Today in History:

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

Page 786 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA.


my right, I sent two staff officers in succession to communicate with Pegram and Wharton, but received no intelligence up to the moment of assault. The interval between my left and the troops on the hill was already too great, but I had a battery to watch it and a small infantry support. There was nothing to prevent the enemy from observing nearly all of our movements and preparations. To reach him it was necessary to cross an open space 600 or 700 yards in width, with a gentle ascent. The river was several hundred-yards in rear of his position, but departed from it considerably as it flowed toward his left.

I had informed the commanding general that we would be ready to advance at 4 o'clock, and precisely at that hour the signal gun was heard from our center. Instantly the troops moved forward at a quick step and in admirable order. The front line had bayonets fixed, with orders to deliver one volley, and then use the bayonet. The fire of the enemy's artillery on both sides of the river commenced as soon as the troops entered the open ground. When less than half the distance across the field the quick eye of Colonel O'Hara discovered a force extending considerably beyond our right. I immediately ordered Major Graves to move a battery to our right and open on them. He at once advanced Wright's battery and effectually checked the movements. Before our line reached the enemy's position his artillery fire had become heavy, accurate, and destructive. Many officers and men fell before we closed with their infantry, yet our brave fellows rushed forward with the utmost determination, and, after a brief but bloody conflict, routed both the opposing lines, took 400 prisoners and several flags, and drove their artillery and the great body of their infantry across the river. Many were killed and the water's edge. Their artillery took time by the forelock in crossing the stream. A few of our men in their ardor actually crossed over before they could be prevented, most of whom subsequently, moving up under the west bank, recrossed at a ford three-quarters of a mile above. The second line had halted when the first engaged the enemy's infantry, and laid down under orders; but very soon the casualties in the first line, the fact that the artillery on the opposite bank was more fatal to the second line than the first, and the eagerness of the troops, impelled them forward,a nd at the decisive moment, when the opposing infantry was routed, the two lines had mingled into one, the only practical inconvenience of which was that at several points the ranks were deeper than is allowed by a proper military formation. A strong force of the enemy beyond our extreme right yet remained on the east side of the river. Presently a new line of battle appeared on the west bank directly opposite our troops and opened fire, while at the same time large masses crossed in front of our right and advanced to the attack. We were compelled to fall back. As soon as our infantry had won the ridge, Major Graves advanced the artillery of the division and opened fire. At the same time Captain Robertson threw forward Semple's battery toward our right, which did excellent service. He did not advance his own battery (which was to have taken position on the left), supposing that part of the field had not been cleared of the enemy's infantry. Although mistaken in this, since the enemy had been driven across the river, yet I regard it as fortunate that the battery was not brought forward. It would have been a vain contest. It now appeared that the ground we had won was commanded by the enemy's batteries, within easy range, on better ground, upon the other side of the river. I know not how many guns he had. He had enough to sweep the whole position from the front, the left, and the right, and to render it wholly untenable by our force present of artillery and infantry. The infantry, after passing

Page 786 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA.