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Doc. 16. operations in Tennessee.


Major-General Steedman's report.

headquarters District of Etowah, Chattanooga, January 27, 1865.
General: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command during the recent campaign, which resulted in the defeat of the enemy before Nashville, and his retreat to Alabama.

In obedience to the orders of Major-General Thomas, my command, consisting of the Eighteenth regiment Ohio volunteers, Sixty-eighth regiment Indiana volunteers, Sixth Indiana dismounted cavalry, Fourteenth, Sixteenth, and Forty-fourth United States colored troops, detachments of the Fourteenth, Twentieth, and Seventeenth army corps, organized into a provisional division, and commanded by Brigadier-General Charles Cruft, and the Eighteenth Ohio and Twentieth Indiana batteries, amounting in the aggregate to about fifty-two hundred men, moved from Chattanooga by railroad on the twenty-ninth day of November, and proceeded to Cowan, Tennessee, where I took my command from the cars the next morning at eight o'clock and placed it in position.

At six o'clock P. M. of the same day I received an order by telegraph from the Major-General commanding, to proceed as rapidly as possible with my command and report to him at Nashville, arriving at that place at five o'clock P. M. on the first day of December.

By an accident to one of the trains the command of Colonel Johnson, of the Forty-fourth United States colored troops, was detained until the morning of the second December, when the train conveying his troops was attacked by the cavalry of the enemy, five miles south of Nashville.

I herewith submit Colonel Johnson's report of his encounter with the enemy.

On the second day of December I moved my command, by order of the Major-General commanding, into position, and occupied and fortified the ridge between the Murfreesboro and Nolensville pikes, and crossing the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad on Raine's farm.

December 3.
By order of Major-General Thomas I withdrew my command from the position occupied the day previous, and placed it on a line indicated, nearer the city of Nashville, on the north side of Brown's Creek, extending from the Nolensville pike across the Murfreesboro pike, the left resting near the house of Major Lewis, a short distance from the Lebanon pike.

This position was strongly fortified by my troops, and held until they were withdrawn to to participate in the action on the fifteenth of December.

December 5 and 7.
By order of Major-General Thomas I directed a small brigade of colored troops, under the command of Colonel T. J. Morgan, of the Fourteenth United States colored troops, and the Sixty-eighth Indiana volunteers and Sixth Indiana dismounted cavalry, under the command of Colonel Biddle, to reconnoitre the position of the enemy in my front.

This force on both days drove the enemy from the left of the works constructed by my command on Raine's farm, which he had taken possession of after my troops abandoned them.

These reconnoisances were conducted by the officers in command with prudence, energy, and ability, and were successful in developing the enemy's position.

A detailed account of the results will be found in the report of Colonel Morgan, herewith forwarded.

December 11.
In compliance with the order of Major-General Thomas, I directed Brigadier-General Cruft to reconnoitre the enemy's position. This reconnoisance (made by a brigade under the command of Colonel J. G. Mitchell), owing to the whole surface of the country being covered with ice, rendering it almost impossible for men or animals to move over uneven ground, and on account of the steep slopes to be ascended in approaching the position of the enemy, was a difficult duty; but it was accomplished, and the position of the enemy developed.

December 13.
In obedience to the order of Major-General Thomas, a brigade of General Cruft's troops, under the command of Colonel A. G. Malloy, reconnoitred in front of my position and felt the enemy's right. The ground being still covered with smooth ice, rendered the movement tedious and hazardous ; but, under all the disadvantages, was skillfully executed, the enemy forced into his works, and the object of the reconnoissance accomplished. The movement was made under the immediate direction of General Cruft.

December 15.
The weather having moderated and the ground thawed sufficiently to enable men and animals to stand up, in obedience to the orders of Major-General Thomas, the provisional division of troops, under the command of Brigadier-General Cruft, moved at four o'clock A. M., and believed the troops of the Fourth and Twenty-third army corps, occupying their exterior line of works and picketing the front of this line from the Acklin Place to Fort Negley, and commanding the approaches to the city by the Granny White, Franklin and Nolensville turnpikes.

Brigadier-General J. F. Miller reported his command to me at four o'clock A. M., and occupied [87] the works from Fort Negley to the Lebanon pike, commanding the approaches to the city by the Murfreesboro, Chicken and Lebanon turnpikes.

Brigadier-General J. L. Donelson reported his command at six o'clock, and occupied the works from the right of General Cruft's command to the Cumberland river, commanding the approaches to the city by the Harding and Hillsboroa turnpikes.

Having thus disposed the troops as directed, for the protection of the city, fully commanding all its approaches, and rendering the public property and supplies secure against sudden attack from either flank, I moved out at half-past 6 o'clock A. M., in obedience to the orders of Major-General Thomas, with the Twelfth, Thirteenth and One Hundredth regiments of colored troops, under the command of Colonel Thompson, of the Twelfth colored; the Fourteenth, Seven-teenth, Forty-fourth and a detachment of the Eighteenth regiments. colored troops, under command of Colonel T. J. Morgan, of the Fourteenth colored; the Sixty-eighth Indiana volunteers, Eighteenth Ohio volunteers, and the Second battalion, Fourteenth army corps, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Grosvenor, and the Twentieth Indiana and Eighteenth Ohio batteries to attack the enemy's right, employ his forces at that point, and as far as possible by my movements to mislead him as to real point of attack. The fog was very dense, and delayed, somewhat, movements on the entire line. A few minutes before eight, when the fog had partially cleared away, and all my dispositions had been made for attack, Brigadier-General W. D. Whipple, Chief of Staff of the Department of the Cumberland, instructed me, by order of Major-General Thomas, as to the time of attack. At eight o'clock, the time designated, the attack was made by the troops of Colonel Morgan and Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor, Colonel Morgan commanding — advancing from the Murfreesboro turnpike towards Riddler's Hill, rapidly driving in the pickets of the enemy and assaulting his line of works between the U. and C. railroad and the Murfreesboro turnpike. In this assault the troops behaved well, carrying a portion of the enemy's works, but as they were exposed to a destructive fire, (the enemy rapidly reenforcing that part of his line), and as my object was to deceive the enemy as to the purposes of the Major-General commanding, I withdrew this force and immediately re-formed it for an attack on a force occupying an earth-work, east of and within short musket range of the Raine's house.

This attack was made at eleven o'clock A. M., and resulted in my troops getting possession of the Raine's house and other adjacent brick outbuildings, which were loop-holed and held until the next morning. While these attacks were being made by the troops under Colonel Morgan, Colonel Thompson's command moved across Brown's creek, between the Nolensville and Murfreesboro turnpikes, and attacked and carried the left of the front line of works of the enemy, resting on the Nolensville pike. This portion of the enemy's line was held by Colonel Thompson's command until the morning of the sixteenth.

During the operations of my command against the enemy's right, General Cruft, holding the exterior line protecting the city, and watching vigilantly all the movements, saw an opportunity to use his artillery on a flying column of the enemy's troops, and promptly ordered the Twenty-fourth Indiana battery, Captain Sturm, to open, which he did with effect, scattering and demoralizing this force.

Darkness closed the operations of the day; all the orders I received from Major-General Thomas had been executed; his plans successfull, and victory crowned our efforts. Throughout the day, and until the action closed at dark, my command behaved nobly, making the several assaults ordered with cool, steady bravery, retiring only when ordered to do so. A portion of the command suffered severely, but no troops behaving as gallantly as they did, in assaulting fortified position, could have suffered less, or borne their losses more heroically.

December 16.
At six o'clock A. M., in obedience to the orders of Major-General Thomas, my command moved on the enemy's works, and found that he had evacuated the right of his line, in my front, during the night. Pushing out my troops on the Nolensville pike, rapidly driving his cavalry, I took up a position between the Nolensville pike and the left of the Fourth corps, commanded by Brigadier-General T. J. Wood, my right resting on the railroad, my left reposing near the Nolensville pike, and covering the entire left of our line, engaging and putting to flight a portion of the enemy's cavalry. General Cruft, as I advanced with the troops under my immediate command, uncovering the approaches to the city by way of the Murfreesboro and Nolensville turnpikes, promptly pushed forward a brigade of his troops under the command of Colonel John G. Mitchell, and occupied Riddle's Hill, protecting our rear against any attempt of the enemy to use his cavalry to annoy us, or interfere with our ammunition or ambulance trains.

At one o'clock P. M., in obedience to an order from

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