Numbers 134 Report of Colonel Walter C. Whitaker, Sixth Kentucky Infantry.
HEADQUARTERS SIXTH KENTUCKY INFANTRY,
Battle-field of Stone's River, Tenn. January 6, 1863
The undersigned, Walter C. Whitaker, colonel commanding Sixth Kentucky Infantry, of the Second Brigade, late the Nineteenth, commanded by Colonel W. B. Hazen, of the Second Division, late the Fourth, commanded by General Palmer, makes the following report of the part taken by the Sixth Kentucky Infantry in the battle of Stone's River:
On the night of December 30, the Sixth Kentucky and Forty-first Ohio Volunteers were drawn up in line of battle, fronting east and toward Murfreesborough, in advance of the army, on a cotton-field lying south of the Nashville and Murfreesborough turnpike road, and near where the same crosses the. Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and also near where both roads strike the bank of Stone's River. On the east, some 250 yards in front of the Sixth Kentucky, on a high piece of ground, in a curtilage, surrounded with a strong palisade of cedar timbers, some 7 or 8 feet high, firmly set in the ground, stands the burnt brick dwellinghouse of Mr. Cowan; in the of this house the enemy had their rifle-pits. Beyond the house the ground gently rose higher for some 300 yards to the crest of the ridge, on the top of which, in a southeasterly direction, the enemy had a battery. Beyond the crest of the hill, and toward the river from the house, the ground gently sloped until it reached the river and a grove of timber in the rear. On this slope, concealed from our view, the enemy had an earthen breastwork for infantry and artillery. On the right and south of the position of the Sixth was a dense wood of oak and tall cedar. In the same direction, his left resting on the right of the Sixth, with an interval of 250 yards between them, General Cruft had his brigade drawn up in line of battle. Immediately in rear of, and west of, the Sixth was on open field, with a few old houses, some scattered trees, and large surface rocks, through which the turnpike and railroad ran. Directly north of this line of battle was an embankment of the railroad, some 7 or 8 feet in height. On the edge of this field the gallant Ninth Indiana and One hundred and tenth Illinois were drawn up as reserve. Company D, Captain Proctor, and Company I, Lieutenant Patchin, from the Forty-first Ohio Volunteers, and Company C, Captain Todd, and Company I, Captain Stein, of the Sixth Kentucky, were acting as pickets, Companies C and I occupying the curtilage of the brick house, with a small interval between them and the enemy's pickets.
Shortly after sunrise on the morning of the 31st, the pickets were attacked by the enemy, but maintained their position. Heavy firing was soon heard on the right of our army and gave indications of the rapid advance of the enemy. The enemy soon made a most furious attack upon our left. The pickets of the Sixth were driven in by a large force, which, protected by the palisade and out-buildings of Mr. Cowan's house and the high ground, opened a galling fire on the Sixth, which was in the open ground. They gradually advanced under cover, with the intention of flanking the Sixth on the right. Changing position by the right flank, the regiment was formed in line of battle in the skirt of timber south of the cotton-field---an advantageous position--under cover of the timber. Here we were assaulted by a large body of the enemy; from their numbers I estimated them as a brigade as a brigade. Three times they advanced, and as often were they driven back with great slaughter.