No. 110. Report of Major Henry Leaming, Fortieth Indiana Infantry,
including skirmish at La Vergne, December 27.
HEADQUARTERS FORTIETH INDIANA VOLUNTEERS,
Near Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 9, 1863.
SIR: On the 26th ultimo the Fortieth Indiana Volunteers, commanded by Colonel John W. Blake, marched from Nashville, in the direction of Murfreesborough, and camped near the village of La Vergne, the pickets from this regiment covering the right of the brigade, and one-half of the regiment having been thrown forward for this purpose, the entire picket line of the brigade being made the charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Neff, of this regiment.
The night passed quietly, but early on the morning of the 27th firing commenced between our outposts and those of the enemy who occupied the village, which was kept up briskly for some time, and terminated with a few rounds of artillery firing on either side. The regiment had 1 man wounded in this skirmish.
At about midday we again took the road, and without further casualty marched to Stewart's Creek and encamped, remaining till the morning of the 29th, when we crossed the creek and moved forward amid occasional skirmishing till arriving about 2 1/2 miles from Murfreesborough, where we halted, our right resting on the turnpike at the toll-gate, and the left resting on the railroad.
We remained at this point till the morning of the 31st without casualty, having picketed the front on the nights of the 29th and 30th.
On the 31st firing was heard off to our right from both artillery and small-arms, indicating an important movement in that direction; but the regiment made no change of position, keeping the men ready for instant action.
About 9 a.m. the troops to our right were discovered to be falling back, and we were ordered to retire and move to a position from which we could advance to their support. The enemy were soon repulsed, however, and we were then ordered to take position in rear of Cox's battery, and on a line with that the regiment occupied in the morning, our right resting on the railroad, the left extending nearly at right angles from it. In this position we were exposed to the fire from the enemy's guns, and lost some men, wounded.
We remained here but a short time, when we were ordered to retire the regiment slowly, which order was about being executed when General Palmer, mistaking the Fortieth for the Ninth Indiana, ordered it to remain. Some time was consumed in explaining the mistake, which kept the regiment to the rear of the line of the retiring brigade. The movement on the part of the Fortieth Indiana was being executed with much confusion and greatly to the dissatisfaction of the company officers, as well as to Lieutenant-Colonel Neff and myself, the confusion arising from the intoxication of Colonel Blake, who was discovered to be utterly unfit to command. These facts were reported to Colonel Wagner, who promptly put Colonel Blake in arrest, and ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Neff to assume command.
Shortly thereafter an order came from Colonel Wagner directing that the regiment advance at once and engage the enemy; but this order was found to be impracticable, as there were at that moment two lines immediately in front of us. Lieutenant-Colonel Neff, however, directed the adjutant to say to the officer commanding the front lien that the
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