Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

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the 2d of July, 1864.

Mr. Sumner proposed** another
Amendment to this bill, providing
that **in the Courts of the United
States, there shall be no exclusion of
any witness on account of color."
Mr. Buckalew moved to add, " or be-
cause he is a party to or interested in
the issue tried." This was agreed
to ; and Mr. Sumner's amendment,
thus amended, was adopted: Yeas
22 ; Nays 16 ; and the bill passed, as
already stated ; making it the law of
the land that no person shall hence-
forth be precluded from giving testi-
mony either because of his color or
because he is interested in the pend-
ing issue.

•Jul 14^ 1862. "Dec 9, 1861. •• Jan. 25, 1862. •• Itodi 23, 1864. "June 24. " June 26.

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GsN. RosECBANSy on assuming'
command of Buell^s Army of the
Ohio, found it seriously depleted
and demoralized by the exhaustive
marches and indecisive conflicts of
the last six months. With a strength
fully adequate to the rout and de-
struction of all the forces led into
Kentucky by Bragg and Kirby
Smith, it had seen that State ravaged
throughout by that locust horde,
which had in due time recrossed the
Oumberland Mountains unassailed,
returning to East Tennessee as if in
triumph. Of the 100,000 men for-
merly borne on its muster-rolls, he
found, on examination, no less than
26,482 " absentby authority"— most,
but not nearly all of them, doubtless,
in hospitals — sick or wounded; while
6,484 more were "absent wUJwut
authority" — in other words, had de-
serted. His effective force was thus
reduced to about 66,000 men ; while
his cavalry was so inferior in num-
bers and efSciency that the troopers
of Forrest and John Morgan rode
around us at will, striking at posts
and supply trains, and compelling
enormous and constantly increasing,
exhausting details to keep open our
communications and preserve our
army firom starvation.

lie railroad from Louisville to
Nashville had been reopened to and
across Green river; so that, though
there was no considerable force of
the enemy in its front — ^Bragg's
army being still on its tedious, toil-
some, circuitous retreat through East

Tennessee — our army waa clustered
around Bowling Green, whence it
could advance only so fast as the re-
pair of its sole line of supply should
be perfected. Its designation had
been changed to " Fourteenth Army
Corps ;" the Department having been
curtailed, and rechristened that of
the Cumberland. It was now or-
ganized into three grand divisions:
the Right, under Maj.-Glen. McCook,
with Brig.-Gens. J. W. Sill, Phil. H.
Sheridan, and Col. W. E. Woodruff
at the head of its subordinate divi-
sions respectively ; the Center, under
Maj.-Gen. Gteo. H. Thomas, with its
subordinate divisions led by Maj.-
Gen. L. H. Bousseau, Brig.-Gens.
N^ley, Palmer, Dumont, and Fry;
whereof Dumont and Fry were soon
relieved, and Palmer transferred to
the Left Wing, of which Maj.-Gen,
T. L. Crittenden had command, and
which consisted of the sub-divisions
of Brig.-Gens. T. J. Wood, H. P.
Van Cleve, and W. 8. Smith. Koee-
crans assigned the chief command of
his dilapidate^ cavalry to Maj.-G«n.
D. S. Stanley ; while Lt-Col. Julius
P. Garesch^ — an officer of rare capar
city and merit — ^was placed at the
head of his staff, with Capt. J. St.
Clair Morton as Chief Engineer,
and Col. Wm. Truesdail as Chief of
Army Police.

The railroad having been rendered
serviceable, Rosecrans left " Bowling
Green by special train for Mitchells-
ville ; where he took horse and pro-
ceeded to Nashville, whose garrison.

^ Got 80, 1862.

• NoY. 10.

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eoimnanded by Oten. Negley, he re-
Tiewed next day. His diviBions, as
they arrived, were thrown out in
front of the city, covering the roade
leading southward ; the command of
the Right here devolving on G^en.
Jeff. C. Davis ; Gen. R. B. Mitchell
relieved Negley as commandant at
Nashville, enabling him to go to the
front ; while Dumont's division was
merged : a new one being created,
and Brig.-Gbn. J. J. Reynolds as-
signed to its command. Until the
railroad was frdly reopened * hence to
Louisville, our men only lived from
hand to mouth, rendering a farther
advance impossible ; so that Bragg's
army had time to conclude its long
march and reappear in our front at
MuBFREBSBOBouGH, before Rosecrans
was prepared to assume the offensive.
Meantime, Morgan had been ex-
hibiting his audacity and vigor as a
leader of cavalry. Several daring
dashes on our supply trains below
Mitchellsville had resulted in the
capture of a number of our wagons
and at least 160 men ; Lt. Seals and
20 men of the 4:th Michigan cavalry
had been picked up* near Stone
river; but Gten. Stanley, reporting
for duly about this time, soon drove
the Rebel raiders from our rear ; and,
in several partisan affairs occurring
directly afterward, the advantage
was with us — a Texas regiment
being chased * by Col. L. M. Kennett
some 16 miles niown the Franklin
turnpike; while Brig.-Gen. E. N.
Kirk that day drove Wheeler out of
Lavergne— Wheeler himself being
wounded. Phil. Sheridan, on ano-
ther road, pressed the enemy back to
J^olensviUe, without loss on our part ;
and Col. Roberts, 4r2d Illinois, sur-

prised and captured Capt. Portch
and a small squad of Morgan's men ;
bringing in their arms and horses.
A Rebel' force having, about this
time, dashed across the Cumberl^d
near Hartsville, captnring a forage
train and its escort. Major Hill,
2d Indiana, chased the captors 18
miles, recovering all we had lost, and
killing some 18 ot 20 Rebels — for
which he was publicly complimented
by Rosecrans; who, finding that
some of his soldiers were base enough
to surrender wantonly to the enemy,
in order to be paroled and sent hpme,
had fifty of the caitiffs dressed up
in ridiculous night-caps,' and thus
paraded, before their jeering com-
rades, through Nashville, to the
music of the Rogue's March; aft»r
which, they were forwarded to the
parole camp in Indiana. The lesson
did not require repetition.

Gen. Thomas having thrown for-
ward on our left a brigade — nearly
2,000 strong — ^to Hartsville, its com-
mand fell to Col. A. B. Moore, 104th
Illinois, who allowed himself to be
surprised * by Morgan, at the head of
1,600 cavalry and mounted infantry,
and most disgraceftilly captured;
though the residue of Gen. Dumont's
division was at CastUian Springs,
only nine miles distant. Moore had
neglected to fortify or even intrench
himself; his vedettes were surprised
and picked up; Morgan advanced on
him at 7 a. m., in broad daylight,
having previously gained his rear
without exciting an alarm; when
Moore, who had hastily taken post on
a hill, and who soon contrived to
evince every species of incapacity,
cowardice inclusive, surrendered,
and was hurried off with about 1,600

•Not. ae.

* KoY. 13.

• Not. 2T.

• Not. 28.

'Dec. 7.

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and constantlj, taking adyantage of
the continually increasing ronghneBS
of the country, which is in good part
heayily wooded with forests of oak
and dense thickets of cedar, render-
ing the movement slow and by no
means bloodless. McCook, with our
right, rested that night at Nolens-
ville, and the next at Triune ; Crit-
tenden, with our left, advanced the
first day to Lavergne, and the next
to Stewart's creek, where RosecrJMis
seems to have expected that the
Eebels might give him battle. The
third day, being Sunday, our troops
mainly rested. Next morning, Mc-
Cook pressed on to Wilkinson's
Cross-Boads, six miles from Mur-
freesboro'; while Crittenden, with
Palmer's division in advance, moved
on the main Murfreesboro' pike to
Stoijb RrvER ; finding the Rebel army
in position along the blufi^ across that
stream. Palmer, observing an ap-
parently retrogade movement on the
part of the enemy, erroneously re-
ported to headquarters that they
were retreating ; and Crittenden was
thereupon ordered to push across a
division and occupy Murfreesboro'.
Harker's brigade was accordingly
sent across — the stream being almost
everywhere fordable — and drove a
Bebel raiment back upon their
main body in some confrision; but
prisoners thus captur^ reporting
that Breckinridge's entire corps was
there present, Crittenden wisely took
the responsibility of disobeying Rose-
crans's order, and, favored by night-
fall, withdrew Harker across the river
without serious loss.

Next day," McCook fought his way
down nearly to Stone river, some-
what west of Murfreesboro' ; and be-

fore night our army was nearly all in
position along a line stretching ir-
regularly from north to south, a dis*
tance of some^ three or four miles :
Crittenden on the left, Thomas in the
center, and McCook on the right;
and, at 9 p. m., the three met, by in-
vitation, at Rosecrans's headquarters,
and received their orders for the

It being now certain that Bragg
had deliberately chosen this as his
ground whereon to stand and fight,
and that he had concentrated here
his forces, while his cavalry so stub-
bornly contested and impeded our
advance, Rosecrans proposed at day-
light to throw forward his left and
center, crushing Breckinridge, who
held the Rebel right, and then, wheel-
ing rapidly, fall with overwhelm-
ing force in front Mid flank on their
center, sweeping through Murfrees-
boro' and gaining the rear of the
enemy's center and left, pushing
them off their natural line of retreat,
and so cutting up and destroying
their entire army. In pursuance of
this plan. Van Clove's division, on
our extreme left, advanced soon after
daylight ; Wood's being ready to sup-
port and follow him.

Bragg, however, had already de-
cided to %ht his own battle, and
not Rosecrans's. To this end, he had
concentrated heavily on his left,
where Hardee was in command,
with orders to attack McCook at
daylight." Bishop Polk, in his center,
strengthened by McCown's division,
was directed to second and support
Hardee's attack ; the two corps mov-
ing by a constant right wheel, and
crushing back our routed right upon
our Center, seizing first the Wilkin-


VOL, n. — 18


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son and then the Nashville turnpike ;
interposing between onr army and
its snpply-trains, whenever they
dionld have flanked onr right and
gained our rear.

According to Bosecrans's plan,
HcCook, however strongly assailed,
was to hold his position for three
hours, receding — ^if attacked in over-
whelming force — ^very slowly, and
fighting desperately; which he had
undertaken to do. But there* was
a serious mistake in the calcula-
tion. Before 7 a. m., Hardee*s corps
burst from the thickets in McOook^s
front and on his right; Cleburne's
four brigades charging vehemently
its extreme right, Cheatham's and
McCown's divisions striking it more
directly in front, hurling back our
skirmishers at once on our lines, and
crumbling these into a fleeing mob
within a few minutes. Of the two
brigade commanders in Johnson's
division, holding our extreme right.
Gen. Kirk was severely wounded at
the first fire ; while Gen. Willich had
his horse killed and was himself cap-
tured. So sudden aud unexpected
was the attack, that a portion of our
battery horses had been unhitched
frt)m the guns and sent off to drink,
a few minutes before. The guns, of
course, were lost.

McCook attempted to reform in
the woods behind his first position;
but his right was too thoroughly
routed, and was chased rapidly back
toward our center. A large part
of this (Johnson's) division was
gathered up as prisoners by the Rebel
cavalry ; the rM was of little account
during the remainder of the fight.

McCook's remainiug . divisions,
under Jeff. 0. Davis and Sheri-
dan, had repulsed several resolute

attacks on their front, when die dk-
appearanoe of Johnson's division en-
abled the Bebels to come in on their
flank, compelling them also to give
ground ; and, though repeated efforts
were made by Davis and his sulx^-
dinates to bring their men again up
to the work, their fighting did not
amount to much thereafter.

Sheridan's division fought longer
and better ; but of his brigade com-
manders. Gen. J. W. Sill was killed
early in the day, while leading a suc-
cessful charge, and Cols. Roberts and
Shaeffer at later periods — each fidling
dead at the head of his brigade, while
charging or bein^ chaiged. This
division fought well throughout ; but
was pushed back nearly or quite to
the Nashville turnpike, with the
loss of Houghtaling's and a section
of Bush's battery.

By 11 A. ic, the day was appa-
rently lost-. McCook's corps — a full
third of our army — ^was practically
demolished, and the Rebel cavaliy
in our rear working its wicked will
upon our supply trains and strag-
glers. Nearly half the ground held
by our army at daylight had be^i
won by the triumphant enemy, who
had now several batteries in position,
playing upon our center, where Neg-
ley's division of Thomas's corps was
desperately engaged, with its ammu-
nition n^ly expended, its artillery
horses disabled, and a heavy Reb^
column pushing in between it and
what was left of McCook's corps,
with intent to surround and capture
it. This compelled Negley to re-
coil ; when Qen. Rousseau, pushing
up his reserve division to die front,
sent Mflj. Ring's battalion of r^ulars
to Negle/s assistance. The r^ulars
made a most gallant and effective

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charge, losing heayily, but rendering
admirable Benrice.

The weight of the Bebel attack
had by this time fallen wholly on
Thomas, commanding oar center;
Sheridan, entirely out of ammuni-
tion, £EJling still farther to the rear,
and the triumphant Rebels pressing
on until they had reached a position
which gave them a concentric cross-
fire at short-range on Negley's and
Bousseau's divisions. This compelled
Thomas to withdraw them from the
cedar woods to more open and favor,
able groimd ; his artillery holding a
ridge cm the right (south) of the
Nashville turnpike. In executing
this movement, the r^ulars, Lt.-Col.
Shepherd, were brought under a mur-
derous fire, by which they lost 580
men. But the ground now taken
was held ; our batteries here concen-
trated, and the Rebels' progress finally
arrested ; their repeated attempts to
advance out of the cedar thicket on
our right and front being defeated
with great slaughter.

Palmer's division, holding the right
of our left wing, had advanced, at 8
A. H., to support Negley's movement,
covering his left; but had not pro-
ceeded far when Palmer found his
safety compromised by a Rebel ad-
vance on his rear. Halting Cruft's
brigade, and ordering Col. Grose to
fitce to ike rear, he opened fire on the
Rebels, and quickly repulsed them;
while CoL Hazen, falling back a short
distance, occupied the crest of a low,
wooded hill, between the Nashville
turnpike and railroad, and held it
firmly until Grose, having driven the
enemy from his rear, came up to his
assistance ; as did two or three other
regiments. Again and agadn was his
poeition assailed ; but each attack

was repulsed; and the fight closed on
this part of the field with our troops
entirely successfhL

Bragg had brought all his army
across the creek to overwhelm our
right and center, save that Breckin-
ridge, with his division, remained op-
posite our left. At 10^ ▲. m., he, too,
received an order to advance and at-
tack ; but he had only moved half a
mile, when a new order came to de-
tach one or two brigades to the sup-
port of Polk, in the center ; and he
sent two brigades accordingly. He
soon received a still further order to
advance and attack, and then one to
report to Polk with all but Hanson's
brigade. Moving his remaining brig-
ades, under Preston and Palmer, by
the left flank, he crossed the creek
and reported to Polk and Bragg just
in season to see the brigades of Jack-
son and Adams, which he had previ-
ously sent, recoil from an assault on
our lines; Adams being among the
wounded. Breckinridge was now or-
dered to charge with Preston's and
Palmer's brigades, and did so ; gain-
ing some ground, but losing consid-
erably, and finally desisting, as night
fell, because the position in his front
was too strong to be carried by his
force. During the night, he was or-
dered back, with Palmer's brigade,
to his old position on the Rebel right

Gen. Wood, who was in command
of our division thus assailed, was
wounded in the foot at 10 a. m. ; but
remained in the saddle till evening,
when he turned over his command to
Gen. M. S. HascalL Though he had
been obliged, early in the fight, to
spare Hascall's and Harker's brigades
to the relief of the center and right,
he held his ground nobly through the
day; his batteries replying forcibly

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to those with which the enemy an-
noyed ns from the heights south of
the river, and his infantry repelling
every chaise made by tlie enemy.
Before night, Estep's battery, which,
with Cox's,had been splendidly served
throughout, had lost so heavily that
a detail of infantry was required to
aid in working its guns. Bradley's
6th Ohio battery at one time lost two
of its guns; but they were subse-
quently recaptured by the 13th Michi-

Night fell on our army successful
against every attempt which had for
some hours been made to drive it;
but with little reason for exultation.
It had lost, since daylight, including
stragglers, at least one-fourth of its
numbers, with an- equal proportion
of its guns. It had lost half the
ground on which it was encamped
in the morning ; and the Rebel cav-
ahy were on its line of communica-
tions, making free with its baggage
and supplies. Almost any General
but Sosecrans would have supposed
that there was but one point now to be
considered : how to get back to Nash-
ville with the least additional loss.
But Kosecrans took stock of his am-
munition, and found that there was
enough left for another battle ; so he
resolved to stay. His guns were now
well posted, and had the range of the
ground in their front; and it had
been fairly proved that the enemy
could not take them, even with the
help of the 28 we had lost So, giv-
ing orders for the issue of all the re-
maining ammunition, drawing in his
left a few rods, so that it might rest

advantageously on the creek, and
welcoming and posting the brigades
of Starkweather and Walker, which
had come up as night fell, he lay
down with his army to await such a
New Year's Day as it should please
God to send them. Ammunition be-
ing rather scanty, and fi'esh supplies
expected, he proposed to keep the
holiday in quiet, unless Bragg G^ould
decide otherwise.

On a calm review of this day's
desperate and doubtful carnage, there
can not be a doubt that the battle
was saved after it had been lost ; and
that the man who saved it was
William S. Kosecrans. Thousands
had done nobly — Thomas, Sheridan,
Wood, Rousseau, Palmer, Van Cleve,
and others, eminently so — ^but the
day might have been saved without
any of them ; while without Rose-
crans it must have been lost. It was
he who, when apprised too late of
the sudden and utter demolition of
his right wing, instantly pushed up
Rousseau from his center to its re-
lief, and hurried across Van Clove's
and other divisions from the left to
stay the tide of Rebel success ; it was
he who— Van Cleve having just
fallen — ^led the charge by a part of
his division, which finally arrested
the Rebels and repelled their ad-
vance on our right — ^Rousseau forth-
with emulating his example, charging
desperately the enemy in his fix>nt,
and hurling them back into the
cedars with fearful loss on both sides,
but with prisoners taken by ours
only." And when, later in the day,
the storm of battle rolled around to

"Rousseau, in his official report, says :

** As the enemy emerged from the woods in

great force, shouting and cheering, the batteries

of Loomis and Guenther, double-shotted with

osnlster, opened upon them. Thej moyed

strwght ahead for a while; but were finally
driven back with immense loss. In a little
while, they rallied again, and, as it seemed, with
fresh troops, again assailed our position; and
were again, alter a fierce struggle, driyen back.

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our center and left, falling heavilj on
Palmer's and Wood's divisions, Bose-
crans was there, directing, encourag-
ing, steadying ; though the head of
bis chief of staff, GareschS, was blown
to pieces by a shell while riding by
the General's side, and three or four
others of his staff or escort were
wounded— -one of them mortally —
and as many more lost their horses.
To Gare8ch6, he was deeply attached
— ^they two being Roman Catholics,
aa were none other of his military
family — ^but he was too intent on his
work to seem to heed the fall of his
beloved friend; and when another
of the staff said to him, " Garesch6 is
dead," "I am very sorry," was the
quiet response, " but we can not help
it." Soon word came (erroneously),
" McCook is killed." " We can not
help it," was the General's calm re-
ply; "this battle must be won."
And it was won. Before sunset, the
Rebels had tried him on every side,
and been beaten back — with fearful
carnage, indeed, but no greater on
our side than on theirs — their ad-
yantage being confined to our loss of
guns and prisoners in the morning,
consequent on McCook's sudden,
overwl^elming disaster. In the fight-
ing since 11 o'clock, the carnage had
been greater on the side of the
Rebels ; and they had lost confidence,
if not ground. At 9 a. m., they had
supposed our army in their hands;
at sunset, Bragg had enough to do

to save his own. Says Roe^csranB, in

his official report :

" The day. closed, leaving ns masters of
the origmal groand on our left, and onr line
advantageouslj posted, with open ground
in front, swept at all points by our artillerj.
We had lost heavily in killed and wounded,
and a considerable number in stragglers and
prisoners ; also, 28 pieces of artillery : the
horses having been slain, and our troops
being unable to withdraw them, by hand,
over the rough ground; but the enemy had
been roughly handled, and badly damaged
at all points, having had no Success where
we had open ground, and our troops prop-
erly posted ; none, which did not depend
on the original crushing of our right and
the superior masses which were, in conse-
quence, brought to bear upon the narrow
front of Sheridan's and Negley's divisions,
and a part of Palmer's, coupled with the
scarcity of ammunition, caused by the cir-
cuitous road which the train had taken,
and the inconvenience of getting it from a
remote distance through the cedars."

Both armies maintained their re-
spective positions throughout the fol-
lowing day." There were artillery
duels at intervals, and considerable
picket-firing, whereby some casual-
ties were suffered, mainly on our
center and left ; but nothing like a
serious attack : the lines of the two
armies confronting each other at
close range, alert and vigilant ; while
brigades and regiments were silently
moved from point to point, and rifle-
pits and other hasty defenses were
constructed on either side, in prepa-
ration for the impending struggle.
Meantime, some ammunition trains —
which the Rebel cavalry had driven
from their proper positions in our

Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 39 of 113)