most available spot was pointed out, and it soon opened fire upon the enemy. The line, however, advanced steadily to within one hundred yards of the front of Van Cleve's division, when a short and fierce contest ensued. Van Cleve's division, giving way, retired in considerable confusion across the river, followed closely by the enemy. Gen. Crittenden immediately directed his chief of artillery to dispose the batteries on the hill on the west side of the river, so as to open on them, while two brigades of Negley's division, from the reserve, and the pioneer brigade, were ordered up to meet the onset. The firing was terrific, and the havoc terrible. The enemy retreated more rapidly than they had advanced. In forty minutes they lost two thousand men. Gen. Davis, seeing some stragglers from Van Cleve's division, took one of his brigades and crossed at a ford below, to attack the enemy on his left flank, and by Gen. McCook's order the rest of his division was permitted to follow; but when he arrived, two brigades of Negley's division and Hazen's brigade, of Palmer's division, had pursued the flying enemy well across the field, capturing four pieces of artillery and a stand of colors. It was now after dark and raining, or we should have pursued the enemy into Murfreesboro. As it was, Crittenden's corps passed over, and, with Davis, occupied the crests, which were intrenched in a few hours. Deeming it possible that the enemy might again attack our right and centre thus weakened, I thought it advisable to make a demonstration on our right, by a heavy division of camp-fires, and by laying out a line of battle with torches, which answered the purpose. On Saturday, January third, it rained heavily from three o'clock in the morning; the ploughed ground over which our left would be obliged to advance was impassable for artillery; the ammunition train did not arrive until ten o'clock; it was therefore deemed unadvisable to advance, but batteries were put in position on the left, by which the ground could be swept, and even Murfreesboro reached by the Parrott guns. A heavy and constant picket-firing had been kept up on our right and centre, and extending to our left, which at last became so annoying, that in the afternoon I directed the corps commanders to clear their fronts. Occupying the woods to the left of Murfreesboro pike with sharp-shoooters, the enemy had annoyed Rousseau all day, and Gen. Thomas and himself requested permission to dislodge them and their supports which covered a ford. This was granted, and a sharp fire from four batteries was opened for ten or fifteen minutes, when Rousseau sent two of his regiments, which, with Speer's Tennesseeans and the Eighty-fifth Illinois volunteers, that had come out with the wagon-train, charged upon the enemy, and, after a sharp contest, cleared the woods and drove the enemy from his trenches, capturing from seventy to eighty prisoners. Sunday morning, the fourth of January, it was not deemed advisable to commence offensive movements, and news soon reached us that the enemy had fled from Murfreesboro. Burial-parties were sent out to bury the dead, and the cavalry was sent to reconnoitre Early on Monday morning General Thomas advanced, driving the rear-guard of rebel cavalry before him six or seven miles toward Manchester McCook and Crittenden's corps following, took position in front of the town, occupying Murfreesboro. We learned that the enemy's infantry had reached Shelbyville by twelve M. on Sunday, but owing to the impracticability of bringing up supplies and the loss of five hundred and fifty-seven artillery-horses, further pursuit was deemed unadvisable. It may be of use to give the following general summary of the operations and results of the series of skirmishes, closing with the battle of Stone River and occupation of Murfreesboro. We moved on the enemy with the following forces:
We fought the battle with the following forces:
We lost in killed:
We lost in wounded:
Being 20.03 per cent of the entire force in action.
Our loss in prisoners is not fully made out, but the Provost-Marshal General says, from present information, they will fall short of two thousand eight hundred.
If there are many more bloody battles on record, considering the newness and inexperience of the troops, both officers and men, or if there has been more true fighting qualities displayed by any people, I should be pleased to know it.
As to the condition of the fight we may say that we operated over an unknown country against a position which was fifteen per cent better than our own, every foot of ground and approaches being well known to the enemy, and that these disadvantages were fatally exhumed by the faulty position of our right wing.
The force we fought is estimated as follows.
We have prisoners from one hundred and thirty-two regiments of infantry, (consolidations counted as one,) averaging from those in General Bushrod Johnson's division four hundred and eleven each, say, for certain, three hundred and fifty men each, will give:
|Total killed and wounded,||8,778|