HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, LEFT WING,
Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 10, 1863.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division during the recent battles, after the command devolved upon me, on the evening of December 31, 1862:
At that time the division was considerably scattered, as Colonel Harker's brigade had been in action during the 31st on the extreme right, and had not returned. Colonel Wagner's was in position to the left of the railroad, where it had been in action during the day, and my brigade was to the right of the railroad.
About 11 p.m. of that day Colonel Harker returned with his brigade, and the division was once more together. At this time I received an order to send all the wagons of the division to the rear, and, shortly after this was executed, I received an order from General Crittenden to fall back, so that my right should rest on the position occupied by Stokes' battery, and my left on the right of General Palmer's division. This brought the new line of the division about 500 yards to the rear of the one of the day before. The line of the division was now nearly at right angles with the railroad, with the center of the line resting on it-the First Brigade, Colonel Buell, on the right; the Third, Colonel Harker, in the center, and the Second, Colonel Wagner, on the left.
In this position we lay all the next day, January 1, with nothing more to break the silence than picket firing and an occasional artillery duel. The division lost, however, several killed and wounded during the day. Each of my brigades was in line of battle, and I was occupying so much front that it kept the men constantly on the alert. Most of the other divisions had one or two brigades in reserve, and could, therefore, relieve their men some.
We maintained this position during the night of the 1st, and till about 8 o'clock in the morning of the 2nd, the battery occupying the intervals between brigades. At this time the enemy opened upon us the most terrific fire of shot and shell that we sustained during the entire engagement. It appears that during the night before they had massed and masked several batteries in our front, so they opened on us from a line of batteries one-quarter of a mile long, all at once. They had our range perfectly, so that their fire was terribly effective from the first.
Estep's battery, on the right of my line, being in an exposed position, and receiving a very heavy fire, had to retire at once; not, however, till so many horses had been killed as to render it necessary for two of the pieces to be hauled to the rear by the infantry. Bradley's battery, with Colonel Harker in the center, having a better position and longer-range guns, opened a brisk fire on the enemy in return, and had every probability of maintaining their position until Stokes' battery, in their rear, undertook to open on the enemy with grape, which took effect on Bradley's men instead of the enemy, and compelled Bradley to retire. The infantry, however, along my entire line, though suffering severely from the enemy's fire, all maintained their position.
After about half an hour this firing ceased, and nothing further worthy of note happened till about 4 o'clock in the afternoon of that day. At this time General Van Cleve's division, which was stationed across Stone's River to our left, was suddenly attacked by a heavy force of the enemy under Breckinridge, and so fierce was the onslaught that the division was compelled to give way almost immediately. General Jefferson C. Davis and General Negley were immediately ordered to their relief with their divisions, and, as soon as they had time to get over, the attack was checked and the enemy began to retire.