War of the Rebellion: Serial 029 Page 0450 KY.,MID. AND E.TENN.,N.ALA.,AND SW.VA. Chapter XXXII.

Search Civil War Official Records

left wing still nobly maintained their position, though several times assaulted by the enemy in great force. It was evident that it was vital to us that this position should be held, at least, until our troops, which had been driven back, could establish themselves on their new line.

The country is deeply indebted to Generals Wood and Palmer for the sound judgment, skill, and courage with which they managed their commands at this important crisis in the battle. The reports of my division commanders show how nobly and how ably they were supported by their officers; and the most melancholy and convincing proof of the bravery of all who fought in this part of the field is their terrible list of the killed and wounded, for with them there was no rout and no confusion. The men who fell fell fighting in the ranks.

Generals Wood and Van Cleve being wounded on the 31st, their commanders devolved, of course, on other officers, General Hascall taking command of Wood's division and Colonel Beatty of Van Cleve's, on the 1st of January. It was a fortunate thing that competent and gallant officers took command of these noble divisions. On the night of the 31st, with the consent of the general commanding, I reunited my command, bringing them all together on the left of the turnpike; and before daylight, by orders from the general commanding, we took up a new line of battle, about 500 yards to the rear of our former line. Hascall's division was ordered to rest their right on the position occupied by Stoke's battery, and his left on General Palmer's right. General Palmer was to rest his left on the ford, the right extending toward the railroad and perpendicular to it, thus bringing the line at right angles to the railroad and turnpike, and extending from Stone's battery to the ford.

On the morning of January 1, Van Cleve's division, again crossed the river and took position on ground the general considered important we should hold, extending from the ford about half a mile from the river, the right resting on the high ground near the river, and the left thrown forward, so that the direction of the line should be nearly perpendicular to it. These changes in position having been accomplished, the day passed quietly, except continued skirmishing and occasional artillery firing.

The next day, January 2, large forces of the enemy's infantry and artillery were seen to pass to their right, apparently contemplating an attack. Lieutenant Livingston, with Drury's battery, was ordered over the river, and Colonel Grose's brigade, of Palmer's division, was also crossed over, taking post on the hill near the hospital, so as to protect the left and rear of Beatty's position.

On the evening of the 2nd, about 4 p.m., a sudden and concentrated attack was made on the Third Division, now commanded by Colonel Beatty. Several batteries opened at the same time on this division. The overwhelming numbers of the enemy directed upon two brigades forced them, after a bloody but short conflict, back to the river. The object of the enemy (it is since ascertained) was to take the battery which we had on that side of the river. In this attempt it is most likely they would have succeeded, but for the sound judgment and wise precaution of Colonel Beatty in changing the position of his battery.

It was so late when the attack was made that the enemy, failing in their enterprise to capture our battery, were sure of not suffering any great disaster in case of a repulse, because night would protect them. They not only failed to capture our battery, but lost four of their guns in their repulse and flight.

As soon as it became evident that the enemy were driving Colonel