War of the Rebellion: Serial 029 Page 0665 Chapter XXXII. THE STONE'S RIVER CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

a short time our whole line, except Breckinridge's command, was warmly engaged. From this time we continued to drive the enemy more or less rapidly until his line was thrown entirely back at right angles to his first position, and occupied the cut of the railroad, along which he had massed his reserves and posted very strong batteries. A reference to the map Numbers 2* will show this second and strong position.

The enemy's loss was very heavy in killed and wounded, far exceeding our own, as appeared from a critical examination of the field, now almost entirely in our possession. Of artillery alone we had secured more than twenty-five pieces.

While the infantry and artillery were occupied in this successful work, Brigadier-General Wharton, with his cavalry command, was most actively and gallantly engaged on the enemy's right and rear, where he inflicted a heavy loss in killed and wounded, captured a full battery of artillery endeavoring to escape, and secured and sent in near 2,000 prisoners. These important successes and results had not been achieved without heavy sacrifices on our part, as the resistance of the enemy after the first surprise was most gallant and obstinate. Numbering at least two to our one, he was enabled to bring fresh troops at every point to resist our progress, and he did so with a skill and judgment which has ever characterized his able commander. Finding Lieutenant-General Hardee so formidably opposed by the movement of the enemy to his front, re-enforcements for him were ordered from Major-General Breckinridge, but the orders were countermanded, as will hereafter appear, and Polk's corps was pressed forward with vigor, hoping to draw the enemy back or rout him on the right as he already had been on the left. We succeeded in driving him from every position except the strong one held by his extreme left flank, resting on Stone's River, and covered by a concentration of artillery of superior range and caliber, which seemed to bid us defiance. The difficulties of our general advance had been greatly enhanced by the topography of the country. All parts of our line had to pass in their progress over ground of the roughest character, covered with huge stones and studded with the densest growth of cedar, the branches reaching to the ground and forming an almost impassable brake. Our artillery could rarely be used, while the enemy, holding defensive lines, had selected formidable positions for his batteries and this dense cover for his infantry, from both of which he had to be dislodged by our infantry alone. The determined and unvarying gallantry of our troops, and the uninterrupted success which attended their repeated charges against these strongholds, defended by double their numbers, fully justified the unbounded confidence I had ever reposed in them and had so often expressed. To meet our successful advance and retrieve his losses in the front of our left, the enemy early transferred a portion of his reserve from his left to that flank, and by 2 o'clock had succeeded in concentrating such a force in Lieutenant-General Hardee's front as to check his further progress. Our two lines had by this time become almost blended, so much weakened were they by losses, exhaustion, and extension to cover the enemy's whole front.

As early as 10 a. m. Major-General Breckinridge was called on for one brigade, and soon after for a second, to re-enforce, or act as a reserve to, Lieutenant-General Hardee. His reply to the first call represented the enemy crossing Stone's River in heavy force in his immediate front, and on receiving the second order he informed me they had already crossed in heavy force and were advancing on him in two lines. He was immediately ordered not to await attack, but to advance and meet

---------------

*To appear in Atlas.

---------------