Today in History:

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


the Nashville pike; some have said they were on it. The enemy's right was doubled back upon their center. Had we held this position the line of communication of the enemy would have been cut. We could have flanked them and enfiladed their whole line, which was no doubt in disorder. It was unfortunate that our artillery was not promptly moved forward to support us. My battery was at this time in position, by order of General Hardee. I do not think that our artillery was sufficiently used on our left. General Liddell's battery arrived on the ground, and he proceeded to put it in position for the work to be done, but did not succeed in time to open before the retreat commenced. Had we receive re-enforcements we might have returned and regained the ground. But very soon the enemy planted a formidable battery on an eminence near the railroad, sweeping all the open fields and commanding even the woods in which our lines were formed. The enemy's infantry was also brought forward and posted in great strength, so as to be protected by the side slopes of the railroad and pike, and the trees and rocks in the cedar glade. It would then have been very hazardous to assail them with any force by our former approach. These facts I promptly communicated to Major [Calhoun] Benham, of General Cleburne's staff. We now threw forward our skirmishers to the fields, and prepared to hold our position. Allowing for the ground we had lost, we had driven the enemy back 2 miles, and now held our position from 3 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon until 10 o'clock on Friday night. Between the two armies and beyond the available reach of either, the ground was strewn with the dead and wounded, and with their arms and accouterments. During Wednesday night the enemy's army seemed to be busy with rapid movements of troops, wagons, and artillery. The very commands of the officers could be distinguished, and the rumbling of wagons seemed to commence on their left and die away in the distance beyond their right. Toward the dawn of day I felt confident that we could distinguish the peculiar noise of artillery moving away, and, concluding that the enemy were in full retreat, I stated this impression in a note to General Cleburne, with the suggestion that our forces should be pressed forward.

The ground in front of our pickets was mainly occupied by the enemy's wounded and dead, and the groans of the former were appealing for relief throughout the night. Early in the morning I took with me a number of men of the infirmary corps of my brigade, and went out on the field to carry off the wounded. A fire had been built for a number of them by our pickets, but others had passed the night in the cold. We had moved but few of them, when the enemy's pickets fired on us, and one of their balls struck a wounded Federal borne on the shoulders of our men. Again, later in the day, when one of our men, yielding to natural sympathy excited by the continued cries of suffering humanity, crawled to a wounded Federal, and was endeavoring to place him in a comfortable position, the enemy's pickets shot the good Samaritan, wounding him in the arm.

During the night of December 31, and day and night of January 1, and until 10 p.m. of the 2nd, we remained inactive in our position in the woods, occasionally shelled by the enemy's batteries, and aroused by the firing of our skirmishers in front. I suggested and urged the planting of a beavy battery to my left and front, but my suggestions seemed not to be approved either by artillery officers or my seniors. My own convictions still approve this suggestion, convinced, as I am, that on the field of battle there should be no repose, and that energetic, judicious, persistent action affords the only reliable means of success. Had this battery been planted it would have proved a very great diversion in favor