Page images
PDF
EPUB

the fast approaching darkness made it necessary to halt for the night. In the pursuit the Third division captured five pieces of artillery. The batteries of the corps advanced with the infantry in the pursuit, and by timely discharges increased the confusion and hastened the flight of the enemy. The corps bivouacked eight miles from Nashville, and within a mile of the Brentwood Pass, which was under our guns. By the day's operations the enemy had been driven from a strongly intrenched position by assault, and forced into an indiscriminate rout. In his flight he had strewn the ground with small arms-bayonets, cartridge-boxes, blankets, and other material, all attesting the completeness of the disorder to which he had abandoned himself. The captures of the day were fourteen pieces of artillery, nine hundred and eighty prisoners, two stands of colors, and thousands of small arms. It may be truthfully remarked that military history scarcely affords a parallel of a more complete victory.

lier on the seventeenth, had been able to ford it) was sharply engaged with the enemy's rearguard, several miles in front, and the whole corps was burning with impatience to get forward to join in the conflict. The corps was pushed rapidly across the Harpeth, pressed forward, and marched eighteen miles that day, though the road was very heavy and many crossings had to be made over the streams. Near nightfall it passed in front of the cavalry and encamped a mile in advance of it. The weather was very inclement. During the night of the eighteenth the rain poured down in torrents, and the morning brought no improvement to the weather of the night. During the night I received instructions from the commanding General of the forces, informing me-first, that the cavalry then encamped in my rear would move at six A. M., pass to the front; and, secondly, that I should move at eight A. M. The cavalry had not all passed at eight A. M., but at the appointed hour the corps was in motion. At 12:30 A. M., of the seventeenth, instruc- The rain still fell in torrents, flooding the earth tions were received from the commanding with water, and rendering all movements off General of the forces to move the Fourth corps the pike impossible. The head of the column as early as practicable down the Franklin pike advanced three and a half miles and arrived at in pursuit of the enemy. At six A. M., of the Rutherford Creek. This is a bold and rapid seventeenth, I directed division commanders to stream, usually fordable, but subject to rapid advance as early as practicable, move rapidly, freshets; and the heavy rains of the preceding and if the enemy should be overtaken, to press twenty-four hours had swollen it beyond the him vigorously. The night had been rainy and possibility of being crossed without bridges. the morning was dark and gloomy. It was To construct these it was necessary we should hence nearly eight A. M. before the column was first occupy the opposite bank of the stream. well in motion, but it then advanced rapidly. As the head of the column approached the The instructions of the commanding General, creek the hostile fire from the southern bank received during the night, informed me that the was opened with artillery and musketry. To cavalry would move on my left during the day; clear the enemy from the opposite bank at the it did not, however, get to the left before I turnpike crossing where the bridge for the pasmoved, and at ten A. M. I was detained a short sage of the artillery and trains had to be contime in permitting a portion of the cavalry to structed, it was necessary to pass troops over get to the front, which was necessary in order either above or below; and as the pontoon train that it might reach the position assigned to it was not yet up, every expedient that ingenuity in the order of march. After this brief delay I could devise was resorted to to effect the desired pushed rapidly forward, and, although the road object. Rafts were constructed and launched, was very heavy, reached Franklin at 1:20 P. M. but the current was so rapid that they were unThe whole line of march of the day bore unmis- manageable. Huge forest trees, growing near takable evidence of the signalness of the vic- the margin of the stream, were felled athwart tory our arms had achieved and the complete- the stream, with the hope of spanning it in this ness of the rout. The road was strewn with way and getting some riflemen over; but the small arms, accoutrements, and blankets. The creek was so rapid and the flood so deep that enemy had destroyed all the bridges over the these huge trees of the forest were swept away Big Harpeth at Franklin, and as the rain of the by the resistless torrent. In these efforts was previous night and that morning had swollen passed one of the most dreary, uncomfortable, the stream so as to make it impassable by in- and inclement days I remember to have passed fantry without a bridge, it was necessary to in the course of nineteen years' and a half of halt to build one, the pontoon train not having active field service. Late in the afternoon, some come up. Colonel Suman, Ninth Indiana, nobly dismounted cavalry succeeded in crossing the volunteered to build the bridge, and, thanks to creek on the ruins of the railroad bridge, and his energy and ingenuity, and the industry of drove off the enemy from its southern bank. his gallant regiment, it was ready (though he During the night and the early forenoon of the had few conveniences in the way of tools, the following day (the twentieth) two bridges for scantiest materials, and the stream was rising infantry were constructed across the stream, rapidly) for the corps at daylight, the morning one at the turnpike crossing, by Colonel Opof the eighteenth. This service was the more dycke's brigade of the Second division, and the useful, as well as the more gratifying, as our other by General Grose's, of the First division. cavalry (which, from reaching the Harpeth ear-So soon as these were completed the infantry of VOL. XI.-Doc.

8

the corps were passed over, marched three miles, and encamped for the night on the northern bank of Duck River.

During the night of the twentieth the weather became bitterly cold. Wednesday, the twentyfirst, operations were suspended, and the corps remained quietly in camp, as the pontoon train, detained by the swollen streams, the inclement weather, and the miserable condition of the roads, had not been able to get to the front. The day was bitterly cold, and the rest which the command gained by lying in camp was much needed after their arduous and laborious service of the many preceding days. During the night of the twenty-first, between midnight and daylight, the pontoon train came up and reported. I had, as early as the evening of the twentieth, encamped a brigade (the First brigade of the Third division Colonel Streight, commanding) on the margin of the river, ready to lay down the bridge the very earliest moment that it could be done. So soon as it was light enough to work, the morning of the twenty-second, a sufficient number of pontoons (they were canvas) were put together to throw across the river a detachment of the Fifty-first Indiana to clear the opposite bank of the enemy. The service was handsomely performed by the detachment, and quite a number of prisoners was the result of the operations. So soon as the opposite bank was cleared of the enemy, Colonel Streight commenced to lay down the bridge, and completed the work with celerity; though, owing to the inexperience of the troops in such service, and the extreme coldness of the weather, more time was consumed in doing it than could have been desired. So soon as the bridge was completed, passed over the infantry of the corps; and during the time which intervened before the hour designated by the commanding General for the cavalry to commence crossing, succeeded in getting over most of the artillery, and a sufficiency of the ammunition and baggage trains, to permit the corps to continue the pursuit. After crossing the river I moved the corps a mile out of the town of Columbia, which stands on the southern bank of the river, and encamped it for the remainder of the night. During the evening of the twenty-second, the commanding General informed me that he wished the pursuit continued by the Fourth corps and the cavalry conjointly, so soon as the cavalry had crossed the river; that he wished the Fourth corps to press down the turnpike road, and the cavalry to move through the country on either side the corps. Friday, the twentythird, I rested near Columbia, waiting for the cavalry to complete its passage of Duck River, till midday, when, the cavalry not being yet over, I informed the commanding General I would move the corps a few miles to the front that afternoon, encamp for the night, and wait the following morning for the cavalry to move out, with which, as already stated, I had been instructed to co-operate. While at Duck River we learned that the enemy had thrown several

pieces of artillery into the river, being unable to get them across. We also learned that his rear guard was composed of all the organized infantry that could be drawn from his army, which was placed under the command of General Walthall, and his cavalry, commanded by General Forrest.

After advancing some five miles south of Columbia, the afternoon of the twenty-third, the head of the corps came on a party of the enemy posted advantageously in a gap, through which the highway passed, with enclosing heights on either side. I ordered Brigadier-General Kimball, commanding the leading division, to deploy two regiments as skirmishers, to bring up a section of artillery, and with this force to advance and dislodge the enemy from the pass. The service was handsomely and quickly performed. One captain of cavalry and one private certainly killed, and four privates captured, were among the known casualties to the enemy. It being now nearly nightfall, the corps was halted to await the completion of the crossing of the cavalry. On the following morning, the twenty-fourth, I was detained till twelve M. waiting for the cavalry to come up and move out. Shortly after the cavalry had passed out through my camp, Brevet Major-General Wilson sent me a message to the effect that he had found the ground so soft that he could not operate off the turnpike, and begging that I would not become impatient at the delay he was causing in the movement of my command. At twelve M. the road was free of the cavalry, when the corps was put in motion, and marched sixteen miles that afternoon, and encamped two miles south of Linnville.

During all this period of the pursuit, and indeed to the end of it, the rear guard of the enemy offered slight resistence, and generally fled at the mere presence of our troops.

Sunday morning, the twenty-fifth, the corps followed closely on the heels of the cavalry, passed through Pulaski, from which the cavalry had rapidly driven the enemy's rear guard, and encamped for the night six miles from the turn in the Lamb's Ferry road. The corps marched sixteen miles on the twenty-fifth, the last six miles on a road next to impracticable, from the depth of the mud. As we could not have the use of the turnpike further south than Pulaski, I ordered all the artillery of the corps, but four batteries, to be left at Pulaski, using the horses of the batteries left to increase the horses of the pieces taken with the command to eight, and of the caissons to ten horses each. I also ordered that only a limited number of ammunition wagons, carrying but ten boxes each, should accompany the command. These arrangements were necessary, on account of the condition of the road on which the enemy had retreated.

Without extra teams to the artillery carriages, and lightening the usual load of an ammunition wagon, it would have been impracticable to get the vehicles along; a vigorous pursuit

For the more minute details of the move

would have been impossible. These disposi- eighteen hundred and fifty-seven non-commistions were reported to the commanding Gen- sioned officers and privates. The casualties of eral. He directed me to follow the cavalry and the corps amounted to-officers killed, nineteen; support it. The pursuit was continued, with all officers wounded, fifty-five; non-commissioned possible celerity, to Lexington, Alabama, thirty officers and privates killed, one hundred and miles south of Pulaski. Six miles southof Lexing-fourteen; non-commissioned officers and priton, Brevet Major-General Wilson learned cer- vates wounded, seven hundred and fifty-nine. tainly, on the twenty-eighth, that the rear of the enemy had crossed the river on the twenty-ments of the troops on the field of battle and in seventh, and that his bridge was taken up on the morning of the twenty-eighth. These facts were reported to the commanding General, who ordered that the pursuit be discontinued. To continue it further at that time, besides being | useless, even if possible, was really impossible. Of the pursuit it may be truly remarked that it is without a parallel in this war. It was continued for more than a hundred miles, at the most inclement season of the year, over a road the whole of which was bad, and thirty miles of which were wretched almost beyond description. It were scarcely an hyperbole to say that the road from Pulaski to Lexington was bottomless when we passed over it. It was strewn with the wrecks of wagons, artillery carriages, and other material, abandoned by the enemy in his flight. The corps remained two days at Lexington, awaiting orders. On the thirtieth December, instructions were received to take post at this place. On the thirty-first, the corps marched to Elk River, a distance of fifteen miles. The river being too swollen to ford, two days were spent in bridging it. Colonel Suman, Ninth Indiana, and Major Watson, Seventy-fifth Illinois, using the pioneers of the corps as laborers and mechanics, built a substantial trestle-bridge three hundred and nine feet long, over which the corps, with its artillery and wagons, safely passed. Elk River was crossed on the third of January, and on the fifth the corps encamped in the vicinity of this place.

[ocr errors]

the pursuit, I most respectfully refer the commanding General to the reports of division, brigade, and regimental commanders. And for the special mention of numerous acts of gallantry and good conduct, I must also refer him to their reports. I desire to commend to the consideration of the commanding General the skill and intelligence evinced by the division commanders, Brigadier-Generals Kimball, Elliott and Beatty, in the handling of their commands, and for the personal gallantry displayed by them on the field of battle. Their services entitle them to the gratitude of the nation, and to the most kindly consideration of the government. The division commanders mention the services of the brigade commanders, and of the brigade staff officers. From the very best opportunity of observing, I can truly bear testimony, and I do it with the highest satisfaction, to the soldierly-in truth, splendid conduct of the whole corps in all the conflicts of the fifteenth and sixteenth; have never seen troops behave better on any battle-field. To the members of my staff, Lieutenant-Colonel Fullerton, Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff; Lieutenant-Colonel Greenwood, Assistant Inspector-General: Major Sinclair, Assistant AdjutantGeneral; Major Dawson, Fifteenth Ohio volunteers, Chief of Outposts and Pickets; First Lieutenant George Shaffer, Ninety-third Ohio volunteers, and First Lieutenant C. D. Hammer, One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Ohio volunThus was closed, for the Fourth corps, one of teers; Aides-de-Camp Captain Stansbury, Ninethe most remarkable campaigns of the war. teenth regulars, Commissary of Musters; Captain The enemy, superior in numbers, had been Kaldenbaugh, Provost Marshal; and Lieutenant driven by assault, in utter rout and demoraliza- Kennedy, Acting Assistant Inspector, I owe tion, from strongly-intrenched positions, pur- many thanks for the zealous, intelligent and galsued more than a hundred miles, and forced to lant manner in which they performed their recross the Tennessee River. By actual cap-duties, both on the field of battle and in the ture on the field of battle, and by abandonment | long and arduous pursuit. in his flight, the enemy lost three fourths of his artillery; in prisoners taken from him, by desertion, and in killed and wounded, his force was certainly diminished fifteen thousand; and his loss in small arms, ammunition, and other material of war, was enormous. From an organized army, beleaguering the capital of Tennessee, the foe had been beaten into a disorganized mass— a mere rabble. The Fourth corps captured twenty-five pieces of artillery, four stands of colors, and of small arms a large number, of which, however, no accurate account could be taken, as the pursuit was commenced early the morning of the seventeenth. Of the artillery captured, nineteen pieces were taken by assault in the enemy's works. The corps captured one hundred and eleven commissioned officers and

I commend them to the favorable consideration of my seniors in rank, and to the government. Major Goodspeed, Chief of Artillery, rendered the most valuable service on both the fifteenth and sixteenth. A battery was never required in any position that it was not promptly put there. The officers of all the batteries engaged behaved with great gallantry, as did their men. The artillery practice on both those days was splendid. Surgeon Heard, Medical Director; Surgeon Bromley, Medical Inspector; and Captain Towsley, Chief of Ambulances, performed their duties most satisfactorily. Ample preparations had been made in advance for the wounded, and humane and efficient care was promptly rendered them. Lieutenant-Colonel Hayes, Chief Quartermaster, and Captain

[blocks in formation]

Captain:

posts; my front line capturing several prison-
ers and sustaining some loss, mostly from artil-
lery. We occupied the ridge that had been in
possession of the enemy, with our skirmishers
well advanced down the further slope. While
in this position I suggested to the corps com-
mander that if another intervening eminence to
the left of my command, and in front of Colonel
Kerby's brigade, was carried, and the enemy's
outposts driven therefrom, I thought I could
then advance over the valley in my front and
ascend the hill, and carry the enemy's main line
and his artillery, that had been dealing roughly
with us. The corps commander said it should
be done. In a few minutes thereafter I received
directions from the division commander to ad-
vance, in conjunction with Colonel Kerby's bri-
gade, on my left, which was then commencing
to move. I sounded the forward, and advanced
my front line down the slope, over hedges and
stone fences, across a narrow valley, and to a
large stone fence at the base of the enemy's
hill, about four hundred yards from his main
works and battery in the angle, as I have above
described. Colonel Kerby's brigade advanced
equally as far. The division on my right did not
come up until some time after. Some time was
consumed in this position in preparing for the

SIR: I have the honor to report the part
taken by my command in the battles at Nashville,
Tennessee, on the fifteenth and sixteenth of De-
cember, 1864. Pursuant to orders from divi-
sion commander, I moved my brigade from its
position in front of Nashville, near the Franklin
pike, to the right of the Hilsboro pike. Six
regiments marched with me at daylight on the
morning of the fifteenth. The Seventy-seventh
Pennsylvania, being on picket, followed as soon
as relieved. My effective force was two thou-assault, our skirmishers gradually crawling up
sand one hundred and ninety. The order of bat-
tle was to be by divisions in echelon, forward
on the right. My brigade was formed on the
right of the Hilsboro pike, and in front of
our fortifications surrounding the city; the
Second division of the Fourth corps on my
right, the First brigade of our division on
my left. Of my command, the Eighty-fourth
Illinois, the Eightieth Illinois, and Ninth Indi-
ana, were in the front line, from right to left,
in the order named; the Seventy-fifth Illinois,
Thirtieth, and Eighty-fourth Indiana, in the
second line. The Seventy-seventh Pennsylva-
nia, when relieved from picket, came up in re-
serve. The lines of the enemy ran at right an-
gles with the Franklin and Granny White pikes,
and continued in the same direction on to a hill
near to the left of the Hilsboro pike, where it
made an angle obliquely to the rear, fronting
the Hilsboro pike, and covering well his left
flank of his main line. My position was imme-
diately in front of the angle, as above described,
of the enemy's lines. The Sixteenth corps, on
the right of our corps, which was to move for-
ward in echelon to us, had much further to
move and skirmish over more ground than we,
before reaching the enemy's main line; hence the
forenoon was used in the Sixteenth corps
swinging around and driving in the outer lines of
the enemy so as to meet his main lines at the
same time our corps would, in a general ad-
vance. Upon an intervening ridge, half way
distant from where my lines were formed and
the enemy's main lines, were his lines of out-
posts, and about six hundred yards from where
we formed. At about noon our corps lines
moved forward and drove in the enemy's out-

the hill. In this position my two left regiments
in the front line had crossed and lay to the left
of the Hilsboro pike. At about four o'clock the
corps and division commanders, I think, were
on the lines to the left. I discovered prepar-
ations for the advance in that direction, and the
lines began to move. I ordered the forward,
and the whole lines from right to left, as far as
I could see, advanced rapidly. The Eightieth
Illinois, my centre regiment, struck the enemy's
works at the angle, the Eighty-fourth Illinois to
the right, and the Ninth Indiana to the left. The
struggle was soon over, the enemy routed,
leaving four pieces of artillery and some pris-
oners in this part of their works. My two left
regiments, without further orders, and without
stopping to count their trophies or captures,
pursued the fleeing enemy beyond his works
about six hundred yards, and was anxious for
further pursuit. It was now nightfall; we
formed and readjusted our lines, and attempted
pursuit; succeeded in crossing the Granny White
pike, moving along the enemy's works to the
left and east, when the darkness prevented far-
ther movements, and we threw up some works
at our front lines and rested for the night. At
daylight, on the morning of the sixteenth, I was
permitted and moved my command to the front,
crossed a creek, and occupied the abandoned
works of the enemy to the right of the Frank-
lin pike. Skirmishing was now going on in
front. We soon advanced to another abandoned
line of works; and after considerable moving
about near the pike, and the position of the
enemy being ascertained, I was directed, and
near noon formed in line on the right of the
Second division of our corps, and some distance

[ocr errors]

front regiments, with many private soldiers, led the van, cheering onward, as did those who followed in the rear lines.

Lamented Adjutant Gregory, Eighty-fourth Indiana, fell when within about one hundred yards of the enemy's works, from an artillery ball or shell, while pressing forward and encouraging his regiment. May kind remembrances follow him.

My brigade moved forward of all other troops on the right of the Franklin pike, so that my skirmishers covered the mountain pass at Brentwood at nightfall, where we rested for the night. Early next morning the pursuit was continued-my brigade in front. Our forces continued to press the enemy until his remainder, not killed, wounded, or captured, had crossed the Tennessee River, about one hundred and ten miles from Nashville. We pursued under bad weather, over bad roads, and with great fatigue and hard labor to the command, to Lexington, Alabama; from thence to this place (Huntsville).

to the right of the pike, and on the left of the Second brigade of our division; the Seventyfifth Illinois, Eighty-fourth Indiana, and Seventyseventh Pennsylvania in the front line, from right to left, in the order named; the Eightyfourth Illinois and Ninth Indiana in the second line; the Eightieth Illinois and Thirtieth Indiana in the third line. The enemy's lines were now in plain view, and skirmishing and artillery firing were briskly going on. The ground to my front was open; mostly a farm, with a ravine running obliquely across my front to the left, and which I had to cross before reaching the enemy's lines. A little after noon the advance was ordered, and the whole line moved as far as I could see either way. We soon drove in the enemy's skirmishers to their outposts, or first works, and assaulted and carried them. On gaining these works I discovered the Second division to my left, moving beyond towards the main line of the enemy's works, which was about four hundred yards to my front. I also ordered the forward, but as I was starting I discovered the line to my right was not moving, and I halted my two right regiments, seeing they could not advance alone without a severe flank fire upon them. The left regiment, Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania, Colonel Rose, moved forward on the right of the Second division to within a few paces of the enemy's main works. The Second division being repulsed, Colonel Rose's regiment also fell back to the first line gained, which we strengthened and maintained under a severe fire from the enemy's main line. We were now safely in this position and ready for another move. Near four o'clock the fighting was very severe far to our right, and it was discovered that our forces had turned the rebel left, and was "rolling" them. The assault was taken up from right to left all along our lines. My front moved in conjunction with the lines on my right. The engagement now became general. The enemy's lines were soon carried, with many prisoners, and all his artillery that I am indebted to my staff officers, and nonwere in his works. The scene was magnificent-commissioned staff, for their interest manifested the grandest I have beheld during the war. in the action and welfare of the command, and Most of the enemy in my front were captured, their prompt and efficient service on the battlewith three pieces of artillery. The enemy's field and during the march. trenches were strewn with arms, accoutrements, and camp equipage. The officers of the three

The regimental commanders, Colonel Bennett, Colonel Rose, Colonel Suman, Lieutenant-Colonel Morton, Major Taylor, Captain Lawton, and Captain Cunningham, with their officers and men, have my grateful thanks for their willing obedience to orders, their brave and efficient execution of every duty upon the battle-field and during the campaign.

My command routed the enemy from his lines and positions, containing seven pieces of artillery: four on the first and three on the second days; capturing a large number of small arms, with twelve captains, twenty-three lieutenants, and six hundred and six enlisted men prisoners, as shown by copies of vouchers hereto attached. It is hoped that credit will not be given or claimed for prisoners, without vouchers. The trophies captured are shown by separate special reports from regiments, and have been forwarded.

The following table shows the casualties in the command, viz. :

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »