Horace Greeley.

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

. (page 40 of 113)
Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 40 of 113)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

rear, and compelled to. make long

Four deliberate and fiercely sustained assaults
were made upon our position, and repulsed.
During the last assault, I was informed that our
troops were advancing on our right, and saw
troops, out of my division, led by Gen. Rose-
orans, moving in tliat direction. I informed
C^en. Thomas of Ihe fact, and asked leave to ad-
vance my lines. He directed me to do so. We
made a charge upon the enemy, and drove him
into the woods ; my staff and orderlies captur-
ing some 17 prisoners, induding a Captain and

Lieutenant, who were within 130 yards of the
batteries. This ended the fighting of that day:
the enemy in immense force hovering in the
woods during the night, whOe we slept on our
arms on the field of battle. We occupied this
position during the three following days and
niglits of the fight Under Gen. Thomas's
'direction, I had it intrenched by rifle-pitSi and
believe ^e enemy could not have taken it at

"Friday, Jan. 1, 1863,

Digitized by




cirenits to rejoin their c<Hnman<lB —
were brought up and their contents
distributed. At night, our men lay
down on their arms again, and all
was quiet. Hitherto, the weather
had been bright and mild; so that
there was no suffering save on the
part of the wounded.

The quiet remained unbroken till
8 next morning;" when the Rebels
suddenly opened fire from many bat-
teries which had meantime been
stealthily planted in front qf our cen-
ter and left. Haacall's division of
Crittenden's corps was exposed to the
heaviest of this fire, and suffered se-
verely — ^Estep's battery being quickly
disabled, losing so many horses that
its guns were necessarily drawn off
by infantry. But Bradley's and
other batteries now opened on our
side; and, after half an hour's firing,
the Bebels ceased as suddenly as
they had begun. Our* infantry,
though losing heavily, did not change
its position.

Van Clove's division, after losing
its chief) had been moved back
toward our left, Col. Sam. Beatty
commanding ; and, at daybreak this
morning, had in good part been sent
across the stream, taking post on the
bluff beyond, as if in pursuance of
Bosecrans's original purpose to take
Murfreesboro' by a determined ad-
vance of his left. Throughout the
morning, the rest of Van Clove's in-
fimtry, and two or three batteries,
followed. The Rebel army having
been nearly all moved farther to our
right, in executing or in following up
the original demonstration on that
wing, this movement encountered no
opposition ; though skirmishing along
Beatty's front grew livelier and more

determined toward midday; showing
that the enemy were gradually
creeping up. At noon, a battery
opened on our front, while other bat^
teries were seen moving to our left,
as if to flank us in that quarter. At
3 p. M., our skirmishers reported that
the enemy were throwing down the
fences before them, as if making .
ready to charge; and, brfore any
dispositions could be made to receive
them, Breckinridge's entire corps,
strengthened by 10 Napoleon 12-
pounders, forming three magnificent
columns of assault, seemed to emerge
from the earth, and, aided by a heavy
enfilading fire of Bishop Polk's artil-
lery, toward the center, swept on to
the charge.

Their strength was overwhelming ;
and the fire of our first line, consist-
ing of the 51st Ohio, 8th Kentucky,
35th and 781^ Indiana, barely suf-
ficed to check their determined and
confident advance. In a few min-
utes, our men gave way in disorder,
sweeping the second line with them,
or constraining it to follow their ex-
ample. The reserve, consisting of
the 19th Ohio, 9th and 11th Ken-
tucky, was then sent up, and fought
gallantly; but were far too weak,
and, being threatened by a move-
ment on their right flank, fell back,
fighting, to the river and across it,
losing heavily.

But now the solid Rebel masses,
formed six deep, eagerly pursuing,
came within the range of Crittenden's
carefully planted batteries across the
stream, and were plowed through and
through ; while the divisions of Neg-
ley and Jeff. C. Davis, with St. Clair
Morton's engineers, pressed forward
to the rescue. The Rebels were in

"Jan. 2.

Digitized by




turn overmatched and hurled back
in disorder ; losing four of their guns,
the flag of the 26th Tennessee, and a
considerable body of prisoners. Had
not darkness fallen directly, while a
heavy rain had set in, Eosecrans
would have pursued the fugitives
right into Murfreesboro'." As it
was, Crittenden's corps and Davis's
division both passed over, reoccupied
the commanding ground, and, before
morning, were solidly intrenched
there, ready for whatever emergency.

Another night of anxious watchftd-
ness gave place to a morning " of
pouring rain, by which the ground
was so sodden as to impede the move-
ment of artillery. We were short of
ammunition till 10 a. m., when an
anxiously expected train was wel-
comed. Batteries were now con-
structed on the ground so handsome-
ly gained on our left, by which even
Murfreesboro' could be shelled ; and
Qens. Thomas and Rousseau, who
had for days been annoyed by Rebel
sharp-shooters from the cedar thickets
in their front, obtained permission
fix)m Rosecrans to dislodge them by
a charge, following a sharp fire of
artillery — four regiments entering
and soon clearing the woods, captur-
ing 70 or 80 prisoners. No coun-
ter-movement being attempted, the
fourth day closed peacefiilly, and
was followed by a quiet night.

Quiet on our side only. Bragg
had concluded to leave, and com-

menced the movement, as stealthil j
83 possible, at 11 p. M. ; gathering up
his men and guns so cautiously that
even our pickets were not aware of
his Hegira till broad daylight," when
too late for effective pursuit ; which,
in fact, our inferiority in cavalry
must at any rate havp rendered com-
paratively fruitless. We do not seem
even to have advanced on his track
tilL Monday,"

Wheeler's cavalry, after vigorously
resisting our advance to Stone river,
had been dispatched" by Bragg to
the rear of our army ; capturing La-
vergne,** taking YOO prisoners, and
destroying heavy army trains, with
a large amount of stores. Thence
hastening to Rock Spring and No-
lensville, they made still further cap-
tures at each; and, having passed
around" our army, reached the left
flank of Bragg's, just as it commenced
its great and successful charge on
McCook; guarding that flank, and
coming into action as it gained the
Nashville turnpike, just north of
Overall's creek. Wheeler of course
claims the advantage in this fight;
but admits that he fell bade at the
close, numbering Col. Allen and Lt.-
Col. Webb among his wounded. Next
morning, he went up the turnpike to
Lavergne; capturing another train
and a gun ; regaining, by order, the
front during the night; and, being
again sent, at 9 p. m., to our rear ;

* He says, in his report :

** The enemj retreated more rapidlj than they
had advanced. In twenty minutes, they had
lost 2,000 men.**

* Saturday, Jan. 3. " Sunday, Jan. 4.

" Rosecrans, in his oiBcial report, says he re-
ceived news on Sunday morning that the enemy
had fled from ICurfreesboro'; when burial par-
ties were sent out to inter the dead, and the
eayalry ordered to reoonnoiter. He adds that

Thomas, on Monday morning, drove the Rebel
rear-guard (cavalry) six or seven miles south-
ward, and that —

** We learned that the enemy's infantiy had
reached Shelby ville by 12 x. on Sundav; but,
owing to the impracticability of bringing op
supplies, and the loss of 657 artillery hmes,
farther pursuit was deemed inadvisable.'*

•Night of Dec. 29-30.
•Dec. 30.


Digitized by




where he, at 2 p. m. next day,** had a
fight with a heavily guarded ordnance
train, which he stopped, and daims to
have damaged, but was unable to
capture or destroy ; returning during
the night to Bra^s left flank, and
oovering his retreat on the 4th and 5th.

On the whole, the enemy's opera-
tions in the rear of our army, during
this memorable conflict, reflect no
credit on the intelligence and energy
with which they were resisted. The
prisoners — 2,000 or more — ^taken by
the Rebels were of course mainly
stragglers and fugitives, barely worth
paroling; but they figure largely in
Wheeler's and in Bragg's reports.
And it is not doubtful that Eose-
crans's inability to improve his ulti-
mate success was largely owing to
the destruction of his trains by tibese
triumphant raiders.

The silver lining to this cloud is a
most gallant defense made on the 1st
by Col. Innes's 1st Michigan Engi-
neers and Mechanics, only 391 strong,
who had taken post on high ground
near Lavergne, and formed such a
barricade of eedars, &c., as they hur-
riedly might. Here they were ** at-
tacked, at 2 p. M., by Wharton's cav-
alry, whom they successfully resisted
and beat off. Wharton's oflScial re-
port is their best eulogium. He was
in command of six or eight regiments,
and here is his account of this affair :

"A regiment of infantry, under Col.
I>enn\A, also was stationed in a cedar-brake,
and fortifications, near this point. I caused
the battery, under Lt. Pike, who acted with
great gallantry, to open on it. The fire, at
a range of not more than 400 yards, was
kept up for more than an hour ; and must

have resulted in great damage to the enemy.
I caused the enemy to be charged on three
sides at the same time, by Cols. Cox and
Smith and Lt.-Ool. Maloue; and the charge
was repeated four times; but the enemy
was so strongly posted that it was found
impossible to dislodge him."

Bosecrans makes his entire force
who participated in this struggle
37,977 infantry, 3,200 cavahy, and
2,223 artillery: total, 43,400; and
states his losses as follows: killed,
1,533 ;" wounded, 7,245 ; total, 8,778,
or fully 20 per cent, of the number
engaged. He adds that his provost-
marshal says his loss of prisonets will
fall below 2,800. He says nothing
of prisoners taken by him, though we
certainly did take at least 500, beside
woimded. He judges that the Keb-
els had fifteen per cent, advantage in
their choice of ground and knowledge
of the country; and says that they
had present 132 regiments of infantry
and 20 of cavalry, beside 24 smaller
organizations of cavalry, 12 battalions
of sharp-shooters, and 23 batteries of
artillery — all which, he estimates,
must have presented an aggregate of
fully 62,720 men. He thinks their
killed and wounded must have
amoimted to 14,560 men. If he had
only told us how many of them he
buried, and how many wounded (or
others) fell into his hands, he would
have earned our gratitude.

Bragg, ^p^ contra^ says he had but
35,000 men on the field when the
%ht commenced, of whom but
about 30,000 were infantry and artil-
lery ; and that he lost of these over
10,000, of whom 9,000 were killed

"Jan, 3. "JaiLl.

^ AmoDg our killed, beside those alreadj men-
tioned, were Cols. Jones, 24th Ohio, MoKee, 3d
Kj^ Williams, 25th BI., Harrington, 27th ni,
Btom, 101st Ohio, and MilUkin, 8d Ohio cavalry.

Among our wounded, beside those aheady
named, were Cols. Forman, 15th Kj^ Hum*
phreya, 88th Ind., Alexander, 21st HI., Hines,
67th Ind., Blake, 40th Ind., and Lt-OoL Tanner,

Digitized by




and wounded.'* He claims to haye
taken 6,273 prisoners, many of them
by the raids of hia cavalry on the
trains and fugitives between our army
and Nashville ; and he estimates our
losses at 24,000 killed and wounded,
with over 30 guns to his 8. He
daims to have captured, in addition,
6,000 small arms and much other
valuable spoil, beside burning 800
wagons, &a, &c It seems odd that,
aft^ such a fight, he should have
retired so hastily as to leave 1,500 of
his sick and wounded (Union ac-
counts says 2,600), with 200 medical
and other attendants, in his deserted
hospitals at Murfreesboro'.**

It is a fair presumption that our
losses, both in men (prisoners includ-
ed) and material, were greater than
those of the Bebels ; and that Bose-
orans's army was disabled by those
losses for any effective pursuit ; but
this does not and can not demolish
the fact that the battle of Stone river,
so gallantly, obstinately, desperately
fought, was lost by Bragg and the
Rebels, and won by the army of
the Ctmiberland and its heroic com-

On the day " of the great struggle
at Stone river. Gen. Forrest, who,
with 3,500 cavalry, had been detach-
ed " by Bragg to operate on our com-
munications in "West Tennessee, and
who had for two weeks or more been
raiding through that section, threat-
ening Jackson, capturing Trenton,

Humboldt, Union City, &c., burning
bridges, tearing up raUs, and parc^
ing captured Federals (over 1,000,
according to his reports — 700 of them
at Trenton alone), was struck on his
return at Pabkes^s Cross-Boam,
between Huntingdon and Lexington,
and thoroughly routed. He ^t en-
countered CoL C. L. Dunham, with
a small brigade of 1,600 ; who had,'
the day before, been pushed forward
from Huntingdon by Gen. J. C. Sul-
livan, and who was getting the worst
of the fight — Shaving been nearly sur-
rounded, his train captured, and he
smnmoned to surrender — when Sul-
livan came up at double-quick, with
the two fresh brigades of Gen. Hay-
nie and Col. Fuller, and rushed upon
the astonished Rebels, who fled in
utter rout, not attempting to make a
stand, nor hardly to fire a shot, For-
rest himself narrowly escaped capture ;
losing 4 guns, over 400 prisoners,
including his Adjutant, Strange,
two Colonels, many horses, arms,
&a, &c. He fled eastwanj to Clif-
ton, where he recrossed the Tennes-
see, and thence made his way back
to Bragg. He lost in the flght about
50 killed and 150 woimded — ^the lat-
ter being included among the pris-
oners. Dunham reports his loss at
220 : 23 killed, 139 wounded, and 58


Gen. John H. Morgan, who had
been likewise dispatched by Bragg
to operate on Bosecrans's communi-

* Among his killed were Gens. James £.
Bains (Missouri), and Roger W. Hanson (Ken-
tuoky) ; and Cols. Moore, SthTenn., Burks, 11th
Texas, fisk, 16th La., Cunningham, 28th Tenn.,
and Black, 5(h Ga. Among his wounded were
Gens. James R. Chalmers and D. W. Adams.

** He says, in his report, that his men were
" greatlj exhausted" bj the long contest and its
priyations — as if they were peculiar in that r»-
Bpect— when they had Murfreeeboro' Just behind

them, with their d^p6ts and hospitals; while
our troops had scarcely a roof to th^ heads—-
and that —

" The only question with me was, whether
the moyement should be made at once, or de-
layed 24 hours to saye a few of our wounded.
As it was probable that we should lose by^ex-
haustion as many as we should remoye of the
wounded, my inclination to remain was yielded.**

■'Dec. 31.

"Orossiiig the Tennessee at Oltftoo, Dea 13.

Digitized by




cation^ gimiQtaneonfllj with Forreet's
doingB in Weet TenneBBee, pafieing
the left of Bosecranfi's anny , rode in-
to the heart of E^tnckj ; and, after
Inconsiderable skirmishes at Glas-
gow, Upton, BSid Nolin,** pressed on
to Elizabethtown, which he took, af-
ter a brief, one-sided conflict, captur-
ing thare an<]t &t the trestlework on
the railroad, five or six miles above,
several hundred prisoners, destroy-
ing ** the railroad tor miles, with a
quantity of army stores. He then
raided up to Bardstown, where he
turned" abruptly southward, being
threatened by a far superior force ;
retreating into Tennessee by Spring-
field and Campbellsville ; having in-
flicted considerable damage and in-
curred very little loss..

But his raid was fiilly countered
by one led ** about the same time by
Brig.-Qen. H. Carter (formerly CoL
2d Tennessee) from Winchester, Ky.,
across the Cumberland, Powell's, and
Olincli mountains, through a comer
of Lee coimty, Va., to Blountsville
and Zollicoffer (formerly Union Sta-
tion), East Tennessee, where 150 of
the 62d North Carolina, Mig*. Mc-
Dowell, were surprised and captured
without a shot, and the railroad
bridge, 720 feet long, over the Hols-
ton, destroyed, with 700 small arms
and much other material of war.
Pushing on ten miles, to Clinch's Sta-
tion, Carter had a little fight, captur-
ed 75 prisoners, and destroyed the
railroad bridge, 400 feet long, over
the Watauga, with a locomotive and
several cars; returning thence by
Jonesville, Lee county, Va., recross-
ing the Cumberland range at Hank's
Gap ; and, after two or three smart
skirmishes, returning in triumph to

his old quarters; having lost but
20 men, mainly prisoners — and killed
or captured over 500. Having been
ridden all but incessantly 690 miles,
with very little to eat, many of his
horses gave out and were IdEt to die
on the return.

Gen. Wheeler, in chief command
of Bragg's cavalry, 4,600 strong,
with Forrest and Wharton as Briga*
diers, passiug Bosecrans's army by
its right, concentrated his forces at
Franklin, and pushed north-west-
ward rapidly to Dover, near the site
of old Fort Donelson, which our
Generals had seen no reason to re-
pair and occupy. But he found **
Dover held by CoL A. C. Harding,
83d Illinois, with some 600 men fit
for duty ; his battery and one or two
companies being absent ; but Hard-
ing proved the man for the exigency.
He at once sent across to Fort Hen-
ry for assistance, and dispatehed a
steamboat down the Cumberland for
gunboats; at the same time throw-
ing out and deploying his men so as
to impede to the utmost the advance
of the Bebels, and opening upon
them so soon as they came within
range, with a 32-pounder and 4 brass
guns, which were all he had. Thus
fighting with equal energy and judg-
ment, he repelled alternate chaiges
and invitetions to surrender until
dark, though nearly surrounded and
pressed fi'om both sides by his assail-
(mts, who, with reason, confidently
expected to capture him. In their
last charge, the Bebels lost Col. Mc-
Nairy, of Nashville, who fell while
vainly endeavoring to nJly his men.
No ^lief arrived from Fort Henry
till next morning ; but the gunboat

"Dec. 24.

"Dec. 28.

* Dec 30.

"Dea 30.

*Feb. 3, 1863.

Digitized by




Fair Play, Lt. Fitch, leading four
others, all of them convoying a fleet
of transports np the river, had been
hailed 24 miles below by Harding's
messenger, and incited to make all
speed to the rescue. Harding was
still holding his ground firmly,
though nearly out of ammunition —
having lost one of his guns and 45
out of 60 artillery horses — ^when, at
8 p. M., the Fair Play arrived, and
considerably astonished the Bebels
by a raking fire along their line.
The other gunboats wer^ soon on
hand, and doing likewise, but to little
purpose ; since the Rebels had taken
to their heels at the first sound of
guns from the water, leaving 150
dead and an equal number of prison-
ers behind them. Harding estimates
their wounded at 400, and makes his
own loss 16 killed, 60 wounded, and
60 prisoners. Wheeler, as if satis-
fied with this experience, returned
quietly to Franklin.

Gen. Jeff. C. Davis, with his divi-
sion of infantry and two brigades of
cavaliy, under Col. Minty, had been
sent ** westward by Rosecrans, as if to
intercept Wheeler on his way south-
ward. He captured 141 of Wheel-
er's men, including two Colonels;
but returned " to Murfreesboro' with-
out a fight and without loss.

Gen. P. H. Sheridan next made ** a
similar demonstration southward,
nearly to Shelbyville, then turning
north-westward to Franklin ; having
two or three skirmishes with inferior
forces, under Forrest and Van Dom,
who fled, losing in all about 100,
mainly prisoners ; while our loss was
10, Sheridan retmned to Murfrees-
boro' after an absence of ten days.

Meantime, Van Dom had dealt

us a skiUfiil blow at Spring Hill, 10
miles south of Franklin, and 30 from
NaahviHe, whither Col. John Co-
bum, S3d Indiana, had been dis-
patched from Franklin, with 2,000
infantry, 600 cavalry, and a light
battery, simultaneously with Sheri-
dan's advance from Murfreesboro*.
Before reaching Spring Hill, his
advance was contested ; and, on the
moming of the next day," he was
assailed by a far superior force, by
which he was in the course of the
day all but surroxmded; and, after
fighting until his ammunition was
exhausted, was compelled to sur-
render his remaining infantry, 1,306
in number. His cavalry and artillery,
having run away in excellent season,
escaped with little loss. Van Dom's
force consisted of six brigades of
cavalry and moimted infantry.

A fortnight later. Col. A. S. Hall,
105th Ohio, with four regiments,
numbering 1,323 men, moved nearly
east fix)m Murfreesboro', intending to
surprise a Eebel camp at Gainesville ;
but he missed his aim, and was soon
confronted by a raiment of hostile
cavalry; before which. Hall slowly
withdrew to the little village of Mil-
ton, 12 miles north-east of Murfrees-
boro', taking post on Vauglit's Hill,
a mile or so distant ; where he was
assailed" by a superior Rebel force,
under Oten. Morgan. But his men
were skillftdly posted, supporting a
section of Harris's 19th Indiana bat-
tery, which was admirably served,
and doubtless contributed very essen-
tially to Morgan's defeat, with a loss
of 63 killed and some 200 or 300
wounded, including himself. Hall's
entire loss was but 55.

Franklin, being occupied by a

••Jan. 31.


"•March 4.

"March 5.

••March 20.

Digitized by




Union force of 4,500 men, under
Gtei. Gordon Granger, Van Dom,
"with a superior force, assaUed,** with
intent to capture it ; but was easily
beaten off, witb a loss of 200 or 300,
including 80 prisoners; our loss
bdng 37 only.

A few days later, Maj.-Gen. J, J,
Eeynolds pushed out," with his divi-
sion and two brigades of cavalry, to
McMinnville; whence he drove out
Morgan, taking 130 prisoners, de-
stroying a large amount of Bebel
stores, and returning " without loss.

Ool. Watkins, 6th Kentucky, with
600 cavalry, surprised " a Kebel camp
on the Carter's creek pike, 8 miles
fix>ra Franklin ; capturing 140 men,
250 horses and mules, and destroying
a large amount of camp equipaga

CoL A. D. Streight, 51st Indiana,
at the head of 1,800 cavahy, was
next dispatched" by Bosecrans to
the rear of Bragg's army, with in-
structions to cut the railroads in north-
western Gteoi^ia, and destroy gen-
erally all depots of supplies and
manufactories of arms, clothing, <&c.
Having been taken up the Tennessee
on steamboats from Fort Henry to
Eastport, Ala., where he was joined
by an infantry force under Gen.
Dodge, they attacked and captured
Tuscumbia, inflicting considerable
loss on the Eebels ; and, while Qen.
Dodge made a sweeping raid through
Korth Alabama, returning ultimate-
ly to his headquarters at Corinth,
Col. Streight struck for Northern

Georgia, expecting to swoop down
successively on Bome and Atlanta,
destroying there large manufactories,
machine-shops, and magazines. He
was hardly well on his road, however,
before Forrest and Roddy, with a
superior force of Rebel cavalry, -were
after him ; following sharply, and
easily gaining upon him, through a
running fight of over 100 miles;
when, his ammunition being ex-
hausted and his men nearly worn out,
Streight surrendered, when 15 miles
from Rome. His men were treated as
other captives and exchanged; while
Streight and his officers were retained
for a time in close prison, on a de-
mand of Gov. Brown, of Georgia,
that they be treated as felons, under
a law of that State, which makes the
inciting of slaves to rebellion a high
crime. The specific charge was that
negroes were found among their men
in uniform and bearing arms ; which
was strenuously denied: the few
negroes with them being claimed as
servants of officers ; and the only
one who was armed insisting that he
was carrying his employer's sword,
as an act of duty. After a long con-
finement, Streight, with 107 other of
our officers, escaped** from labby
Prison, Richmond: 60 of them, in-
cluding Streight, making their way
to our lines. He estimates his loss in
killed and wounded during this raid

Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 40 of 113)