KY.,MID.AND E.TENN.,N.ALA.,AND SW.VA. Chapter XXXII.
<NN>action of scattering rebels in our front, who, wearing our style of uniform, feigned to be of us.
This piece of deception, however, was timely detected, and a heavy firing between the skirmishers was immediately commenced. Ours were driven back, and the enemy, in two or three lines of battle, hurriedly advanced, with a strong line of skirmishers in front. Our line of battle suffered somewhat by mistaking a body of rebels dressed in our uniform for our troops. When commanded to open upon the enemy, the battalion poured in a heavy fire upon them, but were soon compelled to give way to the vastly superior numbers of the enemy. We fired, retreating, until we reached the rear of the position just that moment taken by the Sixth Regiment Ohio Volunteers. Here we halted to reform our line, but, while so doing, the overwhelming numbers of the rebels, and the fierce onslaught they made on the Sixth Ohio, forced those gallant volunteers to fall back also; whereupon we moved out of the woods, returning the enemy's fire, and, under cover of Guenther's battery, succeeded in taking favorable position and reforming our line. It was in this engagement that Captain Bell was killed, Captain York wounded, and, I fear, mortally, and Lieutenant Occleston severely wounded.
The battalion reformed, advanced, and again took position in the woods, as also the others of the brigade. This was done promptly, and with a zeal highly creditable to men who had only a few moments before been under a most galling and terrible fire. Very soon we were again engaged with the enemy, and, after a spirited engagement for a while, were ordered to fall back. Then it was that Major King was wounded, and the command of the battalion devolved upon me. I continued the movement, firing upon the enemy, and moved up to the support of Guenther's battery. In this affair Captain Wise fell, mortally wounded, and has since died.
For the remainder of that day we acted in support of Guenther's battery, and remained on the front of our lines that night until nearly daybreak, when we moved to the rear. Later in the morning we moved forward again, first supporting the center, then the right.
Friday morning we again moved to the front, supporting Guenther's battery, and remained there until the battle of that day ended.
Advancing a short distance on Saturday morning, we threw up intrenchments in face of the fire of the enemy's skirmishers and sharpshooters. These we occupied Saturday night, supporting Guenther's battery during the brilliant and successful attack made upon the enemy's lines that night.
In addition to the casualties already named, the battalion had 84 enlisted men killed and wounded, 10 of whom are positively known to have been killed outright, 2 captured, and 15 missing, who have, doubtless, either been killed, wounded, or captured. The aggregate casualties to officers and men number 106.
The conduct of the officers and of the men engaged merits commendation, and the battalion, in all of the advanced movements into the cedars, and in the several actions engaged, did well in aiding to check and drive back the largely superior numbers of the enemy confronted by the brigade of regulars.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain Fifteenth U. S. Infantry, Commanding First Battalion.
First Lieutenant ROBERTS SUTHERLAND,
Eighteenth Infantry, Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Brigadier of Regulars. Page401 Chap.XXXII.] THE STONE'S RIVER CAMPAIGN.
Numbers 74. Report of Captain Robert E.A. Crofton, Sixteenth U.S. Infantry.
HDQRS. FIRST AND SECOND BATTS., SIXTEENTH INFTY.,
Camp at Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 10,1863.
COLONEL:I have the honor to submit the following as a report of the part taken by the First Battalion, and Company B, Second Battalion Sixteenth Infantry, under my command, in the late actions before Murfreesborough during December 31, 1862, and January 1,2,3, and 4, 1863:
At 7 o'clock on the morning of December 31,1862, this command (then under Major A.J. Slemmer, Sixteenth Infantry) was ordered to move to the front from the bivouac where we had rested the night previous. We marched about a mile in the direction of Murfreesborough, and were then marched into line of battle on the right of the turnpike, the First Battalion Fifteenth Infantry being on our right, and the First Battalion Eighteenth Infantry on our left. Here we stacked arms and rested for some time.
About 9.15 o'clock we were ordered into a thicket of cedars. When we had arrived about three-quarters of a mile from the edge of the thicket, we moved into line of battle, changing our front to the right, to oppose the advancing columns of the enemy. Company B, First Battalion, under command of First Lieutenant Bartholomew, was thrown to the front in skirmishing order, to cover the front of our line. In about five minutes these skirmishers were driven in, and formed on the right of the battalion. The enemy was now seen advancing in line, and at the same moment opened a deadly fire on our ranks. The command, however, succeeded in checking their advance, the men behaving with the greatest possible coolness, and aiming with accuracy. The battalion on our right having moved to the rear, it became necessary to fall back, which we did, by the right of companies, to the rear. The men performed this movement with the same order and regularity they would in an ordinary drill.
Having fallen back about 100 paces, we came into line, faced to the front, and returned the enemy's fire. Again, for want of support, we were obliged to retire, and did so, as before, for about another 100 yards. Maintaining this position for some minutes, we found it necessary to make a retreat to where we could be supported, as the enemy was moving his line on our right and left, and threatening to surround us.
We then moved, by the right of companies, to the rear, out of the woods and across a cotton-field, where the enemy poured musketry and round shot upon us, but without doing much injury. We continued our retreat across the turnpike to the railroad, where we joined the remainder of the brigade, and were ordered to support Battery H, Fifth Artillery.
We remained in this position till about 11.30 a.m., when we were again ordered into the cedars. We advanced this time about 30 yards from the edge of the woods, when we became engaged, and a most terrific conflict ensued. Almost at the commencement of this action Major A.J. Slemmer was so seriously wounded as to be obliged to fall to the rear. About the same time Adjt. John Power was dangerously wounded.
After remaining in this position for about twenty-five minutes, and seeing the right of the brigade retire in order, we were compelled reluctantly to fall back, as the enemy outflanked us on our right and left. The men moved out of the woods by the right of companies with great regularity, notwithstanding the fearful fire to which they were exposed. As we
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KY.,MID.AND E.TENN.,N.ALA.,AND SW.VA. Chapter XXXII.