John J. Hight.

History of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 online

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Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 10 of 47)
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cautioning them to hold their lire till the t-iiem\ l;()I well up. aiul had no
sooner ii'tired than theencm\- enu'rs^ed l"r:>m the woods aiul o\er the liill,
and were mo\in;4 ujion us aj^ain in splendid s1\le arul in immense t"i>rce.



FTFTV-i:i(;HTH INDIANA I^ECUMKNT. 117

owned bv a man named Jerald. This corn cril) was ratiu-r
a fatal shelter because the enemy directed their lire more
uenerally to that building. Company B, on the left wing,
was slightly protected by a few scattering trees.

The rebels had now advanced to the edi^e of a thick woods
in our tront, not more than one hundred yards distant across
an open tield. The\' were sheltered behind trees, from
which they poured a galling tire of musketry. From Cow-
an's brick house, otTto our left, they opened a heavy fire of
grape and canister. From 1,he hills beyond Stone River
I^reckinridge's batteries poured in a destructive fire. But
the 58th held its position amid all this murderous lire. The
men were lying Hat on the ground and were loading and lir-
ing at will. Twice the enemy left the woods in our front
and started on a charge across the open tield, but thcN- could
not stand against the shower of lead thai \\ as jioured into
their ranks. Alter a time tiiere was almost a cessation of
tiring and we were beginning to breathe easier. But still we
were apprehensive that this was onh' the lull before the
storm, and our apprehensions were well founded. The tr\'-
ing ordeal was yet to come. While we were watchin
masked batteries which we had in p()siti(>n. Tht.- ruse was
successful. On tluw i"ame \ellino; like savaif*^'^ alter otu"
retreatinir cavalrv. It was rare fun to see them nm. the\-
no doubt were thinkini^;. but the fun was not so rare when,
alter the rebels had emero-ed trom the woods, three of oin"
liatteries opened u]i on thiMii with chmble charo-es ot Li;rape
and canister. The enem\- was literalh' mown down b\- tliis
murderous Hre, and wert' onh- too o-lad to return a^'ain to the
shelter of the timber, leaving; their dead and woimded
In'hind.

This fierce onset, which at fu'st appeared to foreshadow a
rvMiewal of the general engagement, was probablv onh' in-
tended bv tiie rebels as a feeler to see wdiether Rosecrans'
army was still there or w^hether it was on the retreat to
Nashville. At any rate, the rebels were satisfied with the
information gained bv this earlv morning sortie. With the
exception of skirmish firing, whicli contintied all da\',
amounting at times almost to a regular engagement, nothing
ol importance occurred during Thursdav. The 58lh re-
mained in the same position tluw h(,dd in the morning, a
short distance in the rear of the front line, near the turn-
pike. At night we built fires and prepared coflee. We
were told that we would be permitted to rest that night.
This was welcome news, as we had been in front for the
past forty-eight hours without a chance for sleep or rest.
The boys were soon fixed in as comfortable beds as the
circumstances wotild allow, and were sleeping in utter dis-
regard of all about them. But it would have been contrar\-
to all military rule for tliis kind of enjovment to last, so far as
the 58tli had experience with tliis rule. About eiglit o'clock



121' CIlAri-AIX IlKiliT'S lllSTOlfY OK TIIM

we \v(N'o arousod. bv an ordorh', from our dreams. A\'e wore
told to pack knapsacks and f^et in readiness to march imme-
diately and without any noise. This was an exceedingly
disagreeable order, but there was a general beliet' that it was
necessary and it was a soldier's dutv to obey without grum-
bling. We were soon in line and moved out alter oiu" com-
mander, not yet knowing whither we were going. Alter a
little march we knew what it w^as all for — we were to relieve
the Pioneer Brigade, who were on f)utpost duty on the right
ot the Murfreesboro pike. Our coming was a great gratifi-
cation to them, as thev had been in the front forty-eight
hours. We were, however, not in any better condition in
that regard. A line of skirmishers was advanced and the
rest of the Regiment lay dovv^i upon their arms for th(^
remainder of the night.

January 2. — Shortly at"ter dawn of day our skirmishers
and the rebel sharpshooters became engaged in a sharp
fight, which for a time indicated a general engagement, but
they soon quieted down again. A short time after sunrise
this morning occurred an artiller^^ duel that was unequaled
by anything in that line heretofore. The enemy had repeat-
edly been makinp- some demonstrations in our front since
daylight. They had been Hring random shots from a com-
manding position immediately in front of Loomis' Ixittery,
posted on tin* left of the turnpike, and Mstep's 8th Indiana
Battery on the right of the pike and to the left of the 58tli.
These shots were responded to b}- our Batteries w hich also
tired vigorously at the hiding places of the rebcd sliarpshool-
ers, who were very annoying. Suddenly tlie small skirl ot
woods, about 400 yards in our front, was enveloped in a
dense clone! of smoke, and the air was tilled with deadly
missiles, hurled from the rebel batteries, which had lieen
massed there during tlie preceding night. It was now
apparent that they had been deco>-ing a fire iVom our bat-
teries until the^• got the range, and then they opened tire
with a territic \-olle\-. ^Fhe elfecl uj")on our batteries was
terribk'. Tlie ginis from Loomis' and Estep's batteries



FIFTV-KKiliTH IXIMANA h'Kii I M KNT. 12.'5

roplit'cl vijj^orouslv to the murderous \•()lle^', but thrir position
was too much exposed and they had to retire. Tliey moviul
back behind the crest ot" a little knoll with considerable loss.
Estep lost one man, killed, and several wounded, also the
killing and disabling of nearly one-half of his horses, so tliat
he was compelled lo lea\'e man\- of iiis guns on the lield.
These were subsequenth- taken oil" b\- th'> men, [\r: 58th
assistintjf in the work.

Loomis also sustained a heavy loss, but was successtal in
retirino- with his n-uns. Otlier batteries were sent to their
support, and Loomis again took a position in the rear of the
58th, who were lying down. A simultaneous volley was
sent from three batteries behind us. For about half an hour
the exchange of shot between the contending artillery passed
over our Regiment, making the very earth shake and quiver.
Likewise the boys of the 58th, who were hugging the earth
for dear life. The screaming and roaring of shot and shell
was terrible. To add to this horror a rammer from one of
the guns behind us was sent hurling toward the rebels, but
it broke in twain and one piece landed on either flank of our
Regiment. It was a very uncomfortable situation to be in,
but it did not last lono-. The work of our batteries soon
eftectually silenced the rebels and they ceased firing. One
man of the 58th was wounded by a shell during this engage-
ment.

Picket firing was kept up during tin' f,)renoon. the sharp-
shooters of the enemy being especially bold at times. Tliey
woidd advance in tull view of our lines, and were several
times repulsed and driven back. One old building in our
front was occupied by the enemy's sharpshooters who
were very troublesome. The^• were expert marksmen and
they sent their shots dangerously close to the head of every
man in sij^ht. Loomis sent one of his Parrett ijuns forward
and trained it upon the old house. The first shot exploded
a shell in the house and the rebel sharpshoot^^rs troubled us
no more from that place. Tint there were several posted in
trees along their tront and they were in good positions to



12-1. CHAIM-AIX lIKillT'S IllSTOl.'V OF TllK

]-)ick oil' our men. The h{)\s of our RogimiMit soon lound
that it was exceedinglv dangerous to raise a head, and spent
the day lying flat upon the cold damp ground.

'i'hus events continued until about three o'clock in the
atiernoon. when it became evident from the increasing heav\'
skirmishing o\'er on oiu^ left that the enem^■ were contem-
plating an assaidt upon our lett wing. About tour o" clock
\nn Cleves Division, which was in jiosition across Stone
River to our left, was suddenh- and furiously attacked b\'
Breckinridge. vSo tierce was the assault that oiu" troops
were driven back to the river. Other troops were sent
li'om the center to suppcnn \ an Cleve. and as soon as
they could get across the river the n'bel advance was
checked. Our artiller\- posted on this side of the rivc>r
aho aided in the work and assisted in dri\ing the I'ebels
back.

While the Ixittle was still raging, \\'o



Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 10 of 47)