General Stanley's cavalry division, retreated with great rapidity, no doubt having exaggerated reports regarding our strength. About 700 men, under Colonel [Basil W.] Duke, were then at Smithville, and the remainder of General [J. H.] Morgan's command were at Rock Island, between McMinnville and Sparta.
On the 7th, I ordered General Morgan to send up the force from Rock Island and move it forward to Liberty, unless the enemy prevented, in which case he was directed to turn Liberty, and thus outflank that position.
I encamped at Alexandria on the evening of the 8th, with General [J. A.] Wharton's division (about 1,900 strong), the remainder being with Generals [W. T.] Martin and [G. J.] Pillow, and the next morning moved on Lebanon, where I was overtaken by Colonel Duke, with 600 men, 100 having been left, by my order, to defend Snow Hill. I determined to move with this force and attack the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and the Nashville and Murfreesborough Railroad. I here sent two companies to Auburn and a small scout to Black's shop, 7 miles from Murfreesborough, to guard the approaches from that point, and proceeded on to the Hermitage, detaching 500 picked men, under Lieutenant Colonel [S. C.] Ferrill, with orders to cross Stone's River, attack the railroad trains, and do any other good in his power, and return to Lebanon; and leaving Colonel Duke, with his command, to picket and defend the approaches near the Hermitage, I proceeded with the remainder of the command to a long, narrow bend to a point about 9 miles a little east of north from Nashville, where the railroad runs down to the river bank. We here placed our guns in position between two stockades, each of which was sufficiently near to be in view and within hearing. We fortunately, by the strictest silence and by creeping up to the bank, got our guns in position without being observed, and, after waiting two hours, a very large locomotive came in view, drawing eighteen cars loaded with horses and other stock. The first three shots broke open the boiler and stopped the train, and a few volleys from a dismounted regiment drove off the guard, who made but feeble resistance, wounding but 1 of my men. Finding that we could not cross the river, we brought our guns to bear upon the locomotive, and shot through it several times. We also shot the horses in the cars, and retired.
The party under Lieutenant-Colonel Ferrill attacked a train of cars loaded with soldiers near Antioch. Colonel Ferrill fired several volleys in crowded cars at distances varying from 10 to 50 yards. He thinks he killed not less than 100 men and wounded a large number. We took about 70 prisoners, including 20 officers, among whom are 2 colonels, 1 major, and 3 of General Rosecrans' staff officers. Colonel Ferril paroled the enlisted men, 1 captain, and 7 lieutenants. We brought off the other officers, and about $30,000 in greenbacks, together with a large mail. We also retook 40 of our soldiers, who were on their way to Camp Chase. Colonel Ferrill destroyed the train, and broke up the road and telegraph. Our loss 1 man wounded.
With great respect, colonel, your obedient servant,
Colonel GEORGE WILLIAM BRENT,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Tullahoma.
P. S.-I think that Colonel Ferrill's estimate of the dead may be somewhat exaggerated. Perfectly reliable officers state that they saw over 30 dead Yankees, and state that they saw only a portion of those that were killed.