At this time I received an order from General Crittenden to cross with my division, and immediately put the different brigades in motion. While crossing at the ford, one or two pieces of the enemy's artillery were playing upon us, but as it was then dusk, their firing was not accurate, and I think we sustained no loss in crossing. By the time we were over it was quite dark, and the firing had nearly ceased. Negley's division was returning, and Davis' had taken up a position a little in advance of where Van Cleve's division was attacked, his right resting on the bank of the river. I moved up and went into position on the left of Davis, my left inclining somewhat to the rear, to prevent it from being turned.
General Davis and myself then fortified our fronts as well as we could with the logs, stones, and rails at hand, and remained in this position that night, the next day (January 3), and till about 12 o'clock that night, without anything more than picket firing transpiring. I should remark that it rained very hard all day of January 3, and during the night, so that our men and officers suffered severely.
By this time the rains had so swollen the river that General Crittenden became apprehensive that it would not be fordable by morning, and we might be cut off from communication with the main body of our army. He, therefore, ordered us back, and my division took up a position in reserve, near General Rosecrans' headquarters, arriving there about 2 o'clock at night, completely drenched with mud and rain. They had now been on duty four days and nights, some of the time with nothing to eat, and all the time in the front, where they had to be constantly on the alert. The next morning we heard that the enemy had retreated, and the battle was over.
The conduct of the division throughout was admirable, and it can be truthfully said concerning it that it held its original position and every other position assigned to it during the whole four days, and this is more than can be said of any other division in the entire Fourteenth Army Corps.
I am under great obligations to my brigade commanders, Colonels Wagner, Harker, and Buell. Colonel Wagner had his horse shot under him on the 31st, and his clothes completely riddled with bullets. He, nevertheless, stood by throughout, and ably and gallantly performed his duty. The conduct of Colonel Harker was equally brave and efficient. They have each commanded brigades for nearly a year now, and it seems to me that common justice demands that they now receive the promotion they have so gallantly earned. Colonel Buell came in command of the First Brigade in consequence of my taking command of the division, and, although comparatively inexperienced, he performed every duty gallantly and well.
All the officers of the division, with a single exception, behaved gallantly and well; therefore I need not discriminate. The exception was Colonel John W. Blake, of the Fortieth Indiana, and I consider it my duty to draw the line of distinction broad and deep between those who do well and those who prove recreant. He became so drunk as to be unfit for duty before going into action on the 31st, and was sent to the rear, in arrest, by his immediate commander, Colonel Wagner. The next that was heard of him he was in Nashville, claiming to be wounded and a paroled prisoner. For this bad conduct I recommend that he be dishonorably discharged from the service.
For minute particulars, and for a complete report of the part performed by the different brigades, I refer you to the reports of brigade commanders, herewith inclosed.