War of the Rebellion: Serial 029 Page 0264 KY.,MID. AND E.TENN.,N.ALA., AND SW.VA. Chapter XXXII.

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These brigades were commanded by Generals Willich and Kirk.

The night passed of quietly until about daylight, when the enemy's forces were observed by our pickets to be in motion. Their object

could not, however, with certainly, be determined until near sunrise, when a vigorous attack was made upon Willich's and Kirk's brigades. These troops seemed not to have been fully prepared for the assault, and, with little or no resistance, retreated from their position, leaving their artillery in the hands of the enemy. This left my right brigade exposed to a flank movement, which the enemy was now rapidly executing, and compelled me to order Post's brigade to fall back and partially change its front. Simultaneous with this movement the enemy commenced a heavy and very determined attack on both Carlin's and Woodruffs brigade. These brigades were fully prepared for the attack, and received it with veteran courage. The conflict was fierce in the extreme on both sides. Our loss was heavy and that of the enemy no less. It was, according to my observations, the best contested point of the day, and would have been held, but for the overwhelming force moving so persistently against my right. Carlin, finding his right flank being so severely pressed, and threatened with being turned, ordered his troops to retire.

Woodruff's brigade succeeded in repulsing the enemy and holding its position until the withdrawal of the troops on both its flanks compelled it to retire. Pinney's battery, which I had posted in an open field upon my extreme fight, and ordered to be supported by a part of Post's brigade, now opened a destructive fire upon the enemy's advancing lines. This gallant and distinguished battery, supported by the Twenty-second Indiana and Fifty-ninth Illinois Regiments, together with a brigade of General Johnson's division, commanded by Colonel Baldwin, Sixth Indiana Volunteers, for a short time brought the enemy to a check on our right. Hotchkiss' battery had also by this time taken an excellent position near the Wilkinson pike, so as to command the enemy's approach across a large cotton-field in his front, over which he was now advancing. The infantry,however,contrary to expectations, failed to support this battery, and, after firing a few rounds, was forced to retire.

In accordance with instructions received during the night, announcing the plan of operations for the day, I desisted from any further attempts to engage the enemy, except by skirmishers thrown to the rear for that purpose my lines had reached within a few hundred yards of the Nashville and Murfreesborough pike, when I again determined to form my lines and resist his further advance. To this order but few of the regiments responded, their ranks being much thinned by killed and wounded; and not a few availed themselves of the favorable opportunity offered by the dense woods, which we were compelled to pass, to skulk like cowards from the ranks. The reserve forces here moved to the front, and relieved my command from any further participation in the engagement until late in the afternoon, when, in compliance with instructions, I took position on the right. My skirmishers were immediately thrown out, and soon engaged the enemy's, until night brought a close to hostilities for the day.

During the 1st and 2nd of January the division occupied this position in skirmishing with the enemy's pickets, until late in the afternoon of the 2nd, when I received orders from General Rosecrans to hasten to the support of a part of General Crittenden's command, who had been for