« PreviousContinue »
In the woods, the two entered a wagon, and sitting down on the bottom, with a candle between them, stuck in the socket of a bayonet, the point of which was driven into the floor, they consulted together of the movements for the
Push them hard !" were his last words as he arose to his feet. Emerging from the wagon between ten and eleven o'clock, he exclaimed, “We mount now, gentle. men.” The blast of a bugle suddenly rung through the forest, rousing up the staff, some of whom, tired with being ten hours in the saddle, were dozing in their blankets, upon the rocks around. To the “Good night" of McCook, Rosecrans added, "God bless you!” and striking the spurs into his horse, dashed down the road, splashing the mud over himself, and those who pressed hard after him. Losing his way on his return, he “charged impatiently" through the woods, in the vain effort to find the right road. Amid bugle calls, and shouts
, the escort got separated and confused, and lost their leader, who, with a part of his staff, wandered off alone, and at length, at one o'clock in the morning, reached his camp--having been in the saddle eighteen hours. The others did not arrive there till two hours later, *
Toe next day, Saturday, dawned in gloom, like the ora before ; the heavy clouds hung low, and a pall of mist wrapped the landscape. Slowly and uncertainly the columns felt their way on, but at one o'clock the fog lifted, and they moved off over the soft fields and along the muddy highways, driving the enemy's skirmishers before them. It was uncertain whether Bragg would make a decided stand before he reached Murfreesboro', or not, and the whole army was kept well in hand. The next day, Sunday, was a day of rest to the main army, for Rosecrans was averse to military operations on that day, unless they were absolutely necessary,
* W. D. B.'s “Rosecrans' Campaign with the Fourteenth Army Corps."
HEAD-QUARTERS UNDER FIRE.
Monday morning, before sunrise, the army was again in motion, sweeping across the country in splendid order. About three o'clock in the afternoon, a signal message came from General Palmer, in front, stating that he was in sight of Murfreesboro', and that the enemy was in full flight. Rosecrans immediately sent an order to Crittenden to move a division into the town. But the report proved incorrect, and the order was revoked, yet not till Harker, with his brigade, had made a gallant dash forward, by which he was placed in a perilous position. He, however, succeeded in extricating himself from it without loss.
That night, it rained heavily-drenching the soldiers to their skins, and making the ground so soft that artillery carriages would sink, while crossi”g the fields, almost to their axles. The following day ras dark, gloomy and depressing, and the soldiers stood shivering in their lines. Rosecrans was up at three o'clock in the morning, and the columns were pushed carefully over the broken ground, and through the cedar thickets, towards where the enemy was
in line of battle. Crittenden moved forward about seven o'clock, when the enemy opened a sharp fire upon him. Rosecrans was standing, at the time, in front of his head-quarters, an orderly holding his horse near him, when a Gannon ball struck in the road a short distance off, and bounded away—a second struck still nearer, and a third with a swift, rushing sound, swept past him almost in a line, taking off the head of an orderly in its flight. His headquarters were evidently a target for some of the rebel gunners, and mounting, he rode up a slope a little way off, and halting under some trees near the road, remained there during the rest of the day. A shed was made by leaning some rails on a pole that rested in a couple of crotched sticks, and covering them with india rubber blankets. Here the staff, sheltered from the rain, wrote the orders as they were dic
tated by their Chiet. The dark columns standing noiseless in the rain—the swift marching of others into position-bodies of horse galloping over the heavy fields—the dashing away of orderlies in different directions—the scattering fire of musketry now swelling into full volleys—the heavy boom of cannon in front—the bearing back of wounded officers on stretchers, and the certainty of a great battle at hand, combined to make those who clustered around the fire in front of that rude shelter, serious and thoughtful. Some, at least, were so, and among them the accomplished Garesche, Chief of the Staff
, who sat apart, under a tree, reading “De Imitatione Christi,” and pondering on his coming fate. As if instinctively to break the growing sadness of the scene, the Fourth Cavalry band struck up “The Star Spangled Banner," and as the soul-stirring strains arose, and swelled over the field, each eye grew brighter, and each heart kin. dled with the fire that ever warms the patriot's breast.
By evening, the different divisions were in their respective positions, though the right wing, under McCook, had suffered considerably from the determined resistance of the enemy.
The army now stood with its left resting on the Stone River, and its right stretching off into the country as far as the Franklin turnpike, making a line three miles long. The farthest brigade on the extreme right was Willich's, and was thrown back nearly at right angles to the main line, to be ready for any flank movement of the enemy. The main part of this right wing occupied a slight ridge, covered with woods, with open ground in front. At the foot of the ridge, between it and the enemy, stretched a valley, varying from forty to sixty rods in width, and covered with close cedar thickets and oak forests. The center, posted on a rolling slope, was a little in advance of the main line; while the left wing, starting in a piece of woods, crossed a broad cetton
PLAN OF BATTLE.
field, and ended in another piece of woods. The army, as it thus stood in line of battle, numbered forty-three thousand and four hundred men. Behind it were half-burned clearings, cedar thickets, cultivated fields, and patches of forest.
Parallel to our line, and distant about half a mile, lay the rebel army-bits right resting on the river, which took a bend northward just below the point of junction, so as to keep nearly parallel with it. Being fordable at all points, the enemy, if forced to retreat, could fall back across it, and then make it a strong line of defense. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, its actual right lay across the river, divided from the main army by the stream, for here, on an eminence, was posted Breckenridge's division, directly in front of Murfreesboro'. Rosecrans design was to have: McCook keep the enemy in front occupied, either by attack or defense, as circumstances might decide, so as to prevent reinforcements being sent to Breckenridge across the river, while he was to swing two divisions, ander Van Cleve, over from his left, and crush Breckenridge bý a sudden assault of superior numbers
. Van Cleve was directed to plant his batteries, as soon as the heights were carried, so that they would sweep the enemy's whole line of battle, and take his works in reverse, compelling him to retreat to the south of Murfreesboro', which movement would probably prove fåtal to him.
The plan was a skillful one, if the enemy would only give him time to execute it. But, unfortunately, Bragg had a similar one of his own, by which he hoped to double up his adversary's right by a secret concentration of a heavy force against it. All the later part of the day, he was moving his troops in this direction, and McCook, ascertaining this from one of thie ittaviia, sis whom te lad čapoured, se at him at erening to Rosecrans with the inform ation. On Weing interra gated, he mentioned the different rebel divisions that had moved, and their leaders.' Rosecrans, however, instead of altering