Today in History:

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


his left flank from being turned, and from which, if in our possession, we could drive him from his strong position on the left bank of the river and enfilade his line of infantry. I was supported on my left by Brigadier-General Hanson's brigade. In the advance, then about to commence, I directed General Hanson to dress upon my left, and the left of my line to dress upon his right, to guard against a separation of the line formed by the two brigades in the advance. These brigades of the line formed by the two brigades in the advance. These brigades were supported by a line drawn up in the rear about 300 yards, composed of the brigades of Brigadier-General Preston on the right and a brigade commanded by Colonel Gibson on my left.

At the signal for the movements to commence [viz, a report of artillery on the center of our last line], I ordered my line to advance. The entire line moved forward in beautiful order across the strip of woods and open field, driving the enemy's skirmishers and sharpshooters before it, and at the distance of about 300 yards receiving the fire of the main body of the enemy's infantry, hitherto concealed from view. This fire developed a large body of the enemy's sharpshooters in a body of thick woods to the right of the position now occupied by my advanced line. I immediately ordered Lieut. R. W. Anderson to bring up his battery and to drive them out of the wood. Upon opening fire upon this concealed force of the enemy, his artillery responded from the woods with great vivacity to Lieutenant Anderson's fire. The two batteries, confronting each other, kept up an exceedingly hot fire for about fifteen minutes, when my infantry, pressing the enemy's infantry, forced it to retire into and then from a thicket of woods which skirted the bluff; the enemy's body of sharpshooters and battery retreated precipitately from the woods on the right toward the river bluff. I now ordered the infantry to press the enemy and clear the bluff, while I advanced Anderson's battery, and with it occupied the woods from which the enemy's artillery had been driven. This order was promptly executed, the bluff cleared, the enemy's infantry taking shelter under the bluff and in a deep ravine running obliquely into the river. My infantry having thus advanced as far as was possible on account of the bluff, and having forced many broken portions of the enemy's forces across and through the river, his artillery having retired down the river in the direction of the ford, my fire ceased, and the work seemed completed. In a few moments afterward I discovered a large body of the enemy moving rapidly up the river on my side, turning my right wing. It advanced rapidly, and opened upon the flank and rear of my force. Simultaneously the enemy's artillery and infantry in the front of my position, and on the opposite side of the river, opened fire upon my front, uncovered as it was, on the open bluff on the right bank. Thus assailed in flank by fresh forces and in front with a large force of infantry and artillery, which could not be reduced, there was left my force no alternative but to retire from the position it had so gallantly won. It retired in some confusion, but with as little as could have been expected when suddenly surprised by movements of the enemy's fresh forces, which could not have been foreseen, and which we had not the means of meeting. I directed Lieutenant Anderson to protect my line in retiring from the field, which was done. The infantry line retired to the ground upon which it had originally formed for the advanced movement. In this engagement my brigade took about 200 prisoners, whom I passed to the rear under small guard. The entire command performed its duty most gallantly.

My loss in officers and men was severe for the length of the conflict. Colonel Palmer [who commanded Eighteenth Tennessee Regiment] received