Today in History:

89 Series I Volume XXIII-I Serial 34 - Tullahoma Campaign Part I


to gain the space between the Thirty-third Indiana and Twenty-second Wisconsin. The two companies on the extreme right were brought over, and drove back the enemy from the left of the Thirty-third Indiana. The Nineteenth Michigan was ordered across the road and placed to their left. The Eighty-fifth Indiana had already been brought from its position on the right of the Thirty-third Indiana and placed to the left of the position occupied by the Nineteenth Michigan. The Twenty-second Wisconsin now fell back to the left of the Eighty-fifth Indiana and retired. The enemy here again made successive assaults along this line, but were repulsed and driven off, and several prisoners taken. The battle-flag of Armstrong's brigade was taken by the Nineteenth Michigan, and the enemy were completely routed, although our men were under not only the fire of their musketry, but their artillery, now posted near us, where our left lately stood. During the attack on the left, Whitfield and [James W.] Starnes renewed the attack on our right (the Thirty-third Indiana), but were again repulsed.

As the right was being attacked, and before a serious assault had been made on our left, the cavalry disappeared; the artillery under Captain Aleshire followed hastily, although Lieutenants Adams and Bachman, of my staff, attempted to rally them, put them in position, and thus assist in covering our retreat. The battery was partially put in position in our rear by Lieutenant Adams, but, by the directions of Colonel Jordan and Captain Aleshire, ordered to move off without firing a gun upon the forces which were closing around on our left flank. The force thus falling back took with it the One hundred and twenty-fourth Ohio, the ambulance train, the ammunition train, and with it all hope of an orderly retreat or a continued successful resistance. As they disappeared, our whole front was pressed with the greatest vigor, requiring a firm resistance or a confused flight, resulting in the utter rout and destruction of the entire command. To the firmness with which our position was held is due the safety of those who retreated to Franklin, holding the enemy at least two hours after they had gone, on the very ground they had left. Had all thus stood firmly, the chances of escape and an orderly retreat were in our favor, even with the immense preponderance of force against us, but the task would have been most difficult, accompanied by severe loss and the constant exercise of caution, courage, and the highest activity.

The enemy at length having been driven from our front at all points and silenced, our ammunition running low, and our train having gone, the brigade was moved to the woods farther to our right and rear. Here they met and attacked Forrest's division, which had gained our rear, by coming through the hills on our left, and had been posted behind fences, trees, and other favorable positions, from our left across the road to our right in the rear. [W. T.] Martin's brigade was also on the rear of our right. They occupied the entire opposite slope of a deep ravine which lay directly in our front, and whose precipitous side it would have been difficult to ascend. The brigade was formed in line, bayonets fixed, and all things made ready for a charge, under a galling fire, which cost us some of our best men. The men would willingly have made the desperate venture without a shot in their cartridge-boxes. Nothing remained but to give the word to charge.

I was convinced that a massacre would ensue, to little purpose; that a few might escape, but that many would fall in a vain struggle for life with unequal weapons. I ordered a surrender. I believe it was justified by the circumstances.

It was then found that we had been opposing General Van Dorn's entire