Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

25, Skirmish Wilson Creek Pike , between Brentwood & Petersburg

These are two reports by Confederate and Union officers engaged in the same action. Sometimes the fighting was for less noble purposes than the defense of the homeland or the maintenance of the Union. In this case men fought and died on Christmas Day - for corn.

DECEMBER 25, 1862.--Skirmish on the Wilson Creek pike, between Brentwood and Petersburg, Tenn.


No. 1.--Col. P. Sidney Post, Fifty-ninth Illinois Infantry, commanding brigade.

No. 2.--Brig. Gen. John A. Wharton, C. S. Army, commanding cavalry brigade.

No. 1.

Report of Col. P. Sidney Post, Fifty-ninth Illinois Infantry, commanding brigade.


LIEUT.: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to orders from Brig.-Gen. Davis, commanding First Division, I started at daylight this morning, with the First Brigade, First Division, and the Fifteenth Regt. Wisconsin Infantry, from the Second Brigade, and the train, reported to me as consisting of more than 200 wagons. We proceeded to Brentwood, and from thence on the Wilson pike, near where we drove in the enemy's pickets. Two miles farther we came to a cross-road leading to Nolensville, on which the enemy were encamped about a mile distant, and at another point about 2 miles distant. The small cavalry force occupying the nearest camp abandoned it, and I stationed the Fifty-ninth Regt. Illinois Infantry and one section of the Fifth Wisconsin Battery in a position to command this road, and prevent the enemy from Nolensville, which was 5 miles distant, establishing themselves in our rear. I then proceeded 2 miles farther with the train, placing the Fifteenth Regt. Wisconsin Infantry and one section of the battery on the right, and commanding a road coming from Franklin, and the Twenty-second Regt. Indiana Infantry, the Seventy-fourth Regt. Illinois Infantry, and one section of the battery in front. Our advance was attended with considerable skirmishing. Two of the enemy were killed, and some wounded were seen being carried off. A few shells from Capt. Pinney's battery cooled the Confederate ardor until all the wagons were completely loaded. The wagons of the enemy were hurried out of the field without being loaded, though, I regret to say, their presence was not discerned in time to effect their capture. The captain of one of the skirmishers parties caused some neighborhood negroes to bury the enemy's dead, and we returned to camp without any mishap whatever.

I beg leave to observe in this report that foraging in such a country as this in our front, and so great a distance from camp, while the enemy are so near and from every hill-top estimate the number of the escort and the value of the train, is attended with considerable risk. Our train could not be made to move in a less space than 4 miles, and if it were not possible to throw a superior force in rear of foraging expeditions it would not be difficult to suddenly attack so long a train and destroy some portion of it, especially while threatening it in the rear, as they did much of the way in to-day, unless the escort were very large.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. SIDNEY POST, Col., Cmdg. Brigade.

No. 2.

Report of Brig. Gen. John A. Wharton, C. S. Army, commanding cavalry brigade.

HDQRS. WHARTON'S CAVALRY BRIGADE, Nolensville, Tenn., December 25, 1862-9.30 p.m.

GEN.: We have been fighting the enemy from sunrise until dark. The forage now lies to the left of this pike, in between this and Wilkerson pike. To-day the enemy came out in large force and a heavy supporting force. With what cavalry could be used without disturbing the pickets, we engaged the enemy. The country is very hilly and covered with cedar brakes, which renders it totally unfit for cavalry, and the infantry here has orders to risk nothing. I had 3 men wounded; killed 6 and wounded 14 of the enemy. They thus paid for their forage.
I cannot get the five companies to complete Smith's and Murray's regiments, though they have long been promised me. The service that I am required to perform here is too much for my force, and it will soon be unfit for service. Other cavalry commanders are drilling daily, and I assure you that every day for the past ten days I have engaged the enemy. My force in camp has to be moved forward every day to sustain the pickets, and never return until dark, so, whether on picket or off, they have no rest.

I ordered Col. Smith to leave a portion of his command at Franklin, and to move last night on a scout on the Hillsborough pike. The result of the expedition is not yet known.
I take great pride in this brigade, and do not intend that it shall be used up without advising you of it. I intend to write to Gen. Wheeler, and ask him to come over and see for himself the amount of labor I have to perform. The enemy were followed beyond our lines, and our pickets are at their usual, a day for us to fight and not to rest. I have nothing new as to the several movements of the enemy.

Most respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
JNO. A. WHARTON, Brig.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol.20, pt. I, 163-165.

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