Beatty, I turned to my chief of artillery, Captain John Mendenhall, and said, "Now, Mendenhall, you must cover my men with your cannon." Without any show of excitement or haste, almost as soon as the order was given, the batteries began to open, so perfectly had he placed them. In twenty minutes from the time the order was received, fifty-two guns were firing upon the enemy. They cannot be said to have been checked in their advance-from a rapid advance they broke at once into a rapid retreat. Re-enforcements soon began to arrive, and our troops crossed the river, and pursued the fleeing enemy until dark.
It is a pleasant thing to report that officers and men from the center and right wing hurried to the support of the left, when it was known to be hard pressed. General J. C. Davis sent a brigade at once without orders; then applied for and obtained orders to follow immediately with his division. General Negley, from the center, crossed with a part of his division. General McCook, to whom I applied for a brigade, not knowing of Davis' movement, ordered immediately Colonel Gibson to go with his brigade, and the colonel and the brigade passed at double-quick in less than five minutes after the request was made. Honor is due to such men.
On the right of the 2nd, General Hascall, with his division, and General Davis, with his, encamped a little in advance of the position which Beatty had occupied. General Palmer, commanding the Second Division, encamped with two brigades in reserve to Hascall's and Davis' divisions and the remaining brigade on this side of the river.
In this position these troops remained until Saturday night, when, the river beginning to rise and the rain continuing to fall, it was feared we might be separated from the rest of the army, and all recrossed the river, except Palmer's two brigades, which remained, and did not come back until was ascertained the next day, Sunday, that the enemy had evacuated Murfreesborough.
I feel that this report of the part taken by my command in the battle of Stone's River is very imperfect. I have only endeavored to give a general outline of the most important features of the battle. The reports, however, of the division, brigade, and regimental commanders, together with the report of the chief of artillery, accompanying this report, give a detailed and good account of the memorable incidents which occurred in this protracted fight.
Reports of the division commanders show how nobly they were sustained by their subordinate officers, and all reports show how nobly the troops behaved. Generals Wood and Van Cleve, though wounded early in the battle of the 31st, remained in the saddle on the field throughout the day, and at night were ordered to the rear. General Palmer, exposing himself everywhere and freely, escaped unhurt, and commanded the Second Division throughout the battle.
To these three division commanders I return my most earnest and heartfelt thanks for the brave, prompt, and able manner in which they executed every order, and I very urgently present their names to the commanding general and to the Government as having fairly earned promotion.
After the 31st, General Hascall commanded Wood's division (the First) and Colonel Beatty (the Third) Van Cleve's. To these officers I am indebted for the same cheerful and prompt obedience to orders and same brave support which I received from their predecessors in command, and I also respectfully present their names to the commanding general and the Government as having earned promotion on the field of battle.
There are numerous cases of distinguished conduct, in brigade as well