Wheeler's report of his raid around Rosecrans and his actions during and after the Murfreesboro
December 29, 1862 - December 31, 1863
HDQRS. CAVALRY, Near Fosterville, Tenn., January 26, 1863.
COL.: I have the honor to report that my command-consisting of the First Alabama Cavalry, Col. [William W. ] Allen; Third Alabama, Maj. [F. Y. ] Gaines; Fifty-first Alabama, Col. [JohnT. ] Morgan; Eighth Confederate, Col. [W. B. ] Wade, and two Tennessee battalions, under Maj.'s [D. W. ] Holmanand DeWitt C. Douglass, together with [Capt. J. H. ] Wiggin's battery-was, on the 26th ultimo, stationed at Stewart's Creek, on the Murfreesborough andNashville pike, and about 10 miles northwest of Murfreesborough. My line of vedettes, forming a continuous line, extended from a point east of Stone's River, on my right, crossing the Nashville and Murfreesborough pike about 10 miles from Nashville, and extending to a point about half way from said pike to Brentwood, the posts of the pickets and grand guards being at favorable position on the avenues of approach a nd at points varying from 300 to 1,000 yards in rear of the line of vedettes. Gen. Pegram's brigade was stationed on the right and Gen. Wharton's brigade on the left of my line.
About 7 o'clock on the morning of December 26, [1862,] the enemy advanced in large force, driving in our vedettes. On arriving at the front and seeing the extent of the movement, I ordered up the entire command and deployed it inline of battle. We engaged the enemy during the entire day, falling back about 3 miles. We also engaged the enemy during the 28th and 29th ultimo, killing and wounding large numbers, meeting but very slight ourselves.
By the evening of the 29th we had reached the line of battle of our infantry and had placed my brigade on the extreme right of the line.
At midnight, pursuant to orders from Gen. Bragg, I proceeded with my command, re-enforced by Col. [James E.] Carter's regiment, to the enemy's rear.
By daylight on the 30th we had reached Jefferson, and soon after met a brigade train, with all the equipage of one brigade. We attacked vigorously, drove off the guards, and destroyed the train, baggage, equipage, &c., also capturing about 50 prisoners. We then proceeded toward La Vergne, and captured a party of Federals out stealing and gathering stock, and soon after overtook and captured a small foraging train.
About noon we arrived in the vicinity of La Vergne and formed it filled with soldiers and large trains parked in the fields surrounding the place. We immediately charged in three columns, completely surprising the guards, who made but slight resistance. We immediately paroled the prisoners, amounting to about 700, and destroyed immense trains and stores, amounting to many hundred thousands of dollars. We then proceeded to Rock Spring, attacked, captured, and destroyed another large train. We then marched on Nolensville without opposition, capturing large trains, stores, and arms, and about 300 prisoners. We slept for a few hours 5 miles from Nolensville, and at 2 o'clock
the next morning proceeded to the left flank of our army, having made a complete circuit of the enemy's rear. On arriving the line was engaged. We pressed on and attacked enemy on the Murfreesborough and Nashville pike, just north of Overall's Creek. After a brisk engagement we moved across the creek and made an attack, on the enemy at that point, driving him for 2 miles and successfully engaging him until dark, when we fell back to the left of our line, where we remained during the night.
In this latter engagement Col. Allen and Lieut.-Col. [James D. ] Webb were wounded.
Early on the morning of January 1, I proceeded, pursuant to directions from Gen. Bragg, with my own and Gen. Wharton's brigade, to the rear of the enemy. We attacked a large train near La Vergne, dispersing his guards, and captured and destroyed a large number of wagons and stores. We also captured one piece of artillery. Toward evening we received orders to return, and we regained our position on the flanks of the army by 2 o'clock on the morning of the 2d instant. We remained in position that night and next day, engaging the enemy at every opportunity.
At 9 o'clock that evening I proceeded again to the rear of the enemy, according to directions from Gen. Bragg, and succeeded next morning in capturing anumber of horses, wagons, and prisoners. About 2 p. m. we attacked a large ordnance train at Cox's Hill, heavily guarded by cavalry and infantry, andsucceeded in driving off the cavalry guards and in breaking down and upsetting a large number of wagons. The enemy's infantry being in such force (quite treble our numbers), we were prevented from destroying the train, but succeeded in preventing its making any further progress that day. By this time we received orders to immediately return to the army, which order was obeyed, we reaching our former position on the left flank of our army about 4 o'clock next morning. We here learned that the army had fallen back, and about 9 o'clock that morning we crossed Stone's River and took position in front of Murfreesborough.
About 3 p. m. the enemy advanced to the river and commenced a brisk skirmish with artillery and infantry. After dark the enemy retired a short distance, and our pieces in front of Murfreesborough were unmolested during the night.
At daylight on Monday, the 4th [5th] instant, we fell back to a point on the Manchester pike about 3 miles from Murfreesborough. About 1 o'clock the enemy advanced, and after a short skirmish we fell back half a mile a favorable position. Here we formed line of battle in conjunction with Gen. Pegram's brigade, in a very favorable position, behind fences, entirely obscured from view. About 3 o'clock the enemy advanced with a brigade of infantry and artillery in line of battle, with heavy force of cavalry on their flanks. When they arrived within about 250 yards, we opened on them a heavy fire of small-arms and artillery with excellent effect, killing and wounding large numbers. After an engagement of about thirty minutes they turned off and left the field, and have not since advanced any farther from Murfreesborough on this road.
Very respectfully, colonel, your obedient servant,
JOS. WHEELER, Maj.-Gen. and Chief of Cavalry.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 21, pt. I, pp. 958-960.