Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Personal recollections and experiences concerning the Battle of Stone River
Author: Hascall, Milo S., 1829-1904
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Personal recollections and experiences concerning the Battle of Stone River" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



Personal Recollections and Experiences

CONCERNING THE

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, Ill., Feb. 14, 1889.

BY

MILO S. HASCALL,

OF GOSHEN, INDIANA,

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

Times Publishing Company, Goshen,--Indiana. 1889.

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 "What I know about
the battle of Stone River."

In doing so I shall not undertake to give a general account 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 Cumberland, 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, Slocum, 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 city. 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
acquirements, and inferred, (correctly as the result showed) that
Johnston 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 destruction, killing the gallant
McPherson early in the engagement, 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 enfilading 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 furlough
expired after graduating at the Military Academy, and there found Lieut.
W.S. Rosecrans, (afterward the commanding 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 return 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 forward 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 Indiana, while he
would attend to his as Commanding General of the forces in the field. It
is important to mention this circumstance here, as it will be seen
further on, that this matter had an important bearing upon Gen. Buel'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
Chattanooga. 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 those who had important commands during the same, had ample
opportunity to arrive at intelligent conclusions as to the merits 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 enter 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 entitled it to the lasting gratitude of the country, and
notwithstanding its eminent commander enjoyed, so far as I knew, the
entire confidence of the officers and men in regard to his loyalty,
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 removal. In the light of what has already
been said, it can now be seen whence, and from what source this hue and
cry proceeded.

On account of a contemporaneous popularity that Gen. Rosecrans had
achieved about that time, at the battle of Iuka, there arose a demand in
the press that Gen. Buel be superseded 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
Cumberland, had been confined to the ten months I had been stationed
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 was 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 was in Louisville getting reinforcements and preparing to
renew operations against Bragg, I obtained a few days leave of absence
and had no end of inquiries on my way home and after arriving there, as
to what I thought of the propriety and necessity of relieving Buel. I
uniformly replied that as far as the Army was concerned there was not
that I knew of, any want of confidence in Buel, 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 be necessary, it would be very bad policy to
substitute Rosecrans in his stead. How near correct I was in this
estimate the public is now prepared to judge. Of course the possibility
of Buel's 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 army again took the offensive, the notorious and disastrous
affair at Perryville took place, in regard to which it was charged at
the time by Gen. Buel, and 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, he might
claim the sole credit, and thereby supersede Buel in command. However
this may be, this engagement was the culminating affair in Buel's
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 operations against Bragg
and in due time arrived in Nashville, when 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 lay encamped about Nashville I had frequent opportunities
to see Gen. Rosecrans and observe his manner, characteristics 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 theretofore 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 promotion. Instead of the
quiet dignity, orderly and business 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, _spiritus frumenti_, Chinese gongs, flambeaux,
jobbing presses, printers' devils, javelins, white elephants, and other
cabalistic emblems and evidences that a holy crusade was about to be
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 announced 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 Capt.
James St. Claire Morton, would all be promoted entirely regardless 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, 1862. 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 skirmishing 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 topography 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 circumstances 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 buildings, shrubbery and fences. My orders
contemplated an immediate 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
fire was taking effect even upon the first line of infantry 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 the
town, but had left some forty or fifty dead comrades behind us to be
cared for by those in our rear.

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 encountered 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 continuous 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 artillery 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 congratulated 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 December. During the
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 fortifications 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 gauge 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 Wagner's
brigade was on the right, my own on the left, and Harker 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, 1862.
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 general 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 Savannah, as soon as he should have
made a junction with Buell's army, then at Nashville, Tenn., and which
was to march from that place to Savannah. Grant's army proceeding by
boats, arrived at Savannah by detachments first, and should have all
been landed on the side of the river toward Grant's reinforcements,
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 successfully 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 instructions or concert of
action of any kind, and this within fifteen to eighteen miles of the
enemy in force, in the enemy's country, where it was 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 Buel's armies, respectively. Under circumstances
like these, the merest tyro in military knowledge ought to have known
that an experienced, able officer, such as Beauregard 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 Beauregard to
destroy or capture them, and when Buel's advance had approached within
twenty to twenty-five miles of Savannah, 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 destruction. For this blunder Grant was promptly relieved
of his command, by the proper authorities, and it was many years
afterwards, before anyone 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 contemplated 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, 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 condition 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 immediately 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 follows:

     HEADQUARTERS 1ST BRIGADE, 1ST DIV'N, LEFT WING, NEAR
     MURFREESBORO', TENN., Jan. 6, 1863.

_Capt. M.P. Bestow, A.A.A.G._:

   Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the
   operations 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 commander, 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
   Rosecrans 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. Harker'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 developements. 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 Estep'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 maintaining
   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. Palmer. Accordingly I sent the 3d Kentucky regiment, commanded
   by Lieut. Col. Sam'l McKee. Before the regiment had been ten minutes
   in its new position, Capt. Kerstetter, my Adjutant General, reported
   to me that Col. McKee had been killed 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 immediately sent in the
   26th Ohio, commanded by the gallant Major 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 numerous dead and wounded
   that were immediately brought to the rear told how desperate was the
   contest. The gallant Lieut. McClellan 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 fourteen 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 under 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 after 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
   shattered 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
   brigade, and most nobly did he co-operate with me, with the 6th and
   25th Ohio to the right of the railroad, while Col. Wagner, commanding
   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
   ammunition, 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 I 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 splendid execution; but on they came, until within 100 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 indescribable; 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 particularly.
   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 described
   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 formidable
   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
   Hammond, were wounded. Their operations being to the left of the
   railroad, 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 satisfied 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 everything, 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 received
   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., Com'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 on this ground 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
first-class intelligence, and purity of character, 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
advisability 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 overruled
and if a retreat was decided upon, that he would cross the river and
retreat by way of Gallatin to Nashville. However, 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 singular 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 position 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 returning it
with any effect. The enemy were 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
during 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
Crittenden 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 fire 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
themselves in the presence of the whole 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 morning. 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 receiving 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 ridiculous misconception on the part of Rosecrans, already alluded
to on the first night after the battle commenced. As it was, we lost all
our 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
Gen. Stanley. 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 determined 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 mentioned. It was, for instance, Sheridan's fate
to be early driven from the field, whether from his fault or not, it is
not necessary 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 unfortunate battle of Shiloh.

In what I have said in this paper in regard to the Catholic 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--instead 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 commander 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, Indiana, 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 successfully 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 Department, 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 justice shall be done."





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Personal recollections and experiences concerning the Battle of Stone River" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home