five days and nights, with but little rest, having no reserves; their baggage and tents had been loaded and the wagons were 4 miles off; their provisions, if cooked at all, were most imperfectly prepared, with scanty means; the weather had been severe from cold and almost constant rain, and we had no change of clothing, and in many places could not have fires. The necessary consequence was great exhaustion of officers and men, many having to be sent to the hospitals in the rear, and more still were beginning to straggle from their commands, an evil from which we had so far suffered but little. During the whole of this day the rain continued to fall with little intermission, and the rapid rise in Stone's River indicated it would soon be unfordable. Late on Friday night I had received the captured papers of Major-General [A. McD.] McCook, commanding one corps d'armee of the enemy, showing their effective strength to have been very near, if not quite, 70,000 men. Before noon, reports from Brigadier-General Wheeler satisfied me the enemy, instead of retiring, was receiving re-enforcements. Common prudence and the safety of my army, upon which even the safety of our cause depended, left no doubt on my mind as to the necessity of my withdrawal from so unequal a contest. My orders were accordingly given about noon for the movement of the trains, and for the necessary preparation of the troops.
Under the efficient management of the different staff departments everything had been secured and transferred to the rear, including prisoners, captured artillery, small-arms, subsistence, means of transportation, and nearly all our wounded able to bear moving. No movement of any kind was made by the troops on either side during this most inclement day until just at night, when a sharp skirmish occurred between Polk's right and the enemy's left flank, resulting in nothing decisive. The only question with me was, whether the movement should be made at once or delayed for twenty-four hours, to save a few more of our wounded. As it was probable we should lose by exhaustion as many as we should remove of the wounded, my inclination to remain was yielded. The whole force, except the cavalry, was put in motion at 11 p. m., and the army retired in perfect order to its present position behind Duck River without receiving or giving a shot. Our cavalry held the position before Murfreesborough until Monday morning, the 5th, when it quietly retired, as ordered, to cover our front.
We left about 1,200 badly wounded, one-half of whom we learn have since died from the severity of their injuries; about 300 sick, too feeble to bear transportation, and about 200 well men and medical officers as their attendants. In addition to this, the enemy had captured about 800 prisoners from us. As the 1,200 wounded are counted once under that head among our losses, they should be excluded in the general total.
As an offset to this loss we had secured, as will appear from the report of my inspector-general, herewith, marked A, considerably over 6,000 prisoners; had captured over thirty pieces of artillery, 6,000 stand of small-arms, a number of wagons, ambulances, mules, and harness, with a large amount of other valuable property, all of which was secured and appropriated to proper uses. Besides all this secured, we had destroyed not less than 800 wagons, mostly loaded with various articles, such as arms, ammunition, provisions, baggage, clothing, medicines, and hospital stores. We had lost three pieces of artillery only-all in Breckinridge's repulse.
A number of stand of colors (nine of which are forwarded with this report) were also captured on the field. Others known to have been taken have not been sent in. The list, marked B, is herewith transmitted.