General T. J. Wood's report.
Nashville, and moved toward the enemy. Reliable information assured us that they were encamped in force at and in the vicinity of Murfreesboro; but as their cavalry, supported occasionally by infantry, had extended its operations up to our outposts, and as we had been compelled, some days previous to the movement on the twenty-sixth ult., to fight for the greater part of the forage consumed by our animals, it was supposed we would meet with resistance as soon as our troops passed beyond the lines of our own outposts. Nor was this expectation disappointed. The order of march, on the first day of the movement, placed the Second division (General Palmer's) in advance, followed by my own. Several miles northward of Lavergne, a small hamlet nearly equidistant between Nashville and Murfreesboro, portions of the enemy were encountered by our advance guard, a cavalry force, and a running fight at once commenced. The country occupied by these bodies of hostile troops, affords ground peculiarly favorable for a small force to retard the advance of a larger force. Large cultivated tracts occur at intervals, on either side of the turnpike road, but the country between the cultivated tracts is densely wooded, and much of the woodland is interspersed with cedar. The face of the country is undulating, presenting a succession of swells and depressions. This brief description is applicable to the whole country between Nashville and Murfreesboro, and it will show to the most casual observer how favorable it was for covering the movements and designs of the enemy in resisting our progress. The resistance of the enemy prevented our troops from gaining possession of the commanding heights immediately south of Lavergne, during the first day's operation, and delayed the arrival of my division at the site selected for its encampment until some time after nightfall. The darkness of the evening and the lateness of the hour prevented such a reconnoissance of the ground as is so necessary in close proximity to the enemy. But to guard effectually against surprise, a regiment from each brigade was thrown well forward as a grand guard, and the front and flanks of the division covered with a continuous line of skirmishers. The troops were ordered to be roused at an hour and a half before dawn of the following morning, to get their breakfast as speedily as possible, and to be formed under arms and in order of battle before daylight. An occasional shell from the opposite heights, with which the enemy commenced to greet us shortly after the morning broke, showed these precautions were not lost. As it was understood from the commanding General of the corps, that the right wing was not so far advanced as the left, the latter did not move forward until eleven o'clock A. M. on the twenty-seventh. At this hour the advance was ordered, and my division was directed to take the lead. The entire cavalry on duty with the left wing was ordered to report to me; being satisfied, however, from the nature of the country, that its position in the advance would be injudicious, and retard, rather than aid, the progress of the infantry, I directed it to take position in rear of the flanks of the leading brigade. I ordered Hascall's brigade to take the advance, and moved forward in two lines, with the front and flanks well covered with skirmishers. The other two brigades, Wagner's and Harker's, were ordered to advance on either side of the turnpike road, prepared to sustain the leading brigade, and especially to protect its flanks. These two brigades were also ordered to protect their outer flanks by flankers. In this order the movement commenced. Possession of the hamlet of Lavergne was the first object to be attained. The enemy were strongly posted in the houses, and on the wooded heights in the rear, where they were enabled to oppose our advance by a direct and cross-fire of musketry. Hascall's brigade advanced nobly across an open field to the attack, and quickly routed the enemy from their stronghold. This was the work of only a few minutes, but more than twenty casualties in the two leading regiments proved how sharp was the fire of the enemy. The forward movement of Hascall's brigade was continued, supported by Estep's Eighth Indiana battery. The enemy availed themselves of the numberless positions which occur along the entire road, to dispute our progress, but could not materially retard the advance of our troops, so determined and enthusiastic. They continued to press forward through the densely-wooded country, in a drenching rain-storm, till the advance reached Stewart's Creek, distant some five miles from Lavergne. Stewart's Creek is a narrow, deep stream, flowing between high and precipitous banks. It is spanned by a wooden bridge, with a single arch. It was a matter of cardinal importance to secure possession of this bridge, as its destruction would entail difficulty and delay in crossing the river, and, perhaps, involve the necessity of constructing a new bridge. The advance troops found, on their arrival, that the enemy had lighted a fire upon it, but had been pressed so warmly that there had been no time for the flames to be communicated to the bridge. The line of skirmishers and the Third Kentucky volunteers, Colonel McKee, dashed bravely forward, though opposed to a fire from the opposite direction, threw the combustible materials into the stream, and saved the bridge. While this gallant feat was being performed, the left flank of the leading brigade was attacked by cavalry. The menaced regiments immediately changed front to left, repulsed the attack, and a company of the One Hundredth Illinois, Colonel Bartleson, succeeded in cutting off and capturing twenty-five prisoners, with