Page images
PDF
EPUB

BRAGG'S ARMY AT MURFREESBORO'.

539

When General Bragg perceived that the pursuit by the Nationals was relinquished after his army had crossed the Cumberland River, he halted his forces, and finally concentrated them, about forty thousand in number, at Murfreesboro', on the Nashville and Chattanooga railway, a little more than thirty miles southeast from Nashville, where he lay several weeks threatening the capital of Tennessee, but apparently without any fear or expectation of an attack from his opponent. He professed to be there to aid the Tennesseeans in “throwing off the yoke of the Lincoln despotism." Another object was to cover and defend the great cotton-producing regions of the Confederacy, and to hold the great lines of railway from those regions into the food-producing States of Tennessee and Kentucky.

While lying at Murfreesboro' with a feeling of absolute security, Bragg was visited by Jefferson Davis, who

BRAGG'S HEAD-QUARTERS AT MURFREESBORO'. 1 was his guest at his private residence in the fine mansion of Major Manning, within the suburbs of the town. That visit was made the occasion of festivities. Balls, parties, and lesser social gatherings at the houses of the secessionists in Murfreesboro', made the Confederate officers very happy. During that period Morgan, the guerrilla chief, was married to the daughter of Charles Ready, who was a member of the National Congress in 1853. Davis and the principal army officers were at the wedding. General (Bishop) Polk, assuming the cassock of the priest for the occasion, performed the ceremony; and the party had the pleasure of dancing upon a floor carpeted with the flags of their country, which they took delight in thus dishonoring. But this season of joy and fancied security was short. Buell was no longer at the head of a tardily moved army. A loyal, earnest, and energetic soldier was its leader, and he soon disturbed the repose of his enemy.

Rosecrans perceived the peril that threatened Nashville, and took immediate steps to avert it. General McCook, with his grand division, moved in that direction on the morning of the 4th of November. His advance was not a moment too soon. On the next daya the Confederates made a demonstration against the city. Forrest, with about three thousand cavalry and some artillery, attacked the National picket line south of the town, between the Franklin and Lebanon Pikes, and 540

[graphic]

a Nov. 5,

1562.

gathered abont him an army of spies and scouts, and designed a detective system of great perfection, by which the active friends of the Confederates of both sexes were found out, and their nefarious practices stopped. Nor were his services confined to the regulation of secret enemies. He made suilers deal honestly as fur as possible, and had a general police supervision over every department of army operations.

1 This was the house of Mrs. Elliott, not far from the public square in Murfreesboro'. It was also the head-quarters of General Thomas when the National Army occupied Murfreesboro', early in 1863.

2 Lieutenant-Colonel Freemantle, of the British Coldstream Gnards, in giving an account of General Polk, says (Three Months in the Southern States, page 144) the latter explained to him the reasons “ which had induced him temporarily to forsake the cassock.” He did so with reluctance, he said, and intended, so soon as the war should cease, to resume his Episcopal functions, “ in the same way as a man, finding his honse on fire, would use every means in his power to extinguish the flames, and would then resume his ordinary pursuits.” Colonel 1 A correspondent of the Philadelphia Press, writing from Nashville on the sixth, says that for several days before, the secessionists of that city had been in fine spirits, and wagers were freely offered that the city would be in the hands of Bragg before Rosecrans could arrive. It was confidently predicted that the railway bridge would be destroyed before that time.

ROSECRANS'S ARMY AT NASHVILLE.

caused the opening of the batteries of Forts Negley and Confiscation. The pickets, by order, fell back, so as to bring the Confederates under the guns

of Fort Negley. The latter were too cautious to fall into the trap, and General Negley sallied out and drove them far toward Franklin, after an artillery fight for several hours. Almost at the same time Morgan, with twenty-five hundred men and one gun, made a dash on the Sixteenth Illinois Infantry, under Colonel Smith, on the north side of the river, with the evident intention of driving them and destroying the railway and pontoon bridges over the Cumberland at Nashiville. He was repulsed, with the loss of a regimental flag and twenty-four

men, But the attempt to BRAGG'S PRIVATE RESIDENCE IN MURFREESBORO'.

capture the city before Rosecrans's arrival was not abandoned; and when, on the afternoon of the 6th, McCook's vanguard reached Edgefield, opposite, their ears were saluted with the booming of Confederate cannon. General Sill entered the city on the following morning, when its safety was made secure, and the sentinel in his look-out at Fort Negley soon reported that no enemy was to be seen in any direction.

The remainder of Rosecrans's force, excepting the main body of the center Division, which had arrived north of the Cumberland to protect the communications with Louisville, speedily arrived. The divisions were thrown out around the city southward, covering the roads in that direction; and for about six weeks he remained there collecting supplies of various kinds, preparatory to a movement in full force upon Bragg at Murfreesboro'. Late in November the latter was reported to be with a large part of his army within nineteen miles of Nashville, Morgan, with a heavy body of cavalry and mounted infantry, covering his right, and Forrest his left, while Wheeler was posted at Lavergne and Wharton at Nolensville. Bragg's right wing was commanded by E. Kirby Smith, his left by Hardee, and his center by Polk. Freemantle said :—“ He is very rich, and I am told he owns seven hundred negroes.” The apprehended danger of these having their natural rights restored to them, in accordance with his Master's golden rule, was clearly the Bishop's incentive to take up arms against the rights of man. Those “ seven hundred negroes," burning with a desire for freedom, was the Bishop's "house on fire."

[graphic]

ACTIVITY OF ROSECRANS'S TROOPS.

541

1962.

6 Nov. 27.

LOOK-OUT AT KORT NEGLEY.1

Bragg's superior cavalry force gave him great advantage, and Morgan was continually threatening and often striking the National supply-trains between Nashville and Mitchellsville until the railway was completed, toward the close of November. Meanwhile Stanley had arrived and assumed command of the cavalry, and he very soon drove those raiders from the a Nov. 26 rear, and made them circumspect everywhere. He sent out detachments in many directions. Colonel John Kennett, acting chief of cavalry, captured a large quantity of Confederate stores, and drove Morgan across the Cumberland. A little later he drove a Texan regiment fifteen miles down the Franklin pike. On the same day Wheeler was driven out of Lavergne by General E. N. Kirk, and wounded. Sheridan pushed the foe back on the Nolensville road, and Colonel Roberts, of the Forty-second Illinois, surprised and captured a squad of Morgan's men, under Captain Portch, on the Charlotte pike.

These operations warned the Confederates that they had energetic men to oppose, and that warning was emphasized by the gallant act of Major Hill, who, with the Second Indiana, chased for about eighteen miles a Confederate force that had dashed across the Cumberland and captured a train and its escort taken from his command at Hartsville, forty-five miles northeast from Nashville. Hill recovered every thing, and killed about twenty of the foe. For this he was publicly thanked by Rosecrans, while some of his cowardly men of the escort, who had suffered themselves to be captured that they might be paroled and sent home, were severely punished. A more permanent disaster to the Nationals occurred at Hartsville soon after this. General Thomas threw forward to this place from Castilian Springs, in front of Gallatin, about two thousand men of Dumont's division, who were placed in charge of Colonel A. B. Moore, of the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois. These were surprised, and fifteen hundred of them were captured by Morgan, with the same number of cavalry and mounted infantry, notwithstanding the remainder of Dumont's division was at Castilian Springs, nine miles distant. The surprise was at seven o'clock in the morning, and seemed to be without excuse. Moore was severely censured, chiefly because of his alleged want of vigilance and preparation. He had neglected to fortify or intrench his camp, and his vedettes were few and careless. His captive men were hurried to Murfreesboro', stripped of their blankets and overcoats, and then taken to the National lines for exchange,

[graphic]

• Dec. 7.

1 During the entire war large trees were ased by both sides for the purposes of look-outs for sentinels or officers of the signal corps. A platform was constructed among the higher branches, which was reached by ineans of cleats on the trunks, and laddlers among the limbs. The above sketch shows the appearance of one of two look-outs close to the ramparts of Fort Negley, at Nashville, and also a sentry-box at an angle of the stockade citudel within the fort. Sec sketch of the fort on page 265.

? This method of getting home without the danger attending desertion had become great eril, and Rosecrans determined to put a stop to it. In the case here mentioned the crime was so clear that he ordered fifty of the delinquents to be pátraded through the streets of Nashville, with ridiculous night-caps on their heads, priceded by a fife and drum playing the Rogue's March. They were sent in disgrace to the parole camp in Indi. ana. This severity lessened the evil.

542

ADVANCE OF THE ARMY OF THE OUMBERLAND.

a Dec, 9,

1562.

1 Dec. 12.

contrary to an agreement between Rosecrans and Bragg. The former waived the matter for that time, and received his plundered men.' The Battle of HARTSVILLE was followed, two days later,' by a dash of

Wheeler, with a heavy force of cavalry and mounted infantry, upon a National brigade under Colonel Stanley Matthews, guard.

ing a forage train at Dobbins's Ferry, on Mill Creek. After a short fight Wheeler was repulsed, and Matthews took his train to camp unharmed. Three days after this, General Stanley allowed his men to try the efficacy of two thousand revolving rifles, which he had just received.

They pushed down the road toward Franklin, drove the Confed

erate vedettes from that village, obtained some important information, and returned with a few prisoners.

Such were a few of the minor operations of the Army of the Cumberland, while its commander was preparing for more important movements. The hour for those movements had now arrived. On Christmas eve he had in store at Nashville thirty days' provisions and supplies. Bragg had no idea that Rosecrans would advance and undertake a winter campaign, and had sent a large portion of his cavalry to operate upon his antagonist's lines of communication and supply. The loyal people, worried by the tardiness and failure of Buell, had become exceedingly impatient of further delay; yet the commanding general was very properly deaf to the public clamor, for it is seldom an intelligent expression. But now, being fully supplied, and his army well in hand, he determined to move upon Bragg.

At dawn on the morning of the 26th of December, a chilling rain falling copiously, the National army moved southward: McCook, with three divisions (fifteen thousand nine hundred and thirty-three men), along the Nolensville pike, toward Triune; Thomas, with two divisions (thirteen thousand three hundred and ninety-five men), by the Franklin and Wilson's pike; and Crittenden, with three divisions (thirteen thousand two hundred and eighty-eight men), on the Murfreesboro' pike, toward Lavergne. The brigade of engineers under Morton numbered seventeen hundred men. These covered all the roads leading southward from the city. It was intended that McCook, with Thomas's two divisions at Nolensville as a support, should attack IIardee at Triune, and if the latter should be beaten or should retreat, and the Confederates should meet the Nationals at Stewart's Creek, five miles south of Lavergne, Crittenden was to attack them. Thomas was to come in on the left flank, and McCook, in the event of Hardee's flight southward, was to move with the remainder of his force on his rear. Stanley was to cover these movements with his cavalry, which he disposed in good order."

1 The plunder of prisoners of war was a common occurrence in the army of Bragg, whose sense of honor seldom troubled his conscience in such matters. With the same lack of that soldierly quality that marked his conduct toward the gallant Worden, at the beginning of the strife (see page 369, volume I.), he now behare! tard his antagonist. Rosecrans complained of the robbery and violation of the agreement. Bragg wruto characteristic replies, and then, to "fire the Southern heart," he published his replies in the Confederate new so papers. Ile also permitted and justified the violations of dags of truce, and showed himself so perfidious that Rosecrans refused to have any further intercourse with him excepting by shot and shell.

? Fifty-first Ohio, Thirty-fifth Indiana, Eighth and Twenty-first Kentucky, and a section of Swallow's Seventh Indiana battery.

3 The Ariny of the Cumberland now fit for duty numbered 46,910 men, of whom 41,421 were infantry, 2,223 artillery, with 150 guns, and 3,266 cavalry, the greater portion of the latter being raw recruits.

4 Colonel Mints, with the First brigade, moved along the Murfreesboro' pike in advance of the left wing.

ROSECRAVS APPROACIIING MURFREESBORO'.

543

[ocr errors]

a Dec, 27,

1862.

The Nationals had scarcely passed beyond their picket lines when they were heavily pressed by large bodies of cavalry, well supported by infantry and artillery. Sharp skirmishing ensued. The country, heavily wooded with oak forests and cedar thickets, grew rougher and rougher, and more difficult to traverse, and more easily defended. Yet McCook, his advance under Generals Davis and Sheridan skirmishing all the way, rested that night at Nolensville, and Crittenden, with the left, after considerable skirmishing, reposed near Lavergne. Long after dark, Rosecrans, with his staff, who left Nashville at noon, arrived at McCook's head-quarters.

Ilardee was reported to be in heavy force at Triune, seven miles in front of McCook, and there it was expected he would give battle the next morning; but on McCook's advancing at mid-day, after a heavy fog had been lifted from the country, it was found that his foe had decamped, leaving a battery of six pieces, supported by cavalry, to dispute the crossing of Wilson's Creek. These were soon driven, and McCook rested at Triune that night.Crittenden, in the mean time, had driven the Confederates out of Lavergne, and, in the face of continual opposition, advanced to Stewart's Creek, a deep stream with high banks, where Rosecrans expected the Confederates would make a stand. They did not, however, and their attempts to burn the bridge behind them failed, owing to a charge on their rear-guard by the Third Kentucky. After brisk skirmishing with portions of Hascall's brigade, the Confederates fell back in disorder,

The following day was the Sabbath. The troops all rested, excepting Rousseau's division, which was ordered to move on to Stewartsburg, and Willich's brigade, which returned from a pursuit of Hardee as far as Riggs's Cross Roads, on his way to Murfreesboro'. On the following morning McCook pushed on from Triune to Wilkinson's Cross Roads, six miles from Murfreesboro', with an advanced brigade at Overall's Creek, while Crittenden, moving on the Murfreesboro' pike, with Palmer in advance, followed by Negley, of Thomas's corps, skirmished to the West Fork of Stone's River, to within a short distance of Murfreesboro', when Palmer, deceived, erroneously signaled to head-quarters at Lavergne that the Confederates were evacuating the town. Crittenden was directed to send a division across the stream to occupy Murfreesboro.' General Ilarker was ordered to lead in that duty. His brigade crossed, drove the Confederates, and found Breckenridge in strong force on his front, whereupon Crittenden wisely took the responsibility of recalling him. IIarker recrossed after dark without serious loss. On the following morning McCook moved toward Murfreesboro' from Wilkinson's Cross Roads, and fought his way almost to Stone's River, a little west of that town; and before evening nearly the whole of the National army was in an irregular line, more than three miles in length, in front of the Confederates, who were in strong position on the river before Murfreesboro,

Dec, 29.

The Second brigade, rinder Colonel Zahn, of the Third Ohio, moved along the Franklin road. The reserves, composed of nine regiments, and commanded by Stanley himself, preceded McCook's command on the Nolensville road. Colonel John Kennett commanded the left of the cavalry; and the Fourth regulars, under Captain Otis, was reserved for courier and escort duty.

i Braga's army was disposed as follows:-The left wing in front of Stone's River, and the right wing in the rear of the stream. Polk's corps formed the left wing and Hardee's the right. Withers's division forined

« PreviousContinue »