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BURIAL OF THE DEAD.

385

Elgin, was sent to bury the dead of our regiment. It was a mournful sight. One portion was engaged in digging a huge trench at the edge of the woods and close to where the struggle was so desperate on the 31st—another in gathering the bodies together and arranging them side by side according to their companies, just as they had stood in the ranks—while another was engaged in carving the name, &c. of each on a head-board, that the body might be identified, and the Captain kept a record of each burial, with any particulars requiring mention. Next to the patient endurance of the wounded, there was nothing more touching than to see the tender care with which these men performed the last rites for their fallen comrades. When all was done, and a fence had enclosed the long grave in which fortyone had been laid to rest, the men were drawn up in line, and in a few words I referred to the sorrows of the week and the heavy affliction which had fallen upon us. I thought I had felt for the soldier before, but it was at that moment I knew a soldier's heart. I tried to turn their minds to Christ as to him who alone could comfort and make things work together for our good. We then called upon God in prayer, asking him that our sorrows might not be unsanctified; that he would graciously comfort the wounded, sustain the loved ones at home amid their anxious suspense and when the news of bereavement should reach them ; and that there might be few such struggles between us and the ultimate deliverance of our sorrowing land.

We turned away, but the memory of that hour and spot can never be effaced. Often afterward, when the regiment had been exposed to rain and storm, and hour after hour passed and still they failed to come, I found myself unconsciously rising and peering into the darkness, and I asked whence came this strange interest in these men? Immediately the vision

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of that long lone grave would rise before me, and I felt it was born there. And while I mused there seemed to rise from those many silent lips, a low, sad wail, which in a moment was caught up from a thousand cots of pain, and then echoed back from ten thousand desolate hearth-stones, and it said, (what I heard when wading through the mud at Triune) “ Oh, my country, how much do I suffer for thee !"

And when the day shall come, for come it will, that the tree of liberty, more firmly rooted for this fearful hurricane, shall embrace this continent with its giant arms, and our posterity, reposing safely beneath its grateful shade, shall ask whose blood and agonies purchased for them this fair inheritance, then, among the thousands of others, shall they be pointed to that grave, where, side by side, hard by the spot on which they fought and fell, sleep the patriot martyrs of the 36th Illinois.

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CHAPTER XXIII.

BATTLE OF STONE RIVER CONTINUED.

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HAT we may have a full account of all the

movements of the Regiment during these event-
ful days, I will present extracts from the official
reports, supplemented by such incidents and
comments as the journals of officers and men
afford.
CAPT. P. C. OLSON'S REPORT.
HEADQUARTERS 36TH Ill. Vols.,

JANUARY 9, 1863. The 36th Illinois Regiment, Col. N. Greusel commanding, was called into line at four o'clock on Tuesday morning, Dec. 30th, 1862, and stood under arms until daylight, to the left of the Wilkinson pike, our right resting upon it, five miles from Murfreesboro. At 9 o'clock A. M. we moved forward to Murfreesboro. Two companies were deployed as skirmishers to the right of the road and were soon engaged with the enemy's skirmishers. When two miles from Murfreesboro, the regiment was deployed in the cornfield to the right of the pike, and two companies were sent forward as skirmishers, as ordered by Gen. Sill. The regiment lay in line in this field until two o'clock P. M., at which time the whole line was ordered to advance. The skirmishers kept up a sharp fire—the enemy's line retreating and ours the enemy.

advancing. We drove the enemy through the timber and across the cotton-field, a low, narrow strip, stretching to the right, into the timber. A Rebel battery, directly in front of the 36th, opened a heavy fire upon us. Our skirmishers advanced to the foot of the hill near the cotton-field, and here kept up a welldirected fire. We were ordered to support Capt. Bush's Battery, which was brought into position in the point of timber where our right rested, and opened fire with terrible effect upon

We remained as a support until nearly dark, when Capt. Bush went to the rear, the enemy's battery, or rather its disabled fragments, having been dragged from the field. In this day's engagement, the regiment lost three killed and fifteen wounded; total, eighteen. We occupied the hill during the night, and our skirmishers were in line at the edge of the cotton-field.

On the morning of Dec. 31st, soon after daylight, the enemy advanced in strong force from the timber beyond the cotton-field, opposite our right. They came diagonally across the field, and upon reaching the foot of the hill made a left half-wheel, coming up directly in front of us.

When the enemy had advanced up the hill sufficiently to be in sight, Col. Greusel ordered the regiment to fire, which was promptly obeyed. We engaged the enemy at short range, the lines being not over ten rods apart. After a few rounds, the regiment supporting us on the right gave way. In this manner we fought for nearly half an hour, when Col. Greusel ordered the regiment to charge. The enemy

fied in great confusion across the cotton-field, into the woods opposite our left, leaving many of their dead and wounded upon the field. We poured a destructive fire upon them as they retreated, until they were beyond range.

The 36th again took position upon the hill, and the support for our right came forward. At this time Gen. Sill was killed and Col. Greusel took command of the brigade. A fresh brigade of the enemy advanced from the direction that the first had come, and in splendid order. We opened fire on them with terrific effect. Again the regiment on our right gave way, and we were

CAPTAIN OLSON'S REPORT.

389

again left without support. In this condition we fought until our ammunition was exhausted and the enemy had entirely flanked us on our right. At this juncture, Maj. Miller ordered the regiment to fall back. While retreating, Maj. Miller was wounded, and the command devolved on me. We moved back of the cornfield to the edge of the timber, a hundred rods to the right of the Wilkinson pike and two miles from Murfreesboro, at eight o'clock A. M. Here I met Gen. Sheridan and reported to him that the regiment was out of ammunition, and that I would be ready for action as soon as I could obtain it. We had suffered severely in resisting the attack of superior numbers. I had now only one hundred and forty men. The regiment fought with great obstinacy, and much is due Col. N. Greusel for his bravery in conducting the regiment before being called away. Adjutant Biddulph went to find the ammunition, but did not succeed. I then informed Quartermaster Bouton that I needed cartridges, but he failed to find any, except size fifty-eight, the calibre of most of the arms being sixty-nine. I was ordered by Maj-Gen. McCook to fall back to the rear of Gen. Crittenden’s corps. I arrived there about ten o'clock A. M.. I here obtained ammunition, and despatched the Adjutant to report to Col. Greusel the condition and whereabouts of the regiment. He returned without seeing the Colonel. Lieut. Watkins soon rode up and volunteered to take a message to Col. Greusel or Gen. Sheridan. He also returned without finding either officer. I now went in search of Gen. Sheridan myself; found him at twelve o'clock, and reported to him the regiment (what there was left of it) ready to move to the front. He ordered that I should hold the regiment in readiness and await his commands.

At two o'clock P. M. I received orders from Gen. Sheridan to advance to the front to the left of the railroad, and connect my command temporarily with Col. Leibold's brigade. We were here subject to a very severe artillery fire. A twelve-pound shell struck in the right of the regiment, and killed Lieut. Loren L. Olson (a brave and faithful officer, commanding Company F), Corp. Riggs, and wounding three others. At dark we were

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