At dusk on the evening of the 30th the troops occupied the position ad indicated by the accompanying map. In consultation with
Major-General McCook, late in the afternoon of December 30, he informed me that he had reliable information to the effect that the center of the rebel line of battle was opposite our extreme right, and that we would probably be attacked by the entire rebel army early on the following morning. His prediction proved true. He also informed me that he had communicated this information to the commanding general.
I expected a change in the programme for the following day, but none was made. My brigade commanders were called together, and the operations of the following day fully explained to them. Every arrangement was made for an attack. Two gallant and experienced officers commanded my two advanced brigades, and every precaution was taken against surprise.
At 6.22 on the morning of the 31st the outposts in front of my division were driven in by an overwhelming force of infantry, outnumbering my forces greatly, and known to contain about 35,000 men. At the same time my extreme right was attacked by the enemy's cavalry.
The gallant Willich and Kirk soon opened a heavy five of musketry and artillery upon the advancing columns, causing wavering in the ranks, but fresh columns would soon replace them, and it was apparent that to fall back was a "military necessity." Edgarton's battery, after firing three rounds, had so many of its killed as to render it unmanageable. He, however, remained with it, and continued to fire until he fell by a severe wound, and he and his battery fell into the hands of the enemy. Before falling back, the horse of General Willich was killed, and he was wounded and taken prisoner.
About the same time General Kirk received a severe wound, which disabled him. Seeing the pressure upon my lines, I ordered up my reserve brigade, under the gallant Baldwin. The troops of his brigade advanced promptly and delivered their fire, holding their ground for some time, but they, too, were compelled to fall back. The troops of this division for the first time were compelled to yield the field temporarily, but the heroes of Shiloh and Perryville did not abandon their ground until forced to do so by the immense masses of the enemy hurled against them, and then, inch by inch. The ground over which the division passed, covered with the enemy's dead and those of our own men, shows that the field was warmly contested. Several times the lines were formed and resistance offered, but the columns of the enemy were too heavy for a single line, and ours would have to yield. Finally the left flank of my division reached the line of General Rousseau's, when it was reformed and fought until out of ammunition, but my efficient ordnance officer, Lieutenant Murdoch, had a supply in readiness, which was soon issued, and the division assisted in driving the enemy curtain of darkness fell upon the scene of blood, and all was quiet awaiting the coming of morn to renew hostilities. Morning came, but the enemy had withdrawn.
January 1 was a day of comparative quiet in camp, few shots being fired, but many preparations made for a heavy battle on the following day. General Crittenden's wing was attacked in force on the 2nd, and one of my brigades (Colonel Gibson's) was sent to
re-enforce him. For the gallant part taken by it, reference is made to the report of Major-General Crittenden. The enemy evacuated Murfreesborough on the night of the 3rd.
On the 6th I was ordered to remove my camp to a point on the Shelbyville road, 4 miles south of Murfreesborough.