Today in History:

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


up a line of several regiments, some of which, at least, belonged to some other corps.

An order now came to me from General Cleburne to move my brigade to support General Liddell. After marching some 400 yards by the left flank, we moved to our front and passed north through a long wood lot projecting into open fields. Having received a message from General Liddell, through Colonel Kelly, who was wounded, to the effect that the aid of my brigade would rout the enemy, we came up with General Liddell's brigade on an ascent beyond the edge of the woods. General Liddell's command now yielded the ground to my men, and reformed under the brow of a small hill, to the top of which my command ascended.

Before us was now an open field, declining in front. At the foot of the declivity, at the distance of about 400 yards, was a battery, strongly supported by infantry. My command steadily advanced, fighting under fire from the battery and infantry. The battery was soon silenced, and our men advanced in double-quick time to a position behind a fence and a ledge of rocks. In front, about 80 yards, was a cedar glade, in the edge of which the enemy were now seen lying close together along a ledge of rocks. Under cover of the fence and rocks our men took deliberate aim and poured upon the enemy a destructive fire, which was returned with spirit. The conflict lasted some twenty minutes, when the enemy arose to retire. At this moment a volley was discharged upon them with remarkable effect, and our men rapidly advanced to the cedars, capturing the fine battery of Parrott guns against which they had been fighting, and which was now in position on the adjacent flanks of the Twenty-third and Seventeenth Tennessee Regiments. The men of my brigade then took shelter behind the ledge of rocks at the edge of the glade, and were well covered from the enemy's fire. All concur in representing the number of dead and wounded in the edge of the cedars as very large. Many were lying side along the ledge in the position they assumed to await our approach, while others had fallen as they turned to retreat.

The fire was still being kept up on the part of our troops, when it was observed that the troops on our right, bearing colors with blue ground and red cross, were falling back, and it was reported that our right was flanked by a heavy force. A precipitate retreat immediately followed. My brigade having a strong position, held to it with tenacity, and abandoned it with reluctance, after a delay that led to considerable loss. Here Captain [N. R.] Allen, of the Twenty-third, who was distinguished for his valor and coolness, fell, mortally wounded. Captain [F. M.] Orr, of the Seventeenth, was killed in the advance. The Forty-fourth lost 2 officers; the Twenty-fifth, 2 lieutenants, the color-bearer and colors. Major J. C. Davis, of the Seventeenth, with other officers and men, were here captured.

The retreat was made without order. The lines were broken and men of different regiments, brigades, and divisions were scattered all over the fields. The movement was to me totally unexpected, and I have yet to learn that there existed a cause commensurate with the demoralization that ensued. At the moment in which I felt the utmost confidence in the success of our arms I was almost run over by our retreating troops. I contented with the tide step by step, but made no impression on the retreating columns until they had gained the woods, when, by calling on a number of color-bearers, I succeeded in planting the colors of several regiments, and the men then assembled upon them with ranks much thinned. I cannot but think that the whole ultimate fortunates of the field were lost by this backward movement. Our men were in sight of