Today in History:

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


for the night. Near this place we remained until Wednesday at noon, doing very little else but occasionally changing the direction of our line of battle, so as to get into the best position to receive in case the enemy advanced.

At 2 p.m. on Wednesday we were ordered to cross the river, and, forming in line of battle, to advance on the enemy. Our regiment being on the right, we were ordered to advance down the bank of the river. By this order, owing to obstructions in the front- a large house called Cowan's and the railroad embankment -we were separated from our brigade. After an advance of half a mile we encountered the enemy, strongly posted among the rocks and heavy growth of timber on the river bluff. Here the firing was very heavy, and we lost many men [in all, about 67], among whom was Colonel Smith, severely wounded; Captain [John W.] Watkins, of Company I, and Lieutenant [F. B.] Crosthwait, of Company E, killed. We succeeded in driving the enemy from their position, killing many and taking 20 prisoners, and followed them to the brow of the hill. At this place the shot and shell rained upon us. We were in danger of being surrounded; were in very small force, and had no support. Under these circumstances I ordered the men to fall back 200 yard, and at this place we remained until night, when we were ordered to rejoin our brigade, which had taken position under cover of a thick cedar woods on our left. In this cover we lay concealed until Friday, January 2.

At 2 o'clock we recrossed the river and formed line of battle running parallel with the river, with a view to dislodge the enemy, who had crossed over to the south side of the river and had heavy batteries planted on the banks. At the command "forward," our lines steadily advanced, meeting the enemy on the edge of the wood that slopes down to the river. Here for a time the conflict was desperate. Our regiment, being on the extreme right, suffered severely from the enemy, who attempted to turn our right, but we soon drove them back and pursued them to the river, where they sought shelter under its banks. But the opposite bank was soon lined with strong re-enforcements, and as they far outnumbered us and their position was impregnable, our men began to fall back in some confusion; but our general [Preston], amid a storm of bullets, succeeded in rallying his men.

Night closed upon us, and at 8 o'clock we were quietly bivouacked a short distance from the battle-field, in which position we remained until the order to fall back was received.

General Preston, having in the first battle lost many of his aides, by the consent of Lieutenant-Colonel Lavender, commanding the regiment, detached Major Claybrooke from his regiment to act as his aide.

In this battle we lost Lieutenant-Colonel Lavender; whether wounded or not, I am unable to say.

Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing was 67, making a total loss of 134. In this last engagement we took nearly 200 prisoners.

I cannot speak too highly of the efforts of General Preston, who, regardless of danger, went everywhere, encouraging and rallying the men; nor of the many brave men of my command who fought bravely through both engagements.

During the action four color-bearers were shot, our flag-stuff thrice shot in two, and the color itself riddled by balls.

Many distinguished instanced came under my eye, but I refrain from particularizing, as I would not do so without seeming partial.

I remain, captain, your obedient servant,


Major, Commanding Twentieth Tennessee Regiment.