Page images

heaviest fire was kept up. Unable to carry the crest of the hill, I kept the men on the side of it, and had logs and stumps of trees converted into a breastwork. This position afforded them much shelter, and they held it against several assaults of the enemy. The batteries, which continued their fire, injured the Blockhouse constantly. They had to change position a dozen times, being silenced by our musketry At about five P. M., the enemy managed to establish a battery on the hill, of which I spoke above, and it was this battery which did more harm than all the rest. It knocked the lookout of the Stockade to pieces, and also the roof, which caved in at several places. The shots fired by it struck the house every time, and a number penetrated it; one shell exploded inside, killed the railroad conductor, who had sought shelter in the house, and wounded several of the garrison. It was now dark, and the artillery fire ceased, but musketry was still kept up. I drew the command back to the Blockhouse, and left a strong skirmish line at the position which we had occupied during the day.

As my ammunition was nearly exhausted (the men who came off the train only had forty rounds), and I expected an assault, I stopped all firing, in order to reserve the four rounds I had left per man for the last effort. The firing was kept up until three o'clock A. M. of the third instant, but not answered by my men. My position was quite desperate, and when I took into consideration that my stock of aminunition was almost expended, the Stockade so much

used up that a few shots would have knocked it down, and having lost one-third of the men, I resolved to abandon the Stockade, and fight my way to Nashville.

I knew that should the place be surrendered, or taken by assault, a butchery would follow, and I also knew that reinforcements would have been sent to me, if it had been possible to send them. I therefore left the Blockhouse at half past three P. M., and, contrary to my expectations, got through the rebel lines without much trouble. I arrived at Nashville at about daylight.

In addition to the above, I have to state that I left Surgeon J. T. Strong, Forty-fourth_U. S. colored infantry, and Chaplain Railsback, Fortyfourth U. S. colored infantry, in the Blockhouse, to take care of the wounded men.

The soldiers and officers of the different commands behaved well and steady during the entire fight, and especially during the retreat. Every man did his duty, not a shot was fired, but silently they marched, determined to die rather than be taken prisoners.

The force engaged numbered as follows:

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Tennessee, and thence by railroad to Nashville, Tennessee, reaching there with the Sixteenth and the main portion of the Fourteenth regiments, United States colored infantry, on the first day of December, 1864.

good. The coolness of the enlisted men under fire was especially gratifying to me.

On the night of the fourteenth of December orders were received to move at daybreak, to make a demonstration upon the left, to occupy our first line of works near Raine's house, if practicable, and to strongly menace the enemy's

Colonel L. Johnson, with the Forty-fourth United States colored infantry, and Captain C. W. Baker, with companies A and D of the Four-right, to prevent the moving of his troops to reteenth United States colored infantry, occupied the rear section of the train, which was transporting General Steedman's command to Nashville, Tennessee.

Seven miles north of Murfreesboro a train containing artillery and horses ran off the track and stopped the progress of the rear train, which for some reason, unexplained, was taken back to Murfreesboro with troops on board, a guard being left with the wrecked cars. During the night a construction train from Nashville removed the wreck and brought the remaining cars, horses, artillery, and guard at an early hour on the second ultimo to Nashville. At eight o'clock A. M., second ultimo, Colonel Johnson again started for Nashville, but when near Mill Creek, he was attacked by a rebel cavalry command, under General Forrest. The fight that ensued was quite creditable to the forces under Colonel Johnson. Colonel Johnson and Captain Baker are entitled to credit for the skill with which they fought and baffled the enemy and brought out their commands. I append the ports of those officers concerning this affair. Marked (A) (6).

sist the advance of the right of Federal army, when the main attack was to be made.

On the evening of the fourteenth, Colonel Gaw, by an unsoldierly process, succeeded in getting his regiment taken from the First brigade and ordered a safer place in the rear. An excellent regiment, Seventeenth United States colored infantry, under a brave and gallant officer, Colonel Shafter, reported to me, instead of the Sixteenth. Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor, commanding brigade of white troops, reported to me, and remained with me during the two days' battle. I enclose Colonel Grosvenor's report of the part taken by his command. section of artillery from Captain Osborn's (Twentieth Indiana) battery likewise was put under my charge.


In company with my Adjutant-General, during the night of the fourteenth ultimo, I visited the picket-line near the enemy's work, which it was designed to attack on the morning of the fifteenth. The Murfreesboro pike at this point re-runs a little east of south, nearly parallel with N. and C. R. R The line of works was built almost at right angles with these roads.

During the second ultimo the portion of the brigade with me, conforming to the movements of General Cruft, occupied the extreme left of the first line of battle, formed near house of Robert Raine's, and constructed in its front, hastily, a line of defence-a breastwork of rails and earth with a light palisade in front.

We ascertained from the pickets that the rebels had been at work actively during the afternoon with the spade, and that their line of fires extended well towards the south. I concluded that a curtain had been built to protect the flank of the work, and that a line of rifle-pits had been made on the ground marked by the fires, and that if these rifle-pits could be carried and a column pushed well to the rear, the works near Raine's house would become untenable, and the ground east of N. and C. R. R. be given up to us, with little loss.

On the third this line was abandoned and a new line established nearer the city, where the brigade-increased by the return of Colonel Johnson and Captain Baker, and the addition of a battalion of the Eighteenth United States colored infantry, under Major L. D. Joy-took po- Accordingly, on the morning of the fifteenth, sition near the residence of Major William B. when the fog, which lay like a winding-sheet Lewis. over the two armies, began to disappear. I On December fifth and seventh reconnoissan-moved my command out upon the Murfreesboro ces were made by the brigade, in conjunction with other troops, and the enemy were found to occupy the first line of works, built by General Steedman near Raine's house. Each day the enemy was driven from the left of these works with slight loss to us.

pike and disposed it as follows: the Fourteenth colored infantry was deployed in front as skirmishers; the Seventeenth and Forty-fourth colored infantry were formed in line of battle, in rear of Fourteenth, and given in charge of Colonel Shafter, of the Seventeenth. The secOn the fifth, one lieutenant and seven enlist-tion of Captain Osborn, Twentieth Indiana bated men of the enemy were captured by this brigade. A citizen living near the Murfreesboro pike, was killed by a member of B company, Sixteenth United States colored infantry. The report of Colonel Gaw concerning this is enclosed. Marked (C). The conduct of officers and men on those occasions-save the misconduct of Colonel Gaw, which was reported at the time-was, so far as came under my observation,

tery, was supported by the battalion Eighteenth United States colored infantry, Major L. D. Joy. Colonel Grosvenor was directed to send one battalion of his command to guard the left flank, and to hold the remainder of the command in rear of Colonel Shafter.

The artillery then opened upon the enemy, and the lines moved forward. The Fourteenth advanced until they drew a severe fire, when


Colonel Shafter was ordered to carry the riflepits, which he did handsomely, killing, wounding, capturing, or driving away the enemy from his front. He pushed forward until he reached the N. and C. R. R., when he was met by a destructive fire at short range, from a battery planted on the opposite side of a deep cut made by railroad.

Seeing that Colonel Shafter had carried the line in his front, and that the enemy still held their position on his right, I ordered up to his support the reserve of Colonel Grosvenor. This command carried a portion of the line, but was quickly compelled to retire with severe loss, by reason of musketry fired on its right flank.

What I had thought to be a mere curtain, proved to be a rude but strong lunette, with ditch in front and heavy head logs on top of parapet, forming a very safe cover for Granberry's brigade, which occupied it About the time of the repulse of Colonel Grosvenor, Colonel Shafter was compelled to withdraw his line from the range of the artillery.

The entire cominand was then withdrawn by order of General Steedman, and moved to the north of Raine's house. A strong skirmish line connecting on the right at the railroad with Colonel Thompson's command, advanced very close to the enemy's line. Sharp-shooters loopholed a dwelling-house and outbuildings, and silenced the enemy. Thus the day wore away.

The General's purpose, as communicated to me the night previous, had been accomplished. The enemy had been deceived, and in expectation of a real advance upon the right, had detained his troops there, while his left was being disastrously driven back.

The troops under my command have, as a whole, behaved well, and if they failed to accomplish all I expected, it was my fault, not theirs. I was deceived as to the character of the work built by the enemy on the fourteenth. Could I have known the exact nature of the work, the troops would have carried it by a direct assault from the north side, with perhaps less loss than was sustained.

During the night of the fifteenth the enemy retired from our front.

On the sixteenth my command, by order of General Steedman, crossed the N. and C. railroad, the Nolensville Pike and the Tennessee and Alabama railroad, skirmishing with and driving the enemy.

At an early hour in the afternoon the command joined the left of Colonel Thompson, and confronted Overton Hill. Colonel Grosvenor was ordered to join the left of Second colored brigade and conform to its movements. He thus took part in the first assault upon Overton Hill. Colonel Shafter, with Seventeenth, was in echelon in rear of Grosvenor. Lieutenant-Colonel Corbin, with Fourteenth, was directed to support and protect the artillery. Johnson, Forty-fourth, was directed to guard the Colonel left. Captain Osborn, Twentieth Indiana battery, and Captain Aylshires, Eighteenth Ohio

battery, kept up an incessant fire upon the enemy, and did excellent work.

colored infantry was deployed as skirmishers in. Subsequently the Fourteenth United States front of the artillery and directly facing the enemy's works, where they kept and received a brisk fire. When the first assault upon the hill passing through my skirmish line without failed, the assaulting column retired in disorder, shaking it.

the line was being forced back, but it was not At one time I thought, and so reported, that true. The line remained-did its work amid the confusion that followed the repulse. When the what regiment (?); being answered Fourteenth, Sixty-eighth Indiana struck this line they asked they cried: "bully for you, we'll stay with you," and they did. I assisted Colonel Thompson in re-forming his broken lines. When the finallassault was being made upon Overton Hill, the forces under me moved forward and joined in the pursuit of the enemy, which followed as far as Franklin, Tennessee.

of Second provisional division, accompanied the Subsequently the First colored brigade, as part expedition towards Tuscumbia, Alabama, going as far as Leighton, Alabama. On its return it joined General Cruft's forces in the fruitless chase after General Lyon's rebel cavalry. The brigade was disbanded January twelve, 1865.

well; is cool and brave and a good disciplinarian. Colonel Shafter, Seventeenth, acquitted himself States colored infantry, does not possess sufLieutenant-Colonel Corbin, Fourteenth United ficient courage to command brave men.

Captain Baker in reality commanded the Fourtle of the fifteenth and sixteenth, and acquitted teenth United States colored infantry in the bathimself with great credit. He is brave, cool, untiring, and deserves promotion.

order with promptness, and is a good soldier. Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor obeyed every

and and Hall, Forty-fourth United States colTo each member of my staff, Lieutenants Clelored infantry; Wadsworth and Dickman, SixWyrill, Fourteenth United States colored infanteenth United States colored infantry, and which they carried out my desires, exposing try, I am indebted for the promptness with themselves cheerfully to necessary danger.

were faithfully cared for by Surgeon Clements,
The wounded of the First colored brigade
geon Stony, Forty-fourth United States colored
Seventeenth United States colored infantry; Sur-
infantry, and Assistant-Surgeon Oleson, Four-
teenth United States colored infantry.

talion commanders, and no lists of casualties.
I have as yet received no reports from bat-
These will be forwarded as soon as received.
I am, Major,

Very respectfully

Your obedient servant,
Colonel Fourteenth United States colored infantry.
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
S. B. MOE,



Major S. B. Moe, Assistant Adjutant General, Headquarters District of the Etowah, Chatta


MAJOR: I have the honor to report as directed by Major-General Steedman, the operations of my command since the twentieth ultimo.

On the evening of December nineteenth, I received orders to march with my regiment from Wauhatchie, near Chattanooga, where I was encamped, to Bridgeport, where transports would probably meet me, to take my command to Decatur.

I reached Bridgeport at four P. M. on the twentieth, but found no transports; and after telegraphing the facts to General Steedman at Murfreesboro, was directed by telegraph on the evening of the twenty-second to march immediately to Huntsville.

I accordingly started at six P. M. the same day, but was obliged to go into camp six miles from Bridgeport, on the bank of Widow's Creek, in consequence of that stream being past fording, and of the bridges having been swept away.

I marched at daylight the next morning, and by taking a circuitous route around the source of Widow's Creek, succeeded in reaching Stevenson with my wagons early in the afternoon. Here I met Major-General Steedman, who had just arrived by rail from Murfreesboro, and received from him verbal instructions to leave my wagons at Caperton's ferry, to be shipped by transports to Decatur, and to march as rapidly as possible with my regiment to the same place.

This march occupied four days and a halfthe rise of water in Crow Creek and Paint Rock river, making it necessary to go round by the head of Coon Creek and of Hurricane Fork of Paint Rock river, crossing the spur of the Cumberland mountain, which divides these streams at their source on this route. I had no difficulty in fording the water courses, and found sufficient forage for my command.

I reached the north bank of the Tennessee river, opposite Decatur, at one P. M. of December twenty-eighth, and by dark had finished crossing the infantry and artillery of expedition, with Lieutenant-Colonel Prosser's command of cavalry, having nearly finished crossing when I arrived at the river bank.

I at once received orders from Major-General Steedman to take command of Lieutenant-Colonel Prosser's cavalry (detachments of the Second Tennessee, and Tenth, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Indiana, numbering in all about three hundred effective men), in connection with my own regiment, and to advance on the Courtland road.

After feeding the horses, I started at eight P. M., and on reaching a hill two miles from Decatur, saw camp-fires of the enemy on an elevation about two miles beyond. Halting the

command, I took a battalion of one hundred and thirty men of the Fifteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, and advanced to reconnoitre the enemy's strength and position.

On nearing the lights their pickets fired, when I ordered my advance guard of thirty men to charge, which they did so boldly, that the enemy, who proved to be Colonel Wine's regiment of Roddy's command, had not time to form, but fled in disorder down the road, followed closely by my advance guard for one mile, when the enemy attempted to make a stand to cover his artillery

Another vigorous charge by our advance, however, drove him from his guns (two sixpounders), which fell into our hands, with all the horses standing hitched to them in the road.

We then went into camp (at ten P. M.) to rest the men and animals for the next day's work. Thus, in less than four hours after landing from the boats at Decatur, we had advanced in the night six miles in a country, and against an enemy, of which we were almost entirely ignorant, and had taken possession of the camp and artillery of his rear guard.

Early the next morning I sent LieutenantColonel Prosser, with his command, on the main Courtland road, while I advanced with the Fifteenth Pennsylvania cavalry by the Brown's Ferry and Courtland road, both for the purpose of meeting the flank movement of any force that might come up from Bainbridge, where Hood's army had but just crossed the Tennessee river, and also to enable me to get in the rear of Roddy's force, if practicable, while he was being attacked by Colonel Prosser in front.

Colonel Prosser first encountered the enemy at Hillsboro, five miles from our camp, and after a running skirmish of five miles more, met General Roddy's main force drawn up in two lines at Pond Spring. Without hesitation he charged it in the most gallant manner, broke both lines of the enemy, routing him so completely that he hardly attempted to make another stand, but fled ingloriously through Courtland, and for eight miles beyond to Town Creek, on the banks of which General Roddy succeeded in re-forming such portion of his command as had not taken advantage of their two successive defeats to go home and spend Christmas with their families. Colonel Prosser's attack was so vigorous, that my force on the Brown's Ferry road, having several miles the longer distance to march and in an unknown country, did not have time to reach the flank or rear of the enemy.

Forty-five prisoners were captured in this affair, including three commissioned officers; the enemy also lost one man killed and two wounded.

Colonel Prosser's loss was one man wounded. It appeared that Patterson's (so-called) brigade, of Roddy's command, having crossed at Bainbridge, had come up, the preceding evening, to Pond Spring to reinforce Roddy, and constituted,

with the balance of Wine's regiment, the force in our front on this day.

Being now within half a day's march of Bainbridge, where I knew the whole of Forrest's cavalry had but just crossed the river, it was necessary to advance with more caution. We reached Leighton, however, thirteen miles west of Courtland, by one P. M. of the next day.

Friday, December 30, Having skirmished nearly all the way with flying parties of Roddy's cavalry, who attempted to delay us by burning a bridge over Town Creek, on the Bainbridge road, and by some show of holding the ford of the same stream on the main Tuscumbia road, most of the latter force drifted in squads southward towards the mountains; the remainder, with General Roddy, taking the roads to Tuscumbia and Florence. Towards dark a new force appeared in our front, on the Tuscumbia road, believed to be Armstrong's brigade, which I afterwards learned definitely, had been sent back by Forrest from Barlow Station, to reinforce Roddy and protect General Hood's trains.

At Leighton I learned that Hood had commenced crossing the river at Bainbridge on Sunday morning, and finished on Tuesday evening, marching at once towards Corinth. This railroad had never been in operation east of Cane Creek, three miles west of Tuscumbia. I also learned that the pontoon bridge had been taken up on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and that the entire pontoon train, of two hundred wagons, had passed through Leighton on Thursday, and camped at Lagrange the same night, and that it was bound for Columbus, Mississippi, with a comparatively small guard.

Roddy's (so-called) division of cavalry had apparently been relied upon to prevent any advance of our forces, until the train could get to a safe distance; but his men had become so demoralized by their successive defeats, that we could afford to disregard him. Having communicated with Major-General Steedman, who left me free to make the expedition or not, as I might deem best, I started from Leighton before daylight on Saturday morning, December thirtyfirst, taking a trail which enabled us to avoid Armstrong's force and to get in the rear of a portion of Roddy's command at Lagrange, where we captured Colonel Jim Warren, of the Tenth Alabama cavalry, and some other prisoners.

About one P. M. we passed through Russelville, where we encountered another portion of Roddy's force, which had just arrived from Tuscumbia, and drove it out on the Tuscumbia road, while we kept on the Cotton Gin or Bull Mountain road, after the train.

guard rode through to the front of the train, which extended for five miles, and consisted of seventy-eight pontoon-boats and about two hundred wagons, with all the necessary accoutrements and material, engineering instruments, etc.; all the mules and oxen, except what the pontoniers and teamsters were able to cut loose and side off, were standing hitched to the wagons. Three boats had been set fire to, but so carelessly that no damage had been done.

We captured a few prisoners, and went into camp at about the centre of the train, fed our horses, and I then started the entire command out in either direction to burn the train, which was done in the most thorough manner, and occupied till three A. M. I should have been glad to bring the pontoon train, which was built at Atlanta last winter, and was an exceedingly well-appointed one, back to our lines; but the condition of the mules, the mountainous character of the country, and the presence, in our rear, of a force of the enemy's cavalry, estimated at three times our own strength, prevented.

I had also learned from a negro servant of Captain Cobb, of the Engineers, who commanded the train, that a large supply train of General Hood's, bound from Barton Station to Tuscumbia, was ahead.

Early next morning (Sunday) I pushed on through Nauvoo, taking the Aberdeen road, which I knew would flank the train.

I led a detachment from near Bexar across by a trail to head the train on the Cotton Gin road, and sent another, under Lieutenant-Colonel Lamborn, to follow it, and by ten P. M. had surprised it in camp a few miles over the State line, in Itawamba county, Mississippi. It consisted of one hundred and ten (110) wagons, and over five hundred mules. We burned the wagons, shot or sabred all the mules we could not lead off or use to mount prisoners, and started back. In one of the wagons was Colonel McCrosky, of Hood's infantry, who had been badly wounded at Franklin. I left a tent with him, some stores, and one of the prisoners to take care of him; about twenty of the teamsters were colored United States soldiers of the garrison captured by Hood at Dalton-these came back with us.

We returned via Tollgate and the old Military and Hackleburg roads, capturing an ambulance, with its guard, on the way, to within twentyfive miles south of Russelville, when I found that Roddy's force, and the so-called brigades of Biffles and Russel were already stationed in our front at Bear Creek, and on the Biler road towards Moulton, to retard us, while Armstrong was reported as being in pursuit.

The country was very difficult and rugged, with few roads or trails, and scarcely any forSome attempt was made to delay us by burn- age; but we evaded, by a night march of ing a bridge over Cedar Creek, but we found a twenty-three miles, all the forces of the enemy ford, and caught up with the rear of the pon- except Colonel Russel, whom we attacked untoon train at dark, ten miles beyond Russel-expectedly on the Moulton and Tuscaloosa ville. road, twelve miles east of Thornhill. On WedWe met no resistance, and our advancednesday noon Lieutenant-Colonel Prosser, having

« PreviousContinue »