No. 291. Report of MajorJoseph T. Smith, Ninth Georgia Battalion.
CAMP NEAR SHELBYVILLE, TENN., January 9, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit a report of the part taken by my command in the late battle of Murfreesborough.
On the evening of December 30, 1863, we took up our position in line of battle on the left wing of the army, and soon after doing so the action commenced to our right. The position we had taken was such as to bring us directly within range of the enemy's artillery, and, though in open ground, no casualty occurred during the evening.
At a very early our on Wednesday morning, December 31, we were under arms and informed by General Rains that we were to charge the enemy's line. At about 6 a.m. we commenced the advance, the men being so eager for the fray that it was in a manner impossible to restrain them in order. After advancing some 600 or 800 yards, we came upon the enemy's pickets, who were fleeing in all directions. We gave chase, and advanced so rapidly that we were at the enemy's batteries before he was able to fire upon us. We pushed forward without waiting even to examine the batteries, and, after thus advancing at a double-quick a mile or more, were halted by General Rains and reformed. We here swung round to the right, and, crossing the Franklin pike, passed into a dense woods. Upon proceeding a short distance we came upon the enemy occupying a strong position, and successfully resisting the advance of our right for a few moments, after which they fled. During the momentary check of our right wing, the left of my command, finding but little resistance, still advanced, and thus became separated from my right. A company or more of the left of my command by this means pushed forward with the Eleventh Tennessee Regiment, which occupied a position to my left, and did not join me again during the day. Upon routing the enemy from the cliff of rocks where we first encountered them in the woods, we pushed forward in pursuit, but soon found ourselves confronted by the enemy's batteries, very heavily supported by infantry. My command, at this time not numbering over 130 men, and having no support, were reduced to the necessity of falling back, with was done in tolerable order. The men being utterly exhausted, I ordered a rest, and proceeded to gather my stragglers, and in the mean time, ascertaining that we were to form a new line of battle near where we then were, in company with Lieutenant-Colonel Stovall's Third Georgia Battalion took our position in that line. At this place we remained until Friday night, January 2, having frequent skirmishers with the enemy's pickets, undergoing occasionally severe shelling from the enemy's batteries.
The conduct of my command, with some trifling exception, was worthy the highest praise.
The list of casualties* has heretofore been furnished.
The meagerness and incompleteness of this report be accounted for by reason of my not having any facilities for writing with me at present.
All of which is very respectfully submitted.
JOSEPH T. SMITH,
Major, Commanding Ninth Georgia Battalion.
T. B. THOMPSON,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Brigade.
*Embodied in No. 191, p.681.