Wednesday, January 7, 2015

12.31.2015 Tennessee Civil War Notes

        31, Governor Isham G. Harris' letter to General A. Sidney Johnston explaining failure to arm soldiers and fortify Nashville


Nashville, Tenn., December 31, 1861.


DEAR SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of a letter of 25th instant. Upon its receipt I immediately appointed energetic agents to collect laborers in this and adjoining counties to construct the fortifications near Nashville, but I must say that the response to my appeal for laborers has not thus far been as flattering as I had wanted and expected. I shall have within a very few days some 200 negro men at this work, and hope soon to increase this number to 500 or 600. Telegraphed you the same day your letter came to hand, asking how many laborers you thought necessary, about what length of time they would be employed, and what engineer would supervise and control the work, answers to which would have aided me in securing the laborers, but have as yet received no reply.

I fully appreciate the exigencies by which you are surrounded, and, as I have heretofore. I shall continue to use every effort within my power and all resources at my command to strengthen your position and to secure the country from invasion. In order, however, that the present resources of the State may not be overestimated, it is proper that I give you at least an approximate idea of them and some of the difficulties which I encounter at every step.

Tennessee has now organized and in the field, in addition to some independent companies, fifty-two infantry regiments and one battalion, nine battalions of cavalry, and two regiments of artillery. Volunteer companies are now in camp, under orders to move to rendezvous, sufficient to form six additional infantry regiments and two battalions of cavalry, making the whole force about sixty-six regiments. This force, large as it is, is drawn almost entirely from two divisions from the State, the unfortunate political dissensions in East Tennessee, with near one-third of the voting population of the State, having almost paralyzed that section, but I am pleased to state that these divisions and dissensions are rapidly disappearing, and I hope soon to see a united people in Tennessee, when we may reasonably expect re-enforcements from that section; but with the immense tax upon the population of Middle and West Tennessee to make up the force already referred to I do not hope for any considerable number of volunteers from either of these divisions, unless it be upon pressing emergency, when I feel assured that a patriotic response will be made by almost our whole people to meet such emergency.

But the difficulty is not, nor has it been, in obtaining men. The inadequate supply of arms has been and is the chief obstacle which I encounter in promptly furnishing to you any reasonable number of re-enforcements. With the greatest possible energy it takes time to collect and repair the private arms of the country, and this is the only means, I have of arming the force now called to the field. I have spared neither effort, pains, nor expense in expediting the work, and yet it has been and is impossible to proceed with it rapidly.

In furnishing arms to the large force above referred to the State has heretofore drawn from the hands of her citizens their most effective private arms. Almost every gun that we get at this time must necessarily pass through the hands of the smiths before it is fit for service, and in this connection it is well to remark that Tennessee, less fortunate than some of her sister States, had not United States arsenal or depository or arms within her limits from which her troops might have been supplied; that but comparatively a small number of her force have been armed independent of the State, and that upon assuming connection with the Confederate States all of her contracts for the manufacture of arms and other materials of war were assigned and transferred to the Confederate Government.

I am sure, general, you will appreciate and make due allowance for the difficulties that lie in my way in the works of arming the forces of Tennessee under these circumstances. I trust I shall be able, with the inferior arms of the country, to arm the volunteers now in, and that many will hereafter come into camp.

Very respectfully,


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 7, pp. 811-812.

        31, U. S. N. Squadron on the Tennessee River

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from the Report of David D. Porter, Acting Rear Admiral, Comdg. Mississippi Squadron, relative to naval activity on the Tennessee River:


Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.:


* * * *

Five light-draught steamers, under Lieut.-Commander Fitch, are up the Tennessee River, and will be able to operate there, now that the water is rising. We will soon have two others on the Ohio. Everything in the squadron in the shape of a steamer has a gun of some kind mounted on her, and our vessels pass up and down without molestation.

* * * *

DAVID D. PORTER, Acting Rear-Admiral, Comdg. Mississippi Squadron.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt. II, pp. 886-887.

        31, Skirmish at Overall's Creek

Report of Lieut. Col. John G. Parkhurst, Ninth Michigan Infantry, including skirmish near Overall's Creek, December 31.


MAJ.: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Ninth Regt. [sic] Michigan Infantry, in the recent advance of the army and in the five days' battle before Murfreesborough:

On the morning of December 26, this regiment, as the provost guards to the corps d'armee of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, marched 2 miles out from Nashville on the Franklin pike, and crossed over to the Nolensville pike, and proceeded upon that road as far as the Edmondson pike, a distance of 7 miles, and marched out 1 mile on the Edmondson pike, and encamped for the night.

On Saturday [27th] morning the regiment, with headquarters train, returned to the Nashville pike, and marched to a point 1 mile south of Nolensville, and 17 miles from Nashville.

On Sunday [28th] morning the regiment marched across from the Nolensville pike to the Murfreesborough pike, and encamped, with headquarters, about 5 miles south of La Vergne, and remained there until Tuesday [30th] morning, when the regiment moved out on the Murfreesborough pike to Overall's Creek, about 2 miles in rear of our front, and established headquarters for the general.

During the several days' marches the regiment picked up many stragglers from the army in front and sent them forward to their commands.

On Wednesday [31st] morning, about two hours after the commencement of Wednesday's battle, I noticed many stragglers crossing the fields from the direction of the right wing of our army, and sent out forces and brought them in, until I had from 100 to 200 collected, when I discovered several cavalrymen approaching with great speed from the direction of our front, and very soon discovered that a large cavalry force, together with infantry and a long transportation train, were in the most rapid retreat, throwing away their arms and accouterments, and many of the without hats or caps, and apparently in the most frightful state of mind, crying, "We are all lost."

I at once concluded it was a stampede of frightened soldiers, and before many had passed me I drew my regiment up in line of battle across the road, extending on either side, and ordered my men to fix bayonets, and to take the position of guard against cavalry. This was done with celerity, and with much difficulty. Without firing upon the frightened troops, I succeeded in checking their course, and ordered every man to face about. Within half an hour I had collected about 1,000 cavalrymen, seven pieces of artillery, and nearly two regiments of infantry. Among them was a brigadier-general. The cavalry, or most of it, belonged to the Second Brigade, and, if I am not mistaken, was commanded by Col. Zahm. The infantry was from different regiments belonging to Gen. Johnson's division. One colonel succeeded in escaping my lines, and passed on toward Nashville.

From the reports made by these troops, I did not know but the enemy were in pursuit in force, and, consequently, I organized the forces I had collected and formed them in line of battle, on the crest of the hill, the other side of Overall's Creek, planting the artillery on the left and center.

In a short time Col. Walker came up from the rear with a brigade of troops and took position on the left. After we had occupied this position a short time, a small force of the enemy's cavalry appeared on the opposite side of the creek and attacked our transportation train, which I had directed to proceed moderately toward Nashville. I directed a pursuit, by a cavalry force, and about the same time Capt. Church, of the Fourth Michigan Battery, and of Col. Walker's brigade, opened a fire upon them, and they were soon dispersed, losing some few of their men.

During the remainder of the day there were several attacks by the enemy's cavalry, and they were as frequently repulsed, and with considerable loss, by the cavalry force which I had stopped, but the cavalry of the Second Brigade did not seem very determined in their pursuit.

In the afternoon I was ordered by Gen. Thomas to take position with my regiment on the south side of the creek, which I did, and then collected a large force of straggling infantry, and which, during the evening, were, most of them, returned to their regiments.

Late in the evening I was ordered to advance with my regiment to Gen. Thomas' headquarters, near Gen. Rosecrans' headquarters, which I did.

About 3 o'clock on Thursday morning I received orders to proceed to Nashville with my regiment, in charge of headquarters train, and about 4 o'clock I moved with the regiment in charge of the train.

No casualties occurred on the march until about 1 o'clock, when, about 9 miles this side of Nashville, I discovered a general stampede in the train in my rear, which was not directly under my charge. I immediately formed my regiment across the road and stopped the train and fugitives. Very soon there were several cavalrymen came up and reported that the train was attacked at La Vergne, about 6 miles in our rear. I succeeded in checking the stampede and stopping the alarmed cavalrymen, teamsters, and negroes [sic], who had gotten up the stampede. Among the cavalrymen stopped was a Capt. Skinner, of the Third Ohio Cavalry. I reached Nashville about 5.30 o'clock with my train, and the long train in my rear, and pitched my camp on the side occupied previous to leaving Nashville. After I had my camp pitched, I received orders from Gen. Morgan's aide to remove my regiment inside the fortifications early the next day, which I did, and about 5 o'clock in the evening received orders from Gen. Thomas to return to the front with eight days' rations, and between 3 and 4 o'clock on Saturday morning I marched from Nashville with my regiment with a small train. When about 9 miles this side of Nashville I rescued a lady, with a Carriage, horse, and servant, which a party of rebel cavalry had captured. The cavalry fled on our approach, and I had no means of pursuit.

When I reached La Vergne I was informed by Col. Innes, of the First Michigan Engineers, that a large body of cavalry were about to attack his regiment, stationed there. I halted my regiment and prepared to assist Col. Innes in his defense; but after waiting two hours for their attack, I proceeded on my march to this place without any other incident, and reached here last evening about 7 o'clock with the regiment and train.

In stopping the rout which seemed to be prevailing among our troops on Wednesday morning, my officers and men, without one exception, behaved with great coolness, and are entitled to much credit for the determined and successful effort in preventing a disgraceful rout of a large portion of the right wing of the army.

I remain, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. G. PARKHURST, Lieut.-Col., Cmdg. Ninth Michigan Volunteers.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. I, pp. 652-654.

        31, Engagement at Parker's Cross Roads[1]

Excerpt from the Report of Col. George G. Dibrell, Eighth Tennessee (Confederate) Cavalry, of operations from December 15, 1862-January 6, 1863, relative to the engagement at Parker's Crossroads [a.k.a. Red Mound].

MOUNT PLEASANT, TENN., January 6, 1863.

In obedience to verbal instructions from General Forrest I herewith submit a report of the action of the Eighth Tennessee Cavalry in his recent expedition into West Tennessee:

* * * *

We [were] moving back...on the morning of December 31, when our scouts reported a large infantry force in our front near Parker's Cross-Roads. We immediately turned our wagon train to the right and moved on to meet the enemy's advance. A lively skirmish ensued, when Freeman's battery opened upon them with splendid effect, and they retreated back to Parker's Cross-Roads, where Col. [C.L.] Dunham, U. S. Army, was with a brigade of infantry. We advanced rapidly to the cross-roads, and were ordered by General Forrest to take possession of a hill in a large cotton field, which we did at a double-quick, and then began our first regular battle as cavalry. We had no protection but the top of the hill, while the enemy was sheltered by woods and a fence. They made three efforts to charge us, but the galling fire from our guns and one 12-pounder howitzer, manned by Sergt. Nat. Baxter, of Freeman's battery, drove them back. They had six pieces of artillery and we but one. The battle raged with great fury until we were joined upon our left by Captain Morton with one gun, supported by Cox's battalion, and on the right by Colonel Napier's battalion and Colonel Starnes with his regiment, and General Forrest with Russell's Fourth Alabama, Biffle's Ninth [Nineteenth] Tennessee, and [T.G.] Woodward's Kentucky battalion got in their rear, and then they fled in confusion, leaving all their dead and wounded and six pieces of artillery in our possession. The enemy retreated into the timber and halted to reform. We had about 300 prisoners, and while we were parlaying about a surrender the enemy was re-enforced by General Sullivan with another brigade of infantry, which was firing upon our horse-holders before we were aware of his approach. General Forrest then ordered us to retreat, which we did in much confusion, as our horse-holders were demoralized and many men were captured in trying to get their horses. We retreated through the large cotton field between a fire from the re-enforcements and the brigade we had just driven back.

In this battle the regiment lost 4 killed, 27 wounded, and 122 captured; also lost 130 horses.

* * * *

Very respectfully,

G.G. DIBRELL, Colonel Eighth Tennessee Cavalry.

OR Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt. I, pp. 598-599.

HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS., January 1, 1863.

Brig. Gen. C. S. HAMILTON, La Grange, Tenn.:

~ ~ ~

Sullivan caught up with Forrest and gave him a tremendous thrashing; captured six pieces of his artillery, killed and wounded a great many, took his baggage and several hundred prisoners. The gunboats got up and destroyed all his ferries. Dodge says that a scout brings in the news that Rosecrans had had a fight and whipped the enemy badly.

Vicksburg is not taken. Kirby Smith is re-enforcing that place with his army corps, 30,000 strong.

U. S. GRANT, Maj.-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt. II, p. 518.



December 31, 1862-6 o'clock p. m.

Major-General GRANT:

We have achieved a glorious victory. We met Forrest, 7,000 strong. After a contest of four hours, completely routed him with great slaughter. We have captured six guns, over 300 prisoners, over 350 horses. a large number of wagons and teams, and large quantity of small-arms. Colonel Napier killed; Colonel Cox and Major Strange, Forrest's adjutant, and one aide-de-camp, and a number of other officers captured. Colonel Rinaker slightly wounded.

I will telegraph particulars of our loss.

JER. C. SULLIVAN, Brigadier-General.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt. I, p. 552.

Excerpt from the Report of Col. Cyrus L. Dunham, Fiftieth Indiana Infantry, concerning the engagement at Parker's Cross-Roads.

HEADQUARTERS THIRD BRIGADE, Parker's Cross-Roads, near Lexington, Tenn., Dec. 31, 1862.

~ ~ ~

I ascertained from scouts whom I sent out that General Forrest with a large force said to be his whole command, were bivouacked at Union Church, 4 miles west of Clarksburg, on the road leading from McLemoresville into the Huntingdon and Lexington road at Parker's Cross-Roads, 5 miles south of Clarksburg. One of his foraging parties represented his forces at 8,000 strong, with twelve pieces of artillery. I immediately (2 a.m.) sent a courier to you with a dispatch saying, in substance, that he was at the point above designated in considerable force and that I should try to coax or force a fight out of him in the morning. My information induced me to believe that he was endeavoring to escape by way of Lexington, and hence would enter the road to that place at the cross-roads aforesaid, and I determined to there intercept him.

Our little force had breakfasted and was in motion before day. The mounted infantry having been upon picket through the night were left as a rear guard, and Company A, Fiftieth Indiana, under Lieutenant Judy, was thrown forward as an advance guard. As the advance approached Parker's Cross-Roads it was attacked by the enemy's pickets; immediately deployed as skirmishers and pushed rapidly forward up the hill, the whole column following. As I got with the advance to the top of the hill I saw what seemed a large company, or two small ones, of the enemy retreating along the road to the west, upon whom I opened a brisk fire, and the retreat became a flight to Dr. Williams' house, upon a hill nearly half a mile distant, under the shelter of which and the outbuildings and timber about it they rallied. Desiring to ascertain whether the enemy was there in force two guns were ordered up and threw a few shells into the surrounding timber, when a farther retreat into the woods to the northeest followed. Lieutenant-Colonel Wells, with the Fiftieth Indiana, was ordered forward to occupy the hill upon which the house stood and the woods to the right, and reconnoiter. He threw three companies (A, D, and F) forward as skirmishers, following with the remainder of the regiment and soon took the position indicated.

No enemy being found Company F, Lieutenant Jones, was sent across a skirt of woods to the north to reconnoiter and soon came up with and engaged a company of the enemy's mounted men at a house a little west of north from that of Dr. Williams' and drove them back across a large field and up and over the crest of a ridge. The "recall" was sounded and they returned to the house. Soon the enemy was seen coming down the hill toward the house. Company F had in the mean time been joined by a part of the detachment of the Eighteenth Illinois (the mounted infantry before mentioned) and the two again deployed and drove the enemy back to the top of the ridge. At this juncture I saw the enemy deploying a line along but behind the brow of the ridge, and the "recall" was sounded and the skirmishers again rallied at the house. They had barely done so when the enemy opened upon them with shell from a gun upon his extreme right, and soon from another considerably farther to the east, and the skirmishing party was withdrawn to the regiment at Williams' house.

Determined to ascertain if possible the force and disposition of the enemy, two pieces of artillery were ordered forward to the edge of the wood, supported by four companies of the Fiftieth Indiana, under Major Attkisson. From these guns a fire was opened upon the enemy along the ridge. He replied with at least a full battery, and the fire for a little while was intense on both sides. Seeing that the enemy had put a heavy force in line along and just over the crest of the ridge, and having accomplished all I desired at that-place and time, I ordered our fire to cease and the forces there to be withdrawn to the main column at the cross-roads. Two or three of the horses of one gun having been disabled it was gallantly taken out by a detachment of the Fiftieth under a heavy fire of grape and shell.

The whole command was then moved south, down the Lexington road half a mile, to the Red Mound, and placed in line of battle along and behind the crest of the ridge, which ran back from the road at an angle of forty-five degrees about half the length of the line, where it turns still more eastward; the left rested upon the road; the right upon a thick wood and ravine; the artillery was placed at the turn in the ridge. This position covered a field to the west, a considerable part of the road running south from the cross-roads, and also, by our guns, a portion of the road from the west to the cross-roads. The wagon train was placed in a hollow to the rear, with two companies (one of the Thirty-ninth and one of the One hundred and twenty-second Illinois beyond) to protect it. These dispositions were scarcely made, indeed the artillery had not got fully into position, before the enemy in heavy columns was seen moving from the wood on to the road, near Williams' house, and along it toward the cross-roads. Being out of range of our musketry the artillery was ordered to open fire upon the advancing column, which it did; but from some causes seemingly with but little effect. Lieutenant-Colonel Wells was also directed to send two companies of his regiment (the Fiftieth Indiana) toward the cross-roads to watch and check his advance. Company G, Captain Carothers, immediately moved up the road at double-quick, deployed in the lane, opened a galling fire, and held his position until forced back by overwhelming numbers. Company B, Lieutenant Davies, also moved forward at the same step and deployed along the edge of the woods, upon which I afterward changed my line, and did valuable service.

The enemy moved past the cross-roads eastwardly, and appeared as if desirous of escaping in that direction. Our forces were immediately and rapidly moved to the north (toward the cross-roads), and a new line formed nearly perpendicular to a prolongation of the first, along the edge and under cover of the woods, parallel to the enemy's advancing column, the left resting upon the road and the right upon an open field, with three companies thrown perpendicular to the rear in the edge of the woods to cover the right flank, and a vigorous attack was commenced. The disposition of the forces at this time was, Company G, Fiftieth Indiana, in the lane, who when forced back as aforesaid took position on the extreme left; second, the Thirty-ninth Iowa; third, the One hundred and twenty-second Illinois; fourth, the detachment of the Eighteenth Illinois; fifth, the Fiftieth Indiana, holding the right; sixth, the companies, one (Company A) of the Thirty-ninth and one of the One hundred and twenty-second at the house on the mound, to cover our rear and protect our train yet in the hollow. All had moved into position with alacrity and with the steadiness of veterans. The artillery had been ordered forward, with a view to being placed between the Thirty-ninth and One hundred and twenty-second, where it was thought it could be made most effective upon the enemy's batteries, and be supported by those regiments; but it had not yet got into position.

By this time the enemy had got into position and the fire from his batteries had become intense along our whole line. Our skirmishers had been forced back out of the lane, which the enemy now occupied, and from which, and a small hill behind which he was to some extent sheltered, he poured upon our left a galling musketry fire. I looked for our guns; two only had been brought forward, and they, instead of taking the position indicated, were being put in position in front of the extreme left. I rode along the line to them. When I cam up they had opened fire upon the enemy in the lane and upon the hill last mentioned. I again ordered them to move to the place designated. To my utter astonishment I was informed by the lieutenant that his ammunition was about exhausted, and hence it was useless to change position. Directing him to do the best he could with his pieces I turned away to do the best I could without them.

Candor compels me to say that form some cause our artillery was throughout strikingly inefficient, although both the officers and men with it exhibited the greatest bravery.

The enemy at this time had one battery on the ridge in front of and parallel to our line; one on a ridge nearly perpendicular to but beyond our line to the right, so situated as to enable him to concentrate a fire upon several portions of our line and to enfilade a part of it, and his fire had become terrible in its intensity. I determined to take his battery at all hazards-the one on our right. The requisite orders had been given, and I was riding along the line to see that they were properly understood, when we were suddenly and furiously attacked from the rear by a heavy dismounted force which had, under the cover of the hills and woods beyond, turned our right flank, and was moving to the rear of our main line in a direction nearly parallel to it and between it and that of the two companies left to protect the train and rear; at the same time a regiment of cavalry charged up the Lexington road from the south toward the rear of our left. This was the crisis of the day, and nobly did our gallant men meet it. The main line was faced at once to the rear and drove the enemy back, inflicting a heavy loss in killed and wounded and taking a large number of prisoners. The repulse was complete. The Fiftieth Regiment here made a bayonet charge in a style never surpassed and seldom equaled, forcing their way entirely through the enemy's line. The cavalry charging up the road was also completely and severely repulsed by the two companies protecting our rear, who were promptly put in position for that purpose under the direction of Adjutant Simpson of my staff; but it rallied and made a second charge upon them and was again repulsed. When the enemy had been repulsed from the rear of our main line as above described, the Fiftieth Indiana was placed to cover the route by which he had approached. It had barely got into position when its right was furiously charged by a heavy cavalry force from the south, before which it staggered and fell slightly back; but two companies (H, Captain Scott, and C, Captain Marsh) holding the left quickly changed front and poured in the flank of the charging force a murderous fire, under which it broke and fled, and the right immediately rallied and resumed its place. This substantially closed the fighting for the day. The repulse of the attack upon our rear had brought our line back to Red Mound, where our first had been formed, but at nearly right angles to it, the left resting where the right of the first had rested. It was in excellent order. I was passing along it, speaking words of congratulation and encouragement to the men, when a flag of truce, borne by an aide of General Forrest, approached. I rode forward and demanded his message. He answered: "The general understands that you have surrendered." I replied: "The general is entirely mistaken; we have never thought of surrendering." He said a white flag was hoisted. I answered: "You are mistaken; or, if not, it was done without my authority or knowledge, and you will so report to your general." He departed, but shortly returned with his flag of truce and said, "The general demands an unconditional surrender." I replied: "You will get away with that flag very quick, and bring me no more such messages. Give my compliments to the general, and tell him I never surrender. If he thinks he can take me, he can come and try." He left.

In the mean time Commissary Sergeant Thompson, of the Fiftieth Regiment, had informed me that, when the charge had been made upon the two companies left to protect the train and our rear, the wagoners had become panic-stricken, had driven the train northeestwardly into a hollow where it had been captured, and that with a single company he could retake it. I turned to the Thirty-ninth Iowa and asked, "Will any company volunteer to retake our wagons?" Company G, captain Cameron, instantly responded, and was placed under the command of Major Attkisson, of the Fiftieth Indiana, and recaptured the train, taking several prisoners, among whom was Major Strange, General Forrest's adjutant-general; Colonel McKee, his aide, and one or two other officers. This was scarcely accomplished when I learned that you had arrived from Huntingdon with Colonel Fuller's brigade, and I soon saw his guns moving into position.

It is reported to me by Lieutenant-Colonel Wells, who held our right that on the repulse of the enemy's cavalry he appeared to commence withdrawing, under the cover of the wood-his forces passed our right, southeardly-and that when Fuller's brigade opened fire his retreat in that direction became a perfect rout.

We were not during the entire engagement driven from a single position; but, on the contrary, whenever an opportunity offered, the enemy was driven before us with resistless vigor. Only in a single instance did any part of our command get into the slightest confusion. When our line was ordered to face to the rear and repel the enemy's flanking column a part of the Thirty-ninth Iowa (some three or four companies of its right) obeyed most handsomely; but the other part, from not properly receiving or not fully understanding the orders, seemed to hesitate, became confused, and finally began to break. Seeing this I rode rapidly to them, hoping to remedy the difficulty. The enemy had seen it also and concentrated upon them a terrific fire from his musketry in front and the battery on the right, under which they completely gave way and crossed the road to a skirt of wood a short distance to the west. Their officers, assisted by my aide, Captain Silence, and Adjutant Simpson, soon rallied them, and they returned in good order to and resumed their place in the line in this new position at Red Mound, with their confidence in themselves and mine in them fully restored. It was one of these companies that, under Major Attkisson, retook our wagon train. When it is recollected that this is not only its first engagement but its first march; that for nearly two hours it undauntingly maintained its position under the severest fire, and when I call to mind the terrible ordeal of the moment, the wonder is not that they did no better, but so well, and all regret for this single mishap is forgotten in admiration of the courage of these gallant men.

Lieutenant-Colonel Redfield and Captain Cameron of this regiment were especially conspicuous for their coolness and energy at this time. The former, although severely and dangerously wounded, seemed entirely forgetful of his own sufferings in his efforts to rally his men. Color-Corporal Armstrong also attracted particular attention, for although his companion had fallen at his side, pierced by several balls, yet he was ready at every command to put down his flag as a rallying point.

With the exception of this single incident my entire command throughout the day manifested the greatest enthusiasm and the most perfect confidence in their success, and at no time more than the moment before your arrival with the other brigade. The One hundred and twenty-second Illinois deserves especial notice. IT is a comparatively new regiment and a part of it was at one time more exposed to the enemy's fire than any other; at any rate it suffered more in killed and wounded. Its gallant colonel fells severely wounded, yet its courage never flagged and it met every duty and every danger with unwavering resolution. The detachment of the Eighteenth acted for the most part with it and deserves the same commendations.

To the Fiftieth Indiana, because of its greater experience, being an older regiment, was assigned the most responsible position of the field, and it is only necessary to say that under its vigilant and brave commander it so did its duties as to show that the trust was worthily confided.

I should also especially mention Captain Silence and Adjutant Simpson. By their vigilance and energy in observing and reporting every movement, by their promptness in conveying orders and in seeing to and aiding in their execution, and in many other ways were they of the greatest service to me. In the discharge of their duties they were often exposed to the enemy's hottest fire. Captain Silence had two horses shot under him.

My mounted orderly, Fred. L. Prow, of the Fiftieth Indiana, also did good service in conveying orders. I should also acknowledge my personal obligation to him. When my own horse was shot under me he rode forward under a terrible fire, dismounted, and gave me his.

I hope to be pardoned also for mentioning a gallant little feat of Private E.A. Topliff, of the battery. As our line faced about and pressed back in their engagement of the enemy at our rear one of the guns of the battery was left behind in the edge of the wood. All the horses belonging to it had been killed but two. After everybody had passed and left it, he, fearing that the enemy might capture it, alone, under a smart fire, disengaged the two horses, hitched them to the piece, and took it out safely.

The losses of my command are: Killed, 23; wounded, 139; missing, 58. Total, 220. Many of the wounds (probably one-half) are slight.

Among those taken prisoners are Captain Hungate had been very unwell for two or three days, but had with great resolution kept with his company. The night previous he became and continued very sick, and was with the assistant surgeon of his regiment at the rear, where he had established his hospital. Lieutenant Adams was assisting in arranging the hospital and in making provision for the wounded already being brought in. They, and also Assistant Surgeon Hervey and the hospital steward, were captured by the enemy's cavalry I the charge upon our rear. Dr. Hervey and the hospital steward were detained for two hours, our wounded in the mean time being left to suffer for want of their attention. Lieut. D.S. Scott, of the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry, was suddenly surrounded and taken while zealously discharging his duties.

The enemy's losses and the fruits of the complete and overwhelming victory which your timely aid secured to us are more fully within your own knowledge, and it is therefore unnecessary for me to make any statement in regard to them.

C.L. DUNHAM, Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 17, pt. I, pp. 579-585.

        31, Skirmish at Wilkerson's Crossroads[2]

No circumstantial reports filed.

Excerpt from the Report of Col. Eli H. Murray, Third Kentucky Cavalry, including skirmishes at La Vergne, December 26, Wilkinson's Cross-Roads, December 31, and on Manchester pike, January 5, 1863, relative to the skirmish at Wilkinson's Crossroads, December 31, 1862.

HDQRS. THIRD KENTUCKY CAVALRY, Camp Stanley, near Murfreesborough, Tenn. January 7, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit a report of the part taken by my command from December 26, 1862, the day of our advance from Nashville, the engagement before Murfreesborough, and pursuit of the enemy in their retreat.

* * * *

At 8 o'clock, December 31, 1862, Col. Kennett, commanding division, gave me orders to move to Wilkinson's Cross-Roads. Having moved but a short distance, and in the direction of the cross-roads, I found the greatest confusion, caused by the right wing of the army falling back. Going but little farther, I found our whole train of baggage and ammunition in possession of the enemy. Capt. Wolfley, with part of his battalion, and Capt. Breathitt, commanding the First Battalion, with a squad of his command, in all about 80 men, in a moment were engaged charging down the train. We came upon the enemy in all directions. Here were engagements hand-to-hand, but dashing onward my men were doing in earnest the work before them. The open field gave us the place for charging. The enemy were marching about 250 of our men to their rear as prisoners. These we recaptured. We also recaptured a portion of the Fifth Wisconsin Battery; also a section supposed to be the First Ohio. The hospital of Gen. Palmer's division was still held by them. Bringing about 40 men to dash upon them, their whole command fled. At one time it seemed as if my whole command were taking prisoners to the rear. There being no support near, I ordered the prisoners to be given to the nearest infantry, in order that I might bring all my force against them and hold the train. Maj. Shacklett here rejoined me, and having taken position near the hospital, our cavalry coming to the field, took position on my left. Again the enemy made a dash, but was again repulsed. Near two hours afterward the enemy moved to the right. By order of Col. Kennett we moved in that direction at the trot, again to find them about to attack the train; but after exchanging shots, and under fire from our artillery, again baffled in their design, withdrew. We took between 50 and 60 prisoners, killing and wounding about 25.

In the engagement the 80 men of my command drove from the field Wharton's brigade of rebel cavalry saved the baggage and ammunition of a great part of our army; recaptured a portion of the Fifth Wisconsin Battery and a section of, I think, the First Ohio Battery, and, at least calculation, 800 of our men. From that time up to their retreat from Murfreesborough we held our position with the First Cavalry Brigade, under the direct orders of Col. Minty, commanding.

*  *  *  *

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. I, pp. 627-628.

        31, A White County woman's thoughts on New Year's Eve

This is the last night of the old year. I wrote just one year ago that I hoped another New Year's sun would rise on more pleasant and more peaceful scenes than the tomorrow's sun was going to shine upon. But I think it will rise upon as bad if not worse. Who would have thought this war would have lasted until now. But, I do not wish to write politics....

Diary of Amanda McDowell.

        31, Confederates press Maury County slaves

….Yesterday the Confederate soldiers took off several hundred negroes [sic] from Town of Columbia [sic] and to work & drive waggins [sic] in the army. Alfred, Monk & Jack was taken, all was got off except Granville [as] he was carried off verry [sic] sorely agt [sic] his will….

Diary of Nimrod Porter, January 1, 1863.

        31, Burial of Lieut. Col. Julius P. Garesche,[3] Major-General W. S. Rosecran's assistant adjutant-general, killed at the battle of Murfreesborough, Tennessee, December 31, 1862.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 25, pt. II, p. 25.

        31, "I know the noble Southern women will do all they can…." McMinnville's Lucy Virginia French's reflections on the battle at Murfreesboro

This has been a most eventful day. At daylight this morning very heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of Murfreesboro. It was a clear cold morning; with a brisk breeze setting from the North. I suppose there was 50 men left town for the scene of conflict – and everything in the shape of a soldier went. Capt. Lawrence Butler and Andy Brown had an engagement to take tea with us this evening but as soon as the firing showed the ball to have opened in earnest [?], they sent an apology, and Capt. B. sprang on his horse and was off to Murfreesboro. All the morning there was a continuous roar of artillery – heaviest from 9 o'clock until now. About 1 P.M. it was less frequent and seemed fainter – could it be that our gallant fellows were driving the Vandals before them? I commenced writing my book in the morning, (because my story was to commence on this day 2 years ago.) [sic] and the sound of the firing came rolling into the quiet of my chamber every few seconds. Every now and then I would pause in my occupation to utter the fervent prayer, "God protect those gallant men who stand between us and the foe!" My nerves were tensioned [sic] all day to an extreme pitch. I was alone at home-Darlin was in town – and Mollie and Jessie had gone there also. I felt keenly how much depended on the issue of this battle. Not only the fate of our own noble State – but possibly that of the Confederacy – and assuredly our fate as a private family. This battle was to decide whether or not we were still to have a home, or be sent forth as refugees to find a sojourning place in a land of strangers. Just behind the lines we stood – with our households gathered about us – straining the eyes and heart for tiding from that army of gallant men that stood like a wall of steel between us and the foe. And it came! And God be praised the tiding were "glad tidings of great joy!" Just before supper Darlin' came home to tell me that the telegraphic operator here had been dispatched in the morning we had taken 6 guns and 300 prisoners. Gov. Harris telegraphed last night to Maj. Rowan, but the telegram was only received this morning – The enemy is in force all along our lines and there will be a great battle tomorrow. Were are confident." About 2 or half past one o'clock the cannonading ceased to be heard here. Darlin' went into town at night and came home about 11 o'clock with glorious news. Harris had telegraphed that our men had fought all day, from 5 in the morning, (about daylight) until 5 in the evening, (when dark came on.) They had whipped the enemy – loss heavy on both sides. They had taken 4,000 prisoners and 36 guns. The telegraph operator at Tulahoma [sic] sent this message to the operator her last night – "We have taken 2 million worth of stores, and given the Yankees hell." [sic] This was emphatic to say the least. I could scarcely keep from crying for joy when Darlin''' told me the news – I went in Mollie's room, waked her and told her. I said to her "now don't turn over and go to sleep again without thanking God for it." I'm sure our prayers tonight will be fervent and deeply gratful [sic] to "Him who giveth the victory." And when I went to bed as I lay there so comfortable and cosy [sic], I could not go to sleep for thinking of the many poor fellows were lying on the battlefield – some cold in death – others shivering with cold and writhing with pain. The cold clear moon looked down upon the [battlefield], for it was a brilliant, frosty night – but who was there with a warm[,] kind glance to cheer their last agonized hours? And, who when they lay stiff and stark would bend over them with a tear, and linger by a moment to look upon the clay–cold lips and "Kiss him for his mother?" The surgeons are busy tonight – the little city of Murfreesboro is full of the wounded. God help them! – poor fellows may they meet with every kindness! I know the noble Southern women will do all they can – and if they send any of the wounded here – as I suppose they will – I am sure I will be one to do everything in my power for them. I want to go to Murfreesboro exceedingly and to Nashville – Darlin'' has been "on a trade" with Brown Spurlock for the furniture of the Picket establishment – he is to take it if the Yankees are whipped and driven back so that there will be probability of their getting up here anymore. The furniture is very fine, and cost some 1,800 or 2,000 dollars – Darlin' is to give 1400 cash down, in notes and Confederate money. At any other time I should have been quite "exercised" about getting such things, but now everything is so confused, and I have so many things of greater importance to think of that I do not care much whether the purchase is made or not. If we can only be allowed to remain at home I shall be quite content. I seem to have taken root in this spot, and I cannot bear the idea of leaving it. Florence Spurlock was here this afternoon. She is in deep mourning for her brother who was killed in [the battle of] Perryville [October 8, 1862]. She told me she had understood that the fight was commenced with small arms on Tuesday at 2 o'clock, and that Cheatham's division was one of those held as the reserve. Her two other brothers are in that Division – her two married brothers went down to Murfreesboro this morning, each taking a surgeon with him. Mrs. Hill is inconsolable for the loss of her son – Bob Read who died in Ky. Some weeks after the Perryville fight. He was wounded in that battle – was taken to a private house where he had every attention, his wound doing well – but he died of diarrhea [sic].

War Journal of Lucy Virginia French, December 31, 1862.

        31, Exaggerated News from Memphis

Matters About Memphis.-Within the past two or three months, persons who have visited or passed through Memphis, brought us accounts of the turbulent, mutinous disposition of the federal soldiers, and of outrages done by them. The crimes committed by them were hushed up, and the outrages in the country about Memphis were never permitted to be talked about. Murders were frequent, and there is scarcely a family within reach of these villains that has not been robbed. A gentleman just from Memphis, who was there for a month, tells us that when Grant's troops left they set fire to the city in different places, and when the fire engines were brought out, the soldiers ran their bayonets into the hose, or leather pipes, in which the water is conveyed. A number of buildings were destroyed, but the citizens succeeded in putting out the fires.

The new troops who were in Memphis when our informant left, are northeestern men. They declare that the opening of the Mississippi is the only inducement to keep them in the army. They repudiate Lincoln's proclamation. A day or two before he left there was a conflict between these troops and the negroes in which numbers of the latter were killed. Three negroes, belonging to a gentleman of this city, were seen lying dead in the street. In fact, these new troops kill a negro upon the least provocation, and with as little compunction as we would kill a snake. A meeting was held at Germantown, some fourteen or fifteen miles  from Memphis, which ended in a riot and pitched battle, wherein four hundred were killed.

~ ~ ~

--Little Rock Democrat.

Dallas Herald, December 31, 1862.

        31 "Old men and boys were in the ranks, and while I do not suppose any were very anxious to be shot, yet I am sure that they were determined to fight for their homes." Extract from a Confederate in Bristol, Tennessee, relative to Carter's raid into East Tennessee

Bristol, December 31, 1862

We give below an extract from a private letter to a relative in Richmond….


On Monday [4] night about 12 o'clock, news reached here that the Yankees were coming. – The men of the town were immediately ordered to assemble at the railroad depot. Living a mile out of town, I heard nothing of the news until Tuesday morning. As soon as information reached me of what was on hand, I loaded my gun and joined the excited crowd at the depot.

Scouts had been sent out in various directions, and couriers were arriving every moment with a number of contradictory reports, usual under such circumstances. About 11 o'clock, A.M., several of our citizens who had been out on reconnaissance dashed furiously in with the intelligence that they had been pursued by fifteen or twenty of the enemy who were then within three miles of the town, and advancing rapidly.

Just previous to the receipt of this information a battalion of infantry, under Col. Slemp, had been marched into town. These, with Captain Troy's company y, which had been stationed here, and one hundred armed citizens, fortheith took up the line of march to meet the advancing fore who was reported to be two thousand strong.

As we marched through the streets, every man impressed with the belief that we were going immediately into battle, it was quite affecting to see the wives and mothers in tears. As we filed past my home, I bowed to my wife, but she was too much occupied in crying to notice me. It was raining hard when we started and continued all day. After marching through the mud a considerable distance beyond the town, expecting each moment to hear the roar of musketry ahead, we were halted. In a few moments a regiment of cavalry, under Col. Clay, met us with the news that the Yanks had gone toward Union, a point eleven m miles distant on the Tennessee railroad. We were all then marched back to Bristol, and shortly afterwards dismissed, with orders to reassemble at the tap of the drum. In the course of the day we learned that the railroad bridge at Union and another a few miles below had been burnt.

Gen. Marshall arrived here last night with five hundred men and some artillery, and this morning Col. Galtner, with his splendid regiment of Kentucky cavalry, also came up, and as I write are moving toward Blountville, a place eight miles distance, which some Yankees are reported to have been seen to-day. One Abolition soldier was killed and two captured near here yesterday. In this raid the enemy has been piloted by Colonel Carter, an East Tennessee Unionist.

I was very much pleased with the spirit manifested by our people. Old men and boys were in the ranks, and while I do not suppose any were very anxious to be shot, yet I am sure that they were determined to fight for their homes. – We certainly experienced the feeling of men going into battle, for we had no reason to doubt that the enemy was certainly approaching.

Richmond Enquirer

Daily Morning News (Savannah, GA), January 8, 1863.[5]

        31-January 2, 1863, Battle of Stones River[6]

After the Confederate disaster at Ft. Donelson in February, 1862, the two antagonists remained relatively inactive, the only real action being in the form of raids by Union forces that bombarded Chattanooga in June, and Confederate raids led by Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest in July and August. Confederate commander Braxton Bragg made plans to invade Kentucky from his base in Chattanooga and from Knoxville. The invasion was a success, but ended in a calamitous reverse for the Confederates at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, on October 8, 1862. Thereafter Confederate forces retreated to Knoxville in East Tennessee. Bragg then moved his headquarters to Murfreesboro and his army to Middle Tennessee. Federal General W.S. Rosecrans, despite Confederate attacks on his lines of communications and supply, amassed large stockpiles of supplies and equipment to fuel an anticipated struggle with the Army of Tennessee under General Bragg. Rosecrans did not want to give Bragg a chance to take Nashville and so regain that vital railroad center.

While Murfreesboro was still under Confederate control, President Jefferson C. Davis visited that Middle Tennessee town. Afterwards, however, Davis ordered a large contingent of the Army of Tennessee to Vicksburg, a move which would weaken Confederate forces in Middle Tennessee. Guerrilla raids and cavalry skirmishes continued throughout the autumn of 1862. It appeared as though the two Armies would wait until the spring of 1863 before becoming engaged in a decisive battle. As tensions mounted in Middle Tennessee, Confederate forces attacked Federal supply lines in West Tennessee in a successful effort to temporarily slow the Union advance upon Vicksburg. The Army of Tennessee and the Army of the Cumberland slowly jockeyed for position in Middle Tennessee.

General Bragg situated his troops at strategic points along the Stones River at Murfreesboro. From these points he could attack Rosecrans on the roads leading out of Nashville. Late in December Rosecrans moved his troops out of Nashville and began a deliberate advance toward the Army of Tennessee at Murfreesboro. He planned to march to Chattanooga after defeating Bragg. This he would do, but not until July, 1863.

When Bragg learned of the Federal army's movements, he prepared for battle and reinforced his line of defense along the Stones River. During the night of December 29, Confederate Brigadier General Joseph Wheeler made damaging raids against Rosecrans communications and destroyed most of their supplies for the forthcoming battle. Despite his boldness, however, in the end it didn't matter and did not positively affect the outcome of the battle for the Southern cause.

While the two Armies bivouacked a few miles each other in apprehension of a battle during the evening hours of December 30, soldiers from one army began to sing as their band played. The opposing army reopened with its own music and a "battle of the bands" raged until one of the bands began to play "Home Sweet Home." In a scene of poetic irony, soldiers of the two Armies began to sing together in a paradoxical manifestation of unity before killing one another en masse the next day.

On December 31, 1862, the Battle of Stones River began as the Rebel army charged the Yankee forces sending them into the dense cedar thickets to surrounded the erstwhile cotton field upon which the battle would take place. The noise of battle was so intense than many Rebel soldiers stuffed cotton in their ears.

Federal forces were initially driven back, but finally stopped the Confederate advance at their line at the Nashville Pike. General Rosecrans ordered his troops to engage the advancing rebels and regain every inch of ground lost to the Confederate onslaught. Nevertheless, Bragg believed that Rosecrans would withdraw on New Years Day. Because of this unwarranted assumption Confederate forces did not attack on New Year's Day, 1863. When Bragg found the Federal army still in position on the Nashville Pike the next day, he renewed his attack. This initiative drove the Federals back until the Confederate advance was halted by what was then the largest concentration of Federal artillery ever gathered in combat. At the Stones River the Confederate advance ground to a halt, decimated by canister fired from Yankee cannon. While both sides claimed victory the Confederates retreated from the field. The fighting ended. Bragg had learned that Rosecrans had received reinforcements and realized at the end of the fighting on January 2 that his men were no match for the more fire power and abundantly supplied of the Army of the Cumberland. Casualties were high for both sides: of 34,732 Confederate troops, 9,239 were killed, wounded or missing (26%); the Union losses totaling 9,220 killed, wounded or missing out of 41,400 troops (22%). Rosecrans occupied Murfreesborough and Bragg retreated to Shelbyville and Tullahoma for the winter and spring of 1863. A major Federal initiative would not begin until June, 1863, in the Middle Tennessee, or Tullahoma, Campaign which drove Bragg to Chattanooga.[7]



[1] Many contend that this was a victory for Confederate forces. Indeed, General Forrest acted with great skill in his battle with the Federals, who were negotiating surrender terms as Union reinforcements arrived and compelled Confederate forces to hastily retreat in disorder.

[2] A.k.a. "Wilkinson's Crossroads."

[3] Garesche was killed that afternoon when a Confederate cannon ball took off his head. See: "MIDNIGHT NEW YEAR'S EVE BURIAL OF LT. COL. JULIUS P. GARESCHE," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, February 28, 1863, pp. 356, 366. Illustration p. 356.

[4] See above, December 20, 1862-January 5, 1863, Carter's Raid into East Tennessee.


[6] A plethora of secondary works deal with the Battle of Stones River. It would be necessarily redundant and even presumptuous to document the large battle here. For that reason it is only necessary to summarize the conflict here. There are a total of 307 reports on the battle.

[7] See map of the Battle of Stones River, OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. I, p. 916.

The following Tennessee units, part of Cheatham's Division of Polk's Corps, fought at the battle of Stones River: 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 24th, 26th, 28th, 29th, 45th 47th, 51st, 84th, 154th Senior Tennessee Volunteers, Scott's Tennessee Battery, Captain T.J. Stanford's Light Battery.

For reports relative to some of the Tennessee units that fought at the Battle of Stones River see: OR, Ser. I, Vol. 20, pt. I, pp. 728-730, 748-749, 717-719, 714-716, 720-721, 805-807, 821-822, 823-824, 882-885, 890-891.

James B. Jones, Jr.

Public Historian

Tennessee Historical Commission

2941 Lebanon Road

Nashville, TN  37214

(615)-770-1090 ext. 123456

(615)-532-1549  FAX


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