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Posted February 17, 1997 by Steven L. Driskell.
4. Battle of Murfreesboro by Captain Wilson P. Howell
Battle of Murfreesboro and falling back to Shelbyville, Tennessee ~ Where we spent the winter of 1862-1863
The leaving of Shelbyville and coming to Chattanooga ~ Battle of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge and Lookout Point or the "Battle above the
Clouds" in November 1863
General Bragg having evacuated Kentucky, the Federal troops under command of
General Rosecrans had been concentrated about Nashville and Bragg's army
around Murfreesboro. Only about 25 miles lay between the two armies. So
about the last of December Rosecrans advanced on Murfreesboro sufficiently
near to offer battle. So on the morning of 31st December we accepted the
challenge and at them we went.
The enemy were posted in line of battle on the opposite side of a plantation
from us some 800 yards and we advanced on thm through the open field under
heavy artillery fire as well as musketry and our loss was very heavy in
going through the field. Four men, Sid Phillips, Gus Pool, Charly Roper and
Jack Ezzell of Company "I" were killed out right. Lieutenant Archibald
Patterson of Company "H" was also killed and every company of the regiment
met a similar fate, in killed and wounded.
Our line, in the face of their concentrated fire, got within fifty yards of
their battery when our line gave way and stampeded back through the field
and we suffered worse than while advancing.
Among the killed in that unfortunate stampede was Major Costello who had
just been promoted from the Captaincy of Company "K". It looked for a time
that all was lost and we had some difficulty in rallying the men and
reforming the line of another attack.
I remember just at this critical moment General Frank Cheatham, Major
General of Tennessee troops came rushing to our aid. Made such a stiring
appeal to the men, that our line was soon formed and in the face of another
galling fire we charged on them again and so determined were the men that we
rushed upon them and captured their battery and drove back the whole line,
but they soon reformed their lines and for the live long day we fought over
an area of two or three miles and at night fall we had driven them off the
Our regiment was led in this fight by Lt. Colonel George D. Johnston who
displayed great courage and leadership and won the high esteem and love of
the officers and men of the line. At night fall, when the firing ceased he
was the only field officer with the regiment.
Our loss in killed and wounded was very heavy. Lt. Scofield of Company "C"
from Columbiana was among the killed. I remember during the fight, of
coming across his body just after he had fallen, he having been shot dead
and I stopped long enough to take a plain gold ring from his finger and his
pocket knife and pocket book and preserved them till after the battle and
sent them home to his family.
I think I went in that morning with about 40 guns in Company "I" and when
the battle closed that night there was only one man Pvt. Bob Clark and
myself with the regiment. Most of the others had been either killed,
wounded or captured.
Our loss was so heavy, that we did not renew the fight next morning.
Although we had the previous day, driven the enemy from every position he
had taken, we held the battlefield for two days and the enemy made but one
attack on a part of our line and was repulsed.
So about the third night after the battle General Bragg withdrew his army
and we fell back to Shelbyville, Tennessee where we went into winter
quarters and remained there till June 1863. During that spring we had the
longest rest we had enjoyed since the war began.
An Incident of the Battle of Murfreesboro
Up to September of 1862, the U.S. government issued only gold and silver as
currency. It was after the war began that the government issued paper
currency. Known after the war as Green Backs. These notes were
signed by the Treasurer of the United States (Mr. Spinner).