Page images

A mile beyond, the converging lines above mentioned cut each other at a sharp angle; the railroad, which goes out of Murfreesboro' on the left, shifting over to the right of the turnpike. Crossing them at nearly right angles, a short distance on the Murfreesboro’ side of their point of intersection, was the Rebel line of battle, on the morning of the thirtyfirst of December. Half a mile beyond this point, on the Nashville side, was the Union line.

The railroad here runs through a cut, with a considerable embankment, - a circumstance of vital importance to our army, saving it, probably, from utter rout and destruction, on that first day of disaster. The right wing, thrown out two miles and more to the west of the railroad, rested on' nothing. It was left hanging in the air, as the French say. An attack was expected, yet no precautions were taken to provide against an attack. General Wood, who had posted scouts in trees to observe the movements of the Rebels, reported to the commanding general that they were rapidly moving troops over and massing them on their left. Rosecrans says he sent the information to McCook; McCook says he never received it. When the attack came, it was a perfect surprise. It was made with the suddenness and impetuosity for which the enemy was distinguished, and everything gave way before it, Division after division was pushed back, until the line, which was projected nearly perpendicular to the railroad in the morning, lay parallel to it, — that providential cut affording an opportune cover for the rallying and re-forming of the troops.

Another feature of the field is eminently noticeable. The bold river banks, curving in and out, along by the east side of the railroad, made a strong position for the Union left to rest upon. Here, in a little grove called by the Rebels the “ Round Forest,” between the river and the railroad, was General Wood's division, planted like a post. On his right, like a bolt of iron in that post, was Hazen's brigade, serving as a pivot on which the whole army line swung round like a gate. The pivot itself was immovable. In vain the enemy concentrated

SOLDIERS CEMETERY AND MONUMENT. 277 his utmost efforts against it. Terribly smitten and battered, but seemingly insensible as iron itself, there it stuck.1

It was extremely interesting to visit this portion of the field in company with one who played so important a part in the events enacted there. We rode through a cotton-field of black leafy stalks, with little white bunches clinging to them like feathers or snow. It was across that field, between Round Forest and the railroad, that Hazen's line was formed. On the edge of it, by the forest, still lay the bones of a horse shot under him during the battle.

Near by was a little cemetery, within which the dead of Hazen's brigade were buried. A well-built stone wall encloses an oblong space one hundred feet in length by forty in breadth. Within are thirty-one limestone tablets marking the graves of the common soldiers. In the midst of these stands a monument, on which are inscribed the names of officers whose remains are deposited beneath it. This is also of limestone, massy, well formed, ten feet square on the ground and eleven feet in height. It is interesting as being the only monument of importance and durability erected by soldiers during the war.

On the south side, facing the railroad and turnpike, is the following legend:



STONE RIVER, DEC. 31, 1862.
* Their faces toward heaven, their feet to the foe.'

* The right brigade of Palmer's division had been the last to yield. The left brie gade, in command of Hazen, was thus exposed to fire in flank and rear, and to the attempts of the enemy to charge in front. It required terrible fighting to beat back the enemy's double lines: it cost a third of the brave brigade; but every moment the enemy was beld back was worth a thousand men to the main line. General Rosecrans improved the time so well, in hurrying troops to the new position, that, when the enery assailed that line, the fresh divisions of Van Cleve, Wood, and Rousseau, and the artillery massed on a commanding point, not only repalsed them, but they were charged while retiring by one of Crittenden's brigades. ... The enemy had miscalculated the temper of Hazen's brigade; and Bragg was obliged to report, u be did in his first despatch, that he had driven the whole Federal line, except his left, which stubbornly resisted." - Annals of the Army of the Cumberland.

On the east side is the following:


On the north side: “ Erected 1863, upon the ground where they fell, by their comrades of the Nineteenth Brigade, Buell's Army of the Ohio, Col. W. B. Hazen 41st Infantry 0. Vols. commanding."

On the west side: –

“ The blood of one third its soldiers twice spilled in Tennessee crimsons the battle-flag of the brigade and inspires to great deeds."

From the soldiers' cemetery at Round Forest we rode on to the new National Cemetery of Stone River, then in process of construction. It lies between the railroad and the turnpike, in full view from both. A massy square-cornered stone wall encloses a space of modest size, sufficiently elevated, and covered with neatly heaped mounds, side by side, and row behind row, in such precise order, that one might imagine the dead who sleep beneath them to have formed their ghostly ranks there after the battle, and carefully laid themselves down to rest beneath those small green tents. The tents were not green when I visited the spot, but I trust they are green to-day, and that the birds are singing over them.





HAVING spent the remainder of the forenoon in riding over other portions of the field, we returned to Murfreesboro'; and at half-past three o'clock I took the train for Nashville.

At Nashville I remained four days, — four eminently disagreeable days of snow, and rain, and fog, and slush, and mud. Yet I formed a not unfavorable impression of the city. I could feel the influence of Northern ideas and enterprise pulsating through it. Its population, which was less than twenty-four thousand at the last census, nearly doubled during the war. Its position gives it activity and importance. It is a nostril through which the State has long breathed the Northern air of free institutions. It is a port of entry on the Cumberland, which affords it steamboat communication with the great rivers. It is a node from which radiate five important railroads connecting it with the South and North. The turnpikes leading out of it in every direction are the best system of roads I met with anywhere in the South.

Middle Tennessee is the largest of the three natural divisions of the State. It is separated from the West division by the Tennessee River, and from East Tennessee by the Cumberland Mountains. It is a fine stock-raising country ; and the valley of the Cumberland River affords an extensive tract of excellent cotton and tobacco lands.

Nashville is the great commercial emporium of this division. The largest annual shipment of cotton from this port was fifty thousand bales; the average, before the war, was about half as many: during 1865, it was fully, up to this average, consisting mostly of old cotton going to market. Six thousand hogsheads of tobacco, two million bushels of corn, and twenty.

aber como bales; the average,

fully up to this average sand five thousand hogs, besides ten thousand casks of bacon and twenty-five hundred tierces of lard, — were yearly shipped from this port. The manufacturing interest of the place is insignificant.

The prospects of the country for the present year seemed to me favorable. The freedmen were making contracts, and going to work. Returned Rebels were generally settling down to a quiet life, and turning their attention to business. The people were much disposed to plant cotton, and every effort was making to put their desolated farms into a tillable condition.

Yet Middle Tennessee is but an indifferent cotton-growing region. It is inferior to West Tennessee, and can scarcely be called a cotton country, when compared with the rich valleys of the more Southern States. Eight hundred pounds of seed cotton to the acre are considered a good crop on the best lands. The quality of Middle Tennessee cotton never rates above “ low middling,” but generally below it, (the different qualities of cotton being classed as follows: inferior, ordinary, good ordinary, low middling, middling, good middling, middling fair, good fair, and fine.)

I found considerable business doing with an article which never before had any money-value. Cotton seed, which used to be cast out from the gin-houses and left to rot in heaps, the planter reserving but a small portion for the ensuing crop, was now in great demand, prices varying from one to three dollars a bushel. In some portions of the Rebel States it had nearly run out during the war, and those sections which, like Tennessee, had continued the culture of the plant, were supplying the deficiency. The seed, I may here mention, resembles, after the fibre is removed by the gin, a small-sized pea covered with fine white wool. It is very oily, and is considered the best known fertilizer for cotton lands.

Nashville is built on the slopes of a hill rising from the

1 That is, of cotton and seed: the gin takes out fifty or sixty per cent of the gross weight.

« PreviousContinue »