to the front and left, as your ordered last night. One of my regiments, Thirtieth Indiana, being out on picket duty, I took the other four, i. e., Thirty-fourth Illinois, Seventy-ninth illinois, Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania, and Twenty-ninth Indiana, and Edgarton's battery, which were, as your ordered, disposed of as follows:
The Seventy-ninth Illinois and one section of artillery were left as a general reserve, at a point about 1 1/2 miles to the front, where the picket line crosses the Murfreesborough pike. The Twenty-ninth Indiana and one section of artillery were placed in position at a point on the Stone's River pike, concealed from view about the same distance to the front. With the other two regiment sand section of artillery I moved out the dirt road, which diverges from the Murfreesborough pike, where the Seventy-ninth Illinois was left in reserve.
We marched with the most perfect silence, hoping to surprise some of the rebel parties which have been annoying your camp. Having gone about 3 1/2 miles on the dirt road, and finding no enemy, I sent five companies of the Thirty-fourth Illinois, with a citizen guide that I pressed in, to a point on the Stone's River pike directly opposite, with orders to move down the pike quietly until they formed a junction with the Twenty-ninth Indiana, with a view of picking up any of the rebels that might be prowling around that neighborhood. With the remaining forces, now reduced to about 700 infantry and one section of artillery, I moved across to the Murfreesborough pike at a point about 4 miles from our picket line. All along this part of our march I noticed evidences of the recent presence of the enemy-picket fires still burning, &c., but saw no enemy. I had reached the pike, and was about to return to camp, when three shots were fired from a rebel picket near my left flank. I then started down the pike toward La Vergne. My advance soon came up with a small squad of some 20 cavalry, who fell back upon a reserve of two or three companies, who took position at a toll-gate about 4 miles from La Vergne; several of them dismounted and went into the toll-gate house. I dropped a few shells among them, two shells passing through the house, when the whole party hastily fled. About this point we also found infantry pickets, but they also fell back without firing a gun.
The rebel force seemed to be disposed to be disposed as follows: First, small vedettes of cavalry; second, cavalry reserves; third, main body of cavalry and infantry, say, in all, a regiment or two of each; but they seemed frightened, and so I pursued them until I reached the top of the hill which overlooks the town of La Vergne. My position was a beautiful one. The road is nearly straight for about 1 1/2 miles down to and beyond the town. Here the rebels had rallied, and we had a fine view of their column of cavalry in front and infantry in their rear. After firing a dozen shells among them, they seemed to scatter, but rallied twice and started towards us, but well-directed fire of the artillery was too much for them. They finally retreated through the town and over the hill beyond. I pursued them no farther ; your orders required me to return by 10 a. m.; it was now 8, and I was 8 miles from camp. I captured a few suspicious characters, which I will send up to you under guard.
I did not go down La Vergne to ascertain the effect of our shells; many of them burst in the street close to the troops, and must have done considerable execution. Here, as at Claysville, the rebels must have overestimated our force as we dashed down upon them; otherwise I am sure they would have stood their ground and given us fight.