Aquila Wiley, and upon leaving Nahsville, numbered an efffective aggregate of 1,391, officers and men.
Being summoned before the commission, then sitting for the investigation, of the official course of Major-General Buell, I did not, until evening, join the brigade, which had marched to within 2 miles of La Vergne. Just before my arrival, two regiments of the brigade had been thrown forward to the right of the road into a dense cedar brake; and-as its temporary commander did not think it necessary to throw forward skirmishers- the flank was marched upon a force of the enemy, who, firing from under cover upon the head of the column, killed one of the Ninth Indiana, wounded another, and wounded two of the Sixth Kentucky.
At 12 m., December 27, I was ordered to proceed, via the Jefferson pike, to Stewart's Creek, and save, if possible, the bridge crossing it. Ninety cavalry, of the Fourth Michigan, under Captain Mix, were sent to me. I placed these under charge of my assistant inspector-general, Captain James McCleery, Forty-first Ohio Volunteers, with directions to keep me thoroughly informed of all that transpired, and as soon as the advance of the enemy was started to put spurs to his troop, and not slack rein until the bridge was crossed. The distance did not exceed 5 miles, and by disposing flankers, for perfect security, and urging the artillery and infantry to its fullest speed, I was enabled to keep within supporting distance all the time.
The enemy was not 3 miles from the bridge,and, by closely following my directions a steeply-chase was made of the whole affair, the rebel force amounting to full five to our one. By the time the bridge was reached they had formed upon the opposite side of the creek, but were soon dispersed by a few discharges from our artillery.
In this affair we lost 1 cavalryman killed and 2 captured by the enemy. We took 10 prisoners, one of whom an officer, and killed 1 commissioned officer and several men.
Too much credit cannot be given to Captain McCleery, of my staff, and Captain Mix, of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry, for spirit and daring in this affair. On reaching the bridge my little party were upon the heels of the fugitives, and had they been armed with sabers, in place of rifles, by slashing upon their rear the rout would have been pushed to a panic.
On the 29th, I was ordered across to the Nashville and Murfreesborough pike, and, joining the division, proceeded to within 3 miles of Murfreesborough.
On the night of the 30th, the brigade was ordered to the front line, to relieve the Tenth Brigade.
This position we held at the commencement of the general action of the 31st, and it deserves special notice. It was in a cotton-field, 2 1/2 miles from Murfreesborough, on the place of Mr. Cowan, the line being at right angles with the Nashville and Murfreesborough pike, the left resting on the pike at a point about 500 yards toward Nashville, from the intersection of the pike with the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. The railroad and pike at this point cross at a sharp angle. The position was utterly untenable, it being commanded by ground in all directions with covers of wood, embankment, and palisading at good musket range in front, right, and left. My brigade was formed in two lines, the right resting against a skirt of woods, which, widening, and extending to the right,gave concealment to the Twenty-second Brigade, which was adjacent to mine, and, farther on, the entire division of Negley.
On the left of the pike was Wagner's brigade, of Wood's division. The