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Narrative of Wheeler's Circuit around Rosecrans.

The circuit of Gen. Wheeler around Rosecrans appears to have been one of the most dashing episodes of the Western war. The division of cavalry left Gen. Bragg's army, and by the morning of the second day had gained the summit of the famous Walden's Ridge, from whence its work was to begin. A letter from a participant, published in the Atlanta Register, gives the first connected account of the exploit, and from it we take some interesting extracts:

Towards nightfall the rain fell in torrents on our devoted boys. The roads soon became almost impassable and dangerous from the mire produced by the passing columns. By 1 o'clock in the morning we were in the Valley at Foster's Cross Roads, leaving several ambulances behind on the ridge, broken down. Two hours more and Gen. Wheeler was on the wing again, with five regiments of Martin's division, to destroy the enemy's trains at Dunlop. In this he was completely successful without suffering much loss, burning 800 wagons, capturing near 2,000 mules and horses, and several hundred prisoners--the latter of which might as well not have been captured, had it not been for their arms and horses. The train was loaded with ammunition and commissaries for Rosecrans's army. Grand, indeed, was the scene of this splendid train on fire, which was more than ten miles in length. Doubtless Rosecrans cursed most bitterly when this intelligence reached him, as his army was getting short of supplies.

Several wagons loaded with navy pistols were unknowingly burned in the train. Hundreds of mules were shot in the harness, that could not be unhitched in time to drive them away.

About the time when Gen. Wheeler was retiring, a strong force of the enemy vigorously attacked his rear. Night coming on, he withdrew in the direction of McMinnville. In the engagement Capt. Jones, of the 1st Kentucky cavalry, was killed.

By 12 o'clock on the morning of the 1st of October we have in sight of McMinnville. Forward dashed the Texas Rangers, driving in the enemy's pickets, killing and wounding several. In a few minutes Gen. Wheeler had the town surrounded and demanded its surrender. A half hour passed away and a flag of trace brought the tidings of the surrender of all the forces, consisting of the 4th Tennessee (renegade) regiment, numbering about 560 men. Major Patterson, of Greenville, Tenn., commanding. On the reception of this news by the cavalry a shout rent the air for miles that was deafening, whilst the continual tramp of passing battalions, and the rumbling of artillery carriages, made the scene appear romantic and grand to the citizens of McMinnville, and more so to the astounded Yankees.

Immense were the supplies obtained by the surrender — a quantity suffices to supply an army for months. Why this concentration of supplies remains to be developed; and such a collection of quartermasters' stores has seldom been seen anywhere as was hoarded up here, to which our boys helped themselves freely.

From this point we moved in the direction of Murfreesboro'. Beyond Woodbury, Scott's and Crew's brigades were detached from their respective divisions to guard some ordnance trains to Fosterville, on the railroad.

By dark on the evening of the 6th we rejoined Gen. Wheeler at Fosterville, he having destroyed the bridge south of Murfreesboro', as well as capturing the garrisons in the stockades, numbering 88 men. The railroad track between Murfreesboro' and Wartrace was torn up for several miles. Martin's division drove the enemy from Wartrace and destroyed the bridges; heavy infantry forces coming up from Stevenson forced him to retire from that point in the direction of Farmersville.

Shelbyville was ransacked from beginning to end. Every store was literally torn to atoms. One thing that made our soldiers more desperate than they would have been in their depredations on the merchants was learning that those gallows deserving Union men had refused to sell to Southern citizens any articles whatever; and that they themselves got credit from Northern merchants so as to enable them to carry on the mercantile business. Ladies, whose husbands were in our army, begged calicoes of our soldiers, saying that they could purchase nothing from the merchants. This is not half so heinous and barbarous as the order issued on the 1st day of October by the commandant of the post at Murfreesboro'. That accursed order forbid all millers from grinding any grain for the wives and families of those who belong to the "rebel army." Persons violating this order were to have their property confiscated and the offender suffer capital punishment. All merchants were forbid in the same order to sell anything to families of rebel proclivities.

After our soldiers had furnished themselves with whatever they wished they retired on the roads leading west from Shelbyville. The following night we encamped on the pike leading Farmerville. On the morning of the 8th we again resumed our line of march. Just as the column was in motion Gen. Davidson received intelligence from General Wheeler that the enemy was moving on him in three directions. Rejoining our brigade, we were ordered into line of battle, Clay's command passing us. The enemy, dismounting, moved through the woodland on our front, whilst heavy columns charged our flanks with much spirit, firing heavy volleys into a column of led horses. This was done to create confusion, and succeeded admirably on the part of the enemy. Perceiving our confusion, they charged down on our thin lines like a mighty torrent, which seemed for the moment resistless, until a deadly volley from the 5th Tennessee checked them for a few moments. If this column had been the only enemy we might have flattered ourselves a safe retreat. But alas! up came, dashing, their flanking columns, charging like so may demons, shooting and cutting down our boys without mercy. Wounded horses went dashing from the field, whilst others, frightened dashed away after them, leaving their riders, in many instances lifeless, hanging in the dense cedar brakes. Scattered through the fields and woodlands were seen our soldiers making their way to their commands, many of whom escaped in the confusion, after being captured.

At Farmersville we joined Gen. Wharton's and Martin's divisions, with Gen. Wheeler. These were speedily formed in line of battle to await the enemy's approach. In a few minutes they made their appearance, and, confident of success, moved boldly to the attack. Gen. Wheeler had here ambushed a portion of Wharton's division. The enemy was speedily and severely repulsed and driven back. Reinforcing, they soon forced back both of these splendid divisions. Night coming on closed the engagement. The battle was a severe one, in which many were killed and wounded on both sides.

After this there was but little skirmishing until at Sugar Creek a severe engagement occurred, in which the rear guard of the corps, the 2d Georgia and a Kentucky battalion, fragments of Morgan's old division, under the gallant Captain Kirkpatrick, were badly cut to pieces. A few shots were fired by the enemy across the first channel at our pickets on the island. After this skirmish they retired in the direction of Pulaski, Stevenson, and Bridgeport. Their entire force consisted of thirty-three regiments of cavalry and mounted infantry, including eight pieces of artillery, under the command of Major Gen. Mitchell.

Here we met with a most generous reception from the citizens in and near Courtland. Our soldiers were invited to their dwellings and fed freely "without money and without price." God save such noble people from the oppressions of the enemy.

The loss of the corps during the raid will not amount to more than 500 men and three pieces of artillery, and seven or eight hundred horses and mules. A summary of the damage done the enemy consists in the burning of 800 wagons, capture of near 2,000 mules and horses, and the killing of as many, destruction of immense supplies at McMinnville, with railroad trains; also, the capture of a regiment of infantry, armed with splendid Enfield rifles; destruction of Stone river bridge, south of Murfreesboro', and the capture of the garrisons in the stockades, 88 strong; the burning of the track for ten miles or more, and the destruction of the bridges at Wartrace, and the trains, with three engines, near that place.

Rumor reports Roddy's command to have destroyed the tunnel on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, near Stevenson. This is a grand feat, if true, and I have never heard it discredited yet. He barely made his escape, as the entire force pursuing Wheeler turned back to capture his command if possible.

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Wheeler (10)
Sunday Rosecrans (4)
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Winfield Scott (1)
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January, 10 AD (2)
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