Today in History:

143 Series I Volume XX-I Serial 29 - Murfreesborough Part I


of infantry, a battery of artillery, and two regiments of cavalry, was pressing upon his rear from the direction of Elizabethtown.

So soon as the above information was received by scouts, I ordered strong detachments from the Sixth and Ninth Kentucky Cavalry, under command of Colonel Halisy and Lieutenant-Colonel Boyle, to make a reconnaissance, with a view of ascertaining whether Morgan would pass out by Raywick and to our right, or whether he was yet upon the Springfield and direct road to us. About nightfall this party returned, and reported that the enemy had been found encamped on the Springfield road, distant from us 7 miles. Shortly afterward I received information that Morgan had divided his force and sent 2,000 in the direction of Haysville. To ascertain the truth of this statement, I ordered out detachments from the Sixth and Ninth Kentucky Cavalry, under command of Majors Fidler and Farris, to reconnoiter in the direction of Barber's Mill, with instructions that, if the enemy had not passed that point, to take the Springfield road and reconnoiter in their rear. In the execution of this order, Major Fidler performed a feat of daring which is worthy of the highest praise, and which, as well as his subsequent conduct, has proven him one of the most fearless and energetic officers in the service.

On arriving at Barber's Mill, and learning that the enemy had not passed up in that direction, he pursued the Springfield road until he came upon one of the enemy's pickets in the streets of that town, whom he captured without attracting notice. He and his men then advanced to within a few yards of a battery planted in the streets, fired a volley into the midst of the enemy, killing 2 of their number, and retreated to camp with their prisoner.

I have omitted to state in the proper order that, after the return of Colonels Halisy and Boyle, and following immediately on their heels, the rebels came up and captured one of our vedette pickets only a short distance from his post.

After receiving information that Morgan had divided his forces, knowing that Colonel Henderson, with his command, consisting of two strong regiments, was within 2 miles of the intersection of the road leading from Springfield to Haysville, I sent, by courier, an order to halt his command near Bethel Church, ambuscade, and await the arrival of the enemy, when he should engage him.

After learning, through Majors and Farris, that the enemy had sent no force upon that road, I dispatched to Colonel Henderson to join me with all possible speed, having the evening previous sent up 50 wagons to aid in transporting his command. Judge of my surprise when the courier returned and reported that Colonel Henderson had fallen back in the direction of Danville, taking with him my wagons. All my plans were now disconcerted. With the force at my command I did not think that I would be justifiable in attacking Morgan in his chosen position, and more particularly when I had no definite idea of his real strength, which was variously estimated at from 3,000 to 11,000, and I was induced to act even more cautiously than I would otherwise have done, from the fact I could hear nothing of Colonel Harlan's command. As I knew that he had engaged Morgan at Rolling Fork, and as he did not follow up the pursuit and press him down upon either General Baird or myself, the inference drawn by me was that Morgan had sufficient force to repulse Colonel Harlan, or he would have followed up any advantage that might have been gained by him.

Believing that Morgan's command was suffering for rest, at 3 o'clock in the morning, December 31, I ordered out another reconnoitering party,