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PREPARATIONS FOR BATTLE.
Both armies prepared for battle on the night of the 30th. Rosecrans lay with Crittenden on the left, resting on Stone's River, Thomas in the center, and McCook on the right. These leaders met the commander at his quarters at nine o'clock that evening, when they received instructions for the morning. Rosecrans determined to throw his left and center heavily on Breckenridge at daybreak, crush him, wheel rapidly and attack with strong power the front and flank of the Confederate center, and then, sweeping through Murfreesboro', gain the rear of that center and their left, cut off their line of retreat, and destroy their army in detail. For this purpose McCook was to occupy the most advantageous position, taking every precaution to secure his right, and to receive and make an attack as circumstances might determine, and thus to hold all the force on his front for three hours, if possible. Thomas and Palmer were to open with skirmishing, and gain the Confede
rate center and left as far as the river, and Van Cleve's division of Crittenden's force was to fall upon Breckenridge and make the proposed sweep into Murfreesboro'.
The troops breakfasted at dawn of the 31st. Before Sunrise Van Cleve crossed the river, and Wood was in readiness with his division to follow him in support. Meanwhile a counter-movement of the Confederates seriously interfered with Rosecrans's plan. Bragg had resolved to attack the National right at dawn, and for that purpose had massed his troops on his left under Hardee, in front of McCook. These in the dim morning twilight emerged suddenly and unexpectedly from thick woods -so unexpectedly that some of the battery horses had been unhitched and led to a stream to drink only a few minutes before.
The four brigades under Cleburne led, and POSITION, DECEMBER 31st.
charged furiously upon McCook's extremo right before Van Cleve had moved. The divisions of Cheatham anc McCown struck nearer the center, and at both points the National skirmishers were instantly thrown back upon their lines. Toward these the assailants pressed rapidly, in the face of a terrific storm of missiles, losing heavily every moment, but never faltering, and, falling with crushing force upon the brigades of Willich and Kirk, pressed them back in confusion. Kirk was severely wounded, and Willich, having his horse killed under him, was made prisoner. Edgarton's battery and a part of Goodspeed's were cap
3N I 1
Polk's first line, and Cheatham's the second. Breckenridge's formed the first line of Hardee's and Cleborne'a the second. The two lines were eight hundred to one thousand yards apart. McCowan's division formed the reserve opposite the center, on high ground, and Jackson's brigade the reserve of the right flunk, under the direction of Hardlee. Bragg ordered the cavalry to fall back on the approach of the Nationals, Wheeler to form on the right and Wharton on the left, for the protection of the flanks of the line, and Pegram to go to the rear as n reserre. lle ordered all supplies and baggage to be in readiness for an advance or a retreat, and, in the event of the latter, Polk's corps was to move on Shelbyville and Hardee's on the Manchester pike-trains io front, cavalry in the rear.
BATTLE OF MURFREESBORO'.
tured, and the guns were turned upon the fugitives. A large number of Johnson's scattered division was captured by the Confederates.
Following up this success, the victors fell with equal vigor upon McCook's left, composed of the divisions of Sheridan and J. C. Davis. They struck them on the flank. After a sharp struggle, Davis gave way. Sheridan fought longer and most desperately with the foe on his front, flank, and rear. Twice his gallant division changed front and drove back its assailants, but finally, outnumbered, and nearly surrounded, its ammunition exhausted, and every brigade commander killed or wounded,' it fell back in good order almost to the Nashville pike, with a loss of Houghtailing's battery and a part of Brush's. As these brigades fell back they fought gallantly, but the columns of the Confederates were too heavy to allow them to make serious resistance.
It was now eleven o'clock in the morning. The right wing, comprising full one-third of the army, was thoroughly broken up, and Bragg's cavalry were in Rosecrans's rear, destroying his trains and picking up his stragglers. McCook had early called for help, but it was not furnished, as the commander-in-chief supposed the right could hold its position until other contemplated movements should be made; but when Rosecrans (whose headquarters were not far from the site of the National cemetery since established there, a little more than two miles from Murfreesboro') was informed that the right wing was being driven, he directed General Thomas to give aid to Sheridan. Rousseau, then in reserve, was immediately sent with two brigades and a battery to Sheridan's right and rear, but it was too late. Crittenden had been ordered to suspend the operations of Van Cleve against Breckenridge, and to cover the crossing of the river with a brigade, and Wood was ordered to discontinue his preparations for following, and to hold Hascall in reserve.
When the right wing was broken up, it seemed as if the Nationals had lost the day. They had been driven from nearly one-half of the ground occupied by them at dawn, and hundreds of men had been lost. But there were able leaders and brave fighters left. They had hard work to perform. The Confederate batteries, in chosen positions, were playing fearfully upon the center, under the gallant Thomas, where Negley's division, in the cedar woods, was desperately fighting the victors over Sheridan and Davis. Negley's ammunition began to fail, his artillery horses became disabled, and a heavy column of the foe was crowding in between him and the remnant of the right wing. These circumstances compelled him to recoil, when Rousseau led his reserve division to the front, and sent a battalion of regulars, under Major Ring, to Negley's assistance. These made a successful charge. but with heavy loss, and caused the Confederates to fall back.
The brunt of the battle had now fallen upon Thomas, whose command was chiefly in and near the cedars. The assailants of Sheridan pressed farther toward the National rear, until they reached a position from which they poured a concentrated cross fire on Negley and Rousseau. This com
I General J. W. Sill was killed early in the action, and at a later period Colonels Roberts and Schaeffer, each commanding a brigade, fell dead at the head of their troops.
STRUGGLE OF HAZEN'S BRIGADE.
pelled Thomas to withdraw from the cedar woods, and form a line on the open ground between them and the Nashville pike, his artillery taking a position on an elevation a little to the southwest of that highway. In this movement the brigade of regulars, under Lieutenant-Colonel Shepherd, were exposed to a terrible fire, and lost twenty-two officers and five hundred and two men in killed and wounded. It held its ground against overwhelming odds, with the assistance of the brigades of Beatty and Scribner, and the batteries of Loomis and Guenther.
The position now taken by Thomas was firmly held, and enabled Rosecrans to readjust the line of battle to the state of affairs. But the dreadful struggle was not over. Palmer's division, which held the right of the
National left wing, and which had mor ed at eight o'clock in the morning to cover Negley's left, and successfully fought and repulsed an attack on his rear, was assailed with great fierceness on his front and right flank (which was exposed by Negley's retirement), while the new line was a forming. His right brigade, under Cruft, was forced back,
when the assailants fell upon the flank of the Second, commanded by Acting Brigadier-General William B. Hazen, of the Forty-first Ohio Volunteers, who was posted on a gentle rise of ground-a cotton-field-between the Nashville pike and the Nashville and Chattanooga railway, now marked by the burial-ground of those of his command who fell on that occasion. He had but one regiment at first to protect this flank, but two battalions from the reserves soon came to its assistance. That brigade was the chief object in the way of complete victory for the Confederates, and in double lines, some in rear, some on flanks,
1 This was the appearance of the burial-gronnd and the monument on the battle-field of Murfreesboro, as It appeared when the writer sketched it, early in May, 1866. It is on the spot where Hazen's brigade han its struggle—the severest part of the battle on the 81st of December. The lot is oblong, furty by one hundred feet in size, surrounded by a substantial wall of limestone, found in the vicinity. In it are the graves of sixty nine men of the brigade, buried there, and at the head of each grave is a stone, with the name of the occupant upon it. A substanti:il monument of the same kind of stone is within the inclosure. The wall and the monument were constructed by Hazen's men soon after the battle. The monument, which is seen at the left of the railway by travellers going toward Nashville, is ten feet square at the base, and about the same in height, and bears the following inscriptions:
West side.—" Hazen's Brigade. To the memory of its soldiers who fell at Stone River, December 31st, 1962. Their faces toward Heaven, their feet to the foc."
South side.—" The veterans of Shiloh have left a deathless heritage of fame upon the field of Stone River. Killed at Shiloh, April 7, 1962, Captain James Haughton, First Lieutenant and Adjutant T. Patton, and
BATTLE OF MURFREESBORO'.
and some in front, they made desperate attempts to demolish it. The gal-
But the struggle was not yet over.
POSITION, NIGHT OF DECEMBER 31st, had done nobly. Indeed, gallantry and skill were exhibited by both sides in every part of the field. The day closed, and darkness ended the battle, leaving the Nationals “masters of the original ground on their left, and the new line advantageously posted, with open ground in front, commanded at all points by their artillery."
Rosecrans had lost heavily in men and guns,' yet he was not discouraged.
First Lieutenant Joseph Turner, Ninth Indiana Volunteers; First Lieutenant Franklin E. Pancoast and Second
East side.—“ Erected 1563, upon the ground where they fell, by their comrades, Forty-first Infantry, Ohio Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel A. Wiley ; Sixth Infantry, Kentucky Volunteers, Colonel W. C. Whitaker; Ninth Infantry, Indiana Volunteers, Colonel W. H. Black ; One Hundred and Tenth Infantry, Illinois Volunteers, Colonel T. S. Casey ; Cockerill's Battery, Company F, First Artillery, Ohio Volunteers, Nineteenth Brigade Buell's Army of the Ohio, Colonel W. B. Hazen, Forty-first Infantry Ohio Volunteers Commanding."
North side.--"The blood of one-third of its soldiers, twice spilled in Tennessee, crimsons the battle-flag of the brigade, and inspires it to greater deeds. Killed at Stone's River, December 31, 1862, Lieutenant-Colonel George T. Colton and Captain Charles S. Todd, Sixth Kentucky Volunteers ; Captain Isaac M. Pettit, Ninth Indiana Volunteers; First Lieutenant Calvin Hart and First Lieutenant I. T. Patchin, Forty-first Ohio Volunteers ; Second Lieutenant Henry Kessler, Ninth Indiana Volunteers; Second Lieutenant Jesse G. Payne, One Hundred and Tenth Illinois Volunteers."
1 These were comprised in four thin regiments, namely, Sixth Kentucky, Colonel W.C. Whittaker; Ninth Indiana, Colonel W. H. Blake; One II undred and Tenth Illinois, Colonel T. S. Casey; and Forty-first Ohio, Colonel A. Wiley.
2 Rosecrans's Report to Adjutant-General Thomas, February 12, 1863.
3 More than 7,000 men were missing from the ranks at the close of the day. Several regiments had lost two-thirds of their officers. Johnson's ablest brigadiers, Willich and Kirk, were lost, the former being a prisoner, and the latter severely wounded. Sill, Schaeffer, and Roberts, Sheridan's brigadiers, were dead. Wood and Van Clere were disabled by wounds, and no less than ten Colonels, ten Lieutenant-Colonels, and six Majors were missing. Sheridan alone had lost seventy-two officers. Nearly two-thirds of the battle-field was in the posses
BATTLE OF MURFREESBORO'.
He established head-quarters that night at a log hut near the Nashville
pike, and there he called a council of general officers. These had • Dec. 31,
seen his gallant bearing throughout the day, as he rode from
point to point where danger to his troops was most apparent, and recognized the wisdom of his orders in the fact of success. He had been seen on every part of the field, directing the most important movements with perfect composure. When the head of the accomplished Garesché, his warm friend and his chief of staff, was shot off while he was riding by his commander's side, the General simply remarked, “I am very sorry, but we cannot help it;" and when it was erroneously reported to him that McCook was killed he made a similar reply, adding, “ This battle must be won." With that determination he went into the council and said, “Gentlemen, we conquer or die right here." For his admiring officers his will was law. It was resolved to continue the fight,' and the Army of the Cumberland rested that night in full expectation of renewing the struggle the next morning.
Bragg was confident of final victory. He sent a jubilant dispatch to Richmond, saying that, after ten hours' hard fighting, he had driven his foe from every position excepting his extreme left (held by Ilazen), maintained the field, and had as trophies four thousand prisoners, two brigadier-generals, thirty-one pieces of artillery, and two hundred wagons and teams. He expected Rosecrans would attempt to fly toward Nashville during the night, and was greatly astonished in the morning to find his opponent's army not only present, but in battle order. He began to doubt his ability to conquer his foe, and moved more circumspectly. He attempted but little, and the sum of that day's operations was some heavy skirmishing and occasional artillery firing. That night both armies, alert and anxious, slept on their arms. Friday mornings found Rosecrans with his army well in hand, and in an
advantageous position. During the preceding evening Van Cleve's division of Crittenden's corps, then commanded by Colonel
Beatty, of the Nineteenth Ohio, had been thrown across Stone's River, and occupied an eminence commanding the upper ford, nearly a mile below the bridge of the Nashville turnpike. Bragg, during the night, had stealthily planted four heavy batteries to sweep the National lines, and with these he suddenly opened a terrific fire at eight o'clock in the morning, to which IIascall's division was more immediately exposed, and made to suffer severely. Estep's battery was quickly disabled, but Bradley's, and the guns of Walker and Sheridan's divisions, soon silenced the cannon of the assailants. Then there was a partial lull until about three o'clock in the afternoon, yet it was evident from skirmishing along Beatty's front that the foe was massing in that direction.
8 Jan. 2,
sion of the Confederates, and they had captured one-fifth of all of Rosecrans's artillery. Subsistence trains had been captured or destroyed; lines of communication were threatened by Confederate cavalry; artillery ammu. nition was not abundant; the obtaining of supplies was uncertain, and the wearied soldiers were resting fitfully on that cold and rainy December night without sufficient foorl or shelter.
I During the preceding cvening Rosecrans had made a personal examination of the ground in the rear, as far as Overall's Creek, and had resolved to await the attack of his foe, while his provision train and a supply of ainmnnition shonld be brought up. On the arrival of these, should the Confederates not attack, the Nationals were to commence offensive operations.