HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, FIRST DIVISION, LEFT WING,
Near Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 6, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations on my brigade (formerly the Fifteenth Brigade, Sixth Division, but under the new nomenclature the First Brigade, First Division, left wing) on the eventful 31st of December, 1862:
During the night of the 30th, I had received notice, through General Wood, our division commander, that the left wing (Crittenden's corps) would cross Stone's River and attack the enemy on his right. My brigade was posted on the extreme left of our entire line of battle, and was guarding and overlooking the ford, over which we were to cross.
On the morning of the 31st, heavy firing was heard on the extreme right of our line (McCook's corps), but as they had been fighting their way all the distance from Nolensville, as we had from La Vergne, no particular importance was attached to this, and I was getting my brigade into position ready to cross as soon as General Van Cleve's division, which was then crossing, was over. All this time the firing on the right became heavier and apparently nearer to us, and our fears began to be aroused that the right wing was being driven rapidly back upon us. At this juncture Van Cleve halted his division, and the most terrible state of suspense pervaded the entire left, as it became more and more evident that the right was being driven rapidly back upon us.
On and on they came, till the heaviest fire was getting nearly around to the pike leading to Nashville, when General Rosecrans appeared in person, and ordered me to go with my brigade at once to the support of the right, pointing toward our rear, where the heaviest fire was raging. General Van Cleve's division and Colonel Harker's brigade, of our division, received the same order. I at once changed the front of my brigade to the rear, preparatory to starting in the new direction, but had not proceeded more than 200 yards in the new direction before the crowd of fugitives from the right wing became so numerous, and the fleeing mule teams and horseman so thick, that it was impossible for me to go forward with my command without its becoming a confused mass. I therefore halted and awaited developments.
General Van Cleve and Colonel Harker, not meeting with so much opposition, pressed forward and got into position beyond the railroad, ready to open on the enemy as soon as our fugitives were out of the way. They soon opened fire, joined by some batteries and troops belonging to the center (General Thomas' corps) and Estep's battery, of my brigade, and, after about one hour's firing along this new line, during which time I was moving my command from point to point, ready to support any troops that most needed it, the onslaught of the enemy seemed to be in a great measure checked, and we had reasonable probability of maintaining this line. During all this time my men were exposed to a severe fire of shot and shell from a battery on the other side of the river, and several were killed.
About this time an aide of General Palmer came galloping up to me and said that, unless he could be supported, his division would have to give way. Palmer's division formed the right of General Crittenden's line of battle of the morning of the 31st. After consulting with General Wood, he ordered me to send a regiment to support General Palmer; accordingly I sent the Third Kentucky Regiment, commanded by Lieut. Colonel Samuel McKee.
Before the regiment had been ten minutes in its new position, Captain Kerstetter, my adjutant-general, reported to me that Colonel McKee had