I recognized during the battle the Forty-first Ohio, which fought until it expended its last cartridge, and was then relieved by the noble Ninth Indiana, which came into line with a heavy shout, inspiring all with confidence. The Eighty-fourth, One Hundred and Tenth, and One Hundredth Illinois I knew; all new regiments, and all so fought that even the veterans of “Shiloh” and other bloody fields had no occasion to boast over them. The Eighty-fourth stood its ground until more than one-third of its number were killed or wounded. The Sixth Ohio, the Twenty-fourth Ohio, the Twenty-third Kentucky, and the Thirty-sixth Indiana were pointed out to me; and I recognized the brave Colonel Whittaker and his fighting men doing soldiers' duty. I only saw the regiments of Cruft's brigade fighting early in the day; I had no fears for them where valor could win. Indeed, the whole division fought like soldiers trained under the rigid discipline of the lamented Nelson, and by their courage proved that they had caught a large portion of his heroic and unconquerable spirit. During the whole day I regarded the battery under the command of Lieutenant Parsons, assisted by Lieutenants Cushing and Huntington, as my right arm, and well did the conduct of these courageous and skilful young officers justify my confidence. My orders to Parsons were simple: “Fight where you can do the most good.” Never were orders better obeyed. The reported conduct of the other batteries attached to the division is equally favorable. They were in other parts of the field. My personal staff, Captain Norton, acting Assistant Adjutant-General; Lieutenants Simmons and Child; Lieutenant Croxton, Ordnance Officer; Lieutenant Hays, Division Topographical Engineer; Lieutenant Shaw, Seventh Illinois cavalry, were with me all day on the field, and carried my orders everywhere with the greatest courage. Lieutenant Simmons was severely injured by a fragment of a shell. I cannot commend the conduct of Doctor Sherman, Ninth Indiana volunteers, Medical Director, too highly. At all times from the commencement of the march from Nashville, and during the battles and skirmishes in which the division was engaged, up to the occupation of Murfreesboro, he was always at his post, and by his industry, humanity, and skill, earned not only my gratitude and that of this command, but that of the wounded of the enemy, many of whom were thrown upon his care. On the first of January, this division was relieved and placed in reserve. On Friday, the second, Grose's brigade was ordered over the river to the left to support the division of Colonel Beatty, and during the action the brigade of Colonel Hazen was also ordered over to cooperate with Grose, while the First brigade (Cruft's) was posted to support a battery on the hill near the ford. During the heavy cannonade the First brigade maintained its position with perfect coolness. While the engagement was going on across the river a rebel force of what seemed to be three small regiments, entered the clump of woods in front of the position of our batteries on the hill near the ford. These troops were in musket range of our right across the creek, and I determined at once to dislodge them. Seeing two regiments, one of which was commanded by Colonel Garrit, and the other by Colonel Attmire, I ordered them to advance to the edge of the wood and deploy some companies as skirmishers. They obeyed me cheerfully and pushed in. Not being willing to leave the repulse of the enemy a matter of doubt, or to expose these brave fellows to the danger of heavy loss, I ordered up two of Cruft's regiments, and upon approaching the edge of the woods halted them, and told them it was my purpose to clear the woods at the point of the bayonet. To inspire them with coolness and confidence, the preparation for the charge was made with great deliberation. To get the proper direction for the line, guides were thrown out and the proper changes were made. Bayonets fixed, and these two regiments, Thirty-first Indiana and Ninetieth Ohio, ordered to clear the woods. They went in splendidly. It was done so quickly that the rebels had hardly time to discharge their pieces. They fled with the utmost speed. All these regiments behaved handsomely.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,
J. M. Palmer, Brigadier-General, commanding.