and Nell's batteries, was posted on the rolling slopes of the west bank of Stone's River, in advance, but joining the extreme right of General Crittenden's line and the left of General McCook's.
In the rear and on the right was a dense cedar woods, with a broken rocky surface. From our position several roads were cut through the woods in our rear, by which to bring up the artillery and ammunition trains. In front a heavy growth of oak timber extended toward the river, which was about a mile distant. A narrow thicket crossed our left diagonally, and skirted the base of a cultivated slope, which expanded to the width of a mile as it approached the Nashville pike. This slope afforded the enemy his most commanding position (in the center), on the crest of which his rifle-pits extended, with intervals, from the oak timber immediately in my front to the Nashville pike, with a battery of four Napoleon and two iron guns placed in position near the woods, and about 800 yards from my position. Behind this timber, on the river bank, the enemy massed his columns for the movements of the next day. Their skirmishers were driven from our immediate front after a sharp contest, in which the Nineteenth Illinois and Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers displayed admirable efficiency. The position of my command was held under a heavy fire until darkness terminated the skirmishing in our front, by which time we had inflicted considerable loss upon the enemy.
In the mean time General Sheridan's division came up and formed line of battle, his left resting on my right, and began to advance, driving the enemy until he had passed the center of my right brigade. While General Sheridan was in this position, I changed my front slightly, bearing it more to the left, to avoid masking a portion of Sheridan's command. The troops remained in this position, and in order of battle, all night, cheerfully enduring the rain and cold, awaiting the morrow's sun to renew the contest.
Early the next morning, and before the heavy fog had drifted away from our front, the enemy in strong force attacked and surprised General McCook's right, commencing a general action, which increased in intensity toward his left. Sheridan's division stood its ground manfully, supported by the Eighth Division, repulsing and driving the enemy at every advance. The enemy still gained ground on General McCook's right, and succeeded in placing several batteries in position, which covered my right. From these and the battery on my left, which most destructive. Houghtaling's, Schultz's, Marshall's, Bush's, and Nell's batteries were all ordered into action in my front, pouring destructive volleys of grape and shell into the advancing columns of the enemy, mowing him down like swarths of grain. For four hours the Eighth Division, with a portion of Sheridan's and Palmer's divisions, maintained their position amid a murderous storm of lead and iron, strewing the ground with their heroic dead. The enemy, maddened to desperation by the determined resistance, still pressed forward fresh troops, concentrating and forming them in a concentric line of either flank.
By 11 o'clock Sheridan's men, with their ammunition exhausted, were falling back. General Rousseau's reserve and General Palmer's division had retired in rear of the cedars to form a new line. The artillery ammunition was expended; that of the infantry reduced to a few rounds; the artillery horses were nearly all killed or wounded; my ammunition train had been sent back to avoid capture; a heavy column of