The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, v1
General Philip Henry Sheridan

Part 3 out of 6

When the battle ceased General Gilbert asked me to join him at
Buell's headquarters, which were a considerable distance to the rear,
so after making some dispositions for the evening I proceeded there
as requested. I arrived just as Buell was about to sit down to his
supper, and noticing that he was lame, then learned that he had been
severely injured by a recent fall from his horse. He kindly invited
me to join him at the table, an invitation which I accepted with
alacrity, enjoying the meal with a relish known only to a very-hungry
man, for I had eaten nothing since morning. Of course the events of
the day were the chief topic of discussion--as they were during my
stay at headquarters--but the conversation indicated that what had
occurred was not fully realized, and I returned to my troops
impressed with the belief that General Buell and his staff-officers
were unconscious of the magnitude of the battle that had just been

It had been expected by Buell that he would fight the enemy on the
9th of October, but the Confederates disposed of that proposition by
attacking us on the 8th, thus disarranging a tactical conception
which, with our superior numbers, would doubtless have proved
successful had it not been anticipated by an enterprising foe.
During the battle on the 8th the Second Corps, under General Thomas
L. Crittenden, accompanied by General George H. Thomas, lay idle the
whole day for want of orders, although it was near enough to the
field to take an active part in the fight; and, moreover, a large
part of Gilbert's corps was unengaged during the pressure on McCook.
Had these troops been put in on the enemy's left at any time after he
assaulted McCook, success would have been beyond question; but there
was no one on the ground authorized to take advantage of the
situation, and the battle of Perryville remains in history an example
of lost opportunities. This was due in some measure probably to
General Buell's accident, but is mainly attributable to the fact that
he did not clearly apprehend Bragg's aim, which was to gain time to
withdraw behind Dick's River all the troops he had in Kentucky, for
the Confederate general had no idea of risking the fate of his army
on one general battle at a place or on a day to be chosen by the
Union commander.

Considering the number of troops actually engaged, the losses to
Buell were severe, amounting to something over five thousand in
killed, wounded, and missing. Among the killed were two brigade
commanders of much promise--General James S. Jackson and General
William R. Terrill. McCook's corps lost twelve guns, some of which
were recovered next day. The enemy's loss in killed and wounded we
never learned, but it must have equalled ours; and about four
thousand prisoners, consisting principally of sick and wounded, fell
into our hands. In the first report of the battle sent North to the
newspapers I was reported among the killed; but I was pleased to
notice, when the papers reached us a few days later, that the error
had been corrected before my obituary could be written.

The enemy retired from our front the night of the 8th, falling back
on Harrodsburg to form a junction with Kirby Smith, and by taking
this line of retreat opened to us the road to Danville and the chance
for a direct march against his depot of supplies at Bryantsville. We
did not take advantage of this opening, however, and late in the day-
-on the 9th--my division marched in pursuit, in the direction of
Harrodsburg, which was the apex of a triangle having for its base a
line from Perryville to Danville. The pursuit was slow, very slow,
consuming the evening of the 9th and all of the 10th and 11th. By
cutting across the triangle spoken of above, just south of the apex,
I struck the Harrodsburg-Danville road, near Cave Springs, joining
there Gilbert's left division, which had preceded me and marched
through Harrodsburg. Here we again rested until the intention of the
enemy could be divined, and we could learn on which side of Dick's
River he would give us battle. A reconnoissance sent toward the
Dickville crossing developed to a certainty that we should not have
another engagement, however; for it disclosed the fact that Bragg's
army had disappeared toward Camp Dick Robinson, leaving only a small
rear-guard at Danville, which in turn quickly fled in the direction
of Lancaster, after exchanging a few shots with Hescock's battery.

While this parting salute of deadly projectiles was going on, a
little, daughter of Colonel William J. Landram, whose home was in
Danville, came running out from his house and planted a small
national flag on one of Hescock's guns. The patriotic act was so
brave and touching that it thrilled all who witnessed the scene; and
until the close of the war, when peace separated the surviving
officers and men of the battery, that little flag was protected and
cherished as a memento of the Perryville campaign.

Pursuit of the enemy was not continued in force beyond Crab Orchard,
but some portions of the army kept at Bragg's heels until he crossed
the Cumberland River, a part of his troops retiring to Tennessee by
way of Cumberland Gap, but the major portion through Somerset. As
the retreat of Bragg transferred the theatre of operations back to
Tennessee, orders were now issued for a concentration of Buell's army
at Bowling Green, with a view to marching it to Nashville, and my
division moved to that point without noteworthy incident. I reached
Bowling Green with a force much reduced by the losses sustained in
the battle of Perryville and by sickness. I had started from
Louisville on October 1 with twelve regiments of infantry--four old
and eight new ones--and two batteries, but many poor fellows,
overcome by fatigue, and diseases induced by the heat, dust, and
drought of the season, had to be left at roadside hospitals. This
was particularly the case with the new regiments, the men of which,
much depressed by homesickness, and not yet inured to campaigning,
fell easy victims to the hardships of war.

At Bowling Green General Buell was relieved, General W. S. Rosecrans
succeeding him. The army as a whole did not manifest much regret at
the change of commanders, for the campaign from Louisville on was
looked upon generally as a lamentable failure, yet there were many
who still had the utmost confidence in General Buell, and they
repelled with some asperity the reflections cast upon him by his
critics. These admirers held him blameless throughout for the
blunders of the campaign, but the greater number laid every error at
his door, and even went to the absurdity of challenging his loyalty
in a mild way, but they particularly charged incompetency at
Perryville, where McCook's corps was so badly crippled while nearly
30,000 Union troops were idle on the field, or within striking
distance. With these it was no use to argue that Buell's accident
stood in the way of his activity, nor that he did not know that the
action had assumed the proportions of a battle. The physical
disability was denied or contested, but even granting this, his
detractors claimed that it did not excuse his ignorance of the true
condition of the fight, and finally worsted his champions by pointing
out that Bragg's retreat by way of Harrodsburg beyond Dick's River so
jeopardized the Confederate army, that had a skillful and energetic
advance of the Union troops been made, instead of wasting precious
time in slow and unnecessary tactical manoeuvres, the enemy could
have been destroyed before he could quit the State of Kentucky.



My division had moved from Crab Orchard to Bowling Green by easy
marches, reaching this place November 1. General Rosecrans assumed
command of the department October 30, at Louisville, and joined the
army November 2. There had been much pressure brought to bear on
General Buell to induce him to take measures looking to the occupancy
of East Tennessee, and the clamor to this end from Washington still
continued; but now that Bragg was south of the Cumberland River, in a
position threatening Nashville, which was garrisoned by but a small
force, it was apparent to every one at all conversant with the
situation that a battle would have to be fought somewhere in Middle
Tennessee. So, notwithstanding the pressure from Washington, the
army was soon put in motion for Nashville, and when we arrived there
my division went into camp north of the river, on a plateau just
outside the little town of Edgefield, until the movements of the
enemy should be further developed.

While in this camp, on the plantation of Mr. Hobson, there came to my
headquarters one morning an East Tennessean named James Card, who
offered to the Union cause his services in any capacity in which they
might be made useful. This offer, and the relation of his personal
history, were given with such sincerity of speech and manner that in
a short time I became convinced of his honesty of purpose. He was a
small, active, busy man, with a determined way about him, and his
countenance indicated great intelligence. He gave minute information
that was of inestimable value to me regarding East and Middle
Tennessee and northern Georgia, for, with a view to the army's future
movements, I was then making a study of the topography of this
region, and posting myself as to Middle Tennessee, for all knew this
would be the scene of active operations whenever the campaign was
resumed. This man, like most of the East Tennesseans whom I had met,
was intensely loyal and patriotic, and the interview led in a few
days to his employment as a scout and guide, and subsequently to the
engaging in the same capacity of two of his brothers, who were good
men; but not quite as active nor so intelligent as he was. Card had
been a colporter, having pedled books, especially religious tracts,
over all Middle and East Tennessee and Georgia, assisted by his
brothers at times, and was therefore thoroughly familiar with these
regions, their roads and inhabitants. He also preached to country
congregations occasionally, when ministers were scarce, and I have no
doubt often performed the functions of family physician in the
mountain district. Thus his opportunities were great; and the loyal
people in every section of the country being well known to him and
his brothers, the three began, at this time, a system of scouting and
investigation which bore its first-fruits in specifically locating
the different divisions of Bragg's army, with statements of their
strength and condition, and all with so much accuracy that I
thereafter felt reasonably sure that I could at all times procure
such knowledge of the enemy's operations as would well equip me for
any contingency that might arise.

By the middle of November the enemy, having assembled his forces in
Middle Tennessee, showed considerable boldness, and it became
necessary to rearrange the Union lines; so my troops were moved to
the south side of the river, out on the Murfreesboro' pike, to Mill
Creek, distant from Nashville about seven miles. While we were in
camp on Mill Creek the army was reorganized, and General Joshua W.
Sill, at his own request, was assigned to my division, and took
command of Colonel Nicholas Greusel's brigade. My division became at
the same time the Third Division, Right Wing, Fourteenth Army Corps,
its three brigades of four regiments each being respectively
commanded by General Sill, Colonel Frederick Schaefer and Colonel Dan
McCook; but a few days later Colonel George W. Roberts's brigade,
from the garrison at Nashville, was substituted for McCook's.

General Sill was a classmate of mine at the Military Academy, having
graduated in 1853. On graduating he was appointed to the Ordnance
Corps, and served in that department at various arsenals and ordnance
depots throughout the country till early in 1861, when he resigned to
accept a professorship of mathematics and civil engineering at the
Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. At the breaking out
of the war he immediately tendered his services to the Government,
and soon rose to the colonelcy of the Thirty-Third Ohio Volunteers,
and afterward to the rank of brigadier-general. I knew him well, and
was glad that he came to my division, though I was very loth to
relieve Colonel Greusel, of the Thirty-Sixth Illinois, who had
already indicated much military skill and bravery, and at the battle
of Perryville had handled his men with the experience of a veteran.
Sill's modesty and courage were exceeded only by a capacity that had
already been demonstrated in many practical ways, and his untimely
death, almost within a month of his joining me, abruptly closed a
career which, had it been prolonged a little more, not only would
have shed additional lustre on his name, but would have been of
marked benefit to his country.

Colonel Schaefer, of the Second Missouri Infantry, had been absent on
sick-leave during the Kentucky campaign, but about this date he
returned to duty, and by seniority fell in command of the second
brigade. He was of German birth, having come from Baden, where,
prior to 1848, he had been a non-commissioned officer in the service
of his State. He took part as an insurgent in the so-called
revolution which occurred at Baden in that year, and, compelled to
emigrate on the suppression of the insurrection, made his way to this
country and settled in St. Louis. Here the breaking out of the war
found him, and through the personal interest which General Sigel took
in him he was commissioned a colonel of volunteers. He had had a
pretty fair education, a taste for the military profession, and was
of tall and slender build, all of which gave him a student-like
appearance. He was extremely excitable and nervous when anticipating
a crisis, but always calmed down to cool deliberation when the
critical moment came. With such a man I could not be less than well
satisfied, although the officer whom he replaced--Colonel Laiboldt--
had performed efficient service and shown much capacity in the recent

Colonel G. W. Roberts, of the Forty-Second Illinois Infantry, also
came to me in the reorganization. He was an ideal soldier both in
mind and body. He was young, tall, handsome, brave, and dashing, and
possessed a balance-wheel of such good judgment that in his sphere of
action no occasion could arise from which he would not reap the best
results. But he too was destined to lay, down his life within a few
days, and on the same fatal field. His brigade had been performing
garrison duty in Nashville during the siege of that city while
Buell's army was in Kentucky, but disliking the prospect of
inactivity pending the operations opening before us, Roberts had
requested and obtained a transfer to the army in the field. His
brigade relieved Colonel Dan McCook's, the latter reluctantly joining
the garrison at Nashville, every one in it disappointed and disgusted
that the circumstances existing at this time should necessitate their
relegation to the harassing and tantalizing duty of protecting our
depots and line of supply.

I was fortunate in having such brigade commanders, and no less
favored in the regimental and battery commanders. They all were not
only patriots, but soldiers, and knowing that discipline must be one
of the most potent factors in bringing to a successful termination,
the mighty contest in which our nation was struggling for existence,
they studied and practiced its methods ceaselessly, inspiring with
the same spirit that pervaded themselves the loyal hearts of their
subordinate officers and men. All worked unremittingly in the camp
at Mill Creek in preparing for the storm, which now plainly indicated
its speedy coming. Drills, parades, scouts, foraging expeditions,
picket and guard duty, made up the course in this school of
instruction, supplemented by frequent changes in the locations of the
different brigades, so that the division could have opportunity to
learn to break camp quickly and to move out promptly on the march.
Foraging expeditions were particularly beneficial in this respect,
and when sent out, though absent sometimes for days, the men went
without tents or knapsacks, equipped with only one blanket and their
arms, ammunition, and rations, to teach them to shift for themselves
with slender means in the event of necessity. The number of
regimental and headquarters wagons was cut down to the lowest
possible figure, and everything made compact by turning into the
supply and ammunition trains of the division all surplus
transportation, and restricting the personal baggage of officers to
the fewest effects possible.

My own staff also was somewhat reorganized and increased at Mill
Creek, and though it had been perfectly satisfactory before, yet, on
account of the changes of troops that had occurred in the command, I
found it necessary to replace valuable officers in some instances,
and secure additional ones in others. The gathering of information
about the enemy was also industriously pursued, and Card and his
brothers were used constantly on expeditions within the Confederate
lines, frequently visiting Murfreesboro', Sparta, Tullahoma,
Shelbyville, and other points. What they learned was reported to
army headquarters, often orally through me or personally communicated
by Card himself, but much was forwarded in official letters,
beginning with November 24, when I transmitted accurate information
of the concentration of Bragg's main force at Tullahoma. Indeed,
Card kept me so well posted as to every movement of the enemy, not
only with reference to the troops in my immediate front, but also
throughout his whole army, that General Rosecrans placed the most
unreserved reliance on all his statements, and many times used them
to check and correct the reports brought in by his own scouts.

Slight skirmishes took place frequently during this period, and now
and then heavy demonstrations were made in the neighborhood of
Nolensville by reconnoitring parties from both armies, but none of
these ever grew into a battle. These affairs sprung from the desire
of each side to feel his antagonist, and had little result beyond
emphasizing the fact that behind each line of pickets lay a massed
and powerful army busily preparing for the inevitable conflict and
eager for its opening. So it wore on till the evening of December
25, 1862; then came the order to move forward.

General Rosecrans, in the reorganization of the army, had assigned
Major-General A. McD. McCook to command the right wing, Major-General
George H. Thomas the centre, and Major-General T. L. Crittenden the
left wing. McCook's wing was made up of three divisions, commanded
in order of rank by Brigadier-General Jeff. C. Davis; Brigadier-
General R. W. Johnson, and Brigadier-General P. H. Sheridan.
Although the corps nomenclature established by General Buell was
dropped, the grand divisions into which he had organized the army at
Louisville were maintained, and, in fact, the conditions established
then remained practically unaltered, with the exception of the
interchange of some brigades, the transfer of a few general officers
from one wing or division to another, and the substitution of General
Thomas for Gilbert as a corps commander. The army was thus compact
and cohesive, undisturbed by discord and unembarrassed by jealousies
of any moment; and it may be said that under a commander who, we
believed, had the energy and skill necessary to direct us to success,
a national confidence in our invincibility made us all keen for a
test of strength with the Confederates. We had not long to wait.

Early on the morning of December 26, 1862, in a heavy rain, the army
marched, the movement being directed on Murfreesboro', where the
enemy had made some preparation to go into winter-quarters, and to
hold which town it was hoped he would accept battle. General Thomas
moved by the Franklin and Wilson pikes, General Crittenden by the
Murfreesboro' pike, through Lavergne, and General McCook by the
Nolensville pike--Davis's division in advance. As McCook's command
neared Nolensville, I received a message from Davis informing me that
the Confederates were in considerable force, posted on a range of
hills in his front, and requesting me to support him in an attack he
was about to make. When the head of my column arrived at Nolensville
I began massing my troops on the right of the road, and by the time
this formation was nearly completed Davis advanced, but not meeting
with sufficient resistance to demand active assistance from me, he
with his own command carried the hills, capturing one piece of
artillery. This position of the Confederates was a strong one,
defending Knob's Gap, through which the Nolensville and Triune pike
passed. On the 27th Johnson's division, followed by mine, advanced
to Triune, and engaged in a severe skirmish near that place, but my
troops were not called into action, the stand made by the enemy being
only for the purpose of gaining time to draw in his outlying troops,
which done, he retired toward Murfreesboro'. I remained inactive at
Triune during the 28th, but early on the 29th moved out by the Bole
Jack road to the support of, Davis in his advance to Stewart's Creek,
and encamped at Wilkinson's crossroads, from which point to
Murfreesboro', distant about six miles, there was a good turnpike.
The enemy had sullenly resisted the progress of Crittenden and McCook
throughout the preceding three days, and as it was thought probable
that he might offer battle at Stewart's Creek, Thomas, in pursuance
of his original instructions looking to just such a contingency, had
now fallen into the centre by way of the Nolensville crossroads.

On the morning of the 3oth I had the advance of McCook's corps on the
Wilkinson pike, Roberts's brigade leading. At first only slight
skirmishing took place, but when we came within about three miles of
Murfreesboro' the resistance of the enemy's pickets grew serious, and
a little further on so strong that I had to put in two regiments to
push them back. I succeeded in driving them about half a mile, when
I was directed by McCook to form line of battle and place my
artillery in position so that I could act in concert with Davis's
division, which he wished to post on my right in the general line he
desired to take up. In obedience to these directions I deployed on
the right of, and oblique to the Wilkinson pike, with a front of four
regiments, a second line of four regiments within short supporting
distance, and a reserve of one brigade in column of regiments to the
rear of my centre. All this time the enemy kept up a heavy artillery
and musketry fire on my skirmishers, he occupying, with his
sharpshooters, beyond some open fields, a heavy belt of timber to my
front and right, where it was intended the left of Davis should
finally rest. To gain this point Davis was ordered to swing his
division into it in conjunction with a wheeling movement of my right
brigade, until our continuous line should face nearly due east. This
would give us possession of the timber referred to, and not only rid
us of the annoying fire from the skirmishers screened by it, but also
place us close in to what was now developing as Bragg's line of
battle. The movement was begun about half-past 2, and was
successfully executed, after a stubborn resistance. In this
preliminary affair the enemy had put in one battery of artillery,
which was silenced in a little while, however, by Bush's and
Hescock's guns. By sundown I had taken up my prescribed position,
facing almost east, my left (Roberts's brigade) resting on the
Wilkinson pike, the right (Sill's brigade) in the timber we had just
gained, and the reserve brigade (Schaefer's) to the rear of my
centre, on some rising ground in the edge of a strip of woods behind
Houghtaling's and Hescock's batteries. Davis's division was placed
in position on my right, his troops thrown somewhat to the rear, so
that his line formed nearly a right angle with mine, while Johnson's
division formed in a very exposed position on the right of Davis,
prolonging the general line just across the Franklin pike.

The centre, under Thomas, had already formed to my left, the right of
Negley's division joining my left in a cedar thicket near the
Wilkinson pike, while Crittenden's corps was posted on the left of
Thomas, his left resting on Stone River, at a point about two miles
and a half from Murfreesboro'.

The precision that had characterized every manoeuvre of the past
three days, and the exactness with which each corps and division fell
into its allotted place on the evening of the 30th, indicated that at
the outset of the campaign a well-digested plan of operations had
been prepared for us; and although the scheme of the expected battle
was not known to subordinates of my grade, yet all the movements up
to this time had been so successfully and accurately made as to give
much promise for the morrow, and when night fell there was general
anticipation of the best results to the Union army.



The enemy under Bragg lay between us and stone River in order of
battle, his general line conforming to the course of that stream. In
my immediate front he appeared to be established in strong force in a
dense cedar wood, just beyond an open valley, which varied from two
hundred to four hundred yards in width, the cedars extending the
entire length of the valley. From the events of the day and evening
of the 3oth, it was apparent that the two armies were in close
proximity, and orders received during the night revealed the fact
that Rosecrans intended to attack by throwing his left on the enemy's
right, with the expectation of driving it in toward Murfreesboro', so
that the right of Crittenden's corps could attack Bragg's centre in
reverse, while Thomas supported Crittenden by a simultaneous front
assault; and from the movements of the enemy at daylight next
morning, it was plainly indicated that Bragg had planned to swing his
left on our right by an exactly similar manoeuvre, get possession of
the railroad and the Nashville pike, and if possible cut us off from
our base at Nashville. The conceptions in the minds of the two
generals were almost identical; but Bragg took the initiative,
beginning his movement about an hour earlier than the time set by
Rosecrans, which gained him an immense advantage in execution in the
earlier stages of the action.

During the evening, feeling keenly all the solicitude which
attends one in anticipation of a battle, I examined my position with
great care, inspecting its whole length several times to remedy any
defects that might exist, and to let the men see that I was alive to
their interests and advantages. After dark, I went back to the rear
of my reserve brigade, and establishing my headquarters behind the
trunk of a large fallen tree, which would shelter me somewhat from
the cold December wind, lay down beside a small camp-fire to get some

At 2 o'clock on the morning of the 31st General Sill came back to me
to report that on his front a continuous movement of infantry and
artillery had been going on all night within the Confederate lines,
and that he was convinced that Bragg was massing on our right with
the purpose of making an attack from that direction early in the
morning. After discussing for a few minutes the probabilities of
such a course on the part of the enemy, I thought McCook should be
made acquainted with what was going on, so Sill and I went back to
see him at his headquarters, not far from the Griscom House, where we
found him sleeping on some straw in the angle of a worm-fence. I
waked him up and communicated the intelligence, and our consequent
impressions. He talked the matter over with us for some little time,
but in view of the offensive-defensive part he was to play in the
coming battle, did not seem to think that there was a necessity for
any further dispositions than had already been taken. He said that
he thought Johnson's division would be able to take care of the
right, and seemed confident that the early assault which was to be
made from Rosecrans's left would anticipate and check the designs
which we presaged. We two then returned to my little camp-fire
behind the log, and as we continued talking of what might be expected
from the indications on the right, and Sill becoming more anxious, I
directed two regiments from the reserve to report to him, that they
might be placed within very short supporting distance of his line.
He then rejoined his brigade, better satisfied, but still adhering to
the belief he had expressed when first making his report.

Long before dawn my division breakfasted, and was assembled under
arms, the infantry in line, the cannoneers at their pieces, but while
we were thus preparing, all the recent signs of activity in the
enemy's camp were hushed, a death-like stillness prevailing in the
cedars to our front. Shortly after daylight General Hardee opened
the engagement, just as Sill had predicted, by a fierce attack on
Johnson's division, the extreme right of the Union line. Immediate
success attending this assault, Hardee extended the attack gradually
along in front of Davis, hip movement taking the form of a wheel to
the right, the pivot being nearly opposite the left of my division.
Johnson's division soon gave way, and two of Davis's brigades were
forced to fall back with it, though stubbornly resisting the
determined and sweeping onset.

In the meantime the enemy had also attacked me, advancing across an
old cotton-field in Sill's front in heavy masses, which were
furiously opened upon by Bush's battery from Sill's line, and by
Hescock's and Houghtaling's batteries, which had an oblique fire on
the field from a commanding position in rear of my centre. The
effect of this fire on the advancing column was terrible, but it
continued on till it reached the edge of the timber where Sill's
right lay, when my infantry opened at a range of not over fifty
yards. For a short time the Confederates withstood the fire, but
then wavered, broke, and fell back toward their original line. As
they retired, Sill's brigade followed in a spirited charge, driving
them back across the open ground and behind their intrenchments. In
this charge the gallant Sill was killed; a rifle ball passing through
his upper lip and penetrating the brain. Although this was a heavy
loss, yet the enemy's discomfiture was such as to give us an hour's
time, and as Colonel Greusel, Thirty-sixth Illinois, succeeded to
Sill's command, I directed him, as he took charge, to recall the
brigade to its original position, for the turning-column on my
extreme right was now assuming the most menacing attitude, and it was
urgently necessary to prepare for it.

When that portion of the enemy driven back by Sill recovered from its
repulse it again advanced to the attack, this time directing its
efforts chiefly upon my extreme right, and the front of Woodruff's
brigade of Davis's division, which brigade still held on in its first
position. In front of my centre the Confederates were again driven
back, but as the assault on Woodruff was in conjunction with an
advance of the column that had forced Johnson to retire, Woodruff was
compelled unfortunately to give way, and two regiments on the right
of my line went with him, till they rallied on the two reserve
regiments which, in anticipation of the enemy's initiatory attack I
had sent to Sill's rear before daylight.

Both Johnson's and Davis's divisions were now practically gone from
our line, having retired with a loss of all formation, and they were
being closely pursued by the enemy, whose columns were following the
arc of a circle that would ultimately carry him in on my rear. In
consequence of the fact that this state of things would soon subject
me to a fire in reverse, I hastily withdrew Sill's brigade and the
reserve regiments supporting it, and ordered Roberts's brigade, which
at the close of the enemy's second repulse had changed front toward
the south and formed in column of regiments, to cover the withdrawal
by a charge on the Confederates as they came into the timber where my
right had originally rested. Roberts made the charge at the proper
time, and was successful in checking the enemy's advance, thus giving
us a breathing-spell, during which I was able to take up a new
position with Schaefer's and Sill's brigades on the commanding ground
to the rear, where Hescock's and Houghtaling's batteries had been
posted all the morning.

The general course of this new position was at right angles with my
original line, and it took the shape of an obtuse angle, with my
three batteries at the apex. Davis, and Carlin of his division,
endeavored to rally their men here on my right, but their efforts
were practically unavailing,--though the calm and cool appearance of
Carlin, who at the time was smoking a stumpy pipe, had some effect,
and was in strong contrast to the excited manner of Davis, who seemed
overpowered by the disaster that had befallen his command. But few
could be rallied, however, as the men were badly demoralized, and
most of them fell back beyond the Wilkinson pike, where they
reorganized behind the troops of General Thomas.

At this juncture the enemy's turning-column began advancing again in
concert with Cheatham's division, and as the extreme left of the
Confederates was directed on Griscom's house, and their right on the
Blanton house, my new position was in danger of envelopment. No hope
of stemming the tide at this point seemed probable, but to gain time
I retained my ground as long as possible, and until, under directions
from General McCook, I moved to the front from my left flank and
attached myself to the right of Negley's division, which up to this
hour had been left almost undisturbed by the enemy in the line it had
taken up the night before. Under a heavy fire we succeeded in this
manoeuvre, Schaefer's brigade marching first, then the batteries, and
Roberts's and Sill's brigades following. When my division arrived on
this new ground, I posted Roberts on Negley's right, with Hescock's
and Bush's guns, the brigade and guns occupying a low rocky ridge of
limestone, which faced them toward Murfreesboro', nearly south. The
rest of my division was aligned facing west, along the edge of a
cedar thicket, the rear rank backed up on the right flank of Roberts,
with Houghtaling's battery in the angle. This presented Sill's and
Schaefer's brigades in an almost opposite direction to the line we
had so confidently taken up the night before, and covered Negley's
rear. The enemy, in the meantime, had continued his wheeling
movement till he occupied the ground that my batteries and reserve
brigade had held in the morning, and I had now so changed my position
that the left brigade of my division approached his intrenchments in
front of Stone River, while Sill's and Schaeffer's brigades, by
facing nearly west, confronted the successful troops that had smashed
in our extreme right.

I had hardly got straightened out in this last place when I was
attacked by Cheatham's'division, which, notwithstanding the
staggering blows it had previously received from Sill and Roberts,
now again moved forward in conjunction with the wheeling movement
under the immediate command of Hardee. One of the most sanguinary
contests of the day now took place. In fulfillment of Bragg's
original design no doubt, Cheatham's division attacked on my left,
while heavy masses under Hardee, covered by batteries posted on the
high ground formerly occupied by my guns, assaulted my right, the
whole force advancing simultaneously. At the same time the enemy
opened an artillery fire from his intrenchments in front of
Murfreesboro', and it seemed that he was present on every side. My
position was strong, however, located in the edge of a dense cedar
thicket and commanding a slight depression of open ground that lay in
my front. My men were in good spirits too, notwithstanding they had
been a good deal hustled around since daylight, with losses that had
told considerably on their numbers. Only a short distance now
separated the contending lines, and as the batteries on each side
were not much more than two hundred yards apart when the enemy made
his assault, the artillery fire was fearful in its effect on the
ranks of both contestants, the enemy's heavy masses staggering under
the torrent of shell and canister from our batteries, while our lines
were thinned by his ricochetting projectiles, that rebounded again
and again over the thinly covered limestone formation and sped on to
the rear of Negley. But all his efforts to dislodge or destroy us
were futile, and for the first time since daylight General Hardee was
seriously checked in the turning movement he had begun for the
purpose of getting possession of the Nashville pike, and though
reinforced until two-fifths of Bragg's army was now at his command,
yet he met with repulse after repulse, which created great gaps in
his lines and taught him that to overwhelm us was hopeless.

As the enemy was recoiling from his first attack, I received a
message from Rosecrans telling me that he was making new
dispositions, and directing me to hold on where I was until they were
completed. From this I judged that the existing conditions of the
battle would probably require a sacrifice of my command, so I
informed Roberts and Schaefer that we must be prepared to meet the
demand on us by withstanding the assault of the enemy, no matter what
the outcome. Every energy was therefore bent to the simple holding
of our ground, and as ammunition was getting scarce, instructions
were given throughout the command to have it reserve its fire till
the most effective moment. In a little while came a second and a
third assault, and although they were as daring and furious as the
first, yet in each case the Confederates were repulsed, driven back
in confusion, but not without deadly loss to us, for the noble
Roberts was killed, and Colonel Harrington, of the Twenty-Seventh
Illinois, who succeeded to his brigade, was mortally wounded a few
minutes later. I had now on the death-roll three brigade commanders,
and the loss of subordinate officers and men was appalling, but their
sacrifice had accomplished the desired result; they had not fallen in
vain. Indeed, the bravery and tenacity of my division gave to
Rosecrans the time required to make new dispositions, and exacted
from our foes the highest commendations.

A lull followed the third fierce assault, and an investigation showed
that, with the exception of a few rounds in my brigade, our
ammunition was entirely exhausted; and while it was apparent that the
enemy was reluctant to renew the conflict in my front, yet I was
satisfied I could not hold on much longer without the danger of
ultimate capture, so I prepared to withdraw as soon as the troops of
Rousseau's division, which had been ordered to take up a line on my
right, came into position. Schaefer's and Sill's brigades being
without a cartridge, I directed them to fix bayonets for a charge,
and await any attempt of the enemy to embarrass my retreat, while
Roberts's brigade, offering such resistance as its small quantity of
ammunition would permit, was pulled slowly in toward the Nashville
pike. Eighty of the horses of Houghtaling's battery having been
killed, an attempt was made to bring his guns back by hand over the
rocky ground, but it could not be done, and we had to abandon them.
Hescock also had lost most of his horses, but all his guns were
saved. Bush's battery lost two pieces, the tangled underbrush in the
dense cedars proving an obstacle to getting them away which his
almost superhuman exertions could not surmount. Thus far the bloody
duel had cost me heavily, one-third of my division being killed or
wounded. I had already three brigade commanders killed; a little
later I lost my fourth--Colonel Schaefer.

The difficulties of withdrawing were very great, as the ground was
exceptionally rocky, and the growth of cedars almost impenetrable for
wheeled carriages. Retiring sullenly under a heavy fire, while the
general line was reformed to my right and rear, my division was at
length drawn through the cedars and debouched into an open space near
the Murfreesboro' pike, behind the right of Palmer's division. Two
regiments of Sill's brigade, however, on account of the conformation
of the ground, were obliged to fall back from the point where
Woodruff's brigade of Davis's division had rallied after the disaster
of the early morning. The division came out of the cedars with
unbroken ranks, thinned by only its killed and wounded--but few
missing. When we came into the open ground, McCook directed
Roberts's brigade--now commanded by Colonel Luther P. Bradley--to
proceed a short distance to the rear on the Nashville pike, to repel
the enemy's threatening attempt at our communications. Willingly and
cheerfully the brigade again entered the fight under these new
conditions, and although it was supplied with but three or four
cartridges to the man now, it charged gallantly and recaptured two
pieces of artillery which the Union troops had had to abandon at that

Shortly after we debouched from the cedars I was directed by
Rosecrans to send some aid to the right of General Palmer's division;
and two of Schaefer's regiments, having obtained ammunition, were
pushed up on Palmer's right, accompanied by four of Hescock's guns;
but the advance of the enemy here had already been checked by Palmer,
and only a desultory contest ensued. Rosecrans, whom I now met in
the open ground west of the railroad, behind Palmer, directed that my
command should relieve Wood's division, which was required to fall
back and take up the new line that had been marked out while I was
holding on in the cedars. His usually florid face had lost its ruddy
color, and his anxious eyes told that the disasters of the morning
were testing his powers to the very verge of endurance, but he seemed
fully to comprehend what had befallen us. His firmly set lips and,
the calmness with which his instructions were delivered inspired
confidence in all around him; and expressing approbation of what my
division had done, while deliberately directing it to a new point, he
renewed in us all the hope of final victory, though it must be
admitted that at this phase of the battle the chances lay largely
with the enemy.

Withdrawing the two regiments and Hescock's battery, that I had
posted on the right of Palmer, I moved as directed by Rosecrans into
the position to the east of the railroad, and formed immediately to
the right of Wood, who was now being attacked all along his front,
but more particularly where his right rested near the railroad.
Under a storm of shot and shell that came in torrents my troops took
up the new ground, advancing through a clump of open timber to Wood's
assistance. Forming in line in front of the timber we poured a
telling fire into the enemy's ranks, which were then attacking across
some cleared fields; but when he discovered additional troops
confronting him, he gave up the attempt to carry Wood's position. It
was here that I lost Schaefer, who was killed instantly, making my
fourth brigade commander dead that day. The enemy in front of Wood
having been checked, our whole line east of the railroad executed
undisturbed its retrograde movement to a position about three hundred
yards to its rear. When I fell back to the edge of the clump of
timber, where when first coming on the ground I had formed to help
Wood, I was ordered by Rosecrans to prepare to make a charge should
the enemy again assault us. In anticipation of this work I massed my
troops in close column. The expected attack never came, however, but
the shot and shell of a furious cannonade told with fatal effect upon
men and officers as they lay on their faces hugging the ground. The
torments of this trying situation were almost unbearable, but it was
obvious to all that it was necessary to have at hand a compact body
of troops to repel any assault the enemy might make pending the
reconstruction of the extreme right of our line, and a silent
determination to stay seemed to take hold of each individual soldier;
nor was this grim silence interrupted throughout the cannonade,
except in one instance, when one of the regiments broke out in a
lusty cheer as a startled rabbit in search of a new hiding-place
safely ran the whole length of the line on the backs of the men.

While my troops were still lying here, General Rosecrans, with a part
of his staff and a few orderlies, rode out on the rearranged line to
supervise its formation and encourage the men, and in prosecution of
these objects moved around the front of my column of attack, within
range of the batteries that were shelling us so viciously. As he
passed to the open ground on my left, I joined him. The enemy seeing
this mounted party, turned his guns upon it, and his accurate aim was
soon rewarded, for a solid shot carried away the head of Colonel
Garesche, the chief-of-staff, and killed or wounded two or three
orderlies. Garesche's appalling death stunned us all, and a
momentary expression of horror spread over Rosecrans's face; but at
such a time the importance of self-control was vital, and he pursued
his course with an appearance of indifference, which, however, those
immediately about him saw was assumed, for undoubtedly he felt most
deeply the death of his friend and trusted staff-officer.

No other attacks were made on us to the east of the railroad for the
rest of the afternoon, and just before dark I was directed to
withdraw and take up a position along the west side of the Nashville
pike, on the extreme right of our new line, where Roberts's brigade
and the Seventy-third and Eighty-eighth Illinois had already been
placed by McCook. The day had cost me much anxiety and sadness, and
I was sorely disappointed at the general result, though I could not
be other than pleased at the part taken by my command. The loss of
my brigade commanders--Sill, Roberts, Schaefer, and Harrington-and a
large number of regimental and battery officers, with so many of
their men, struck deep into my heart: My thinned ranks told the
woeful tale of the fierce struggles, indescribable by words, through
which my division had passed since 7 o'clock in the morning; and
this, added to our hungry and exhausted condition, was naturally
disheartening. The men had been made veterans, however, by the
fortunes and misfortunes of the day, and as they went into their new
places still confident of final success, it was plain to see that
they felt a self-confidence inspired by the part they had already

My headquarters were now established on the Nashville pike, about
three miles and a half from Murfreesboro'; my division being aligned
to the west of the pike, bowed out and facing almost west, Cleburn's
division of the Confederates confronting it. Davis's division was
posted on my right, and Walker's brigade of Thomas's corps, which had
reported to me, took up a line that con nected my left with Johnson's

Late in the evening General Rosecrans, accompanied by General McCook,
and several other officers whose names I am now unable to recall,
rode by my headquarters on their way to the rear to look for a new
line of battle--on Overall's creek it was said--that would preserve
our communications with Nashville and offer better facilities for
resistance than the one we were now holding. Considerable time had
elapsed when they returned from this exploration and proceeded to
their respective commands, without intimating to me that anything had
been determined upon by the reconnoissance, but a little later it was
rumored through the different headquarters that while the party was
looking for a new position it discovered the enemy's troops moving
toward our right and rear, the head of his columns being conducted in
the darkness by the aid of torches, and that no alternative was left
us but to hold the lines we then occupied. The torches had been seen
unquestionably, and possibly created some alarm at first in the minds
of the reconnoitring party, but it was soon ascertained that the
lights came from a battalion of the Fourth regular cavalry that was
picketing our flank and happened to be starting its bivouac fires at
the moment. The fires and the supposed movements had no weight,
therefore, in deciding the proposition to take up a line at Overall's
creek, but General Rosecrans, fortunately for the army, decided to
remain where he was. Doubtless reflections during his ride caused
him to realize that the enemy must be quite as much crippled as
himself. If it had been decided to fall back to Overall's creek, we
could have withdrawn without much difficulty very likely, but such a
retrograde movement would have left to the enemy the entire battle-
field of Stone River and ultimately compelled our retreat to

In the night of December 3rd several slight demonstrations were made
on my front, but from the darkness neither party felt the effect of
the other's fire, and when daylight came again the skirmishers and
lines of battle were in about the same position they had taken up the
evening before. Soon after daybreak it became evident that the
conflict was to be renewed, and a little later the enemy resumed the
offensive by an attack along my left front, especially on Walker's
brigade. His attempt was ineffectual, however, and so easily
repulsed as to demonstrate that the desperate character of his
assaults the day before had nearly exhausted his strength. About 3
o'clock in the afternoon he made another feeble charge on my front,
but our fire from the barricades and rifle-pits soon demoralized his
advancing lines, which fell back in some confusion, thus enabling us
to pick up about a hundred prisoners. From this time till the
evening of January 3 Bragg's left remained in our front, and
continued to show itself at intervals by weak demonstrations, which
we afterward ascertained were directly intended to cover the
desperate assault he made with Breckenridge on the left of Rosecrans,
an assault that really had in view only a defensive purpose, for
unless Bragg dislodged the troops which were now massing in front of
his right he would be obliged to withdraw General Polk's corps behind
Stone River and finally abandon Murfreesboro'. The sequel proved
this to be the case; and the ill-judged assault led by Breckenridge
ending in entire defeat, Bragg retired from Murfreesboro' the night
of January 3.

General Rosecrans occupied Murfreesboro' on the 4th and 5th, having
gained a costly victory, which was not decisive enough in its
character to greatly affect the general course of the war, though it
somewhat strengthened and increased our hold on Middle Tennessee.
The enemy in retiring did not fall back very far--only behind Duck
River to Shelbyville and Tullahoma--and but little endeavor was made
to follow him. Indeed, we were not in condition to pursue, even if
it had been the intention at the outset of the campaign.

As soon as possible after the Confederate retreat I went over the
battle-field to collect such of my wounded as had not been carried
off to the South and to bury my dead. In the cedars and on the
ground where I had been so fiercely assaulted when the battle opened,
on the morning of the 31st, evidences of the bloody struggle appeared
on every hand in the form of broken fire-arms, fragments of
accoutrements, and splintered trees. The dead had nearly all been
left unburied, but as there was likelihood of their mutilation by
roving swine, the bodies had mostly been collected in piles at
different points and inclosed by rail fences. The sad duties of
interment and of caring for the wounded were completed by the 5th,
and on the 6th I moved my division three miles, south of
Murfreesboro' on the Shelbyville pike, going into camp on the banks
of Stone River. Here the condition of my command was thoroughly
looked into, and an endeavor made to correct such defects as had been
disclosed by the recent battle.

During the engagement there had been little straggling, and my list
of missing was small and legitimate; still, it was known that a very
few had shirked their duty, and an example was necessary. Among this
small number were four officers who, it was charged, had abandoned
their colors and regiments. When their guilt was clearly
established, and as soon as an opportunity occurred, I caused the
whole division to be formed in a hollow square, closed in mass, and
had the four officers marched to the centre, where, telling them that
I would not humiliate any officer or soldier by requiring him to
touch their disgraced swords, I compelled them to deliver theirs up
to my colored servant, who also cut from their coats every insignia
of rank. Then, after there had been read to the command an order
from army headquarters dismissing the four from the service, the
scene was brought to a close by drumming the cowards out of camp. It
was a mortifying spectacle, but from that day no officer in that
division ever abandoned his colors.

My effective force in the battle of Stone River was 4,154 officers
and men. Of this number I lost 1,633 killed, wounded, and missing,
or nearly 40 per cent. In the remaining years of the war, though
often engaged in most severe contests, I never experienced in any of
my commands so high a rate of casualties. The ratio of loss in the
whole of Rosecrans's army was also high, and Bragg's losses were
almost equally great. Rosecrans carried into the action about 42,000
officers and men. He lost 13,230, or 31 per cent. Bragg's effective
force was 37,800 officers and men; he lost 10,306, or nearly 28 per

Though our victory was dearly bought, yet the importance of gaining
the day at any price was very great, particularly when we consider
what might have been the result had not the gallantry of the army and
the manoeuvring during the early disaster saved us from ultimate
defeat. We had started out from Nashville on an offensive campaign,
probably with no intention of going beyond Murfreesboro', in
midwinter, but still with the expectation of delivering a crushing
blow should the enemy accept our challenge to battle. He met us with
a plan of attack almost the counterpart of our own. In the execution
of his plan he had many advantages, not the least of which was his
intimate knowledge of the ground, and he came near destroying us.
Had he done so, Nashville would probably have fallen; at all events,
Kentucky would have been opened again to his incursions, and the
theatre of war very likely transferred once more to the Ohio River.
As the case now stood, however, Nashville was firmly established as a
base for future operations, Kentucky was safe from the possibility of
being again overrun, and Bragg, thrown on the defensive, was
compelled to give his thoughts to the protection of the interior of
the Confederacy and the security of Chattanooga, rather than indulge
in schemes of conquest north of the Cumberland River. While he still
held on in Middle Tennessee his grasp was so much loosened that only
slight effort would be necessary to push him back into Georgia, and
thus give to the mountain region of East Tennessee an opportunity to
prove its loyalty to the, Union.

The victory quieted the fears of the West and Northwest, destroyed
the hopes of the secession element in Kentucky, renewed the drooping
spirits of the East Tennesseans, and demoralized the disunionists in
Middle Tennessee; yet it was a negative victory so far as concerned
the result on the battle-field. Rosecrans seems to have planned the
battle with the idea that the enemy would continue passive, remain
entirely on the defensive, and that it was necessary only to push
forward our left in order to force the evacuation of Murfreesboro';
and notwithstanding the fact that on the afternoon of December 30
McCook received information that the right of Johnson's division.
resting near the Franklin pike, extended only to about the centre of
the Confederate army, it does not appear that attack from that
quarter was at all apprehended by the Union commanders.

The natural line of retreat of the Confederates was not threatened by
the design of Rosecrans; and Bragg, without risk to his
communications, anticipated it by a counter-attack of like character
from his own left, and demolished his adversary's plan the moment we
were thrown on the defensive. Had Bragg followed up with the spirit
which characterized its beginning the successful attack by Hardee on
our right wing--and there seems no reason why he should not have done
so--the army of Rosecrans still might have got back to Nashville, but
it would have been depleted and demoralized to such a degree as to
unfit it for offensive operations for a long time afterward. Bragg's
intrenchments in front of Stone River were very strong, and there
seems no reason why he should not have used his plain advantage as
explained, but instead he allowed us to gain time, intrench, and
recover a confidence that at first was badly shaken. Finally, to cap
the climax of his errors, he directed Breckenridge to make the
assault from his right flank on January 2, with small chance for
anything but disaster, when the real purpose in view could have been
accomplished without the necessity of any offensive manoeuvre



On the 6th of January, 1863, my division settled quietly down in its
camp south of Murfreesboro'. Its exhausted condition after the
terrible experiences of the preceding week required attention. It
needed recuperation, reinforcement, and reorganization, and I set
about these matters without delay, in anticipation of active
operations early in the spring. No forward movement was made for
nearly six months, however, and throughout this period drills,
parades, reconnoissances, and foraging expeditions filled in the time
profitably. In addition to these exercises the construction of
permanent fortifications for the security of Murfreesboro' was
undertaken by General Rosecrans, and large details from my troops
were furnished daily for the work. Much attention was also given to
creating a more perfect system of guard and picket duty-a matter that
had hitherto been somewhat neglected in the army, as its constant
activity had permitted scant opportunity for the development of such
a system. It was at this time that I received my appointment as a
major-general of Volunteers. My promotion had been recommended by
General Rosecrans immediately after the battle of Stone River, but
for some reason it was delayed until April, and though a long time
elapsed between the promise and the performance, my gratification was

My scout, Card, was exceedingly useful while encamped near
Murfreesboro, making several trips to East Tennessee within the
enemy's lines to collect information as to the condition of the loyal
people there, and to encourage them with the hope of early
liberation. He also brought back from each trip very accurate
statements as to the strength and doings of the Confederate army,
fixing almost with certainty its numbers and the locations of its
different divisions, and enabling my engineer-officer--Major
Morhardt--to construct good maps of the country in our front. On
these dangerous excursions Card was always accompanied by one of his
brothers, the other remaining with me to be ready for duty if any
accident occurred to those who had gone out, or in case I wanted to
communicate with them. In this way we kept well posted, although the
intelligence these men brought was almost always secured at the risk
of their lives.

Early in the spring, before the Tullahoma campaign began, I thought
it would be practicable, by sending out a small secret expedition of
but three or four men, to break the Nashville and Chattanooga
railroad between Chattanooga and the enemy's position at Tullahoma by
burning the bridges in Crow Creek valley from its head to Stevenson,
Alabama, and then the great bridge across the Tennessee River at
Bridgeport. Feeling confident that I could persuade Card to
undertake the perilous duty, I broached the contemplated project to
him, and he at once jumped at the opportunity of thus distinguishing
himself, saying that with one of his brothers and three other loyal
East Tennesseeans, whose services he knew could be enlisted, he felt
sure of carrying out the idea, so I gave him authority to choose his
own assistants. In a few days his men appeared at my headquarters,
and when supplied with money in notes of the State Bank of Tennessee,
current everywhere as gold in those days, the party, composed of
Card, the second brother, and the three East Tennesseeans, started on
their precarious enterprise, their course being directed first toward
the Cumberland Mountains, intending to strike the Nashville and
Chattanooga railroad somewhere above Anderson's station. They
expected to get back in about fifteen days, but I looked for some
knowledge of the progress of their adventure before the expiration of
that period, hoping to hear through Confederate sources prisoners and
the like-of the destruction of the bridges. I waited in patience for
such news, but none came, and as the time Card had allotted himself
passed by, I watched anxiously for his return, for, as there was
scarcely a doubt that the expedition had proved a failure, the fate
of the party became a matter of deep concern to Card's remaining
brother and to me. Finally this brother volunteered to go to his
father's house in East Tennessee to get tidings of the party, and I
consented, for the probabilities were that some of them had made
their way to that point, or at least that some information had
reached there about them. As day after day went by, the time fixed
for this brother's return came round, yet he also remained out; but
some days after the lad was due Card himself turned up accompanied by
the brother he had taken with him, soon explained his delay in
getting back, and gave me the story of his adventures while absent.

After leaving my camp, his party had followed various byways across
the Cumberland Mountains to Crow Creek Valley, as instructed; but
when nearing the railroad above Anderson's Station, they were
captured by some guerrillas prowling about that vicinity, and being
suspected of disloyalty to the Confederacy, were carried to
Chattanooga and imprisoned as Yankee spies. Their prospects now were
decidedly discouraging, for death stared them in the face.
Fortunately, however, some delays occurred relative to the
disposition that should be made of them, and they, meanwhile,
effected their escape from their jailors by way of one of the prison
windows, from which they managed to displace a bar, and by a skiff,
in the darkness of night, crossed the Tennessee River a little below
Chattanooga. From this point the party made their way back to my
camp, traveling only at night, hiding in the woods by day, and for
food depending on loyal citizens that Card had become acquainted with
when preaching and pedling.

Card's first inquiry after relating his story was for the youngest
brother, whom he had left with me. I told him what I had done, in my
anxiety about himself, and that more than sufficient time had elapsed
for his brother's return. His reply was: "They have caught him. The
poor fellow is dead." His surmise proved correct; for news soon came
that the poor boy had been captured at his father's house, and
hanged. The blow to Card was a severe one, and so hardened his heart
against the guerrillas in the neighborhood of his father's home--for
he knew they were guilty of his brother's murder--that it was with
difficulty I could persuade him to continue in the employment of the
Government, so determined was he to avenge his brother's death at the
first opportunity. Finally, however, I succeeded in quieting the
almost uncontrollable rage that seemed to possess him, and he
remained with me during the Tullahoma and Chickamauga campaigns; but
when we reached Knoxville the next winter, he took his departure,
informing me that he was going for the bushwhackers who had killed
his brother. A short time after he left me, I saw him at the head of
about thirty well-armed East Tennesseeans--refugees. They were
determined-looking men, seeking revenge for the wrongs and sufferings
that had been put upon them in the last two years, and no doubt
wreaked their vengeance right and left on all who had been in any way
instrumental in persecuting them.

The feeding of our army from the base at Louisville was attended with
a great many difficulties, as the enemy's cavalry was constantly
breaking the railroad and intercepting our communications on the
Cumberland River at different points that were easily accessible to
his then superior force of troopers. The accumulation of reserve
stores was therefore not an easy task, and to get forage ahead a few
days was well-nigh impossible, unless that brought from the North was
supplemented by what we could gather from the country. Corn was
abundant in the region to the south and southwest of Murfreesboro',
so to make good our deficiences in this respect, I employed a brigade
about once a week in the duty of collecting and bringing in forage,
sending out sometimes as many as a hundred and fifty wagons to haul
the grain which my scouts had previously located. In nearly every
one of these expeditions the enemy was encountered, and the wagons
were usually loaded while the skirmishers kept up a running fire,
Often there would occur a respectable brush, with the loss on each
side of a number of killed and wounded. The officer in direct
command always reported to me personally whatever had happened during
the time he was out--the result of his reconnoissance, so to speak,
for that war the real nature of these excursions--and on one occasion
the colonel in command, Colonel Conrad, of the Fifteenth Missouri,
informed me that he got through without much difficulty; in fact,
that everything had gone all right and been eminently satisfactory,
except that in returning he had been mortified greatly by the conduct
of the two females belonging to the detachment and division train at
my headquarters. These women, he said, had given much annoyance by
getting drunk, and to some extent demoralizing his men. To say that
I was astonished at his statement would be a mild way of putting it,
and had I not known him to be a most upright man and of sound sense,
I should have doubted not only his veracity, but his sanity.
Inquiring who they were and for further details, I was informed that
there certainly were in the command two females, that in some
mysterious manner had attached themselves to the service as soldiers;
that one, an East Tennessee woman, was a teamster in the division
wagon-train and the other a private soldier in a cavalry company
temporarily attached to my headquarters for escort duty. While out
on the foraging expedition these Amazons had secured a supply of
"apple-jack" by some means, got very drunk, and on the return had
fallen into Stone River and been nearly drowned. After they had been
fished from, the water, in the process of resuscitation their sex was
disclosed, though up to this time it appeared to be known only to
each other. The story was straight and the circumstance clear, so,
convinced of Conrad's continued sanity, I directed the provost-
marshal to bring in arrest to my headquarters the two disturbers of
Conrad's peace of mind, After some little search the East Tennessee
woman was found in camp, somewhat the worse for the experiences of
the day before, but awaiting her fate content idly smoking a cob-
pipe. She was brought to me, and put in duress under charge of the
division surgeon until her companion could be secured. To the doctor
she related that the year before she had "refugeed" from East
Tennessee, and on arriving in Louisville assumed men's apparel and
sought and obtained employment as a teamster in the quartermaster's
department. Her features were very large, and so coarse and
masculine was her general appearance that she would readily have
passed as a man, and in her case the deception was no doubt easily
practiced. Next day the "she dragoon" was caught, and proved to be a
rather prepossessing young woman, and though necessarily bronzed and
hardened by exposure, I doubt if, even with these marks of
campaigning, she could have deceived as readily as did her companion.
How the two got acquainted, I never learned, and though they had
joined the army independently of each other, yet an intimacy had
sprung up between them long before the mishaps of the foraging
expedition. They both were forwarded to army headquarters, and, when
provided with clothing suited to their sex, sent back to Nashville,
and thence beyond our lines to Louisville.

On January 9, by an order from the War Department, the Army of the
Cumberland had been divided into three corps, designated the
Fourteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-first. This order did not alter
the composition of the former grand divisions, nor change the
commanders, but the new nomenclature was a decided improvement over
the clumsy designations Right Wing, Centre, and Left Wing, which were
well calculated to lead to confusion sometimes. McCook's wing became
the Twentieth Corps, and my division continued of the same
organization, and held the same number as formerly-the Third
Division, Twentieth Corps. My first brigade was now commanded by
Brigadier-General William H. Lytle, the second by Colonel Bernard
Laiboldt, and the third by Colonel Luther P. Bradley.

On the 4th of March I was directed to move in light marching order
toward Franklin and join General Gordon Granger, to take part in some
operations which he was projecting against General Earl Van Dorn,
then at Spring Hill. Knowing that my line of march would carry me
through a region where forage was plentiful, I took along a large
train of empty wagons, which I determined to fill with corn and send
back to Murfreesboro', believing that I could successfully cover the
train by Minty's brigade of cavalry, which had joined me for the
purpose of aiding in a reconnoissance toward Shelbyville. In
marching the column I placed a regiment of infantry at its head, then
the wagon-train, then a brigade of infantry--masking the cavalry
behind this brigade. The enemy, discovering that the train was with
us, and thinking he could capture it, came boldly out with his,
cavalry to attack. The head of his column came up to the crossroads
at Versailles, but holding him there, I passed the train and infantry
brigade beyond toward Eagleville, and when my cavalry had been thus
unmasked, Minty, followed by the balance of my division, which vas
still behind, charged him with the sabre. Success was immediate and
complete, and pursuit of the routed forces continued through
Unionville, until we fell upon and drove in the Confederate outposts
at Shelbyville. Here the enemy was taken by surprise evidently,
which was most fortunate for us, otherwise the consequences might
have been disastrous. Minty captured in the charge about fifty
prisoners and a few wagons and mules, and thus enabled me to load my
train with corn, and send it back to Murfreesboro' unmolested. In
this little fight the sabre was freely used by both sides, and I do
not believe that during the whole war I again knew of so large a
percentage of wounds by that arm in proportion to the numbers

That night I encamped at Eagleville, and next day reported to Granger
at Franklin, arriving in the midst of much excitement prevailing on
account of the loss of Coburn's brigade, which had been captured the
day before a little distance south of that point, while marching to
form a junction with a column that had been directed on Columbia from
Murfreesboro'. Shortly after Coburn's capture General Granger had
come upon the scene, and the next day he advanced my division and
Minty's troops directly on Spring Hill, with a view to making some
reprisal; but Van Dorn had no intention of accommodating us, and
retired from Spring Hill, offering but little resistance. He
continued to fall back, till finally he got behind Duck River, where
operations against him ceased; for, in consequence of the incessant
rains of the season, the streams had become almost impassable.
Later, I returned by way of Franklin to my old camp at Murfreesboro',
passing over on this march the ground on which the Confederate
General Hood met with such disaster the following year in his attack
on Stanley's corps.

My command had all returned from the Franklin expedition to
Murfreesboro' and gone into camp on the Salem pike by the latter part
of March, from which time till June it took part in only the little
affairs of outposts occurring every now and then on my own front. In
the meanwhile General Rosecrans had been materially reinforced by the
return of sick and wounded men; his army had become well disciplined,
and was tolerably supplied; and he was repeatedly pressed by the
authorities at Washington to undertake offensive operations.

During the spring and early summer Rosecrans resisted, with a great
deal of spirit and on various grounds, these frequent urgings, and
out of this grew up an acrimonious correspondence and strained
feeling between him and General Halleck. Early in June, however,
stores had been accumulated and other preparations made for a move
forward, Resecrans seeming to have decided that he could safely risk
an advance, with the prospect of good results. Before finally
deciding, he called upon most of his corps and division commanders
for their opinions on certain propositions which he presented, and
most of them still opposed the projected movement, I among the
number, reasoning that while General Grant was operating against
Vicksburg, it was better to hold Bragg in Middle Tennessee than to
push him so far back into Georgia that interior means of
communication would give the Confederate Government the opportunity
of quickly joining a part of his force to that of General Johnson in

At this stage, and in fact prior to it, Rosecrans seemed to manifest
special confidence in me, often discussing his plans with me
independent of the occasions on which he formally referred them for
my views. I recollect that on two different occasions about this
time he unfolded his designs to me in this informal way, outlining
generally how he expected ultimately to force Bragg south of the
Tennessee River, and going into the details of the contemplated move
on Tullahoma. His schemes, to my mind, were not only comprehensive,
but exact, and showed conclusively, what no one doubted then, that
they were original with him. I found in them very little to
criticise unfavorably, if we were to move at all, and Rosecrans
certainly impressed me that he favored an advance at an early day,
though many of his generals were against it until the operations on
the Mississippi River should culminate in something definite. There
was much, fully apparent in the circumstances about his headquarters,
leading to the conviction that Rosecrans originated the Tullahoma
campaign, and the record of his prior performances collaterally
sustains the visible evidence then existing. In my opinion, then,
based on a clear recollection of various occurrences growing out of
our intimacy, he conceived the plan of the Tullahoma campaign and the
one succeeding it; and is therefore entitled to every credit that
attended their execution, no matter what may be claimed for others.

On the 23d of June Bragg was covering his position north of Duck
River with a front extending from McMinnville, where his cavalry
rested, through Wartrace and Shelbyville to Columbia, his depot being
at Tullahoma. Rosecrans, thinking that Bragg would offer strong
resistance at Shelbyville--which was somewhat protected by a spur of
low mountains or hills, offshoots of the Cumberland Mountains--
decided to turn that place; consequently, he directed the mass of the
Union army on the enemy's right flank, about Manchester.

On the 26th of June McCook's corps advanced toward Liberty Gap, my
divisions marching on the Shelbyville pike. I had proceeded but a
few miles when I encountered the enemy's pickets, who fell back to
Christiana, about nine miles from Murfreesboro'. Here I was assailed
pretty wickedly by the enemy's sharpshooters and a section of
artillery, but as I was instructed to do nothing more than cover the
road from Eagleville, over which Brannan's division was to approach
Christiana, I made little reply to this severe annoyance, wishing to
conceal the strength of my force. As soon as the head of Brannan's
column arrived I marched across-country to the left, and encamped
that night at the little town of Millersburg, in the vicinity of
Liberty Gap. I was directed to move from Millersburg, on Hoover's
Gap--a pass in the range of hills already referred to, through which
ran the turnpike from Murfreesboro' to Manchester--but heavy rains
had made the country roads almost impassable, and the last of my
division did not reach Hoover's Gap till the morning of June 27,
after its abandonment by the enemy. Continuing on to Fairfield, the
head of my column met, south of that place, a small force of
Confederate infantry and cavalry, which after a slight skirmish
Laiboldt's brigade drove back toward Wartrace. The next morning I
arrived at Manchester, where I remained quiet for the day. Early on
the 29th I marched by the Lynchburg road for Tullahoma, where the
enemy was believed to be in force, and came into position about six
miles from the town.

By the 31st the whole army had been concentrated, in spite of many
difficulties, and though, on account of the heavy rains that had
fallen almost incessantly since we left Murfreesboro', its movements
had been slow and somewhat inaccurate, yet the precision with which
it took up a line of battle for an attack on Tullahoma showed that
forethought and study had been given to every detail. The enemy had
determined to fall back from Tullahoma at the beginning of the
campaign, however, and as we advanced, his evacuation had so far
progressed that when, on July 1. We reached the earthworks thrown.
up early in the year for the defense of the place, he had almost
wholly disappeared, carrying off all his stores and munitions of war
except some little subsistence and eleven pieces of artillery. A
strong rearguard remained to cover the retreat, and on my front the
usual encounters between advancing and retreating forces took place.
Just before reaching the intrenchments on the Lynchburg road, I came
upon an open space that was covered by a network of fallen trees and
underbrush, which had been slashed all along in front of the enemy's
earthworks. This made our progress very difficult, but I shortly
became satisfied that there were only a few of the enemy within the
works, so moving a battalion of cavalry that had joined me the day
before down the road as rapidly as the obstructions would permit, the
Confederate pickets quickly departed, and we gained possession of the
town. Three siege guns, four caissons, a few stores, and a small
number of prisoners fell into my hands.

That same evening orders were issued to the army to push on from
Tullahoma in pursuit, for, as it was thought that we might not be
able to cross Elk River on account of its swollen condition, we could
do the enemy some damage by keeping close as possible at his heels.
I marched on the Winchester road at 3 o'clock on the 2d of July and
about 8 o'clock reached Elk River ford. The stream was for the time
truly an impassable torrent, and all hope of crossing by the
Winchester ford had to be abandoned. Deeming that further effort
should be made, however, under guidance of Card, I turned the head of
my column in the direction of Alisona, marching up the river and
nearly parallel with it till I came to Rock Creek. With a little
delay we got across Rock Creek, which was also much swollen, and
finding a short distance above its mouth a ford on Elk River that
Card said was practicable, I determined to attempt it: Some of the
enemy's cavalry were guarding this ford, but after a sharp little
skirmish my battalion of cavalry crossed and took up a strong
position on the other bank. The stream was very high and the current
very swift, the water, tumbling along over its rocky bed in an
immense volume, but still it was fordable for infantry if means could
be devised by which the men could keep their feet. A cable was
stretched across just below the ford as a lifeline for the weaker
ones, and then the men of the entire division having secured their
ammunition by placing the cartridge-boxes on their shoulders, the
column pushed cheerfully into the rushing current. The men as they
entered the water joined each other in sets of four in a close
embrace, which enabled them to retain a foothold and successfully
resist the force of the flood. When they were across I turned the
column down the left bank of Elk River, and driving the enemy from
some slight works near Estelle Springs, regained the Winchester road.

By this time it was clear that Bragg intended to fall back behind the
Tennessee River, and our only chance of accomplishing anything of
importance was to smash up his rear-guard before it crossed the
Cumberland Mountains, and in pursuance of this idea I was directed to
attack such of his force as was holding on to Winchester. At 4
o'clock on the morning of July 2 I moved on that town, and when we
got close to it directed my mounted troops to charge a small force of
Confederate cavalry that was picketing their front. The Confederates
resisted but little, and our men went with them in a disorderly chase
through the village to Boiling Fork, a small stream about half a mile
beyond. Here the fleeing pickets, rallying behind a stronger force,
made a stand, and I was directed by McCook to delay till I
ascertained if Davis's division, which was to support me, had made
the crossing of Elk River, and until I could open up communication
with Brannan's division, which was to come in on my left at Decherd.
As soon as I learned that Davis was across I pushed on, but the delay
had permitted the enemy to pull his rear-guard up on the mountain,
and rendered nugatory all further efforts to hurt him materially, our
only returns consisting in forcing him to relinquish a small amount
of transportation and forage at the mouth of the pass just beyond
Cowan, a station on the line of the Nashville and Chattanooga

At Cowan, Colonel Watkins, of the Sixth Kentucky Cavalry, reported to
me with twelve hundred mounted men. Having heard during the night
that the enemy had halted on the mountain near the University--an
educational establishment on the summit--I directed Watkins to make a
reconnoissance and find out the value of the information. He learned
that Wharton's brigade of cavalry was halted at the University to
cover a moderately large force of the enemy's infantry which had not
yet got down the mountain on the other side, so I pushed Watkins out
again on the 5th, supporting him by a brigade of infantry, which I
accompanied myself. We were too late, however, for when we arrived
at the top of the mountain Wharton had disappeared, and though
Watkins pursued to Bridgeport, he was able to do nothing more, and on
his return reported that the last of the enemy had crossed the
Tennessee River and burned the railroad bridge.

Nothing further could now be done, so I instructed Watkins to rejoin
the division at Cowan, and being greatly fatigued by the hard
campaigning of the previous ten days, I concluded to go back to my
camp in a more comfortable way than on the back of my tired horse.
In his retreat the enemy had not disturbed the railway track at all,
and as we had captured a hand-car at Cowan, I thought I would have it
brought up to the station near the University to carry me down the
mountain to my camp, and, desiring company, I persuasively invited
Colonel Frank T. Sherman to ride with me. I sent for the car by a
courier, and for a long time patiently awaited its arrival, in fact,
until all the returning troops had passed us, but still it did not
come. Thinking it somewhat risky to remain at the station without
protection, Sherman and myself started our horses to Cowan by our
orderlies, and set out on foot to meet the car, trudging along down
the track in momentary expectation of falling in with our private
conveyance. We had not gone very far before night overtook us, and
we then began to realize the dangers surrounding us, for there we
were alone and helpless, tramping on in the darkness over an unknown
railroad track in the enemy's country, liable on the one hand to go
tumbling through some bridge or trestle, and on the other, to
possible capture or death at the hands of the guerrillas then
infesting these mountains. Just after dark we came to a little cabin
near the track, where we made bold to ask for water, notwithstanding
the fact that to disclose ourselves to the inmates might lead to
fatal consequences. The water was kindly given, but the owner and
his family were very much exercised lest some misfortune might befall
us near their house, and be charged to them, so they encouraged us to
move on with a frankness inspired by fear of future trouble to

At every turn we eagerly hoped to meet the hand-car, but it never
came, and we jolted on from tie to tie for eleven weary miles,
reaching Cowan after midnight, exhausted and sore in every muscle
from frequent falls on the rough, unballasted road-bed. Inquiry.
developed that the car had been well manned, and started to us as
ordered, and nobody could account for its non-arrival. Further
investigation next day showed, however, that when it reached the foot
of the mountain, where the railroad formed a junction, the improvised
crew, in the belief no doubt that the University was on the main line
instead of near the branch to Tracy City, followed the main stem
until it carried them clear across the range down the Crow Creek
Valley, where the party was captured.

I had reason to remember for many a day this foolish adventure, for
my sore bones and bruised muscles, caused me physical suffering until
I left the Army of the Cumberland the next spring; but I had still
more reason to feel for my captured men, and on this account I have
never ceased to regret that I so thoughtlessly undertook to rejoin my
troops by rail, instead of sticking to my faithful horse.



The Tullahoma campaign was practically closed by the disappearance of
the enemy from the country north of the Tennessee River. Middle
Tennessee was once more in the possession of the National troops, and
Rosecrans though strongly urged from Washington to continue on,
resisted the pressure until he could repair the Nashville and
Chattanooga railroad, which was of vital importance in supplying his
army from its secondary base at Nashville. As he desired to hold
this road to where it crossed the Tennessee, it was necessary to push
a force beyond the mountains, and after a few days of rest at Cowan
my division was ordered to take station at Stevenson, Alabama, the
junction of the Memphis and Charleston road with the Nashville and
Chattanooga, with instructions to occupy Bridgeport also.

The enemy had meanwhile concentrated most of his forces at
Chattanooga for the twofold purpose of holding this gateway of the
Cumberland Mountains, and to assume a defensive attitude which would
enable him to take advantage of such circumstances as might arise in
the development of the offensive campaign he knew we must make. The
peculiar topography of the country was much to his advantage, and
while we had a broad river and numerous spurs and ridges of the
Cumberland Mountains to cross at a long distance from our base, he
was backed up on his depots of supply, and connected by interior
lines of railway with the different armies of the Confederacy, so
that he could be speedily reinforced.

Bridgeport was to be ultimately a sub-depot for storing subsistence
supplies, and one of the points at which our army would cross the
Tennessee, so I occupied it on July 29 with two brigades, retaining
one at Stevenson, however, to protect that railway junction from
raids by way of Caperton's ferry. By the 29th of August a
considerable quantity of supplies had been accumulated, and then
began a general movement of our troops for crossing the river. As
there were not with the army enough pontoons to complete the two
bridges required, I was expected to build one of them of trestles;
and a battalion of the First Michigan Engineers under Colonel Innis
was sent me to help construct the bridge. Early on the 3ist I sent
into the neighboring woods about fifteen hundred men with axes and
teams, and by nightfall they had delivered on the riverbank fifteen
hundred logs suitable for a trestle bridge. Flooring had been
shipped to me in advance by rail, but the quantity was insufficient,
and the lack had to be supplied by utilizing planking and weather-
boarding taken from barns and houses in the surrounding country. The
next day Innis's engineers, with the assistance of the detail that
had felled the timber, cut and half-notched the logs, and put the
bridge across; spanning the main channel, which was swimming deep,
with four or five pontoons that had been sent me for this purpose.
On the 2d and 3d of September my division crossed on the bridge in
safety, though we were delayed somewhat because of its giving way
once where the pontoons joined the trestles. We were followed by a
few detachments from other commands, and by nearly all the
transportation of McCook's corps.

After getting to the south side of the Tennessee River I was ordered
to Valley Head, where McCook's corps was to concentrate. On the 4th
of September I ascended Sand Mountain, but had got only half way
across the plateau, on top, when night came, the march having been a
most toilsome one. The next day we descended to the base, and
encamped near Trenton. On the 10th I arrived at Valley Head, and
climbing Lookout Mountain, encamped on the plateau at Indian Falls.
The following day I went down into Broomtown Valley to Alpine.
The march of McCook's corps from Valley Head to Alpine was in
pursuance of orders directing it to advance on Summerville, the
possession of which place would further threaten the enemy's
communications, it being assumed that Bragg was in full retreat
south, as he had abandoned Chattanooga on the 8th. This assumption
soon proved erroneous, however, and as we, while in Broomtown Valley,
could not communicate directly with Thomas's corps, the scattered
condition of the army began to alarm us all, and McCook abandoned the
advance to Summerville, ordering back to the summit of Lookout
Mountain such of the corps trains as had got down into Broomtown

But before this I had grown uneasy in regard to the disjointed
situation of our army, and, to inform myself of what was going on,
determined to send a spy into the enemy's lines. In passing Valley
Head on the 10th my scout Card, who had been on the lookout for some
one capable to undertake the task, brought me a Union man with whom
he was acquainted, who lived on Sand Mountain, and had been much
persecuted by guerrillas on account of his loyal sentiments. He knew
the country well, and as his loyalty was vouched for I asked him to
go into the enemy's camp, which I believed to be near Lafayette, and,
bring me such information as he could gather. He said such a journey
would be at the risk of his life, and that at best he could not
expect to remain in that section of country if he undertook it, but
that he would run all the chances if I would enable him to emigrate
to the West at the end c f the "job," which I could do by purchasing
the small "bunch" of stock he owned on the mountain. To this I
readily assented, and he started on the delicate undertaking. He
penetrated the enemy's lines with little difficulty, but while
prosecuting his search for information was suspected, and at once
arrested and placed under guard. From this critical situation he
escaped; however, making his way through the enemy's picket-line in
the darkness by crawling on his belly and deceiving the sentinels by
imitating the grunts of the half-wild, sand-colored hogs with which
the country abounded. He succeeded in reaching Rosecrans's
headquarters finally, and there gave the definite information that
Bragg intended to fight, and that he expected to be reinforced by

By this time it was clear that Bragg had abandoned Chattanooga with
the sole design of striking us in detail as we followed in pursuit;
and to prevent his achieving this purpose orders came at 12 o'clock,
midnight, for McCook to draw in toward Chattanooga. This could be
done only by recrossing Lookout Mountain, the enemy's army at
Lafayette now interposing between us and Thomas's corps. The
retrograde march began at once. I moved back over the mountain on
the 13th and 14th to Stevens's Mills, and on the 15th and 16th
recrossed through Stevens's Gap, in the Lookout range, and encamped
at its base in McLamore's cove. The march was made with all possible
celerity, for the situation was critical and demanded every exertion.
The ascent and descent of the mountains was extremely exhausting, the
steep grades often rendering it necessary to drag up and let down by
hand both the transportation and artillery. But at last we were in
conjunction with the main army, and my division breathed easier.

On the 17th I remained in line of battle all day and night in front
of McLamore's cove, the enemy making slight demonstrations against me
from the direction of Lafayette. The main body of the army having
bodily moved to the left meanwhile, I followed it on the 18th,
encamping at Pond Spring. On the 19th I resumed the march to the
left and went into line of battle at Crawfish Springs to cover our
right and rear. Immediately after forming this line, I again became
isolated by the general movement to the left, and in consequence was
directed to advance and hold the ford of Chickamauga Creek at Lee and
Gordon's Mills, thus coming into close communication with the balance
of our forces. I moved into this position rapidly, being compelled,
though, first to drive back the enemy's cavalry skirmishers, who,
having crossed to the west side of the creek, annoyed the right flank
of my column a good deal while en route.

Upon arrival at Lee and Gordon's Mills I found the ford over
Chickamauga Creek temporarily uncovered, through the hurried movement
of Wood to the assistance of Davis's division. The enemy was already
present in small force, with the evident intention of taking
permanent possession, but my troops at once actively engaged him and
recovered the ford with some slight losses. Scarcely had this been
done when I was directed to assist Crittenden. Leaving Lytle's
brigade at the ford, I proceeded with Bradley's and Laiboldt's to
help Crittenden, whose main line was formed to the east of the
Chattanooga and Lafayette road, its right trending toward a point on
Chickamauga Creek about a mile and a half north of Lee and Gordon's
Mills. By the time I had joined Crittenden with my two brigades,
Davis had been worsted in an attack Rosecrans had ordered him to make
on the left of that portion of the enemy's line which was located
along the west bank of the Chickamauga, the repulse being so severe
that one of Davis's batteries had to be abandoned. Bradley's brigade
arrived on the ground first and was hastily formed and thrown into
the fight, which up to this moment had been very doubtful, fortune
inclining first to one side, then to the other. Bradley's brigade
went in with steadiness, and charging across an open corn-field that
lay in front of the Lafayette road, recovered Davis's guns and forced
the enemy to retire. Meanwhile Laiboldt's brigade had come on the
scene, and forming it on Bradley's right, I found myself at the end
of the contest holding the ground which was Davis's original
position. It was an ugly fight and my loss was heavy, including
Bradley wounded. The temporary success was cheering, and when
Lytle's brigade joined me a little later I suggested to Crittenden
that we attack, but investigation showed that his troops, having been
engaged all day, were not in condition, so the suggestion could not
be carried out.

The events of the day had indicated that Bragg's main object was to
turn Rosecrans's left; it was therefore still deemed necessary that
the army should continue its flank movement to the left, so orders
came to draw my troops in toward the widow Glenn's house. By
strengthening the skirmish line and shifting my brigades in
succession from right to left until the point designated was reached,
I was able to effect the withdrawal without much difficulty, calling
in my skirmish line after the main force had retired.

My command having settled down for the night in this new line I rode
to army headquarters, to learn if possible the expectations for the
morrow and hear the result of the battle in General Thomas's front.
Nearly all the superior officers of the army were at headquarters,
and it struck me that much depression prevailed, notwithstanding the
fact that the enemy's attempts during the day to turn our left flank
and also envelop our right had been unsuccessful. It was now
positively known, through prisoners and otherwise, that Bragg had
been reinforced to such an extent as to make him materially outnumber
us, consequently there was much apprehension for the future.

The necessity of protecting our left was most apparent, and the next
day the drifting in that direction was to be continued. This
movement in the presence of the enemy, who at all points was actively
seeking an opportunity to penetrate our line and interpose a column
between its right and left, was most dangerous. But the necessity
for shifting the army to the left was obvious, hence only the method
by which it was undertaken is open to question. The move was made by
the flank in the face of an exultant foe superior in numbers, and was
a violation of a simple and fundamental military principle. Under
such circumstauces columns naturally stretch out into attenuated
lines, organizations become separated, and intervals occur, all of
which we experienced; and had the orders for the movement been
construed properly I doubt if it could have been executed without
serious danger. Necessity knows no law, however, and when all the
circumstances of this battle are fully considered it is possible that
justification may be found for the manoeuvres by which the army was
thus drifted to the left. We were in a bad strait unquestionably,
and under such conditions possibly the exception had to be applied
rather than the rule.

At daylight on the morning of the 20th a dense fog obscured
everything; consequently both armies were passive so far as fighting
was concerned. Rosecrans took advantage of the inaction to rearrange
his right, and I was pulled back closer to the widow Glenn's house to
a strong position, where I threw together some rails and logs as
barricades, but I was disconnected from the troops on my left by a
considerable interval. Here I awaited the approach of the enemy, but
he did not disturb me, although about 9 o'clock in the forenoon he
had opened on our extreme left with musketry fire and a heavy
cannonade. Two hours later it was discovered by McCook that the
interval between the main army and me was widening, and he ordered me
to send Laiboldt's brigade to occupy a portion of the front that had
been covered by Negley's division. Before getting this brigade into
place, however, two small brigades of Davis's division occupied the
ground, and I directed Laiboldt to form in column of regiments on the
crest of a low ridge in rear of Carlin's brigade, so as to prevent
Davis's right flank from being turned. The enemy was now feeling
Davis strongly, and I was about sending for Lytle's and Bradley's
brigades when I received an order to move these rapidly to the,
extreme left of the army to the assistance of General Thomas. I rode
hastily back toward their position, but in the meanwhile, they had
been notified by direct orders from McCook, and were moving out at a
double-quick toward the Lafayette road. By this time the enemy had
assaulted Davis furiously in front and flank, and driven him from his
line, and as the confused mass came back, McCook ordered Laiboldt to
charge by deploying to the front. This he did through Davis's broken
ranks, but failed to check the enemy's heavy lines, and finally
Laiboldt's brigade broke also and fell to the rear. My remaining
troops, headed by Lytle, were now passing along the rear of the
ground where this disaster took place--in column on the road--en
route to Thomas, and as the hundreds of fugitives rushed back, McCook
directed me to throw in Lytle's and Bradley's brigades. This was
hastily done, they being formed to the front under a terrible fire.
Scarcely were they aligned when the same horde of Confederates that
had overwhelmed Davis and Laiboldt poured in upon them a deadly fire
and shivered the two brigades to pieces. We succeeded in rallying
them, however, and by a counter attack regained the ridge that
Laiboldt had been driven from, where we captured the colors of the
Twenty-fourth Alabama. We could not hold the ridge, though, and my
troops were driven back with heavy loss, including General Lytle
killed, past the widow Glenn's house, and till I managed to establish
them in line of battle on a range of low hills behind the Dry Valley

During these occurrences General Rosecrans passed down the road
behind my line, and sent word that he wished to see me, but affairs
were too critical to admit of my going to him at once, and he rode on
to Chattanooga. It is to be regretted that he did not wait till I
could join him, for the delay would have permitted him to see that
matters were not in quite such bad shape as he supposed; still, there
is no disguising the fact that at this juncture his army was badly

Shortly after my division had rallied on the low hills already
described, I discovered that the enemy, instead of attacking me in
front, was wedging in between my division and the balance of the
army; in short, endeavoring to cut me off from Chattanooga. This
necessitated another retrograde movement, which brought me back to
the southern face of Missionary Ridge, where I was joined by Carlin's
brigade of Davis's division. Still thinking I could join General
Thomas, I rode some distance to the left of my line to look for a way
out, but found that the enemy had intervened so far as to isolate me
effectually. I then determined to march directly to Rossville, and
from there effect a junction with Thomas by the Lafayette road. I
reached Rossville about o'clock in the afternoon, bringing with me
eight guns, forty-six caissons, and a long ammunition train, the
latter having been found in a state of confusion behind the widow
Glenn's when I was being driven back behind the Dry Valley road.

The head of my column passed through Rossville, appearing upon
Thomas's left about 6 o'clock in the evening, penetrated without any
opposition the right of the enemy's line, and captured several of his
field-hospitals. As soon as I got on the field I informed Thomas of
the presence of my command, and asked for orders. He replied that
his lines were disorganized, and that it would be futile to attack;
that all I could do was to hold on, and aid in covering his
withdrawal to Rossville.

I accompanied him back to Rossville, and when we reached the skirt of
the little hamlet General Thomas halted and we dismounted. Going
into one of the angles of a worm fence near by I took a rail from the
top and put it through the lower rails at a proper height from the
ground to make a seat, and General Thomas and I sat down while, my
troops were moving by. The General appeared very much exhausted,
seemed to forget what he had stopped for, and said little or nothing
of the incidents of the day. This was the second occasion on which I
had met him in the midst of misfortune, for during the fight in the
cedars at Stone River, when our prospects were most disheartening, we
held a brief conversation respecting the line he was then taking up
for the purpose of helping me. At other times, in periods of
inactivity, I saw but little of him. He impressed me, now as he did
in the cedars, his quiet, unobtrusive: demeanor communicating a
gloomy rather than a hopeful view of the situation. This apparent
depression was due no doubt to the severe trial through which he had
gone in the last forty-eight hours, which, strain had exhausted him
very much both physically and mentally. His success in maintaining
his ground was undoubtedly largely influenced by the fact that two-
thirds of the National forces had been sent to his succor, but his
firm purpose to save the army was the mainstay on which all relied
after Rosecrans left the field. As the command was getting pretty
well past, I rose to go in order to put my troops into camp. This
aroused the General, when, remarking that he had a little flask of
brandy in his saddle-holster, he added that he had just stopped for
the purpose of offering me a drink, as he knew I must be very tired.
He requested one of his staff-officers to get the flask, and after
taking a sip himself, passed it to me. Refreshed by the brandy, I
mounted and rode off to supervise the encamping of my division, by no
means an easy task considering the darkness, and the confusion that
existed among the troops that had preceded us into Rossville.

This done, I lay down at the foot of a tree, with my saddle for a
pillow, and saddle-blanket for a cover. Some soldiers near me having
built a fire, were making coffee, and I guess I must have been
looking on wistfully, for in a little while they brought me a tin-
cupful of the coffee and a small piece of hard bread, which I
relished keenly, it being the first food that had passed my lips
since the night before. I was very tired, very hungry, and much
discouraged by what had taken place since morning. I had been
obliged to fight my command under the most disadvantageous
circumstances, disconnected, without supports, without even
opportunity to form in line of battle, and at one time contending
against four divisions of the enemy. In this battle of Chickamauga,
out of an effective strength Of 4,000 bayonets, I had lost 1,517
officers and men, including two brigade commanders. This was not
satisfactory indeed, it was most depressing--and then there was much
confusion prevailing around Rossville; and, this condition of things
doubtless increasing my gloomy reflections, it did not seem to me
that the outlook for the next day was at all auspicious, unless the
enemy was slow to improve his present advantage. Exhaustion soon
quieted all forebodings, though, and I fell into a sound sleep, from
which I was not aroused till daylight.

On the morning of the 21st the enemy failed to advance, and his
inaction gave us the opportunity for getting the broken and
disorganized army into shape. It took a large part of the day to
accomplish this, and the chances of complete victory would have been
greatly in Bragg's favor if he could have attacked us vigorously at
this time. But he had been badly hurt in the two days' conflict, and
his inactivity on the 21st showed that he too had to go through the
process of reorganization. Indeed, his crippled condition began to
show itself the preceding evening, and I have always thought that,
had General Thomas held on and attacked the Confederate right and
rear from where I made the junction with him on the Lafayette road,
the field of Chickamauga would have been relinquished to us; but it
was fated to be otherwise.

Rosecrans, McCook, and Crittenden passed out of the battle when they
went back to Chattanooga, and their absence was discouraging to all
aware of it. Doubtless this had much to do with Thomas's final
withdrawal, thus leaving the field to the enemy, though at an immense
cost in killed and wounded. The night of the 21st the army moved
back from Rossville, and my division, as the rearguard of the
Twentieth Corps, got within our lines at Chattanooga about 8 o'clock
the morning of the 22d. Our unmolested retirement from Rossville
lent additional force to the belief that the enemy had been badly
injured, and further impressed me with the conviction that we might
have held on. Indeed, the battle of Chickamauga was somewhat like
that of Stone River, victory resting with the side that had the grit
to defer longest its relinquishment of the field.

The manoeuvres by which Rosecrans had carried his army over the
Cumberland Mountains, crossed the Tennessee River, and possessed
himself of Chattanooga, merit the highest commendation up to the
abandonment of this town by Bragg on the 8th of September; but I have
always fancied that that evacuation made Rosecrans over-confident,
and led him to think that he could force Bragg south as far as Rome.
After the Union army passed the river and Chattanooga fell into our
hands; we still kept pressing the enemy's communications, and the
configuration of the country necessitated more or less isolation of
the different corps. McCook's corps of three divisions had crossed
two difficult ridges--Sand and Lookout mountains--to Alpine in
Broomtown Valley with intentions against Summerville. Thomas's corps
had marched by the way of Stevens's Gap toward Lafayette, which he
expected to occupy. Crittenden had passed through Chattanooga, at
first directing his march an Ringgold. Thus the corps of the army
were not in conjunction, and between McCook and Thomas there
intervened a positive and aggressive obstacle in the shape of Bragg's
army concentrating and awaiting reinforcement at Lafayette. Under
these circumstances Bragg could have taken the different corps in
detail, and it is strange that he did not, even before receiving his
reinforcements, turn on McCook in Broomtown Valley and destroy him.

Intelligence that Bragg would give battle began to come to us from
various sources as early as the 10th of September, and on the 11th
McCook found that he could not communicate with Thomas by the direct
road through Broomtown Valley; but we did not begin closing in toward
Chattanooga till the 13th, and even then the Twentieth Corps had
before it the certainty of many delays that must necessarily result
from the circuitous and difficult mountain roads which we would be
obliged to follow. Had the different corps, beginning with McCook's,
been drawn in toward Chattanooga between the 8th and 12th of
September, the objective point of the campaign would have remained in
our hands without the battle of Chickamauga, but, as has been seen,
this was not done. McCook was almost constantly on the march day and
night between the 13th and the 19th, ascending and descending
mountains, his men worried and wearied, so that when they appeared on
the battle-field, their fatigued condition operated greatly against
their efficiency. This delay in concentration was also the original
cause of the continuous shifting toward our left to the support of
Thomas, by which manoeuvre Rosecrans endeavored to protect his
communications with Chattanooga, and out of which grew the intervals
that offered such tempting opportunities to Bragg. In addition to
all this, much transpired on the field of battle tending to bring
about disaster. There did not seem to be any well-defined plan of
action in the fighting; and this led to much independence of judgment
in construing orders among some of the subordinate generals. It also
gave rise to much license in issuing orders: too many people were
giving important directions, affecting the whole army, without
authority from its head. In view, therefore, of all the errors that
were committed from the time Chattanooga fell into our hands after
our first crossing the Tennessee, it was fortunate that the Union
defeat was not more complete, that it left in the enemy's possession
not much more than the barren results arising from the simple holding
of the ground on which the engagement was fought.



By 9 o'clock on the morning of September 22 my command took up a
position within the heavy line of intrenchments at Chattanooga, the
greater part of which defenses had been thrown up since the army
commenced arriving there the day before. The enemy, having now
somewhat recovered from the shock of the recent battle, followed
carefully, and soon invested us close into our lines with a parallel
system of rifle-pits. He also began at once to erect permanent lines
of earthworks on Missionary Ridge and to establish himself strongly
on Lookout Mountain. He then sent Wheeler's cavalry north of the
Tennessee, and, aided greatly by the configuration of the ground,
held us in a state of partial siege, which serious rains might
convert into a complete investment. The occupation of Lookout
Mountain broke our direct communication with Bridgeport-our sub-
depot--and forced us to bring supplies by way of the Sequatchie
Valley and Waldron's Ridge of the Cumberland Mountains, over a road
most difficult even in the summer season, but now liable to be
rendered impassable by autumn rains. The distance to Bridgeport by
this circuitous route was sixty miles, and the numerous passes,
coves, and small valleys through which the road ran offered tempting
opportunities, for the destruction of trains, and the enemy was not
slow to take advantage of them. Indeed, the situation was not
promising, and General Rosecrans himself, in communicating with the
President the day succeeding the battle of Chickamauga, expressed
doubts of his ability to hold the gateway of the Cumberland

The position taken up by my troops inside the lines of Chattanooga
was near the old iron-works, under the shadow of Lookout Mountain.
Here we were exposed to a continual fire from the enemy's batteries
for many days, but as the men were well covered by secure though
simple intrenchments, but little damage was done. My own
headquarters were established on the grounds of Mr. William
Crutchfield, a resident of the place, whose devotion to the Union
cause knew no bounds, and who rendered me--and, in fact, at one time
or another, nearly every general officer in the Army of the
Cumberland--invaluable service in the way of information about the
Confederate army. My headquarters camp frequently received shots
from the point of Lookout Mountain also, but fortunately no
casualties resulted from this plunging fire, though, I am free to
confess, at first our nerves were often upset by the whirring of
twenty-pounder shells dropped inconsiderately into our camp at
untimely hours of the night.

In a few days rain began to fali, and the mountain roads by which our
supplies came were fast growing impracticable. Each succeeding train
of wagons took longer to make the trip from Bridgeport, and the draft
mules were dying by the hundreds. The artillery horses would soon go
too, and there was every prospect that later the troops would starve
unless something could be done. Luckily for my division, a company
of the Second Kentucky Cavalry had attached itself to my
headquarters, and, though there without authority, had been left
undisturbed in view of a coming reorganization of the army incidental
to the removal of McCook and Crittenden from the command of their
respective corps, a measure that had been determined upon immediately
after the battle of Chickamauga. Desiring to remain with me, Captain
Lowell H. Thickstun, commanding this company, was ready for any duty
I might find, for him, so I ordered him into the Sequatchie Valley
for the purpose of collecting supplies for my troops, and sent my
scout, Card along to guide him to the best locations. The company
hid itself away in a deep cove in the upper end of the valley, and by
keeping very quiet and paying for everything it took from the people,
in a few days was enabled to send me large quantities of corn for my
animals and food for the officers and men, which greatly supplemented
the scanty supplies we were getting from the sub-depot at Bridgeport.
In this way I carried men and animals through our beleaguerment in
pretty fair condition, and of the turkeys, chickens, ducks, and eggs
sent in for the messes of my officers we often had enough to divide
liberally among those at different headquarters. Wheeler's cavalry
never discovered my detached company, yet the chances of its capture
were not small, sometimes giving much uneasiness; still, I concluded
it was better to run all risks than to let the horses die of
starvation in Chattanooga. Later, after the battle of Missionary
Ridge, when I started to Knoxville, the company joined me in
excellent shape, bringing with it an abundance of food, including a
small herd of beef cattle.

The whole time my line remained near the iron-mills the shelling from
Lookout was kept up, the screeching shots inquisitively asking in
their well-known way, "Where are you? Where are you?" but it is
strange to see how readily, soldiers can become accustomed to the
sound of dangerous missiles under circumstances of familiarity, and
this case was no exception to the rule. Few casualties occurred, and
soon contempt took the place of nervousness, and as we could not
reply in kind on account of the elevation required for our guns, the
men responded by jeers and imprecations whenever a shell fell into
their camp.

Meantime, orders having been issued for the organization of the army,
additional troops were attached to my command, and it became the
Second Division of the Fourth Army Corps, to which Major-General
Gordon Granger was assigned as commander. This necessitated a change
of position of the division, and I moved to ground behind our works,
with my right resting on Fort Negley and my left extending well over
toward Fort Wood, my front being parallel to Missionary Ridge. My
division was now composed of twenty-five regiments, classified into
brigades and demi-brigades, the former commanded by Brigadier-General
G. D. Wagner, Colonel C. G. Harker, and Colonel F. T. Sherman; the
latter, by Colonels Laiboldt, Miller, Wood, Walworth, and Opdyke.
The demi-brigade was an awkward invention of Granger's; but at this
time it was necessitated--perhaps by the depleted condition of our
regiments, which compelled the massing of a great number of
regimental organizations into a division to give it weight and force.

On October 16, 1863, General Grant had been assigned to the command
of the "Military Division of the Mississippi," a geographical area
which embraced the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the
Tennessee, thus effecting a consolidation of divided commands which
might have been introduced most profitably at an earlier date. The
same order that assigned General Grant relieved General Rosecrans,
and placed General Thomas in command of the Army of the Cumberland.
At the time of the reception of the order, Rosecrans was busy with
preparations for a movement to open the direct road to Bridgeport--
having received in the interval, since we came back to Chattanooga,
considerable reinforcement by the arrival in his department of the
Eleventh and Twelfth corps, under General Hooker, from the Army of
the Potomac. With this force Rosecrans had already strengthened
certain important points on the railroad between Nashville and
Stevenson, and given orders to Hooker to concentrate at Bridgeport
such portions of his command as were available, and to hold them in
readiness to advance toward Chattanooga.

On the 19th of October, after turning the command over to Thomas,
General Rosecrans quietly slipped away from the army. He submitted
uncomplainingly to his removal, and modestly left us without fuss or
demonstration; ever maintaining, though, that the battle of
Chickamauga was in effect a victory, as it had ensured us, he said,
the retention of Chattanooga. When his departure became known deep
and almost universal regret was expressed, for he was
enthusiastically esteemed and loved by the Army of the Cumberland,
from the day he assumed command of it until he left it,
notwithstanding the censure poured upon him after the battle of

The new position to which my division had been moved, in consequence
of the reorganization, required little additional labor to strengthen
it, and the routine of fatigue duty and drills was continued as
before, its monotony occasionally broken by the excitement of an
expected attack, or by amusements of various kinds that were
calculated to keep the men in good spirits. Toward this result much
was contributed by Mr. James E. Murdock, the actor, who came down
from the North to recover the body of his son, killed at Chickamauga,


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