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prisoners, nearly thirty pieces of cannon, some five thousand stand of arms, and ammunition wagons. We had broken the enemy's right, having driven him for nearly five hours on a curve, a distance of over five miles from our extreme left to the enemy's centre, and backwards about three miles from our centre. The Yankees had made a stand only where the natural advantages of the ground sheltered them.
Rosecrans had not been dismayed by the events of the morning, and had watched them with an air of confidence which his subordinate officers found it difficult to understand. Referring to his adversary, he said: "I'll show him a trick worth two of his." Gen. Rosecrans was well aware of the danger of advancing reinforcements from his left or centre. The Confederates lay in his front, within sight and almost within hearing. He knew that they were anxiously watching his movements, and waiting to see which part of his line would be weakened. But though he declined to send McCook reinforcements, Rosecrans employed himself in so preparing his line as to aid McCook to get safely on his right. His preparations were to halt the Confederates on his defeated right without exposing his left and centre to imminent danger. For this purpose he quickly determined to mass his artillery on the position occupied by the centre. These movements were masked by immense cedar forests. Thus prepared, at the proper moment the centre of the enemy was advanced a few hundred yards, and soon after the Confederates appeared in force pursuing his right wing.
The position of the enemy was on an oval-shaped hill not very high, but furnishing an excellent position for his artillery. It was determined to carry this stronghold at all hazards, and the brigades of Chalmer and Donelson, supported by Manley's and Stewart's brigades, with Cobb's, Byrne's, Chas. Smith's, and Slocomb's batteries, were ordered to prepare for the charge. It was a forlorn hope, but our men faced the mighty whirlwind of shot and shell with heroic firmness, and did not fall back till they had captured two batteries. The brigades of Generals Adams and Jackson, of Breckinridge's division, who held our right, were now ordered across the river to relieve our broken columns, and advanced towards the enemy's grand battery with a like coolness and heroism, but they were also repulsed and fell back under the enemy's terrible fire.
A portion of Gen. Hardee's command bivouacked for the night in the cedars, within five hundred yards of the enemy's lines. That night it was cold to freezing. Upon the battlefield lay thousands of the enemy's dead and wounded, who froze stiff, presenting a ghastly scene by moonlight.
The scene in the cedars was fearful and picturesque. A brilliant winter moon shed its lustre amid the foliage of the forest of evergreens, and lighted up with silver sheen the ghastly battle-field. Dismounted cannon, scattered caissons, glittering and abandoned arms strewed the forest and field. The dead lay stark and stiff at every step, with clenched hands and contracted limbs in the wild attitudes in which they fell, congealed by the bitter cold. It was the eve of the new year. Moans of the neglected dying, mingled with the low peculiar shriek of the wounded artillery horses, chanted a miserere for the dying year.
Amid the dim camp-fires, feebly lighted to avoid attracting the artillery of the enemy, groups of mutilated and shuddering wounded were huddled, and the kneeling forms of surgeons bending in the firelight over the mangled bodies of the dying, added to the solemnity of the night.
The appearance of the dead on the field was remarkable, for the large proportion was evidently slain by artillery. The bodies of many of the Confederates who had advanced to the assault on the enemy's masked batteries were literally torn to pieces. The cross-fire of the artillery had had this terrible effect. "I saw," says a spectator of this terrible seen, "an officer, whose two legs, one arm, and body lay in separate parts of the field. I saw another whose dislocated right arm lay across his neck, and more than half his head was gone."
On the day succeeding the fight, Gen. Bragg telegraphed to Richmond the news of a great victory, presented his compliments to the authorities, and wrote "God has granted us a happy new year." His exultations were over hasty, for though we had routed on the morning of the preceding day the right wing of the enemy, the final contest was yet to be decided.
In the mean time, Rosecrans fearing that his position might be flanked, or from some suspicion that it was not secure, abandoned it that night, only to take up a still stronger one in the bend of the river, towards the Lebanon pike, on a couple
of hillocks, which he again crowned with his strongest batteries.
Many of his generals felt despondent; some favored retreat; but the constancy of Rosecrans remained untouched. One of his staff-officers remarked, "Your tenacity of purpose, general, is a theme of universal comment." "I guess," he replied, "that the troops have discovered that Bragg is a good dog, but hold-fast is better."
The first of the year found the enemy strongly intrenched, with his right drawn up a little on the south side of the Nashville pike, while his left remained fortified in the bend of the river, already described. Our position was greatly advanced on the left and centre, but otherwise remained the same. On that day Gen. Bragg issued the following address to his army: "The general commanding is happy to announce to the troops the continued success of our arms yesterday. Generals Wheeler and Wharton, with the cavalry, again assaulted the enemy's line of communication, capturing over two hundred wagons and other stores. Twice have we now made the circuit of the enemy's forces, and destroyed his trains, and not less than six hundred wagons, and three thousand mules have fallen into our hands. Our success continues uninterrupted. One more struggle, and the glorious victory already achieved will be crowned by the rout of the enemy, who are now greatly demoralized. The general commanding has every confidence that his gallant troops will fully meet his expectations."
It was confidently believed that the enemy would retreat on the night of the 31st, but as he did not, it was concluded to wait and see if he would make any attack. The day consequently passed off quietly, excepting some slight skirmishing.
On the 2d of January, the ill-omened Friday, the attitude of the two armies remained the same during the morning, and without incident, except some shelling on our right.
By three o'clock it was determined to assault the enemy's stronghold on the bend of the river. It was a desperate determination. Unfortunately, Gen. Bragg had given the enemy nearly two days to reorganize and concentrate his baffled army, so that he might the more effectually make a stubborn resistance.
The enemy had taken up a position at a point near the bend of the river where it takes a westerly course. Here rises a high ridge covered by a skirt of woods, on which the enemy had planted their artillery, supported by a line of infantry. Behind this ridge, and in the woods and rocky ravines, lay concealed also a large force of the enemy. Further to the enemy's left was another skirt of woods, which the enemy also occupied, out-flanking our front nearly one thousand yards. Near the first skirt of woods mentioned is a ford of the river, the opposite banks of which, from its elevated position, overlooks and commands the ridge above described on this side, or the south and east bank of the river, while one mile further down the river is another ford. It was at this commanding position in the river bend where the enemy had made his citadel, having massed his batteries of artillery and infantry in such a skilful manner as to protect his centre on the Nashville pike, and his extreme left, which now extended on our side of the river. Such was the position of the enemy on our extreme right on the morning of that memorable day of slaughter, the 2d of January.
Gen. Breckinridge was ordered to carry, by assault, the position of the enemy on the ridge already described. He formed his division in two lines, changing front from his former position to nearly a right angle, and facing in the direction of the river. Gen. Hanson's brigade, with Palmer's, now commanded by Gen. Pillow, formed the first line, with Pillow on the right; the second line being formed by Preston's and Gibson's, two hundred yards in the rear. Col. Hunt's regiment, of Hanson's brigade, was left to support Cobb's battery on the hill. From the enemy's commanding position across the river, he was enabled to see all of our movements, and consequently prepared to resist us. Between Gen. Breckinridge's division and the enemy's batteries on the ridge was an intervening space of eight hundred yards, extending over an open field skirted by woods, along which the enemy's skirmishers were in such .force as almost amounted to a line of battle.
The attack was to be made at four o'clock, and a signal gun was to announce the hour. In those battalions stood the noble soldiers of Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina in battle array, firm and inflexible, await
ing the signal for combat. The report of a cannon had not died upon the ear before the bugle from Hanson's brigade sounded a charge. The brigades moved rapidly forward through the thinned woods until gaining the open fields, the men having been instructed not to deliver their fire until close upon the enemy, and then to charge with the bayonet. On came Pillow, followed by Preston; forward hurried Hanson, followed by Gibson. From the moment of gaining the field the enemy's artillery from the ridge opened a sweeping fire, and a whirlwind of Minnie balls from their infantry, with shot and shell, filled the air. Our men were ordered to lie down for a few minutes to let the fury of the storm pass. Then the cry from Breckinridge-" Up, my men, and charge !”—rang out. With the impetuosity of a torrent they rushed forward to the woods sloping the ridge. On dashed Wright's battery of Preston's brigade at a furious gallop, and soon opened fire upon one of the enemy's batteries about three hundred yards to our right. The enemy, awed by the mad bravery of our men, recoiled; their ranks thinned rapidly, notwithstanding they received reinforcement after reinforcement. Their left wing, which already out-flanked us on our right, was driven back towards the river bank, the 20th Tennessee capturing some two hundred prisoners. The contest now raged fierce and bloody. It was one continuous roar of musketry and artillery. Facing the storm of death, our heroes charged with fury, and so effective was the firing of our lines, that we carried the ridge with a wild demoniac yell, driving the enemy from it, with his artillery, down the hill-side and across the river. Capt. Wright soon reached the top of the ridge with his battery, and opened on the enemy with spherical case. At this time the concentrated fire of the enemy became terrible. and appalling. A sheet of flame was poured forth from their artillery on the hills on the opposite side of the river overlooking our left and front, and from their batteries on the river bank, while the opposite side also swarmed with their infantry, who poured in on us a most murderous fire. Still our men never quailed, but pressed forward and crossed the river, the enemy making frightful gaps in our ranks, but which were immediately closed up. Here it was that in less than half an hour over two thousand of our brave soldiers went down! The