Forrest's men rank with Bravest of brave.
When General Bragg
returned from his Kentucky
furloughed his Middle Tennessee
troops, with instructions to visit their respective homes and to secure as many recruits as possible.
In recruiting they were highly successful, and when the Wilson county
contingent joined the main command at Lavergne
, November 2, 1862, Company C, of Starnes
' Fourth Tennessee Regiment numbered about 180 men and boys, the majority of them wholly untrained either in cavalry or infantry tactics.
On the same day they were furnished with arms and accoutrements, such as they were, Enfield
rifles, Belgian muskets, shotguns and what were called ‘Mississippi rifles,’ probably because these guns were made in Nashville
and various other towns.
Early next morning the command moved toward Nashville
on the Murfreesboro Pike
a few miles, when our regiment turned to the left, crossed the railroad under the bridge over a dry branch and were formed in line behind a rail fence.
On the other side of the fence was a stubble field, in which Freeman
's Battery of six brass Howitzers was engaged in a lively duel with a Federal battery which was out of our sight beyond a slight rise.
The men of the Federal
battery evidently saw our line, for an occasional shot or shell passed over our heads among the tree tops.
With the exception of frantic rearing and plunging of the new recruit horses, the men sat in their saddles like veterans, watching the actions of the artillerymen with absorbing interest.
After about half an hour a Federal shell—a percussion shell— struck a corner of the fence about the middle of the line of our company, and exploded, throwing rails high in the air. I looked around to see how many were killed and saw about a hundred of our recruits riding pellmell down the hill to the railroad