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miles from Vicksburg. Above and below the city, from Haines' Bluff on the Yazoo to Warrenton on the Mississippi, there was a line of hills, which with the swamps and lagoons in front afforded the rebels an excellent means of defence. Sherman sent out reconnoitring parties, who speedily ascertained and reported that, owing to its advantage of position and the defences provided by the enemy, any attempt to take Vicksburg from this direction, that is, in the rear, would be attended with very great difficulty. At the outset, the fleet was hindered in its endeavors to ascend the Yazoo, by a formidable battery at Haine's Bluff, to silence which it would be necessary to make a fresh attack upon it from the river, preparatory to an advance of the army in front.
This occurred on the morning of December 27th. The entire force of Sherman was drawn up in line of battle, and prepared to make the assault at different points. Gen. M. L. Smith's j division took the advance, and, moving rapidly, encountered the rebels about a mile from Chickasaw Bayou, which empties into the Mississippi. Severe skirmishing followed; but, though the rebels, protected by rifle pits and abattis, contested every inch of the road, they were slowly pushed backward toward the bayou. A portion of Gen. Steele's division had, the evening before, landed above the bayou, for the purpose of taking a battery in the rear, which commanded the point of crossing on the extreme right. Owing to the mud and other difficulties, the landing of this portion of Steele's division
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occupied the whole of the 26th of December, and it did not reach the scene of operations until the morning of the 27th. Blair's brigade and Morgan's division, meanwhile, had advanced on the left by different routes, and came into position nearly side by side. A masked battery of the enemy was soon silenced, and the soldiers bivouacked on the field, ready to renew the attack in the morning.
'During the night, the rebels were busily occupied in strengthening their position by rifle pits, breastworks, etc.; and early on Sunday morning, December 28th, they began a heavy cannonade upon Blair's and Morgan's troops. The conflict having been renewed in the front, the enemy were driven across the Chickasaw Bayou, and our troops by night were in position south of the bayou, with one bridge completed and two others partly constructed. Steele, as above stated, had pushed forward his command; but after three most vigorous attempts to get at the enemy by the only means of approach—a narrow lane or causeway—exposed to the full fire of the rebel artillery, he gave it up, and by Sherman's orders returned to the river, landed on ig6jj the lower side of the Chickasaw, and held the extreme left, acting as a reserve. Blair's brigade took position on Morgan's right, and at the extreme right was A. J. Smith's division.
At daylight on the 29th, the enemy's batteries began to fire on Morgan's position, but with little effect, although the cannonade was kept up during the forenoon. The plan was, after throwing bridges across the bayou, to make a concerted assault on the bluffs. Blair's brigade had crossed the bayou before it turned along the bluffs, and was in a position at the front of the hill, with a small abattis and a deep ditch between it and the point intended to be assailed. Sherman not having appointed any hour for the assault, Morgan acted on his own responsibility, and ordered Blair to advance. After a severe struggle, the rebels were driven from their first line of rifle pits, and a charge having been made upon the second line, the rebels were again routed and driven into a thicket or grove of willows. Our men, in a hand to hand conflict, drove them from the thicket, and took possession of it, but were in turn forced to retire from the heavy cannonade of the batteries on the hill.
After suffering terrible loss in the effort to gain the crest of the hill, Blair deemed it best to fall back to his position on the right of Morgan. Stuart's division met with severe treatment in constructing bridges over the bayou, and only one regiment crossed over. During the night, the regiment was I brought back without loss. Notwithstanding the failure of the assault on the left, Gen. Sherman resolved to try another; but it was not deemed expedient the next morning to attempt to carry it out. The Yazoo swamps were entirely impracticable; and on consulting with Admiral Porter, it was proposed to make a combined naval and land attack on the extreme rebel right, so as to gain a position on the bluffs and force the enemy back upon Vicksburg. The design, however, on further
examination, was given up without a trial.
Ae it was part of the original plan of attack upon Vicksburg, that Grant should assail the place in the rear while Sherman was making the attack in front, and as Grant was unable to fulfil his part, in consequence of his communications being cut off, it was not surprising that Sherman failed in capturing this important stronghold. Possibly, with Grant's co-operation, the plan might have been successfully carried out; but, under existing circumstances, Sherman resolved to withdraw, and on Thursday night, January 1st, 1863, and the next morning, the troops were embarked and moved down to the mouth of the Yazoo. 'The entire loss in killed, wounded, and missing was reported at nearly 2,000. Gen. J McCleruand met Sherman at the mouth of the river, assumed the command, and ordered the forces to Milliken's Bend, about twelve miles up the Mississippi.
On the 4th of January, 1803, Sherman issued an order, announcing some changes in the army arrangements, and giving the troops high praise for the good service they had rendered and the manly spirit which they always displayed.
A few weeks after the second battle i of Corinth (October 4th), Rosecrans took command of the Army of the Cumberland. It was composed of what remained of the late Army of the Ohio, commanded by Bueli, strengthened and increased by new but raw levies, and was in direct succession of that bravo body of men who, under Anderson. Sherman and Buell, had repeatedly de
fended Kentucky against invasion, and had carried its victorious banners thioucru Tennessee to the heart of the enemy's country.
The new department of the Cumberland, in which the army was now to be employed, comprised all the state of Tennessee lying east of the Tennessee River, and such portions of Northern Alabama and Georgia as should be occupied by the forces of the United States. Rosecrans arrived at Louisville, Kentucky, on the 27th of October, and entered at once upon the duties of his command. The work of preparation for the intended campaign was vigorously begun, and carried forward as rapidly as possible; the troops were drilled, disciplined and rendered effective; equipments, arms, horses and stores of every kind were collected without delay; and steps were taken to restore the broken line of communication with Nashville as speedily as was practicable. Louisville being the real base of operations, distant 183 miles from Nashville, it was necessary, particularly in the low state of the Cumberland River, to re-open and repair the railroad between the two places. This was accomplished as far as Mitchellsville, thirty-five miles north of Nashville, by the 8th of November. On the 1st of November, Rosecrans moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and, on the 5 th, three divisions of McCook's corps advanced by this route towards Nashville. The commanders of corps were, Gens. Thomas, McCook, Rousseau and Crittenden.
Rosecrans, who followed McCook's advance with the remainder of the
army, reached Nashville on the 10th of November, and took up his position in front of the city. At the close of the month, the railroad communication from Louisville was completed, and the balance of the year 1862 was occupied in gathering supplies, organizing and disciplining the troops, etc. The rebels, on their part, determined to drive out Rosecrans, and before the close of November, they had advanced a large force to Murfreesborough; they numbered, in all, 45,000 effective men, under the command of Braxton Bragg.
A large cavalry force was sent by Bragg into West Tennessee to cut off Grant's communications, and another large force, under Morgan, into Kentucky, to break up the railroads. In the absence of these forces, and with adequate supplies in Nashville, it was judged an opportune moment for an advance on the rebels. Rosecrans's plan was well and carefully prepared, and every step was taken to insure success over the enemy at Murfreesborough. In endeavoring to carry out the contemplated movements, it was determined, on the night of Christmas, to enter on the work the next day. Accordingly, on Friday morning, December 26th, at daylight, the troops broke up camp, and McCook advanced on the Nolinsville Pike. Sharp skirmishing ensued; the rebels, though resisting stoutly, were steadily driven, and, by the close of the day, McCook gained possession of Nolinsville and the hills in front. Thomas followed on the right, leaving Rousseau's division on the right flank. Crittenden advanced to Lavergne, skirmishing heavily on his front. The next day, McCook advanced on Triune, but his movement was retarded by a dense fog. On reaching Triune, he found that Hardee had retreated, and sent a division in pursuit. Crittenden began his advance about eleven, A.m., driving the enemy before him, and by a gallant charge upon the rear guard of the enemy, saving the bridge over Stewart's Creek. This, and another bridge across the same creek on the Murfreesborough turnpike, came into possession of our troops, and by night the columns were all closed up.
On Sunday, December 28th, the main body of the troops rested, and the next morning McCook moved to within seven miles of Murfreesborough, which he reached at the close of the day. Crittenden crossed Stewart's Creek and moved within three miles of Murfreesborough, having had several brisk skirmishes, and forced the rebels back into their entrenchments. Negley advanced to the centre, and Rousseau's division was placed in reserve, on the right of Crittenden.
On Tuesday morning, December 30th, McCook moved forward, slowly and steadily fighting his way into position with considerable loss. Our cavalry force, about 3,000 in number, did good service, but met with heavy resistance. McCook joined Thomas on the Wilkinson's pike in the afternoon; Sheridan was in position near Greison's; and Hardee's corps, with a part of Polk's, was in McCook's front. The rebels had the advantage of strong natural fortifications, and their centre was sffectually masked by the dense cedar
forests. During the night, it became evident that they were massing on the right of Rosecrans, who made at once the best preparation in his power to meet the impending struggle. His plan was to hold the right wing, giving ground a little if necessary, and meanwhile to push forward his left, so as not only to occupy Murfreesborough, but to get into the flank and rear of the rebels. At daylight the next morning, December 31st, the attack was begun by the rebels. The weather was foggy, and our troops appear to have been taken somewhat by surprise. The entire front was assaulted at once, < the rebels rapidly advancing in double columns; and so determined and ener- | getic was their fighting, that, despite the efforts of the division commanders. ]' Davis, Sheridan, and Johnson, in an hour's time they captured two batteries and compelled our troops to give way. Their object was to turn Rosecrans's right flank, but they did not succeed in this.
In this posture of affairs, Rousseau was ordered into the cedar brakes to the right and rear of Sheridan. Van Cleve's and Wood's movements were suspended, and these, together with Harker and his brigade, hurried to McCook's help. The pioneer brigade meanwhile occupied the knoll of ground west of Murfreesborough pike, and about 400 or 500 yards in rear of Palmer's centre, supporting St< ikes's , battery. Sheridan, after sustaining four successive attacks, gradually swung his right from a south-easterly to northwesterly direction, repulsing the enemy four times. After desperate fighting
Lis brigades fell back from the position held at the commencement, through the cedar woods, in which Rousseau's division, with a portion of Negley's and Sheridan's, met the advancing enemy and checked his movements. The ammunition train of the right wing, endangered by its sudden discomfiture, was safely brought through the woods to the rear of the left wing, thus enabling Sheridan's troops to replenish their empty cartridge boxes. During all this time, Palmer's front had been in action, the enemy having made several attempts to advance upon it.
The line of battle was readjusted to meet the new condition of affairs. The right and centre of the line were now extended from Hazen to the Murfreesborough pike in a north-westerly direction. An attack by infantry and cavalry of the enemy on our extreme right was repulsed by Van Cleve's division, with Harker's brigade and the cavalry. After several attempts of the rebels to advance on this new line, which were thoroughly repulsed, as also their attempts on the left, the day closed, leaving the Union troops masters of the original ground on the left, and the new line advantageously posted, with open ground in front swept at all points by our artillery*
Our loss in killed and wounded was
* "On the day succeeding the fight, Gen. Bragg telegraphed to Richmond the news of a great victory, presented his compliments to the authorities, and wrote 'God has granted us a happy new year.' His exultations were over hasty, for though we had routed on the morning of the preceding day the right wing of the enemy, the final acon test was yet to be decided." Van Dora, also, it will be remembered, had been in a hnrry to claim a victory over Rosecrans (see p. 224). Pollard's " Second Year of the War," p. 210.
very heavy; we had also lost twentyeight pieces of artillery, the horses having been killed, and the troops being unable, in the position of affairs, to withdraw them by hand over the rough ground. But the rebels had been severely handled, and had not obtained any success which did not depend on the original driving in of our right wing. Orders were given for the issue of all the spare ammunition ; and Rose crans determined to rest his extreme left on Stone River, above the lower ford, and extending to Stokes's battery McCook was posted on the left of Sheridan near the Murfreesborough pike, relieving Van Cleve, who, the next morning, returned to his position in the left wing. Rosecrans resolved to wait the enemy's attack in this position, to send for the provision train, and to order up fresh supplies of ammunition, on the arrival of which, should the rebels not attack, offensive operations should be resumed.
On Thursday morning, January 1st, 1863, Crittenden was ordered to occupy the points opposite the ford on his left with a brigade. In the course of the afternoon, the rebels showed signs of massing on our right, but noting the strength of our position, the movement resulted in nothing. On Friday morning, sharp demonstrations were made by the enemy along the whole line; but no movement of importance occurred till three o'clock in the afternoon. At that time, there was a rushing mass hurled upon the division of Van Cleve across Stone River, consisting of the entire rebel right wing. Advancing rapidly, a short and fierce