On the 30th the entire cavalry force was engaged in guarding the flanks of the army, in position. Some small cavalry skirmishing occurred, but nothing of importance.
At 11 p. m., the 30th, I marched for La Vergne with the First Tennessee and the Anderson Cavalry. Near that place I was joined by detachments of the Fourth Michigan and Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry.
At 9.30 o'clock on the 31st I received an order from the general commanding, directing me to hasten to the right. I made all possible speed, leaving a strong detachment to protect the trains crowding the road at Stewartsborough and to pick up straggles. Upon arriving upon the right flank of the army, I found order restored, and took position on General McCook's right, my right extending toward Wilkinson's Cross-Roads, occupying the woods about the meeting-house on Overall's Creek.
In this position we were attacked about 4 p. m. by a long line of foot skirmishers. My first impression was that these covered infantry, but I learned soon that they were only dismounted cavalry. We successfully held them at bay for one-half an hour with the Fourth Michigan and Seventh Pennsylvania, dismounted, when, being outflanked, I ordered our line to mount and fall back to the open field. The enemy followed here, and being re-enforced by detachments of the Anderson and Third Kentucky Cavalry, and the First Tennessee, we charged the enemy and put him to rout. The cavalry held the same position this night they had taken upon my arrival upon the field.
About 9 o'clock New Year's morning the enemy showed a line of skirmishers in the woods to our front, and soon after brought a six-gun battery to bear upon my cavalry. As we could not reach the enemy's skirmishers, nor reply to his artillery, I ordered my cavalry to fall back. A part of Zahm's brigade marched this day to Nashville to protect our train. Colonel Zahm's report is inclosed.
January 2 and 3 the cavalry was engaged in watching the flanks of our position. Upon the 4th it became evident that the enemy had fled. The cavalry was collected and moved to the fords of Stone's River. Upon the 5th we entered Murfreesborough. Zahm's brigade marched in pursuit of the enemy on the Shelbyville pike-marched 6 miles, finding no opposition. With the remainder of the cavalry I marched on the Manchester pike and encountered the enemy in heavy force at Lytle's Creek, 3 1/2 miles from town. We fought with this force till near sundown, pushing them from one cedar-brake to another, when, being re-enforced by General Spears' brigade of East Tennesseeans, we drove the enemy out of his last stand in disorder. We returned after dark and encamped on Lytle's Creek. Our troops all behaved well. The skirmishing was of a very severe character. The Fourth U. S. Cavalry, which was this day first under my control, behaved very handsomely.
Inclosed please find reports of division, brigade, and regimental commanders. Captain Otis' command acted independently until the 5th instant, when they came under my orders.
Inclosed find list of killed, wounded, and missing,* excepting from Anderson Cavalry; the report of this regiment I have not received. A special report of officers and soldiers deserving mention will be submitted. The duty of the cavalry was very arduous. From December 26 to January 4 the saddles were only taken off to groom, and were immediately replaced.
*Embodied in revised statement, p. 214.