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Personal Recollections and Experiences 


Battle of Stone River. 

A Paper Read by Request before the Illinois Commandery of the 

Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U. S., 

at Chicago, 111., Feb. 14, 1889. 




Formerly a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army, and Brigadier-General 
of Volunteers during the War of the Rebellion. 

Personal Recollections and Experiences 


Battle of Stone River. 

A Paper Read by Request before the Illinois Commandery of the 

Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U. S. , 

at Chicago, 111., Feb. 14, 1889. 




Formerly a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army, and Brigadier-General 
of Volunteers during the War of the Rebellion. 

Times Publishing Company, 



7 7 

Personal Recollections and Experiences Concerning the 
Battle of Stone River. 

As will be perceived by the above caption to this paper, it 
is proposed to relate what happened to me, and what I observed 
during the battle alluded to, and might not inappropriately be 
styled u What I know about the battle of Stone River." 

In doinff so I shall not untertake to "five a general account 

i5 cj O 

of the battle, but shall confine myself to that portion which 
came under my own observation, and to necessary inferences as 
to what happened elsewhere. In setting out it will be well to 
give a brief account of the history of the Army of the Cum. 
berland, and its commanders, so far as I know, up to the time 
of the memorable battle which is the subject of this paper. 
My having been a cadet at West Point from June, 1848, to 
June, 1852, when I graduated in the same class with Sheridan, 
Stanly, S locum, Crook, Bonaparte and others, whose names 
have since become so distinguished, and my service in the 
regular army subsequently till the fall of 1853, threw me in 
contact with, and was the means of my knowing personally, 
or by reputation, most, if not all the prominent characters on 
both sides, that were brought to the knowledge of the public 
by the War of the Rebellion. 

This knowledge of the men in the army of those times 
served me well all through the war, as it was seldom I came in 
contact with an officer on the other side, but what I knew all his 
peculiar characteristics, and idiosyncrasies. For illustration 
of this idea, as we were approaching Atlanta, my division had 
the advance of the Army of the Ohio the morning we came in 
sight of the cit}^. My -advance guard captured a rebel picket 
post, and one of the men captured, had a morning paper from 


Atlanta, in which was Johnston s farewell order to his troops^ 
and Hood s order assuming command. I had been three years 
at West Point with Hood, he having graduated in 1853, in 
Schofield s class. I knew Hood to be a great, large hearted, 
large sized man, noted a great deal more for his fine social 
and fighting qualities, than for any particular scholastic acquire 
ments, and inferred, (correctly as the result showed) that John 
ston had been removed because Davis, and his admirers, had 
had enough of the Fabian policy, and wanted a man that 
would take the offensive. I immediately sent word to Gen. 
Sherman, who, with his staff, was not far off, and when he 
came to the front, informed him of the news I had, and the 
construction I put upon it, and in consequence, an immediate 
concentration to resist an attack was made in the vicinity, 
where we were. It was none too soon, as Hood, upon taking 
command immediately moved out to Decatur with nearly his 
entire army, fell upon McPherson s corps, with the besom of de 
struction, killing the gallant McPherson early in the engage 
ment, and with his vastly superior force, beating back the 
Army of the Tennessee so fast, that there is no telling what 
might have happened, had we not made the concentration we 
did, and been prepared to give them a tremendous enfilad 
ing fire as soon as they came opposite the flanks of the 
Army of the Ohio. It was my fortune to be stationed 
at Ft. Adams, Newport, Rhode Island, as soon as my fur 
lough expired after graduating at the Military Academy, 
and there found Lieut. W. S. Rosecrans, (afterward the com 
manding general at Stone River), and from being stationed 
some ten months at the same post, became somewhat familiarly 
acquainted with him and his peculiarities. I had never met 
Gen. Don Carlos Buel, and knew but little of him, although 
he was a regular army man, until the fall of 61, upon my re 
turn from service in West Virginia, during the first summer 
of the war. I was then Colonel of the 17th Indiana, and was 
assigned to the command of a brigade in Nelson s Division of 
Buel s Army, which was then in and around Louisville, Ky., 
and whose purpose was a forward move against Nashville. 
While Buel s Army, the Army of the Cumberland, was 

-concentrating in and about Louisville, preparing for the for 
ward movement, Gov. Morton, of Indiana, was frequently in 
Louisville, consulting with Gen. Buel, and offering suggestions 
as to army movements etc., and these, after a time, came to 
be regarded by Gen. Buel as meddlesome, and uncalled for, so 
much so, that he finally intimated to Gov, Morton that it would 
be as well for him to attend to his duties as Governor of In 
diana, while he would attend to his as Commanding General 
of the forces in the field. It is important to mention this cir 
cumstance here, as it will be seen further on, that this matter 
had an important bearing upon Gen. Bud s subsequent career. 
It will not be necessary, nor appropriate in this paper, to enter 
into a detailed account of the operations of the Army of the 
Cumberland in its march upon, and capture of Nashville in 
its subsequent march to Shiloh, and the part it took in that 
most unfortunate, not to say (in many respects) disgraceful 
battle to our army in its subsequent advance upon Corinth, 
and its operations there in its subsequent march into northern 
Alabama and the vicinity of Chattanooga, and the forced 
march back to Louisville, made necessary by Bragg s advance 
upon that city through the Sequatchie Valley, from Chat 
tanooga. All this is known to the public, and the public has 
arrived at its own conclusions as to the merits or demerits 
of these various operations. It is not too much to say-, 
however, that those of us who accompanied Gen. Buel in this 
remarkable march and counter-march, and particularly these 
who had important commands during the same, had ample 
opportunity to arrive at intelligent conclusions as to the mer 
its and demerits of the man. It may be inferred from what 
has already been said that. Gen. Buel was not particularly 
popular with political soldiers, newspaper correspondents, and 
others who were carrying on the war from safe distances in 
the rear. He was eminently and emphatically a soldier, with 
no ambition or expectations outside the line of his duty, and 
with honor and integrity so entirely above suspicion, that the 
camp follower and money getter did not presume to even en 
ter into his presence. Notwithstanding all this, by the time 
of the return of the Army of the Cumberland to Louisville. 

though that army had then performed services that justly en 
titled it to the lasting gratitude of the country, and notwith 
standing its eminent commander enjoyed, so far as I knew, the 
entire confidence of the officers and men in regard to his loy 
alty, patriotism and ability, yet there had sprung up a fire in 
the rear party that was constantly impugning his loyalty, his 
ability, and his fitness to command, and demanding his re 
moval. In the -light of what has already been said, it can now 
be seen whence, and from what source this hue and cry pro 

On account of a contemporaneous popularity that Gen. 
Rosecrans had achieved about that time, at the battle of luka, 
there arose a demand in the press that Gen. Buel be super 
seded in the command of the Army of the Cumberland by that 
officer. As I have said, my acquaintance with Gen. Rosecrans 
previous to his assuming command of the Army of the Cum 
berland, had been confined to the ten months I had been sta 
tioned with him at Newport, R. I., in 52-3. 

My recollections of him were not such as to inspire me 
with confidence in him as the proper person to be placed in 
command of an army. At that time he seemed to be a great 
enthusiast in regard to the Catholic Church ; seemed to want 
to think of nothing else, talk of nothing else, and in fact do 
nothing else, except to proselyte for it and attend upon its 
ministrations. No night Avas ever so dark and tempestuous, 
that he would not brave the boisterous seas of Newport Harbor 
to attend mass, and no occasion, however inappropriate, was 
ever lost sight of to advocate its cause ; in fact, he was what 
would nowadays be called most emphatically a crank on that 
subject, and might not inappropriately be considered a one- 
ideaed man lacking in the breadth and poise, so necessary to 
success in the commander of an army in the field. While 
Buel s Army Avas in Louisville getting reinforcements and 
preparing to renew operations against Bragg, I obtained a feAv 
days leave of absence and had no end of inquiries on my Avay 
home and after arriving there, as to Avhat I thought of the 
propriety and necessity of relieving Buel. 1 uninformly re 
plied that as far as the Army Avas concerned there Avas not that 

I kneAv of, any want of confidence in Duel, but on the other 
hand, nothing but the most sincere confidence and respect. 
That the only reason that could be assigned was the want of 
confidence that the fire in the rear might have caused in 
the country at large, and that even if this was thought to bo 
necessary, it would be very bad policy to substitute Kosecrans 
in his stead. How near correct I was in this estimate the 
public is now prepared to judge. Of course the possibility 
of BueFs removal dispirited him, and perhaps inspired some 
of the officers under him, that might by possibility be selected 
to succeed him, with a desire that such might be the case. At 
all events, shortly after the arm}- again took the offensive, 
the notorious and disastrous affair at Perry ville took place, in 
regard to which it was charged at the time by Gsn. Buel, arid 
believed by others, that it was brought on by Gen. A. McD. 
McCook separating himself more from the body of the army 
than his orders justified, and beyond supporting distance, in 
order that an engagement might be brought on, in which, if 
successful, ho might claim the sole credit, and thereby super 
sede Buel in command. However this may be, this engage 
ment was the culminating affair in BueFs career. The blame 
was (as I think) unjustly attached to him, and he was relieved of 
his command, and Gen. W. S. Rosecrans appointed in his 
place. After this battle, the Army resumed offensive oper 
ations against Bragg and in due time arrived in Nashville, 
\vhen offensive operations were for a time suspended, in order 
to get supplies forward, and put the army in shape for active, 
and if possible, decisive operations. During the weeks that 
we thus la} encamped about Nashville I had frequent oppor 
tunities to see Gen. Kosecrans and observe his manner, char 
acteristics and surroundings and had hoped to be enabled to 
form a more favorable opinion of the man and his fitness for 
the high position to which he had been called than I had there 
tofore entertained. I was sorry, however, to be forced to the 
conclusion that my estimate of the man had been even more 
favorable than the facts would justify. His head seemed to 
have been completely turned by the greatness of his promo 
tion. Instead of the quiet dignity, orderly and biiMness 

methods that had formerly obtained at the headquarters of 
the Army, the very reverse seemed to be the rule. 

Having by this time surrounded himself, in addition to 
the usual staff and appliances ordinarily to be found at the 
headquarters of an army in the field, with a numerous coterie 
of newspaper correspondents, and Catholic priests, who seemed 
in his estimation to be vastly more important than anyone else 
about him, and laid in a good supply of crucifixes, holy water, 
spiriting frumenti, Chinese gongs, flambeaux, jobbing presses, 
printers devils, javelins, white elephants, and other cabalistic 
emblems and evidences that a holy crusade was about to bo 
entered upon, and having daily announced through his 
various newspaper correspondents, jobbing presses, and 
other means of reaching the public and the Confederate 
Army lying immediately in our front, exactly what was 
going on, one could but wonder at the sublime indifference 
of Bragg, and his Army remaining in the State of Tennessee, in 
the midst of preparations for their destruction such as these. 
As this magnificent and resplendent cavalcade of Holy, 
Oriental, and gorgeous splendor moved about from camp 
to camp during the weeks that we lay at Nashville making 
these gigantic and awe-inspiring preparations for the 
advance, every knee was bowed, and every tongue confessed, 
that Allah was great, and thrice illustriously great was this 
Savior that had been sent to us. All things though, however 
grand and glorious, must have an end, and it was finally an 
nounced during the last days of December, 1862, that the army 
was ready for a forward move. You will not be surprised to be 
informed after what has preceded, that it was my opinion that 
the Catholic officers having command in that army would fare 
well when the honors of the campaign came to be distributed. 
Accordingly, I made a prediction in writing that every one 
of these, consisting of Brig. -Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, Brig.- 
Gen. D. S. Stanly, Brig. -Gen. James S. Negley, and C/apt. 
James St. Claire Morton, would all be promoted entirely re 
gardless of what the fortunes of war might have in store for 
them. This I did without the slightest feeling of unkindness 
or jealousy towards these officers, but simply on account of 

my belief that the Commanding General was such a narrow- 
minded bigot in regard to Catholicism, that it was impossible 
for him not to allow considerations of this kind to control his 
estimate of men. We shall see how nearly correct I was in 
this estimate further on. At the time this campaign was 
entered upon the National Forces had not been divided into 
Army Corps and numbered. Each Army commander divided 
his army as to him seemed best. Rosecrans divided his into 
three grand divisions called the Right, Center, and Left, and 
each of these into three ordinary divisions of four brigades 
each, the Right, Center and Left commanded respectively 
by Generals A. McD. McCook, George H. Thomas and Thos. 
L. Crittenden. 

At the time of this advance and for a long time previous 
thereto, I was commanding a brigade in Gen. Thos. J. Wood s 
division of the left wing. The advance movement all along 
the line finally commenced about the 26th day of December, 
18f2. The first day Palmer s division of the left wing had 
the advance and on the evening of that day, had reached the 
vicinity of Lavergne, having had some pretty sharp skir 
mishing in so doing. The next day by rotation Wood s 
division had the advance. 

It was not the place of my brigade to lead the division 
that day, but I was specially requested to take the advance, 
however, as the progress made the day before had not been 
satisfactory. I consented to do so upon condition that the 
cavalry, which had been in advance the day before should be 
retired to the rear of my brigade ready to be brought into use 
should we succeed in routing the enemy, and should the topog 
raphy of the country admit of the successful use of cavalry. 
I had seen so many disastrous results ensue from the use of 
squadrons of cavalry in advance of an army under such cir 
cumstances as we were advancing, that I did not want to run 
any such risks in addition to the ordinary and inevitable risks 
of such advances against an army in the field. The cavalry 
necessarily has to retire before any effective work can be done, 
and usually comes back pell mell with a lot of riderless horses, 
and creates infinitely more confusion, consternation, and even 


danger to the advancing army, than anything the enemy would 
be likely to do at that stage of the operations. 

Having thus arrived at the front and got the cavalry out 
of the way to the rear, I found the enemy securely lodged in 
the town of Lavergne,and masked from our view by the build 
ings, shrubbery and fences. My orders contemplated an im 
mediate advance along the main pike toward Murfreesboro. 
Thus no opportunity was given for flanking them, and so 
compelling them to abandon the town. The country was open 
between my command and the town, and afforded no shelter 
whatever for the troops. I formed the brigade in two lines 
about 200 yards apart, with a strong line of skirmishers about 
the same distance in advance of the first line, with a section of 
artillery in the interval between the infantry lines. As these 
dispositions were about completed preparatory to ordering an 
advance of the line a heavy infantry fire was opened upon us 
from the buildings and cover the town afforded to the enemy, 
and their tire was taking effect even upon the first line of in 
fantry back of the skirmish line. At this juncture I ordered 
the infantry to lie down, the artillery to open with shot and 
shell upon the town, and the heavy line of skirmishers to fix 
bayonets and on double quick to make the distance between 
them and the town; to be immediately followed by the main 
lines of infantry as soon as the skirmishers had reached the 
town. This movement was entirely successful; we soon had 
routed the enemy from tne town, -but had left some forty or 
fifty dead comrades behind us to be cared for by those in our 

As soon as we had driven the enemy beyond the town, we 
continued the same order with two regiments in line of battle 
about 200 yards apart to the left of the main pike, and two to 
the right in like manner, all preceded by a heavy line of 
skirmishers, and pushed forward with all possible dispatch. 
A heavy rain set in about the time we commenced the advance 
beyond the town, which continued all day, so the corn-fields 
and other plowed fields soon became ankle deep with mud. 
Nevertheless we pressed forward continuously. If we encoun 
tered the enemy in any considerable force, the skirmish line 


gradually slackened their progress until the main line came up 
with them. Artillery was brought forward and fired advancing 
along the road. In this manner we kept up an almost con 
tinuous advance, our dead and wounded being cared for by 
those in our rear. By night-fall we had made an advance of 
nearly eight miles, to Stewart s Creek. As we approached 
Stewart s Creek we discovered that the enemy had set the 
bridge over the same on fire. I immediately concentrated four 
pieces of artilllery on a little eminence to the right of the road, 
and commenced shelling the enemy beyond the creek. Under 
the cover of this fire the infantry was ordered forward at 
double quick, and succeeded in subduing the flames before 
sufficient damage had been done to prevent the use of the 
bridge by our army. So rapid had been our advance that 
three companies of rebel cavalry that had been hovering on 
our left flank during the advance, were cut off before they 
reached the bridge, and were captured by us with all their 
horses and accoutrements. In the evening we were congratu 
lated by all our superior officers for having accomplished a very 
satisfactory day s work. 

This brought us up to the evening of the 27th of Decem 
ber. During tne time between this and the afternoon of the 
30th of the same month, all portions of our army had pressed 
forward along the different lines of march laid out for them, 
encountering the usual incidents of driving in the enemy s 
cavalry and outposts, until finally at that time our entire army 
had arrived along the left bank of Stone River, opposite the 
city of Murfreesboro, some two or three miles further on. 
Here we encountered the enemy in force and their fortifica 
tions were plainly visible all along opposite us on the right 
bank of the river, between it and the city of Murfreesboro, and 
here it was very evident Bragg intended to make his stand 
and accept the guage of battle. 

There was desultory firing all along the line during 
that memorable afternoon, but during that time our army was 
finally concentrated, McCook, with his three divisions on the 
right, Thomas, with his three in the center, and Crittenden, 


with his three on the left. The whole line, with the intervals 
for artillery and cavalry, occupying a distance of two or three 
miles, more or less. Crittenden s three divisions were formed, 
two divisions in line of battle, and one in reserve, as follows : 
Palmer s division on the right, Wood s on the left, and Van 
Cleve in reserve opposite the interval between Palmer s and 
Wood s, and each division consisting likewise of three brigades, 
were formed in like manner, two in line and one in reserve. In 
Wood s division W agner s brigade was on the right, my own on 
the left, and Marker in reserve. This arrangement brought my 
brigade on the extreme left of the entire army. During that 
evening we were made acquainted with the plan of the attack 
which was to be made by our army under cover of the gray of 
the morning the following day, the memorable 31st day of 
December, 1 862. This was for the left wing (Crittenden s) 
to cross Stone River which was at that time fordable at all 
points for all arms of the service and deliver a furious 
attack on the enemy s extreme right, this to be followed up by 
a wheel to the right by other portions of our army in case 
Crittenden was successful in his attack, until all portions of 
our army should become engaged and the battle become gen 
eral all along the line. 

This plan was well conceived, and might have worked 
well enough perhaps, if the enemy had waited for us. The 
same mistake (or a similar one rather) was made here that 
was made by Grant at Shiloh, only the latter was much more 
faulty, In that case Grant was moving his army up the 
Tennessee River to Savannah, the object being to attack 
Beauregard, then at Corinth, some twenty miles from Savan 
nah, as soon as he should have made a junction with Buel s 
army, then at Nashville, Tenn., and which was to march from 
that place to Savannah. Grant s army proceeding by boats, ar 
rived at Savannah by detachments first, and should have 
all been landed on the side of the river toward Grant s rein 
forcements, instead of on the side toward the enemy unless 
he considered from the time he landed, anything more than a 
picket force of cavalry to keep him advised of the enemy s 
movements on the side toward them that he had enough to sue- 


cessfully cope with him. If he thought the latter, he should have 
been with his troops on the side of the river toward the enemy 
instead of eight miles below on the other side. Thus the most 
elementary principles of grand tactics and military science, that, 
in case two armies are endeavoring to concentrate with a view 
of delivering an attack on a superior force of the enemy, the 
inferior force nearest the enemy, should be careful to oppose 
all natural obstructions, such as rivers, mountains, heavy 
forests, impassable marshes, between it and the enemy 
until, a junction can be made. In this case the detachments of 
Grant s army were allowed to land on the side toward the 
enemy, select their locations as best they could without instruc 
tions or concert of action of any kind, and this within fifteen 
to eighteen miles of the enemy in force, in the enemy s coun 
try, where it w T as known to all that he had daily and hourly 
opportunity from the citizens who fell back before our forces, 
to find out all the time the exact locations and strength of 
Grant s and Bud s armies, respectively. Under circumstances 
like these, the merest tyro in military knowedge ought to 
have known that an experienced, able officer, such as Beau- 
regard. was known to be, would not wait for the concentration, 
before anticipating the attack. So it was no surprise to any 
one except the troops on that side the river towards Corinth, 
and possibly to Grant, then at Savannah, that on that fatal 
Sunday morning in April, 1862, when Grant had got sufficient 
troops on that side of the river to make it an object for Beau- 
regard to destroy or capture them, and w r hen Buel s advance 
had approached within twenty to twenty-five miles of Savan 
nah, that Beauregard determined upon an attack, and declared 
he would crush or capture the troops on that side, and water 
his horse in the Tennessee river that night, and that but for 
the timely arrival by forced marches of, Buel s advance of 
two divisions on the field about four o clock that afternoon, he 
would undoubtedly have executed his purpose. If Buel had 
been guilty of such blundering (not to call it by any worse 
name than this) it would have been impossible to make the 
country at the North believe that he did not meditate its de 
struction. For this blunder Grant was promptly relieved of 


,his command, by the proper authorities, and ft was many 
years afterwards, before any one was found, who did not think 
this was very moderate punishment, under such circumstances. 
The fault in the case under consideration differs in kind, but 
not in its disastrous effects upon our cause and our army. 

The right of our army at Murfreesboro, judging from 
what happened (and as I said at the outset, when I don t know 
personally what happened, I speak from necessary inference) 
seemed to think that inasmuch as our plan of battle contem 
plated an attack by the extreme left, to be followed up by 
them subsequently during the day, that they had nothing to 
do at that early hour in the morning, but to keep a picket 
force out, send their artillery horses to a distant point for 
water, stack their arms, and get breakfast. They did not 
seem to think possibly Bragg might have plans of his own r 
and that our attack might be anticipated, and that our right 
might receive a desperate attack while our left was preparing 
to deliver one. This, as you all know, was what happened^ 
and you all know its disastrous results. 

Current reports at the time were to the effect that the 
right was found when the attack came upon them in the con 
dition already described, and the prompt manner in which they 
were hurled from the field, corroborates this view of the case. 
This, of course, caused the troops to their left to be imme 
diately out-flanked, and no resistance, to amount to anything, 
from that portion of our line could be expected under such 
circumstances. How much Gen. Rosecrans and his staff are 
properly to blame for the state of things existing on the right 
at the time of the attack, I have no means of knowing, and do 
not undertake to say but that it was the prime cause of the 
very serious disaster to our arms, and to the prestige of our 
army that happened at that battle, there can be no doubt or 
chance for two opinions. How the battle raged, and what 
happened, so far as I then knew, I cannot better describe than by 
extracting from my official report of that day s proceedings, 
made on the 6th of January, following, and which I do as 


MURFREESBORO , Term., Jan. 6, 1863. 

Capt. M. P. Bestow, A. A, A. G.: 

SIR : I have the honor to submit the following report of the oper 
ations of my brigade, (formerly the 15th Brigade, 6th Division, but 
under the new nomenclature, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, left wing) 
on the eventful 31st of December, 1862. During the night of the 
30th I had received notice through Gen. Wood, our division com 
mander, that the left wing, Crittenden s corps, would cross Stone 
river and attack the enemy on their right. My brigade was posted 
on the extreme left of our entire line of battle and was guarding and 
overlooking the ford over which we were to cross. On the morning 
of the 31st heavy firing was heard on the extreme right of our line, 
(McCook s corps) but as they had been fighting their way all the 
distance from Nolensville as we had from Lavergne, no particular 
importance was attached to this, and I was getting my brigade into 
position, ready to cross as soon as Gen. Van Cleve s division, which 
was then crossing, was over. All this time the firing on the right 
became heavier, and apparently nearer to us, and our fears began to 
be aroused that the right wing was being rapidly driven back upon 
us. At this juncture Gen. Van Cleve halted his division and the 
most terrible state of suspense pervaded the entire line, as it became 
more and more evident that the right was being driven rapidly back 
upon us. On and on they came till the heaviest fire was getting 
nearly around to the pike leading to Nashville, when General Rose- 
crans appeared in person, and ordered me to go with my brigade at 
once to the support of the right, pointing toward our rear, where the 
heaviest fire was raging. Gen. Van Cleve s division and Col. Hark- 
er s brigade of our division received the same order. I at once 
changed the front of my brigade to the rear, preparatory to starting 
in the same direction, but had not proceeded more than 200 yards 
in the new direction before the fugitives from the right became so 
numerous, and the fleeing mule-teams and horsemen so thick, that 
it was impossible for me to go forward with my command without 
its becoming a confused mass. I therefore halted, and awaited de- 
velopements. Gen. Van Cleve and Col. Harker not meeting with so 
much opposition pressed forward and got into position beyond the 
railroad, ready to open on the enemy as soon as our fugitives were 
out of the way. They soon opened fire, joined by some batteries 
and troops belonging to the center (Gen. Thomas corps) and Es- 
tep s battery of my brigade, and after about an hours fighting along 
this new line, during which time I was moving my command from 
point to point, ready to support any troops that most needed it. The 


onslaught of the enemy seemed to be in a great measure checked^ 
and we had reasonable probability of maintaing this line. During 
all this time my men were exposed to a severe fire of shot and shell 
from a battery on the other side of the river, and several men were 
killed. About this time an aid of Gen. Palmer s came galloping up 
to me, and said that unless he could be supported his division would 
give way. Palmer s division formed the right of Gen. Crittenden s 
line of battle on the morning of the 31st. After consulting with 
Gen. Wood he ordered me to send a regiment to support Gen. Pal 
mer. Accordingly I sent the 3d Kentucky regiment, commanded 
by Lieut. Col. Sam 7 ! McKee. Before the regiment had been ten 
minutes in its new position, Capt. Kerstetter, my Adjutant General r 
reported to me that Col. McKee had been ki led and the regiment 
badly cut up. I therefore moved with the other three regiments of 
my command to their relief. The line they were trying to hold was 
that port of our original line of battle lying immediately to the right 
of the railroad, and forming an acute angle with the same. This 
portion of our original line, about two regimental fronts, together 
with two fronts to the left held by Colonel Wagner s brigade, was all 
of our original line of battle but what our troops had been driven 
from ; and if they succeeded in carrying this they would have 
turned our left, and a total route of our forces could not then have 
been avoided. Seeing the importance of the position, I told my men 
that it must be held even if it cost the last man we had. I imme 
diately sent in the 26th Ohio, commanded by the gallant M ijor Wm. 
H. Squires, to take position on the right of the 3d Kentucky, and 
support it, and dispatched an aid for the 18th Indiana battery to 
come to this point and open on the enemy. No sooner had the 26th 
Ohio got in position than they became hotly engaged, and the nu 
merous dead and wounded that were immediately brought to the 
rear told how desperate was the contest. The gallent" Lieut. Mc- 
Clellan of that regiment was brought to the rear mortally wounded, 
and expired by my side in less than five minutes from the time the 
regiment took position. Still the fight went on, and still brave men 
went down. The 3d Kentucky, now reduced to less than one-half its 
original number, with ten officers out of its founeen remaining ones, 
badly wounded, was still bravely at work. In less than ten minutes 
after the fall of Lieut. Col. McKee, the gallant Major Daniel R. 
Collier, of that regiment, received two severe wounds, one in the leg 
and one in the breast. Adjutant Bullitt had his horse shot from un 
der him, but nothing could induce either of them to leave the field. 
Equally conspicuous and meritorious was the conduct of Major 
Squires and Adjutant Franklin, of the 26th Ohio. Major Squires 
horse was three times shot through the neck ; nevertheless, he and 


all his officers stood by throughout and most gallantly sustained and 
encouraged their men. 

Estep s battery came up in due time, and taking a position on a 
little rise of ground in the rear of the 26th Ohio, and 3d Kentucky, 
opened a terrific fire of shot and shell over the heads of our infantry. 
About one hour aftor the 26th Ohio got into position, this terrible 
attack of the enemy was repulsed, and they drew back into the 
woods, and under cover of an intervening hill, to reform their shat 
tered columns and renew the attack. I now took a survey of the 
situation, and found that along the entire line to the right and left 
of the railroad, which had not yet been carried by the enemy, I was 
the only general officer present, and was therefore in command, and 
responsible for the conduct of affairs. CoL Hazen, commanding a 
brigade in Gen. Palmer s division, was present with his brigade to the 
left of the railroad. Col. Gross, commanding another brigade in the 
same division, was also present with what there was left of his bri 
gade, and most nobly did he co-operate with me, with the 6th and 
25th Ohio to the right of the railroad, while Col. Wagner, command 
ing the 2d brigade, 1st division, (left wing) nobly sustained his front, 
assisted by CoL Hazen to the left of the railroad. I now relieved the 
3d Kentucky regiment, who were nearly annihilated, and out of am 
munition, with the 58th Indiana regiment of my brigade, commanded 
by Col. Geo. P. Buell ; and this being a much larger regiment than 
the 3d Kentucky, filled up the entire space from where the right of 
the 3d Kentucky rested, to the railroad. I then threw forward the 
right of the 6th Ohio regiment of Col. Gross brigade, which was on 
the right of the 26th Ohio, so that its line of battle was more nearly 
perpendicular to the railroad, and so its fire would sweep the front 
of the 26th Ohio, and 58th Indiana, and supported the 6th Ohio with 
Estep s battery on a little eminence to its right, and brought the 
97th Ohio, Col. Lane, from Wagner s brigade, to still further 
strengthen the right. These dispositions being made, I galloped a 
little to the rear, and found Gen. Rosecrans, and called his attention 
to the importance of the position I was holding, and the necessity of 
keeping it well supported. He rode to the front with me, approved 
of the dispositions 1 had made, spoke a few words of encouragement 
to the men, cautioning them to hold their fire until the enemy had 
got well up, and had no sooner retired than the enemy emerged from 
the woods over the hill, and were moving upon us again in splendid 
style, and in great force. As soon as they came in sight, the 6th 
and 26th Ohio, and Estep s battery opened on them, and did splen 
did execution ; but on they came, until within IOC yards of our line, 
when Col. Buell, of the 58th Indiana, who had lost three men, but 


had not fired a gun, ordered his men to fire. The effect was indis- 
cribable ; the enemy fell in winrows, and went staggering back from 
the effects of this unexpected volley. Soon, however, they came up 
again and assaulted us furiously for about one and a half hours, but 
the men all stood their ground nobly, and at the end of that time 
compelled the enemy to retire as before. 

During the heat of this attack a heavy cross fire was brought to 
bear on the position I occupied, and Corporal Frank Mayer, of the 
3d Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, in command of my escort, was shot 
through the leg, and my Adjt. General, Capt. Ed. R. Kerstetter, was 
shot through his coat, grazing his back. The regiments all behaved 
splendidly again, and the 58th Indiana won immortal honors. Lieut. 
Blackford, of that regiment, was shot dead, and several of the officers, 
including Capts. Downey and Alexander, badly wounded. Estep s 
battery was compelled to retire from the position assigned to it after 
firing a half dozen rounds, but it did terrible execution while there. 
The 6th and 26th Ohio did noble service, as did the 97th, but their own 
immediate commanders will no doubt allude to them more particu 
larly. Thus ended the third assault upon our position. I should 
have remarked that the 100th Illinois, the other regiment composing 
my brigade, which was in reserve during the first engagement de 
scribed above, had, under instruction of Col. Hazen, moved to the 
front on the left of the railroad, and taken up a position at right 
angles with the railroad, where they fought splendidly in all the 
actions that took place on the left of the road. There was no for 
midable attack made upon them, though they were almost constantly 
under fire of greater or less severity, particularly from shot and shell, 
and suffered quite severely in killed and wounded. Lieut. Morrison 
Worthington, of that regiment, was killed while gallantly sustaining 
his men, and six other commissioned officers, including Major Ham 
mond, were wounded. Their operations being to the left of the rail 
road, in a wood, did not come so immediately under my personal 
observation, but their conduct, from Col. Bartleson down, was such 
as leaves nothing to be desired. The 58th Indiana having now been 
over three hours in action, and the 26th Ohio about four hours, were 
exhausted and very near out of ammunition. I therefore relieved 
the 58th Indiana with the 40th Indiana from Col. Wagner s brigade, 
and the 26th Ohio was relieved by the 23d Kentucky. There was 
now not more than an hour of the day left, and though the enemy 
was constantly maneuvering in our front, no formidable attack was 
made upon us, except with artillery. The enemy having been three 
several times repulsed in their attack on that position, seemed satis 
fied to keep at a respectful distance, and the sun set upon us, masters of 


the situation. We had sustained ourselves and held the only portion 
of the original line of battle that was held throughout by any portion of 
our army. To have lost this position would have been to lose every 
thing, as our left would then have been turned also, and utter rout 
or capture inevitable. 

During the evening of the 31st, I was officially notified that in 
consequence of the indisposition of Gen. Wood, and a wound re 
ceived by him during the forenoon of that day, he was relieved of 
the command of the division, and that the same would devolve upon 
myself. I therefore turned over the command of the brigade to Col. 
Geo. P. Buell, of the 58th Indiana, and assumed command of the 
division. All of which is respectfully submitted. 

MILO S. HASCALL, Brig. Gen. Vols., Corn s Brigade. 

ED. R. KERSTETTER, Capt. & A. A. G. (Official.) 

After the battle was over, during the evening, Colonel 
Harker\s brigade that had gone to the assistance of the right, 
returned to where we had been in action during the day, and 
thus the division was once more together, and <fn this groumd 
we did the best we could towards getting something to eat, 
and prepared to bivouac on the same ground for the night. 
About eleven o clock that night, I was visited by Capt. John 
Mendenhall, Chief of Artillery on Gen. Crittenden s staff, and 
who belonged to the Regular Army of the United States, and 
a gentleman of tirst-class intelligence, and purity of charac 
ter, and informed that since the cessation of hostilities for the 
night, a council of war had been held at Gen. Rosecrans 
headquarters, by himself and his Grand Division Commanders, 
and that a general retreat to Nashville had been decided upon, 
and that all except Gen. Crittenden concurred in the advisa 
bility of such movement, and he was overruled by the others, 
and that in pursuance of such determination, I was forthwith 
to send all the transportation of my division, except one wagon 
for each brigade, to the rear, and when the transportation was 
all under way, this was to be followed by a general retreat of 
our army to Nashville. Mendenhall said that Crittenden was 
very much incensed at the proposition for retreat; said his 
army was in position and on hand, and that if he were over 
ruled and if a retreat was decided upon, that he would cross 


the river and retreat by way of Gallatin to Nashville. How 
ever, the retreat was decided upon, and the baggage had been 
sent to the rear as above directed, and we were laying on our 
arms awaiting the further order to retreat, when a very singu 
lar circumstance caused Rosecrans to change his mind, and 
conclude to fight it out where we were. A large number of 
our straggling, demoralized detachments in the rear of our 
army, being hungry and thirsty, had concluded to disobey 
orders, and make fire and try and get something to eat. One 
party would make a fire, another would go there to get a fire 
brand to start another, and when this became general along 
our rear, Rosecrans concluded the enemy had got in our rear, 
and were forming line of battle by torch lights, and hence 
withdrew the order for a general retreat. After this, about 
one o clock, I was informed also by Capt. Mendenhall, that 
the retreat had been given up, and that I was ordered to fall 
back with my division about half a mile, and take up a posi 
tion that would there be assigned me. Accordingly I did so, 
and in the morning found myself occupying a position with 
no advantages for offensive or defensive operations, and very 
much exposed to the enemy s fire, with no chance for return 
ing it with any effect. The enemy w r ere occupying the position 
I had fallen back from, and at that point concentrated a large 
number of pieces of artillery, with which, about nine o clock 
in the morning, they opened upon us a tremendous artillery 
fire, under the cover of which I supposed their infantry would 
charge upon us, but for some strange reason or other, they 
did not do so. Desultory firing afterwards, was kept up dur 
ing the day, until about three o clock in the afternoon. In 
the meantime we had sent a division across the river to the 
left, which was occupying the high ground near where the 
enemy s right was resting originally. About three o clock 
Breckenridge s troops, of the rebel army, fell furiously upon 
this division, and drove them rapidly from their position, on 
account of their superior numbers. At this juncture Critten- 
den ordered Mendenhall to concentrate his artillery on the 
bank of the river to our front and left, which he promptly 
did, and ordered me, with my division, to promptly cross the 


river in support of the division already there in retreat. Upon 
our arrival on the other side of the river, the furious tire from 
Mendenhall s artillery had checked the rebel advance, and the 
division over there turned upon their assailants, and with the 
assistance of my division, drove Breckenridge back to the 
position he had occupied before making the assault. The latter 
part of these operations were carried on in the darkness, and 
we slept upon our arms, amidst the dead and wounded. It 
had been raining hard all the night, and the river was rising 
very rapidly, so much so that if we had remained there until 
morning, there would have been danger that the river would 
become impassable, and the divisions been left there by them 
selves in the presence of the Avhole rebel army. Accordingly, 
about two o clock at night, we were ordered to recross the 
river, and take up positions where we had been during the 
previous day. We arrived back there between that time and 
morning, thoroughly wet through, and completely jaded out, 
having had no sleep, and but little to eat during the previous 
forty-eight hours. Both armies continued after this during 
the third day, to occupy the positions they had on that morn 
ing. It was cold, wet, and very disagreeable weather; both 
armies were completely tired out, and seemed content to 
do nothing more than to engage in some desultory firing, and 
watch each other closely. On the morning of the fourth day, 
January 3, or rather, during the forenoon of that day, the 
stragglers from the right, during the first day s battle, who 
had not stopped in their flight until they reached Nashville, 
began to return in large numbers, in companies, and even 
regiments, and Bragg, observing this, concluded we were re 
ceiving large bodies of reinforcements from the north, and 
therefore concluded to fall back and give up the contest. He 
accordingly did so, and on the fourth day, January 4, he took 
possession of Murfreesboro without the firing of a gun. Thus 
ended the great battle of Stone River. We had not made a 
single attack during the whole time ; were badly beaten 
and well nigh driven from the field the first day, and only 
saved from an ignominious retreat upon Nashville by the ri 
diculous misconception on the part of Rosecrans, already 


alluded to on the first night after the battle commenced. As 
it was, we lost all oar transportation, by sending it to the rear, 
that night, preparatory for the retreat, the whole having been 
burned by the rebels at Lavergne, notwithstanding we were 
supposed to have some cavalry in our rear, under (jen. Stan 
ley. Where it was at the time our transportation was being 
burned by the rebel cavalry, I have never heard. 

Finally our fugitives from the first day s battle began to 
return, thereupon Bragg became very much frightened and 
beat a retreat, and we thus gained Murfreesboro. After this 
reports were written up to praise the men it had been deter 
mined upon in advance to promote, and these identical men 
that I had predicted would be favored, were promoted ; one 
of them, St. Claire Morton, from Captain to Brigadier-General, 
while others, upon whom rested the heat and burden of the 
day, and who saved the army from utter annihilation, were 
not only not promoted, but in many instances not even men 
tioned. It was, for instance, Sheridan s fate to be early driven 
from the field, whether from his fault or not, it is not neces 
sary to inquire. Enough for this occasion that it was so, and 
the facts of his subsequent career no more justify what was 
done for him on this occasion, than would the subsequent 
illustrious career of Gen. Grant justify his promotion for the 
terrible blunders committed by him concerning the most un 
fortunate battle of Shiloh. 

In what I have said in this paper in regard to the Cath 
olic Church, I do not wish to be understood as having any 
desire to say anything against that church, but simply to 
condemn the idea of making membership in that, or any other 
particular church, a necessary concomitant to advancement, 
either in a military or civil capacity, under our government. 
Farther, in all that I have said nothing has been said in malice 
towards any officer or person, but simply that that criticism 
so necessary to the establishment of right and justice in regard 
to the late war may be freely indulged in, whether it affect 
the highest officer, or the lowest private that offered his life in 
defense of his country. It will be seen that my estimate of 


the fitness of Gen. Rosecrans to command an army was not 
enhanced by his career during and preceding the battle of 
Stone River. When disaster came to the right, he should 
have given his attention personally to that, and lent the magic 
of his personal presence to rallying the fleeing troops from 
that division, in place of going to the extreme left himself in 
stead of by a staff officer for ordering the movement of troops 
in that direction. When the whole affair was over, and quiet 
restored, I made an application to be transferred to another 
army on account of want of confidence in him as the com 
mander of an army in the field. This I supposed would cause 
my arrest, and give an opportunity for me to demonstrate the 
great cause that existed for my apprehensions, but instead of 
doing this, he returned my application endorsed that he could 
not spare the services of so useful an officer as myself, and 
that there would be no forward movement of the army for six 
months, and detailed me to proceed to Indianapolis, Ind., to 
superintend the work of returning deserters from Ohio, Indi 
ana, and Illinois. Just before my leaving Murfreesboro for 
Indianapolis we saw Bragg s telegraphic account to Richmond, 
of the first day s proceedings. It was as follows : ; This 
morning, under cover of the darkness, we attacked the enemy 
on his extreme right, and have routed him from every portion 
of his line except upon his extreme left, where he has suc 
cessfully resisted us." As I left there was a proposition 
started in Crittenden s command to raise money to present 
Bragg a sword for making the above truthful statement 
of the first days operations. While at Indianapolis, I was, 
at the request of Gen. Burnside, transferred by the War De 
partment, to the army of the Ohio and given the command 
of a division in that army. The next that we heard of Gen. 
Rosecrans was at the battle of Chickamauga, and that was the 
last we heard of him in a military way, and all can now see 
how much cause there was for the apprehensions I entertained. 
This was not the first instance that great unfitness achieved 
high rank in our armies and it was quite common for great 
merit to be entirely unrewarded, and indeed entirely unknown. 
But time is a great healer, and let us hope that honest merit 


will in the end get its recognition, trusting in the truthfulness 
of the idea that 

" Ever the world goes round and round, 
And ever the truth comes uppermost, 
And justic^ shall be done." 


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