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[168] my's artillery in that point. The necessary instructions for prompt movement at that point were immediately despatched, and in a short time our whole line except Breckinridge's command was warmly engaged. From this time we continued to drive the enemy more or less rapidly until his line was thrown entirely back at right ranges to his first position, and occupied the cut of the railroad along which he had massed his reserves and posted very strong batteries. (A reference to the map Number Two will show the second and strong positions.)

The enemy's loss was very heavy in killed and wounded, far exceeding our own, as appeared from a critical examination of the field, now almost entirely in our possession. Of artillery alone we had secured more than twenty-five pieces.

Whilst the infantry and artillery were yet engaged in this successful work, Brig.-Gen. Wharton with his cavalry command was most actively and gallantly engaged on the enemy's right and rear, where he inflicted a heavy loss in killed and wounded, captured a full battery of artillery endeavoring to escape, and secured and sent in near two thousand prisoners.

These important successes and results had not been achieved without heavy sacrifices on our part, as the resistance of the enemy, after the first surprise, was most gallant and obstinate.

Finding Lieut.-Gen. Hardee so formidably opposed by the movements of the enemy to his front, reenforcements for him were ordered from Major-General Breckinridge, but the orders were countermanded, as will hereafter appear, and Polk's corps was pressed forward with vigor, hoping to draw the enemy back or rout him on the right, as he had already been on the left.

We succeeded in driving from every position except the strong one held by his extreme left flank, resting on Stone River, and carried by a concentration of artillery of superior range and calibre, which seemed to bid us defiance. The difficulty of our general advance had been greatly enhanced by the topography of the country. All parts of our line had to pass in their progress over grounds of the roughest character, covered with huge stones and studded with the densest growth of cedar, the branches reaching the ground and forming an almost impassable “brake.” Our artillery could rarely be used, while the enemy, holding defensive lines, had selected formidable positions for his batteries, and the dense cover for his infantry, from both of which he had to be dislodged by our infantry alone.

The determined and unwavering gallantry of our troops, and the uninterrupted success which attend their repeated charges against their stronghold, defended by double their numbers, fully justified the unbounded confidence I have ever reposed in them and had so often expressed. To meet our successful advance and retrieve his losses in the front of his left, the enemy early transferred a portion of his reserve from his left to that flank, and by two o'clock had succeeded in concentrating such a force on Lieut.-Gen. Hardee's front as to check his further progress. Our two lines had by this time become almost blended, so weakened were they by losses, exhaustion, and extension to cover the enemy's whole front As early as ten o'clock A. M. Major-Gen. Breckinridge was called on for one brigade, and soon after a second, to reenforce or act as a reserve to Lieut.-Gen. Hardee. His reply to the first call represented the enemy crossing Stone River in heavy force in his immediate front, and on receiving the second order, he informed me that they had already crossed in heavy force, and were advancing to attack his lines. He was immediately ordered not to await attack, but to advance and meet them. About this same time a report reached me that a heavy force of the enemy's infantry was advancing on the Lebanon road, about five miles on Breckinridge's front. Brig.-Gen. Pegram, who had been sent to that road to cover the flank of the infantry with his cavalry brigade, two regiments detached with Wheeler and Wharton was ordered forward immediately to develop any such movement. The orders from the two brigades of Breckinridge were countermanded, whilst dispositions were made at his request to reinforce him. Before this could be carried out, the move ordered disclosed the fact that no force had crossed Stone River; that the only enemy in our immediate front then was a small body of sharp-shooters, and that there was no advance on the Lebanon road. These unfortunate misrepresentations on that part of the field which, with proper caution, could not have existed, withheld from active operations three fine brigades until the enemy had succeeded in checking our progress, had reestablished his lines, and had collected many of his broken battalions. Having now settled the question that no movement was being made against our right, and none to be apprehended, Breckinridge was ordered to leave two brigades to support the battery at “A,” on his side of Stone River — and with the balance of the force to cross to the left and report to Lieut.-General Polk. By the time this could be accomplished it was too late to send this force to Lieut.-Gen. Hardee's support, who was unable to make further progress, and he was directed to maintain his position. Lieut.-General Polk was directed with these reinforcements to throw all the force he could collect upon the enemy's extreme left, and thereby either carry that strong point which had so far resisted us so successfully — or failing in that, at least to draw off from Hardee's front the formidable opposition there concentrated. The three brigades of Jackson, Preston, and Adams were successively reported for their work.

How gallantly they moved to their task, and how much they suffered in the determined effort to accomplish it, will better appear from reports of subordinate commanders, and the statement of the losses therewith.

Upon this flank, their strongest defensive position resting on the river-bank, the enemy had concentrated not less than twenty pieces of artillery, masked almost from view, but covering an

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W. C. P. Breckinridge (6)
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Joseph Wheeler (1)
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