No. 296. Report of Lieut. Col. James A. Williamson, Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles (dismounted).
CAMP NEAR SHELBYVILLE, TENN., January 10, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Second Regiment Arkansas Riflemen (dismounted) in the battles before Murfreesborough, Tenn., on the 30th and 31st ultimo:
On the evening of the 30th, from the position regiment occupied in line, it was exposed to the fire of the enemy's batteries and sharpshooters, the casualties from which were 1 killed and 14 wounded.
About dark on the evening of the 30th, we were move forward about 150 yards, stacked arms, and bivouacked for the night.
On the morning of the 31st, about 5.30 o'clock I was ordered to form my regiment, and as soon as formed ordered to load. I few moments before 6 o'clock ordered forward, moving west. About half a mile from the starting point we attacked the enemy in a cedar thicket. As my command crossed the fence into the thicket, I observed the enemy's line give way. They were routed and pursued for a distance of about 1 mile. During this engagement a large number of the enemy were killed, wounded, and taken prisoners. I was ordered to halt my command and move back about 150 yards. We then changed direction to the right, and moved about half a mile to a lane fence and halted for a few moments. I was then ordered to move by the right flank, then by file right, and then by left flank, which brought my command against the right of the enemy that were engaging General Liddell's brigade. I was then ordered to charge the enemy, which order was promptly executed. As the enemy fell back from the fence, an enfilading fire from our rifles strewed the ground with their dead.
I regret to have to report that Capt. T. F. Spence, an officer and a gentleman, was instantly killed in this charge. The enemy left two pieces of artillery on this field. After pursuing the enemy for about 1 mile, I was ordered to halt my command to replenish their ammunition. I was here notified that Colonel Harper was in command of the brigade. We were then moved forward, and then right oblique for a distance of 1 1/2 miles, when the enemy's artillery opened upon us. I was ordered to halt for a moment and then charge the battery. The ground over which I had to pass was covered with a dense growth of cedar, underbrush, and vines, rendering it impossible for my command to move with much rapidity or to keep a perfect line.
While passing through this thicket two other batteries turned their fire upon my command. The enemy's lines of infantry were seen to give way, but their artillerists seemed to renew their energies, and poured in a continuous fire of grape and canister shot, and when many of my command were in less than 100 yards of the enemy's guns were compelled to give back.
I feel it my duty to call attention to the gallant conduct of Ensign H. W. Hamblen, who bore the colors of the regiment gallantly through the day, and was shot down in this last charge within less than 100 yards of the enemy's guns; also to the conduct of Corpl. J. W. Piles, of the color-guard, who took up the colors when the ensign was shot down, and, when our troops were compelled to give way brought them safely from the field.