War of the Rebellion: Serial 029 Page 0574 KY., MID. AND E. TENN. N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXII.

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Numbers 143. Report of Brigadier General Horatio P. Van Cleve, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division.




---, 1863

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my division on December 31, 1862:

At 7 o'clock in the morning of that day I received an order to cross Stone's River, on which my left rested, and march toward Murfreesborough. The First Brigade, Colonel Beatty, Third Brigade, Colonel Price,and the batteries, Captain Swallow commanding, were promptly moved over and formed in line. The Second Brigade, Colonel Fyffe, being retained on the south side by a subsequent order, my lines being formed and about to advance, by your order I recrossed the river, leaving the Third Brigade to guard the ford. With the First Brigade I marched rapidly to the support of General Rousseau, whose division was hard pressed by the enemy. We formed in a wood on the south side of the Murfreesborough and Nashville turnpike.

Our lines were no sooner formed than the enemy was seen advancing, driving before him our scattered troops. Our ranks were opened to suffer these to pass, when they closed and opened on the enemy a withering fire, which soon brought him to a halt. A murderous fire was kept up on both sides about twenty minutes, when the enemy began to recoil. Our second line nw relieving the first with hearty cheers, the rebels broke and retreated. The Second Brigade, coming up at this moment, formed on the right and joined in the pursuit. We pressed the enemy through this wood, then across an open field to another wood, where they appeared to have met with re-enforcements and reformed.

The Seventh Indiana Battery, Captain Swallow, joined us in the open field and rendered efficient aid.

Here I received information from General Rosecrans that General

Rousseau was driving the enemy, accompanied with an order for me to press them hard. At the same time, I was notified by a messenger from Colonel Harker, whose brigade was to my right and rear, that the enemy were in force on my right, in a wood, and were planting a battery there. I immediately sent a message to Colonel Harker to press the enemy hard, as I had no reserve to protect my right; to Captain Swallow, who was doing good service with his battery, not to suffer it to be captured; to Colonel Beatty to send two regiments if they could possibly be spared, to the support of Colonel Fyffe, and a fourth to General Crittenden, to inform him of my critical situation. The enemy now poured a galling fire of musketry, accompanied with grape and shell, on our right. Colonel Fyffe's, brigade, supported by Captain Swallow's battery, gallantly returned the fire, but, being overpowered by numbers on front and flank, were soon compelled to retire, followed but a short distance by the enemy.

Captain Swallow, to whom too much praise cannot be awarded, brought off his battery safely. Colonel Beatty, who had been pressing the enemy on the left, as soon as he learned the conditions of affairs, retired in good order. With two of his regiments he was ordered by General Rosecrans to protect a battery on the Murfreesborough road. The remaining two regiments of his brigade and Colonel Fyffe's brigade were reformed and took a position on the left of General McCook's corps, and