
were unconscious of the magnitude of the battle that had just been

It had been expected by Buell that he would fight the enemy on the
9th of October, but the Confederates disposed of that proposition by
attacking us on the 8th, thus disarranging a tactical conception
which, with our superior numbers, would doubtless have proved
successful had it not been anticipated by an enterprising foe.
During the battle on the 8th the Second Corps, under General Thomas
L. Crittenden, accompanied by General George H. Thomas, lay idle the
whole day for want of orders, although it was near enough to the
field to take an active part in the fight; and, moreover, a large
part of Gilbert's corps was unengaged during the pressure on McCook.
Had these troops been put in on the enemy's left at any time after he
assaulted McCook, success would have been beyond question; but there
was no one on the ground authorized to take advantage of the
situation, and the battle of Perryville remains in history an example
of lost opportunities. This was due in some measure probably to
General Buell's accident, but is mainly attributable to the fact that
he did not clearly apprehend Bragg's aim, which was to gain time to
withdraw behind Dick's River all the troops he had in Kentucky, for
the Confederate general had no idea of risking the fate of his army
on one general battle at a place or on a day to be chosen by the
Union commander.

Considering the number of troops actually engaged, the losses to
Buell were severe, amounting to something over five thousand in
killed, wounded, and missing. Among the killed were two brigade
commanders of much promise--General James S. Jackson and General
William R. Terrill. McCook's corps lost twelve guns, some of which
were recovered next day. The enemy's loss in killed and wounded we
never learned, but it must have equalled ours; and about four
thousand prisoners, consisting principally of sick and wounded, fell
into our hands. In the first report of the battle sent North to the
newspapers I was reported among the killed; but I was pleased to
notice, when the papers reached us a few days later, that the error
had been corrected before my obituary could be written.

The enemy retired from our front the night of the 8th, falling back
on Harrodsburg to form a junction with Kirby Smith, and by taking
this line of retreat opened to us the road to Danville and the chance
for a direct march against his depot of supplies at Bryantsville. We
did not take advantage of this opening, however, and late in the day
--on the 9th--my division marched in pursuit, in the direction of
Harrodsburg, which was the apex of a triangle having for its base a
line from Perryville to Danville. The pursuit was slow, very slow,
consuming the evening of the 9th and all of the 10th and 11th. By
cutting across the triangle spoken of above, just south of the apex,
I struck the Harrodsburg-Danville road, near Cave Springs, joining
there Gilbert's left division, which had preceded me and marched
through Harrodsburg. Here we again rested until the intention of the
enemy could be divined, and we could learn on which side of Dick's
River he would give us battle. A reconnoissance sent toward the
Dickville crossing developed to a certainty that we should not have
another engagement, however; for it disclosed the fact that Bragg's
army had disappeared toward Camp Dick Robinson, leaving only a small
rear-guard at Danville, which in turn quickly fled in the direction
of Lancaster, after exchanging a few shots with Hescock's battery.

While this parting salute of deadly projectiles was going on, a
little, daughter of Colonel William J. Landram, whose home was in
Danville, came running out from his house and planted a small
national flag on one of Hescock's guns. The patriotic act was so
brave and touching that it thrilled all who witnessed the scene; and
until the close of the war, when peace separated the surviving
officers and men of the battery, that little flag was protected and
cherished as a memento of the Perryville campaign.

Pursuit of the enemy was not continued in force beyond Crab Orchard,
but some portions of the army kept at Bragg's heels until he crossed
the Cumberland River, a part of his troops retiring to Tennessee by
way of Cumberland Gap, but the major portion through Somerset. As
the retreat of Bragg transferred the theatre of operations back to
Tennessee, orders were now issued for a concentration of Buell's army
at Bowling Green, with a view to marching it to Nashville, and my
division moved to that point without noteworthy incident. I reached
Bowling Green with a force much reduced by the losses sustained in
the battle of Perryville and by sickness. I had started from
Louisville on October 1 with twelve regiments of infantry--four old
and eight new ones--and two batteries, but many poor fellows,
overcome by fatigue, and diseases induced by the heat, dust, and
drought of the season, had to be left at roadside hospitals. This
was particularly the case with the new regiments, the men of which,
much depressed by homesickness, and not yet inured to campaigning,
fell easy victims to the hardships of war.

At Bowling Green General Buell was relieved, General W. S. Rosecrans
succeeding him. The army as a whole did not manifest much regret at
the change of commanders, for the campaign from Louisville on was
looked upon generally as a lamentable failure, yet there were many
who still had the utmost confidence in General Buell, and they
repelled with some asperity the reflections cast upon him by his
critics. These admirers held him blameless throughout for the
blunders of the campaign, but the greater number laid every error at
his door, and even went to the absurdity of challenging his loyalty
in a mild way, but they particularly charged incompetency at
Perryville, where McCook's corps was so badly crippled while nearly
30,000 Union troops were idle on the field, or within striking
distance. With these it was no use to argue that Buell's accident
stood in the way of his activity, nor that he did not know that the
action had assumed the proportions of a battle. The physical
disability was denied or contested, but even granting this, his
detractors claimed that it did not excuse his ignorance of the true
condition of the fight, and finally worsted his champions by pointing
out that Bragg's retreat by way of Harrodsburg beyond Dick's River so
jeopardized the Confederate army, that had a skillful and energetic
advance of the Union troops been made, instead of wasting precious
time in slow and unnecessary tactical manoeuvres, the enemy could
have been destroyed before he could quit the State of Kentucky.



My division had moved from Crab Orchard to Bowling Green by easy
marches, reaching this place November 1. General Rosecrans assumed
command of the department October 30, at Louisville, and joined the
army November 2. There had been much pressure brought to bear on
General Buell to induce him to take measures looking to the occupancy
of East Tennessee, and the clamor to this end from Washington still
continued; but now that Bragg was south of the Cumberland River, in a
position threatening Nashville, which was garrisoned by but a small
force, it was apparent to every one at all conversant with the
situation that a battle would have to be fought somewhere in Middle
Tennessee. So, notwithstanding the pressure from Washington, the
army was soon put in motion for Nashville, and when we arrived there
my division went into camp north of the river, on a plateau just
outside the little town of Edgefield, until the movements of the
enemy should be further developed.

While in this camp, on the plantation of Mr. Hobson, there came to my
headquarters one morning an East Tennessean named James Card, who
offered to the Union cause his services in any capacity in which they
might be made useful. This offer, and the relation of his personal
history, were given with such sincerity of speech and manner that in
a short time I became convinced of his honesty of purpose. He was a
small, active, busy man, with a determined way about him, and his
countenance indicated great intelligence. He gave minute information
that was of inestimable value to me regarding East and Middle
Tennessee and northern Georgia, for, with a view to the army's future
movements, I was then making a study of the topography of this
region, and posting myself as to Middle Tennessee, for all knew this
would be the scene of active operations whenever the campaign was
resumed. This man, like most of the East Tennesseans whom I had met,
was intensely loyal and patriotic, and the interview led in a few
days to his employment as a scout and guide, and subsequently to the
engaging in the same capacity of two of his brothers, who were good
men; but not quite as active nor so intelligent as he was. Card had
been a colporter, having pedled books, especially religious tracts,
over all Middle and East Tennessee and Georgia, assisted by his
brothers at times, and was therefore thoroughly familiar with these
regions, their roads and inhabitants. He also preached to country
congregations occasionally, when ministers were scarce, and I have no
doubt often performed the functions of family physician in the
mountain district. Thus his opportunities were great; and the loyal
people in every section of the country being well known to him and
his brothers, the three began, at this time, a system of scouting and
investigation which bore its first-fruits in specifically locating
the different divisions of Bragg's army, with statements of their
strength and condition, and all with so much accuracy that I
thereafter felt reasonably sure that I could at all times procure
such knowledge of the enemy's operations as would well equip me for
any contingency that might arise.

By the middle of November the enemy, having assembled his forces in
Middle Tennessee, showed considerable boldness, and it became
necessary to rearrange the Union lines; so my troops were moved to
the south side of the river, out on the Murfreesboro' pike, to Mill
Creek, distant from Nashville about seven miles. While we were in
camp on Mill Creek the army was reorganized, and General Joshua W.
Sill, at his own request, was assigned to my division, and took
command of Colonel Nicholas Greusel's brigade. My division became at
the same time the Third Division, Right Wing, Fourteenth Army Corps,
its three brigades of four regiments each being respectively
commanded by General Sill, Colonel Frederick Schaefer and Colonel Dan
McCook; but a few days later Colonel George W. Roberts's brigade,
from the garrison at Nashville, was substituted for McCook's.

General Sill was a classmate of mine at the Military Academy, having
graduated in 1853. On graduating he was appointed to the Ordnance
Corps, and served in that department at various arsenals and ordnance
depots throughout the country till early in 1861, when he resigned to
accept a professorship of mathematics and civil engineering at the
Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. At the breaking out
of the war he immediately tendered his services to the Government,
and soon rose to the colonelcy of the Thirty-Third Ohio Volunteers,
and afterward to the rank of brigadier-general. I knew him well, and
was glad that he came to my division, though I was very loth to
relieve Colonel Greusel, of the Thirty-Sixth Illinois, who had
already indicated much military skill and bravery, and at the battle
of Perryville had handled his men with the experience of a veteran.
Sill's modesty and courage were exceeded only by a capacity that had
already been demonstrated in many practical ways, and his untimely
death, almost within a month of his joining me, abruptly closed a
career which, had it been prolonged a little more, not only would
have shed additional lustre on his name, but would have been of
marked benefit to his country.

Colonel Schaefer, of the Second Missouri Infantry, had been absent on
sick-leave during the Kentucky campaign, but about this date he
returned to duty, and by seniority fell in command of the second
brigade. He was of German birth, having come from Baden, where,
prior to 1848, he had been a non-commissioned officer in the service
of his State. He took part as an insurgent in the so-called
revolution which occurred at Baden in that year, and, compelled to
emigrate on the suppression of the insurrection, made his way to this
country and settled in St. Louis. Here the breaking out of the war
found him, and through the personal interest which General Sigel took
in him he was commissioned a colonel of volunteers. He had had a
pretty fair education, a taste for the military profession, and was
of tall and slender build, all of which gave him a student-like
appearance. He was extremely excitable and nervous when anticipating
a crisis, but always calmed down to cool deliberation when the
critical moment came. With such a man I could not be less than well
satisfied, although the officer whom he replaced--Colonel Laiboldt
--had performed efficient service and shown much capacity in the
recent campaign.

Colonel G. W. Roberts, of the Forty-Second Illinois Infantry, also
came to me in the reorganization. He was an ideal soldier both in
mind and body. He was young, tall, handsome, brave, and dashing, and
possessed a balance-wheel of such good judgment that in his sphere of
action no occasion could arise from which he would not reap the best
results. But he too was destined to lay, down his life within a few
days, and on the same fatal field. His brigade had been performing
garrison duty in Nashville during the siege of that city while
Buell's army was in Kentucky, but disliking the prospect of
inactivity pending the operations opening before us, Roberts had
requested and obtained a transfer to the army in the field. His
brigade relieved Colonel Dan McCook's, the latter reluctantly joining
the garrison at Nashville, every one in it disappointed and disgusted
that the circumstances existing at this time should necessitate their
relegation to the harassing and tantalizing duty of protecting our
depots and line of supply.

I was fortunate in having such brigade commanders, and no less
favored in the regimental and battery commanders. They all were not
only patriots, but soldiers, and knowing that discipline must be one
of the most potent factors in bringing to a successful termination,
the mighty contest in which our nation was struggling for existence,
they studied and practiced its methods ceaselessly, inspiring with
the same spirit that pervaded themselves the loyal hearts of their
subordinate officers and men. All worked unremittingly in the camp
at Mill Creek in preparing for the storm, which now plainly indicated
its speedy coming. Drills, parades, scouts, foraging expeditions,
picket and guard duty, made up the course in this school of
instruction, supplemented by frequent changes in the locations of the
different brigades, so that the division could have opportunity to
learn to break camp quickly and to move out promptly on the march.
Foraging expeditions were particularly beneficial in this respect,
and when sent out, though absent sometimes for days, the men went
without tents or knapsacks, equipped with only one blanket and their
arms, ammunition, and rations, to teach them to shift for themselves
with slender means in the event of necessity. The number of
regimental and headquarters wagons was cut down to the lowest
possible figure, and everything made compact by turning into the
supply and ammunition trains of the division all surplus
transportation, and restricting the personal baggage of officers to
the fewest effects possible.

My own staff also was somewhat reorganized and increased at Mill
Creek, and though it had been perfectly satisfactory before, yet, on
account of the changes of troops that had occurred in the command, I
found it necessary to replace valuable officers in some instances,
and secure additional ones in others. The gathering of information
about the enemy was also industriously pursued, and Card and his
brothers were used constantly on expeditions within the Confederate
lines, frequently visiting Murfreesboro', Sparta, Tullahoma,
Shelbyville, and other points. What they learned was reported to
army headquarters, often orally through me or personally communicated
by Card himself, but much was forwarded in official letters,
beginning with November 24, when I transmitted accurate information
of the concentration of Bragg's main force at Tullahoma. Indeed,
Card kept me so well posted as to every movement of the enemy, not
only with reference to the troops in my immediate front, but also
throughout his whole army, that General Rosecrans placed the most
unreserved reliance on all his statements, and many times used them
to check and correct the reports brought in by his own scouts.

Slight skirmishes took place frequently during this period, and now
and then heavy demonstrations were made in the neighborhood of
Nolensville by reconnoitring parties from both armies, but none of
these ever grew into a battle. These affairs sprung from the desire
of each side to feel his antagonist, and had little result beyond
emphasizing the fact that behind each line of pickets lay a massed
and powerful army busily preparing for the inevitable conflict and
eager for its opening. So it wore on till the evening of December
25, 1862; then came the order to move forward.

General Rosecrans, in the reorganization of the army, had assigned
Major-General A. McD. McCook to command the right wing, Major-General
George H. Thomas the centre, and Major-General T. L. Crittenden the
left wing. McCook's wing was made up of three divisions, commanded
in order of rank by Brigadier-General Jeff. C. Davis;
Brigadier-General R. W. Johnson, and Brigadier-General P. H. Sheridan.
Although the corps nomenclature established by General Buell was
dropped, the grand divisions into which he had organized the army at
Louisville were maintained, and, in fact, the conditions established
then remained practically unaltered, with the exception of the
interchange of some brigades, the transfer of a few general officers
from one wing or division to another, and the substitution of General
Thomas for Gilbert as a corps commander. The army was thus compact
and cohesive, undisturbed by discord and unembarrassed by jealousies
of any moment; and it may be said that under a commander who, we
believed, had the energy and skill necessary to direct us to success,
a national confidence in our invincibility made us all keen for a
test of strength with the Confederates. We had not long to wait.

Early on the morning of December 26, 1862, in a heavy rain, the army
marched, the movement being directed on Murfreesboro', where the
enemy had made some preparation to go into winter-quarters, and to
hold which town it was hoped he would accept battle. General Thomas
moved by the Franklin and Wilson pikes, General Crittenden by the
Murfreesboro' pike, through Lavergne, and General McCook by the
Nolensville pike--Davis's division in advance. As McCook's command
neared Nolensville, I received a message from Davis informing me that
the Confederates were in considerable force, posted on a range of
hills in his front, and requesting me to support him in an attack he
was about to make. When the head of my column arrived at Nolensville
I began massing my troops on the right of the road, and by the time
this formation was nearly completed Davis advanced, but not meeting
with sufficient resistance to demand active assistance from me, he
with his own command carried the hills, capturing one piece of
artillery. This position of the Confederates was a strong one,
defending Knob's Gap, through which the Nolensville and Triune pike
passed. On the 27th Johnson's division, followed by mine, advanced
to Triune, and engaged in a severe skirmish near that place, but my
troops were not called into action, the stand made by the enemy being
only for the purpose of gaining time to draw in his outlying troops,
which done, he retired toward Murfreesboro'. I remained inactive at
Triune during the 28th, but early on the 29th moved out by the Bole
Jack road to the support of, Davis in his advance to Stewart's Creek,
and encamped at Wilkinson's crossroads, from which point to
Murfreesboro', distant about six miles, there was a good turnpike.
The enemy had sullenly resisted the progress of Crittenden and McCook
throughout the preceding three days, and as it was thought probable
that he might offer battle at Stewart's Creek, Thomas, in pursuance
of his original instructions looking to just such a contingency, had
now fallen into the centre by way of the Nolensville crossroads.

On the morning of the 3oth I had the advance of McCook's corps on the
Wilkinson pike, Roberts's brigade leading. At first only slight
skirmishing took place, but when we came within about three miles of
Murfreesboro' the resistance of the enemy's pickets grew serious, and
a little further on so strong that I had to put in two regiments to
push them back. I succeeded in driving them about half a mile, when
I was directed by McCook to form line of battle and place my
artillery in position so that I could act in concert with Davis's
division, which he wished to post on my right in the general line he
desired to take up. In obedience to these directions I deployed on
the right of, and oblique to the Wilkinson pike, with a front of four
regiments, a second line of four regiments within short supporting
distance, and a reserve of one brigade in column of regiments to the
rear of my centre. All this time the enemy kept up a heavy artillery
and musketry fire on my skirmishers, he occupying, with his
sharpshooters, beyond some open fields, a heavy belt of timber to my
front and right, where it was intended the left of Davis should
finally rest. To gain this point Davis was ordered to swing his
division into it in conjunction with a wheeling movement of my right
brigade, until our continuous line should face nearly due east. This
would give us possession of the timber referred to, and not only rid
us of the annoying fire from the skirmishers screened by it, but also
place us close in to what was now developing as Bragg's line of
battle. The movement was begun about half-past 2, and was
successfully executed, after a stubborn resistance. In this
preliminary affair the enemy had put in one battery of artillery,
which was silenced in a little while, however, by Bush's and
Hescock's guns. By sundown I had taken up my prescribed position,
facing almost east, my left (Roberts's brigade) resting on the
Wilkinson pike, the right (Sill's brigade) in the timber we had just
gained, and the reserve brigade (Schaefer's) to the rear of my
centre, on some rising ground in the edge of a strip of woods behind
Houghtaling's and Hescock's batteries. Davis's division was placed
in position on my right, his troops thrown somewhat to the rear, so
that his line formed nearly a right angle with mine, while Johnson's
division formed in a very exposed position on the right of Davis,
prolonging the general line just across the Franklin pike.

The centre, under Thomas, had already formed to my left, the right of
Negley's division joining my left in a cedar thicket near the
Wilkinson pike, while Crittenden's corps was posted on the left of
Thomas, his left resting on Stone River, at a point about two miles
and a half from Murfreesboro'.

The precision that had characterized every manoeuvre of the past
three days, and the exactness with which each corps and division fell
into its allotted place on the evening of the 30th, indicated that at
the outset of the campaign a well-digested plan of operations had
been prepared for us; and although the scheme of the expected battle
was not known to subordinates of my grade, yet all the movements up
to this time had been so successfully and accurately made as to give
much promise for the morrow, and when night fell there was general
anticipation of the best results to the Union army.



The enemy under Bragg lay between us and stone River in order of
battle, his general line conforming to the course of that stream. In
my immediate front he appeared to be established in strong force in a
dense cedar wood, just beyond an open valley, which varied from two
hundred to four hundred yards in width, the cedars extending the
entire length of the valley. From the events of the day and evening
of the 3oth, it was apparent that the two armies were in close
proximity, and orders received during the night revealed the fact
that Rosecrans intended to attack by throwing his left on the enemy's
right, with the expectation of driving it in toward Murfreesboro', so
that the right of Crittenden's corps could attack Bragg's centre in
reverse, while Thomas supported Crittenden by a simultaneous front
assault; and from the movements of the enemy at daylight next
morning, it was plainly indicated that Bragg had planned to swing his
left on our right by an exactly similar manoeuvre, get possession of
the railroad and the Nashville pike, and if possible cut us off from
our base at Nashville. The conceptions in the minds of the two
generals were almost identical; but Bragg took the initiative,
beginning his movement about an hour earlier than the time set by
Rosecrans, which gained him an immense advantage in execution in the
earlier stages of the action.

During the evening, feeling keenly all the solicitude which
attends one in anticipation of a battle, I examined my position with
great care, inspecting its whole length several times to remedy any
defects that might exist, and to let the men see that I was alive to
their interests and advantages. After dark, I went back to the rear
of my reserve brigade, and establishing my headquarters behind the
trunk of a large fallen tree, which would shelter me somewhat from
the cold December wind, lay down beside a small camp-fire to get some

At 2 o'clock on the morning of the 31st General Sill came back to me
to report that on his front a continuous movement of infantry and
artillery had been going on all night within the Confederate lines,
and that he was convinced that Bragg was massing on our right with
the purpose of making an attack from that direction early in the
morning. After discussing for a few minutes the probabilities of
such a course on the part of the enemy, I thought McCook should be
made acquainted with what was going on, so Sill and I went back to
see him at his headquarters, not far from the Griscom House, where we
found him sleeping on some straw in the angle of a worm-fence. I
waked him up and communicated the intelligence, and our consequent
impressions. He talked the matter over with us for some little time,
but in view of the offensive-defensive part he was to play in the
coming battle, did not seem to think that there was a necessity for
any further dispositions than had already been taken. He said that
he thought Johnson's division would be able to take care of the
right, and seemed confident that the early assault which was to be
made from Rosecrans's left would anticipate and check the designs
which we presaged. We two then returned to my little camp-fire
behind the log, and as we continued talking of what might be expected
from the indications on the right, and Sill becoming more anxious, I
directed two regiments from the reserve to report to him, that they
might be placed within very short supporting distance of his line.
He then rejoined his brigade, better satisfied, but still adhering to
the belief he had expressed when first making his report.

Long before dawn my division breakfasted, and was assembled under
arms, the infantry in line, the cannoneers at their pieces, but while
we were thus preparing, all the recent signs of activity in the
enemy's camp were hushed, a death-like stillness prevailing in the
cedars to our front. Shortly after daylight General Hardee opened
the engagement, just as Sill had predicted, by a fierce attack on
Johnson's division, the extreme right of the Union line. Immediate
success attending this assault, Hardee extended the attack gradually
along in front of Davis, hip movement taking the form of a wheel to
the right, the pivot being nearly opposite the left of my division.
Johnson's division soon gave way, and two of Davis's brigades were
forced to fall back with it, though stubbornly resisting the
determined and sweeping onset.

In the meantime the enemy had also attacked me, advancing across an
old cotton-field in Sill's front in heavy masses, which were
furiously opened upon by Bush's battery from Sill's line, and by
Hescock's and Houghtaling's batteries, which had an oblique fire on
the field from a commanding position in rear of my centre. The
effect of this fire on the advancing column was terrible, but it
continued on till it reached the edge of the timber where Sill's
right lay, when my infantry opened at a range of not over fifty
yards. For a short time the Confederates withstood the fire, but
then wavered, broke, and fell back toward their original line. As
they retired, Sill's brigade followed in a spirited charge, driving
them back across the open ground and behind their intrenchments. In
this charge the gallant Sill was killed; a rifle ball passing through
his upper lip and penetrating the brain. Although this was a heavy
loss, yet the enemy's discomfiture was such as to give us an hour's
time, and as Colonel Greusel, Thirty-sixth Illinois, succeeded to
Sill's command, I directed him, as he took charge, to recall the
brigade to its original position, for the turning-column on my
extreme right was now assuming the most menacing attitude, and it was
urgently necessary to prepare for it.

When that portion of the enemy driven back by Sill recovered from its
repulse it again advanced to the attack, this time directing its
efforts chiefly upon my extreme right, and the front of Woodruff's
brigade of Davis's division, which brigade still held on in its first
position. In front of my centre the Confederates were again driven
back, but as the assault on Woodruff was in conjunction with an
advance of the column that had forced Johnson to retire, Woodruff was
compelled unfortunately to give way, and two regiments on the right
of my line went with him, till they rallied on the two reserve
regiments which, in anticipation of the enemy's initiatory attack I
had sent to Sill's rear before daylight.

Both Johnson's and Davis's divisions were now practically gone from
our line, having retired with a loss of all formation, and they were
being closely pursued by the enemy, whose columns were following the
arc of a circle that would ultimately carry him in on my rear. In
consequence of the fact that this state of things would soon subject
me to a fire in reverse, I hastily withdrew Sill's brigade and the
reserve regiments supporting it, and ordered Roberts's brigade, which
at the close of the enemy's second repulse had changed front toward
the south and formed in column of regiments, to cover the withdrawal
by a charge on the Confederates as they came into the timber where my
right had originally rested. Roberts made the charge at the proper
time, and was successful in checking the enemy's advance, thus giving
us a breathing-spell, during which I was able to take up a new
position with Schaefer's and Sill's brigades on the commanding ground
to the rear, where Hescock's and Houghtaling's batteries had been
posted all the morning.

The general course of this new position was at right angles with my
original line, and it took the shape of an obtuse angle, with my
three batteries at the apex. Davis, and Carlin of his division,
endeavored to rally their men here on my right, but their efforts
were practically unavailing,--though the calm and cool appearance of
Carlin, who at the time was smoking a stumpy pipe, had some effect,
and was in strong contrast to the excited manner of Davis, who seemed
overpowered by the disaster that had befallen his command. But few
could be rallied, however, as the men were badly demoralized, and
most of them fell back beyond the Wilkinson pike, where they
reorganized behind the troops of General Thomas.

At this juncture the enemy's turning-column began advancing again in
concert with Cheatham's division, and as the extreme left of the
Confederates was directed on Griscom's house, and their right on the
Blanton house, my new position was in danger of envelopment. No hope
of stemming the tide at this point seemed probable, but to gain time
I retained my ground as long as possible, and until, under directions
from General McCook, I moved to the front from my left flank and
attached myself to the right of Negley's division, which up to this
hour had been left almost undisturbed by the enemy in the line it had
taken up the night before. Under a heavy fire we succeeded in this
manoeuvre, Schaefer's brigade marching first, then the batteries, and
Roberts's and Sill's brigades following. When my division arrived on
this new ground, I posted Roberts on Negley's right, with Hescock's
and Bush's guns, the brigade and guns occupying a low rocky ridge of
limestone, which faced them toward Murfreesboro', nearly south. The
rest of my division was aligned facing west, along the edge of a
cedar thicket, the rear rank backed up on the right flank of Roberts,
with Houghtaling's battery in the angle. This presented Sill's and
Schaefer's brigades in an almost opposite direction to the line we
had so confidently taken up the night before, and covered Negley's
rear. The enemy, in the meantime, had continued his wheeling
movement till he occupied the ground that my batteries and reserve
brigade had held in the morning, and I had now so changed my position
that the left brigade of my division approached his intrenchments in
front of Stone River, while Sill's and Schaeffer's brigades, by
facing nearly west, confronted the successful troops that had smashed
in our extreme right.

I had hardly got straightened out in this last place when I was
attacked by Cheatham's'division, which, notwithstanding the
staggering blows it had previously received from Sill and Roberts,
now again moved forward in conjunction with the wheeling movement
under the immediate command of Hardee. One of the most sanguinary
contests of the day now took place. In fulfillment of Bragg's
original design no doubt, Cheatham's division attacked on my left,
while heavy masses under Hardee, covered by batteries posted on the
high ground formerly occupied by my guns, assaulted my right, the
whole force advancing simultaneously. At the same time the enemy
opened an artillery fire from his intrenchments in front of
Murfreesboro', and it seemed that he was present on every side. My
position was strong, however, located in the edge of a dense cedar
thicket and commanding a slight depression of open ground that lay in
my front. My men were in good spirits too, notwithstanding they had
been a good deal hustled around since daylight, with losses that had
told considerably on their numbers. Only a short distance now
separated the contending lines, and as the batteries on each side
were not much more than two hundred yards apart when the enemy made
his assault, the artillery fire was fearful in its effect on the
ranks of both contestants, the enemy's heavy masses staggering under
the torrent of shell and canister from our batteries, while our lines
were thinned by his ricochetting projectiles, that rebounded again
and again over the thinly covered limestone formation and sped on to
the rear of Negley. But all his efforts to dislodge or destroy us
were futile, and for the first time since daylight General Hardee was
seriously checked in the turning movement he had begun for the
purpose of getting possession of the Nashville pike, and though
reinforced until two-fifths of Bragg's army was now at his command,
yet he met with repulse after repulse, which created great gaps in
his lines and taught him that to overwhelm us was hopeless.

As the enemy was recoiling from his first attack, I received a
message from Rosecrans telling me that he was making new
dispositions, and directing me to hold on where I was until they were
completed. From this I judged that the existing conditions of the
battle would probably require a sacrifice of my command, so I
informed Roberts and Schaefer that we must be prepared to meet the
demand on us by withstanding the assault of the enemy, no matter what
the outcome. Every energy was therefore bent to the simple holding
of our ground, and as ammunition was getting scarce, instructions
were given throughout the command to have it reserve its fire till
the most effective moment. In a little while came a second and a
third assault, and although they were as daring and furious as the
first, yet in each case the Confederates were repulsed, driven back
in confusion, but not without deadly loss to us, for the noble
Roberts was killed, and Colonel Harrington, of the Twenty-Seventh
Illinois, who succeeded to his brigade, was mortally wounded a few
minutes later. I had now on the death-roll three brigade commanders,
and the loss of subordinate officers and men was appalling, but their
sacrifice had accomplished the desired result; they had not fallen in
vain. Indeed, the bravery and tenacity of my division gave to
Rosecrans the time required to make new dispositions, and exacted
from our foes the highest commendations.

A lull followed the third fierce assault, and an investigation showed
that, with the exception of a few rounds in my brigade, our
ammunition was entirely exhausted; and while it was apparent that the
enemy was reluctant to renew the conflict in my front, yet I was
satisfied I could not hold on much longer without the danger of
ultimate capture, so I prepared to withdraw as soon as the troops of
Rousseau's division, which had been ordered to take up a line on my
right, came into position. Schaefer's and Sill's brigades being
without a cartridge, I directed them to fix bayonets for a charge,
and await any attempt of the enemy to embarrass my retreat, while
Roberts's brigade, offering such resistance as its small quantity of
ammunition would permit, was pulled slowly in toward the Nashville
pike. Eighty of the horses of Houghtaling's battery having been
killed, an attempt was made to bring his guns back by hand over the
rocky ground, but it could not be done, and we had to abandon them.
Hescock also had lost most of his horses, but all his guns were
saved. Bush's battery lost two pieces, the tangled underbrush in the
dense cedars proving an obstacle to getting them away which his
almost superhuman exertions could not surmount. Thus far the bloody
duel had cost me heavily, one-third of my division being killed or
wounded. I had already three brigade commanders killed; a little
later I lost my fourth--Colonel Schaefer.

The difficulties of withdrawing were very great, as the ground was
exceptionally rocky, and the growth of cedars almost impenetrable for
wheeled carriages. Retiring sullenly under a heavy fire, while the
general line was reformed to my right and rear, my division was at
length drawn through the cedars and debouched into an open space near
the Murfreesboro' pike, behind the right of Palmer's division. Two
regiments of Sill's brigade, however, on account of the conformation
of the ground, were obliged to fall back from the point where
Woodruff's brigade of Davis's division had rallied after the disaster
of the early morning. The division came out of the cedars with
unbroken ranks, thinned by only its killed and wounded--but few
missing. When we came into the open ground, McCook directed
Roberts's brigade--now commanded by Colonel Luther P. Bradley--to
proceed a short distance to the rear on the Nashville pike, to repel
the enemy's threatening attempt at our communications. Willingly and
cheerfully the brigade again entered the fight under these new
conditions, and although it was supplied with but three or four
cartridges to the man now, it charged gallantly and recaptured two
pieces of artillery which the Union troops had had to abandon at that

Shortly after we debouched from the cedars I was directed by
Rosecrans to send some aid to the right of General Palmer's division;
and two of Schaefer's regiments, having obtained ammunition, were
pushed up on Palmer's right, accompanied by four of Hescock's guns;
but the advance of the enemy here had already been checked by Palmer,
and only a desultory contest ensued. Rosecrans, whom I now met in
the open ground west of the railroad, behind Palmer, directed that my
command should relieve Wood's division, which was required to fall
back and take up the new line that had been marked out while I was
holding on in the cedars. His usually florid face had lost its ruddy
color, and his anxious eyes told that the disasters of the morning
were testing his powers to the very verge of endurance, but he seemed
fully to comprehend what had befallen us. His firmly set lips and,
the calmness with which his instructions were delivered inspired
confidence in all around him; and expressing approbation of what my
division had done, while deliberately directing it to a new point, he
renewed in us all the hope of final victory, though it must be
admitted that at this phase of the battle the chances lay largely
with the enemy.

Withdrawing the two regiments and Hescock's battery, that I had
posted on the right of Palmer, I moved as directed by Rosecrans into
the position to the east of the railroad, and formed immediately to
the right of Wood, who was now being attacked all along his front,
but more particularly where his right rested near the railroad.
Under a storm of shot and shell that came in torrents my troops took
up the new ground, advancing through a clump of open timber to Wood's
assistance. Forming in line in front of the timber we poured a
telling fire into the enemy's ranks, which were then attacking across
some cleared fields; but when he discovered additional troops
confronting him, he gave up the attempt to carry Wood's position. It
was here that I lost Schaefer, who was killed instantly, making my
fourth brigade commander dead that day. The enemy in front of Wood
having been checked, our whole line east of the railroad executed
undisturbed its retrograde movement to a position about three hundred
yards to its rear. When I fell back to the edge of the clump of
timber, where when first coming on the ground I had formed to help
Wood, I was ordered by Rosecrans to prepare to make a charge should
the enemy again assault us. In anticipation of this work I massed my
troops in close column. The expected attack never came, however, but
the shot and shell of a furious cannonade told with fatal effect upon
men and officers as they lay on their faces hugging the ground. The
torments of this trying situation were almost unbearable, but it was
obvious to all that it was necessary to have at hand a compact body
of troops to repel any assault the enemy might make pending the
reconstruction of the extreme right of our line, and a silent
determination to stay seemed to take hold of each individual soldier;
nor was this grim silence interrupted throughout the cannonade,
except in one instance, when one of the regiments broke out in a
lusty cheer as a startled rabbit in search of a new hiding-place
safely ran the whole length of the line on the backs of the men.

While my troops were still lying here, General Rosecrans, with a part
of his staff and a few orderlies, rode out on the rearranged line to
supervise its formation and encourage the men, and in prosecution of
these objects moved around the front of my column of attack, within
range of the batteries that were shelling us so viciously. As he
passed to the open ground on my left, I joined him. The enemy seeing
this mounted party, turned his guns upon it, and his accurate aim was
soon rewarded, for a solid shot carried away the head of Colonel
Garesche, the chief-of-staff, and killed or wounded two or three
orderlies. Garesche's appalling death stunned us all, and a
momentary expression of horror spread over Rosecrans's face; but at
such a time the importance of self-control was vital, and he pursued
his course with an appearance of indifference, which, however, those
immediately about him saw was assumed, for undoubtedly he felt most
deeply the death of his friend and trusted staff-officer.

No other attacks were made on us to the east of the railroad for the
rest of the afternoon, and just before dark I was directed to
withdraw and take up a position along the west side of the Nashville
pike, on the extreme right of our new line, where Roberts's brigade
and the Seventy-third and Eighty-eighth Illinois had already been
placed by McCook. The day had cost me much anxiety and sadness, and
I was sorely disappointed at the general result, though I could not
be other than pleased at the part taken by my command. The loss of
my brigade commanders--Sill, Roberts, Schaefer, and Harrington-and a
large number of regimental and battery officers, with so many of
their men, struck deep into my heart: My thinned ranks told the
woeful tale of the fierce struggles, indescribable by words, through
which my division had passed since 7 o'clock in the morning; and
this, added to our hungry and exhausted condition, was naturally
disheartening. The men had been made veterans, however, by the
fortunes and misfortunes of the day, and as they went into their new
places still confident of final success, it was plain to see that
they felt a self-confidence inspired by the part they had already

My headquarters were now established on the Nashville pike, about
three miles and a half from Murfreesboro'; my division being aligned
to the west of the pike, bowed out and facing almost west, Cleburn's
division of the Confederates confronting it. Davis's division was
posted on my right, and Walker's brigade of Thomas's corps, which had
reported to me, took up a line that connected my left with Johnson's

Late in the evening General Rosecrans, accompanied by General McCook,
and several other officers whose names I am now unable to recall,
rode by my headquarters on their way to the rear to look for a new
line of battle--on Overall's creek it was said--that would preserve
our communications with Nashville and offer better facilities for
resistance than the one we were now holding. Considerable time had
elapsed when they returned from this exploration and proceeded to
their respective commands, without intimating to me that anything had
been determined upon by the reconnoissance, but a little later it was
rumored through the different headquarters that while the party was
looking for a new position it discovered the enemy's troops moving
toward our right and rear, the head of his columns being conducted in
the darkness by the aid of torches, and that no alternative was left
us but to hold the lines we then occupied. The torches had been seen
unquestionably, and possibly created some alarm at first in the minds
of the reconnoitring party, but it was soon ascertained that the
lights came from a battalion of the Fourth regular cavalry that was
picketing our flank and happened to be starting its bivouac fires at
the moment. The fires and the supposed movements had no weight,
therefore, in deciding the proposition to take up a line at Overall's
creek, but General Rosecrans, fortunately for the army, decided to
remain where he was. Doubtless reflections during his ride caused
him to realize that the enemy must be quite as much crippled as
himself. If it had been decided to fall back to Overall's creek, we
could have withdrawn without much difficulty very likely, but such a
retrograde movement would have left to the enemy the entire
battle-field of Stone River and ultimately compelled our retreat
to Nashville.

In the night of December 3rd several slight demonstrations were made
on my front, but from the darkness neither party felt the effect of
the other's fire, and when daylight came again the skirmishers and
lines of battle were in about the same position they had taken up the
evening before. Soon after daybreak it became evident that the
conflict was to be renewed, and a little later the enemy resumed the
offensive by an attack along my left front, especially on Walker's
brigade. His attempt was ineffectual, however, and so easily
repulsed as to demonstrate that the desperate character of his
assaults the day before had nearly exhausted his strength. About 3
o'clock in the afternoon he made another feeble charge on my front,
but our fire from the barricades and rifle-pits soon demoralized his
advancing lines, which fell back in some confusion, thus enabling us
to pick up about a hundred prisoners. From this time till the
evening of January 3 Bragg's left remained in our front, and
continued to show itself at intervals by weak demonstrations, which
we afterward ascertained were directly intended to cover the
desperate assault he made with Breckenridge on the left of Rosecrans,
an assault that really had in view only a defensive purpose, for
unless Bragg dislodged the troops which were now massing in front of
his right he would be obliged to withdraw General Polk's corps behind
Stone River and finally abandon Murfreesboro'. The sequel proved
this to be the case; and the ill-judged assault led by Breckenridge
ending in entire defeat, Bragg retired from Murfreesboro' the night
of January 3.

General Rosecrans occupied Murfreesboro' on the 4th and 5th, having
gained a costly victory, which was not decisive enough in its
character to greatly affect the general course of the war, though it
somewhat strengthened and increased our hold on Middle Tennessee.
The enemy in retiring did not fall back very far--only behind Duck
River to Shelbyville and Tullahoma--and but little endeavor was made
to follow him. Indeed, we were not in condition to pursue, even if
it had been the intention at the outset of the campaign.

As soon as possible after the Confederate retreat I went over the
battle-field to collect such of my wounded as had not been carried
off to the South and to bury my dead. In the cedars and on the
ground where I had been so fiercely assaulted when the battle opened,
on the morning of the 31st, evidences of the bloody struggle appeared
on every hand in the form of broken fire-arms, fragments of
accoutrements, and splintered trees. The dead had nearly all been
left unburied, but as there was likelihood of their mutilation by
roving swine, the bodies had mostly been collected in piles at
different points and inclosed by rail fences. The sad duties of
interment and of caring for the wounded were completed by the 5th,
and on the 6th I moved my division three miles, south of
Murfreesboro' on the Shelbyville pike, going into camp on the banks
of Stone River. Here the condition of my command was thoroughly
looked into, and an endeavor made to correct such defects as had been
disclosed by the recent battle.

During the engagement there had been little straggling, and my list
of missing was small and legitimate; still, it was known that a very
few had shirked their duty, and an example was necessary. Among this
small number were four officers who, it was charged, had abandoned
their colors and regiments. When their guilt was clearly
established, and as soon as an opportunity occurred, I caused the
whole division to be formed in a hollow square, closed in mass, and
had the four officers marched to the centre, where, telling them that
I would not humiliate any officer or soldier by requiring him to
touch their disgraced swords, I compelled them to deliver theirs up
to my colored servant, who also cut from their coats every insignia
of rank. Then, after there had been read to the command an order
from army headquarters dismissing the four from the service, the
scene was brought to a close by drumming the cowards out of camp. It
was a mortifying spectacle, but from that day no officer in that
division ever abandoned his colors.

My effective force in the battle of Stone River was 4,154 officers
and men. Of this number I lost 1,633 killed, wounded, and missing,
or nearly 40 per cent. In the remaining years of the war, though
often engaged in most severe contests, I never experienced in any of
my commands so high a rate of casualties. The ratio of loss in the
whole of Rosecrans's army was also high, and Bragg's losses were
almost equally great. Rosecrans carried into the action about 42,000
officers and men. He lost 13,230, or 31 per cent. Bragg's effective
force was 37,800 officers and men; he lost 10,306, or nearly 28 per

Though our victory was dearly bought, yet the importance of gaining
the day at any price was very great, particularly when we consider
what might have been the result had not the gallantry of the army and
the manoeuvring during the early disaster saved us from ultimate
defeat. We had started out from Nashville on an offensive campaign,
probably with no intention of going beyond Murfreesboro', in
midwinter, but still with the expectation of delivering a crushing
blow should the enemy accept our challenge to battle. He met us with
a plan of attack almost the counterpart of our own. In the execution
of his plan he had many advantages, not the least of which was his
intimate knowledge of the ground, and he came near destroying us.
Had he done so, Nashville would probably have fallen; at all events,
Kentucky would have been opened again to his incursions, and the
theatre of war very likely transferred once more to the Ohio River.
As the case now stood, however, Nashville was firmly established as a
base for future operations, Kentucky was safe from the possibility of
being again overrun, and Bragg, thrown on the defensive, was
compelled to give his thoughts to the protection of the interior of
the Confederacy and the security of Chattanooga, rather than indulge
in schemes of conquest north of the Cumberland River. While he still
held on in Middle Tennessee his grasp was so much loosened that only
slight effort would be necessary to push him back into Georgia, and
thus give to the mountain region of East Tennessee an opportunity to
prove its loyalty to the, Union.

The victory quieted the fears of the West and Northwest, destroyed
the hopes of the secession element in Kentucky, renewed the drooping
spirits of the East Tennesseans, and demoralized the disunionists in
Middle Tennessee; yet it was a negative victory so far as concerned
the result on the battle-field. Rosecrans seems to have planned the
battle with the idea that the enemy would continue passive, remain
entirely on the defensive, and that it was necessary only to push
forward our left in order to force the evacuation of Murfreesboro';
and notwithstanding the fact that on the afternoon of December 30
McCook received information that the right of Johnson's division.
resting near the Franklin pike, extended only to about the centre of
the Confederate army, it does not appear that attack from that
quarter was at all apprehended by the Union commanders.

The natural line of retreat of the Confederates was not threatened by
the design of Rosecrans; and Bragg, without risk to his
communications, anticipated it by a counter-attack of like character
from his own left, and demolished his adversary's plan the moment we
were thrown on the defensive. Had Bragg followed up with the spirit
which characterized its beginning the successful attack by Hardee on
our right wing--and there seems no reason why he should not have done
so--the army of Rosecrans still might have got back to Nashville, but
it would have been depleted and demoralized to such a degree as to
unfit it for offensive operations for a long time afterward. Bragg's
intrenchments in front of Stone River were very strong, and there
seems no reason why he should not have used his plain advantage as
explained, but instead he allowed us to gain time, intrench, and
recover a confidence that at first was badly shaken. Finally, to cap
the climax of his errors, he directed Breckenridge to make the
assault from his right flank on January 2, with small chance for
anything but disaster, when the real purpose in view could have been
accomplished without the necessity of any offensive manoeuvre



On the 6th of January, 1863, my division settled quietly down in its
camp south of Murfreesboro'. Its exhausted condition after the
terrible experiences of the preceding week required attention. It
needed recuperation, reinforcement, and reorganization, and I set
about these matters without delay, in anticipation of active
operations early in the spring. No forward movement was made for
nearly six months, however, and throughout this period drills,
parades, reconnoissances, and foraging expeditions filled in the time
profitably. In addition to these exercises the construction of
permanent fortifications for the security of Murfreesboro' was
undertaken by General Rosecrans, and large details from my troops
were furnished daily for the work. Much attention was also given to
creating a more perfect system of guard and picket duty-a matter that
had hitherto been somewhat neglected in the army, as its constant
activity had permitted scant opportunity for the development of such
a system. It was at this time that I received my appointment as a
major-general of Volunteers. My promotion had been recommended by
General Rosecrans immediately after the battle of Stone River, but
for some reason it was delayed until April, and though a long time
elapsed between the promise and the performance, my gratification was

My scout, Card, was exceedingly useful while encamped near
Murfreesboro, making several trips to East Tennessee within the
enemy's lines to collect information as to the condition of the loyal
people there, and to encourage them with the hope of early
liberation. He also brought back from each trip very accurate
statements as to the strength and doings of the Confederate army,
fixing almost with certainty its numbers and the locations of its
different divisions, and enabling my engineer-officer--Major
Morhardt--to construct good maps of the country in our front. On
these dangerous excursions Card was always accompanied by one of his
brothers, the other remaining with me to be ready for duty if any
accident occurred to those who had gone out, or in case I wanted to
communicate with them. In this way we kept well posted, although the
intelligence these men brought was almost always secured at the risk
of their lives.

Early in the spring, before the Tullahoma campaign began, I thought
it would be practicable, by sending out a small secret expedition of
but three or four men, to break the Nashville and Chattanooga
railroad between Chattanooga and the enemy's position at Tullahoma by
burning the bridges in Crow Creek valley from its head to Stevenson,
Alabama, and then the great bridge across the Tennessee River at
Bridgeport. Feeling confident that I could persuade Card to
undertake the perilous duty, I broached the contemplated project to
him, and he at once jumped at the opportunity of thus distinguishing
himself, saying that with one of his brothers and three other loyal
East Tennesseeans, whose services he knew could be enlisted, he felt
sure of carrying out the idea, so I gave him authority to choose his
own assistants. In a few days his men appeared at my headquarters,
and when supplied with money in notes of the State Bank of Tennessee,
current everywhere as gold in those days, the party, composed of
Card, the second brother, and the three East Tennesseeans, started on
their precarious enterprise, their course being directed first toward
the Cumberland Mountains, intending to strike the Nashville and
Chattanooga railroad somewhere above Anderson's station. They
expected to get back in about fifteen days, but I looked for some
knowledge of the progress of their adventure before the expiration of
that period, hoping to hear through Confederate sources prisoners and
the like-of the destruction of the bridges. I waited in patience for
such news, but none came, and as the time Card had allotted himself
passed by, I watched anxiously for his return, for, as there was
scarcely a doubt that the expedition had proved a failure, the fate
of the party became a matter of deep concern to Card's remaining
brother and to me. Finally this brother volunteered to go to his
father's house in East Tennessee to get tidings of the party, and I
consented, for the probabilities were that some of them had made
their way to that point, or at least that some information had
reached there about them. As day after day went by, the time fixed
for this brother's return came round, yet he also remained out; but
some days after the lad was due Card himself turned up accompanied by
the brother he had taken with him, soon explained his delay in
getting back, and gave me the story of his adventures while absent.

After leaving my camp, his party had followed various byways across
the Cumberland Mountains to Crow Creek Valley, as instructed; but
when nearing the railroad above Anderson's Station, they were
captured by some guerrillas prowling about that vicinity, and being
suspected of disloyalty to the Confederacy, were carried to
Chattanooga and imprisoned as Yankee spies. Their prospects now were
decidedly discouraging, for death stared them in the face.
Fortunately, however, some delays occurred relative to the
disposition that should be made of them, and they, meanwhile,
effected their escape from their jailors by way of one of the prison
windows, from which they managed to displace a bar, and by a skiff,
in the darkness of night, crossed the Tennessee River a little below
Chattanooga. From this point the party made their way back to my
camp, traveling only at night, hiding in the woods by day, and for
food depending on loyal citizens that Card had become acquainted with
when preaching and peddling.

Card's first inquiry after relating his story was for the youngest
brother, whom he had left with me. I told him what I had done, in my
anxiety about himself, and that more than sufficient time had elapsed
for his brother's return. His reply was: "They have caught him. The
poor fellow is dead." His surmise proved correct; for news soon came
that the poor boy had been captured at his father's house, and
hanged. The blow to Card was a severe one, and so hardened his heart
against the guerrillas in the neighborhood of his father's home--for
he knew they were guilty of his brother's murder--that it was with
difficulty I could persuade him to continue in the employment of the
Government, so determined was he to avenge his brother's death at the
first opportunity. Finally, however, I succeeded in quieting the
almost uncontrollable rage that seemed to possess him, and he
remained with me during the Tullahoma and Chickamauga campaigns; but
when we reached Knoxville the next winter, he took his departure,
informing me that he was going for the bushwhackers who had killed
his brother. A short time after he left me, I saw him at the head of
about thirty well-armed East Tennesseeans--refugees. They were
determined-looking men, seeking revenge for the wrongs and sufferings
that had been put upon them in the last two years, and no doubt
wreaked their vengeance right and left on all who had been in any way
instrumental in persecuting them.

The feeding of our army from the base at Louisville was attended with
a great many difficulties, as the enemy's cavalry was constantly
breaking the railroad and intercepting our communications on the
Cumberland River at different points that were easily accessible to
his then superior force of troopers. The accumulation of reserve
stores was therefore not an easy task, and to get forage ahead a few
days was well-nigh impossible, unless that brought from the North was
supplemented by what we could gather from the country. Corn was
abundant in the region to the south and southwest of Murfreesboro',
so to make good our deficiences in this respect, I employed a brigade
about once a week in the duty of collecting and bringing in forage,
sending out sometimes as many as a hundred and fifty wagons to haul
the grain which my scouts had previously located. In nearly every
one of these expeditions the enemy was encountered, and the wagons
were usually loaded while the skirmishers kept up a running fire,
Often there would occur a respectable brush, with the loss on each
side of a number of killed and wounded. The officer in direct

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest