No. 57. Report of Lieut. Col. William B. McCreery, Twenty-first Michigan Infantry.
HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST REGIMENT MICHIGAN INFANTRY, Camp on Stone's River, January 7, 1863.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report to you the following as the action taken by this regiment in the recent engagement before Murfreesborough:
On the morning of the 30th ultimo we took position on the hill, between Captains Hescock's and Houghtaling's batteries, to act as a support to the Eighty-eighth Illinois, Colonel Sherman, who had previously taken position a few rods in front. About 3 p.m. we were moved forward into the cotton-field, still retaining the same relative position to the Eighty-eighth. We remained here until after dark, when we were ordered to move to a grass-plot a few rods to our right, where we remained during the night.
Before daylight we were ordered to occupy the same ground we had occupied the evening previous. Soon after daybreak an attack was made in force by the enemy upon our front and to our right. After fierce contest, the forces on our front and right retired. At this time the enemy were delivering a murderous fire upon our front and right flank. After delivering our fire, and observing him closing in heavy force upon us, I ordered the regiment to fall back. Owing to a barn and out-buildings which we were compelled to pass, the regiment was for the time being thrown into some confusion; but it was with much difficulty that I could compel the men to leave the cover they had taken behind the fences and buildings, where they were delivering a well-directed fire.
We immediately formed upon the right of the Eighty-eighth Illinois, and were ordered to move a few rods to the rear and left, and were then ordered to support Hescock's battery until further orders, it having taken position a little to our left. The battery soon change position to a point of woods, where we followed, in support. It was immediately engaged, and a heavy force of the enemy's infantry made their appearance on our front and left.
As soon as they had advanced to within short musket range, I opened a telling fire upon them, which was continued until the battery had retired, when we fought our way back to the woods in good order. We again took position in the woods, but, receiving a heavy fire on our front and flank, we were obliged to fall back. We made another stand farther back in the woods, and fought our way back to the clearing; after which I fell back beyond the railroad, where we remained until along toward evening, when we joined the brigade near Overall's Creek.
The next morning we were ordered to recross the creek, and took position on the right of the pike and to the left of the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin, in support of Colonel Bradley's brigade, where we
remained without action until the next morning, when we moved to the right, occupying the ground previously held by the Thirty-sixth Illinois, in which place we remained until we took up our line of march for this place.
Both officers and men, with few exceptions, behaved with coolness and bravery. I am indebted to Major Hunting and Adjt. M. B. Wells for valuable assistance, especially the latter, whom I recommend to your favorable notice.