HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, Shelbyville, Tenn., January 10, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit my report of the part taken in the battle of Murfreesborough on the 31st ultimo by the Second Brigade, McCown's division.
On the morning of the 31st, the brigade was formed in line at
day-break, the Twenty-ninth North Carolina Regiment having just arrived from McMinnville, Tenn. The command "forward" was soon given, and the whole command promptly sprang forward, soon taking the double-quick, which was kept, under the direction of General Rains (who gallantly led his troops forward), until arriving at a lange, where we encountered the enemy's pickets, who fired upon us and fled. One man in the Twenty-ninth North Carolina was killed in the first fire. Crossing the fences, the double-quick was taken again, the enemy's skirmishers continuing to retreat rapidly before our shouting and triumphant troops. The charge was continued for about the distance of 3 miles, when the command was halted, the flank resting on a creek. Here the stragglers were gathered up and the brigade reformed.
During the charge the Twenty-ninth North Carolina Regiment captured one 12-pounder howitzers, one six-horse wagon laden with ammunition, and one medical wagon, while the gunners were driven from a battery on the right of Colonel Stovall, Third Georgia, and the pieces sent to the rear. The charge was so rapid that time was not afforded to ascertain the number of pieces thus sent back, as the command was not halted for a moment.
After resting for a short time, the command was moved some distance by the right flank, then moved by the front through several fields into a grove of oaks.
At this point the brigade was changed somewhat. Colonel Stovall, Third Georgia [Battalion], was placed on right; Major [J. T.] Smith, Ninth Georgia, next; then Colonel Vance, Twenty-ninth North Carolina, leaving Colonel [G. W.] Gordon, Eleventh Tennessee, on left. In this manner we advanced, encountering the enemy in force in a few moments. He delivered one fire and fell back in confusion, our boys pushing on with enthusiasm, charging through the forest, and driving the enemy pell-mell before them. The enemy formed again on a slight elevation in our front, from which they were soon driven into a cedar thicket, and from thence finally into a large field under cover of their guns, a heavy battery of which opened on us at once with shell, grape, and canister, while the enemy's infantry rallied and opened fire from two or three heavy lines of battle. Here was the struggle for the day, and a hard one it was. Almost immediately after his hard contest began our gallant and noble brigadier-general (James E. Rains) was shot through the heart, falling dead from his horse. Still, the troops fought on, though the fall of so daring a leader necessarily produced considerable confusion. Owing to the dense cedar through which we were charging, the Third and Ninth Georgia Battalions got separated from the Twenty-ninth North Carolina and Eleventh Tennessee, on the extreme right. From the reports of Colonel Stovall and Major Smith, I learn that these gallant commands were hotly engaged in front and on the right flank, being subjected to an enfilading fire. They drove the enemy from his position, and, finding the line falling back, joined it and reformed in the oak woods. They subsequently obtained position on the right of General Johnson's brigade, and continued there until placed in the new line of battle near the cedar swamp, and were kept in line until Friday night, January 2, having occasional skirmishes wit the enemy in front.