Michigan Infantry at Murfreesborough.
No. 57. Report of Lieut. Col. William B. McCreery, Twenty-first
HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST REGIMENT MICHIGAN INFANTRY, Camp on Stone's
January 7, 1863.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report to you the following as the
action taken by this regiment in the recent engagement before Murfreesborough:
On the morning of the 30th ultimo we took position on the hill,
between Captains Hescock's and Houghtaling's batteries, to act as
a support to the Eighty-eighth Illinois, Colonel Sherman, who had
previously taken position a few rods in front. About 3 p.m. we were
moved forward into the cotton-field, still retaining the same relative
position to the Eighty-eighth. We remained here until after dark,
when we were ordered to move to a grass-plot a few rods to our right,
where we remained during the night.
Before daylight we were ordered to occupy the same ground we had
occupied the evening previous. Soon after daybreak an attack was
made in force by the enemy upon our front and to our right. After
fierce contest, the forces on our front and right retired. At this
time the enemy were delivering a murderous fire upon our front and
right flank. After delivering our fire, and observing him closing
in heavy force upon us, I ordered the regiment to fall back. Owing
to a barn and out-buildings which we were compelled to pass, the
regiment was for the time being thrown into some confusion; but it
was with much difficulty that I could compel the men to leave the
cover they had taken behind the fences and buildings, where they
were delivering a well-directed fire.
We immediately formed upon the right of the Eighty-eighth Illinois,
and were ordered to move a few rods to the rear and left, and were
then ordered to support Hescock's battery until further orders, it
having taken position a little to our left. The battery soon change
position to a point of woods, where we followed, in support. It was
immediately engaged, and a heavy force of the enemy's infantry made
their appearance on our front and left.
As soon as they had advanced to within short musket range, I opened
a telling fire upon them, which was continued until the battery had
retired, when we fought our way back to the woods in good order.
We again took position in the woods, but, receiving a heavy fire
on our front and flank, we were obliged to fall back. We made another
stand farther back in the woods, and fought our way back to the clearing;
after which I fell back beyond the railroad, where we remained until
along toward evening, when we joined the brigade near Overall's Creek.
The next morning we were ordered to recross the creek, and took
position on the right of the pike and to the left of the Twenty-fourth
Wisconsin, in support of Colonel Bradley's brigade, where we
remained without action until the next morning, when we moved to
the right, occupying the ground previously held by the Thirty-sixth
Illinois, in which place we remained until we took up our line of
march for this place.
Both officers and men, with few exceptions, behaved with coolness
and bravery. I am indebted to Major Hunting and Adjt. M. B. Wells
for valuable assistance, especially the latter, whom I recommend
to your favorable notice.
The list of casualties is as follows:
Officers wounded........................... 7
Enlisted men killed........................ 18
Enlisted men wounded....................... 82
Enlisted men missing....................... 36
WILLIAM B. McCREERY,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Twenty-first Michigan
Lieut. J. B. WATKINS,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Brigade, Third
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