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December 15-16, 1864

2nd Brigade, 2nd Division (Detachment)
Army Tennessee, Dept. of the Cumberland
December 1864 to February, 1865.

Formerly Right Wing 16th Army Corps, Army Tenn.
Designated Detachment Army Tenn., Dec. 5, 1864
Transferred to rorganized 16th Army Corps,
Military Div. West. Miss. Feb. 18, 1865

Major General A. J. Smith

Brig. Gen. Kenner Garrard,
Commanding Second Division

Second Brigade
Col. James I. Gilbert

58th Illinois, Maj. Robert W. Healy
27th Iowa, Lieut. Col. Jed Lake
32d Iowa, Lieut. Col. Gustavus A. Eberhart
20th Kansas (four companies), Capt. William C. Jones
Indiana Light Artillery, 3d Battery, Lieut. Thomas J. Ginn.

No. 159.--Report of Brig. Gen. Kenner Garrard, U. S. Army, commanding Second Division, of operations December 15-16, 1864.

Camp near Columbia, December 24, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this division in the late battles before Nashville:

On the morning of the 15th instant, at an early hour, the division was moved outside of the works, and formed in line of battle in the following order: On the right, near the Hardin pike, Colonel Wolfe's brigade, composed of the Fifty-second Indiana, Forty-ninth Illinois, One hundred and seventeenth Illinois, One hundred and seventy-eighth New York, and Battery G, Second Illinois; in the center, Col. D. Moore's brigade, composed of the Twenty-first Missouri, Eighty-ninth Indiana, One hundred and nineteenth Illinois, One hundred and twenty-second Illinois, and the Ninth Indiana Battery; and on the left, Colonel Gilbert's brigade, composed of the Twenty-seventh Iowa, Thirty-second Iowa, Tenth Kansas, Fifty-eighth Illinois, and Third Indiana Battery. My instructions required me to keep closed on the Fourth Corps, on my left, and regulate my advance by the right. A strong line of skirmishers was thrown from the division, as follows: In front of Wolfe, a portion of the One hundred and seventeenth Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Merriam commanding; in front of Moore, a portion of the One hundred and twenty-second Illinois, Major Chapman commanding; and in front of Gilbert, the Tenth Kansas and Company B, Twenty-seventh Iowa, Capt. W. C. Jones, Tenth Kansas, commanding. The general movement of the day was a grand wheel to the left, and as the division was in the center of the line it was necessary to use the utmost exertion to preserve its proper relation to the two grand wings. After advancing some distance, the skirmish line clearing away all opposition, the line halted in easy cannon-range of the rebel forts. The skirmish line was well advanced, and the Second Illinois and Ninth Indiana Batteries immediately brought into action, under the direction of Captain Lowell, chief of division artillery. These batteries were much exposed to the enemy's guns from the forts, but they maintained their fire, were used with much skill, and by silencing in a great degree the enemy's guns, contributed largely toward the final capture of the forts. The movement of the division being controlled by that of the line on its right, it was not until McArthur's left brigade, under Hill, advanced, that I ordered the charge which was promptly made on the double-quick. In the front of my center there was an angle in the enemy's works, so that when the Fourth Corps charged the works in their front, and I the forts in my front, our lines crossed. To prevent confusion I directed Moore and Gilbert in reserve, and after the fort in front of Wolfe was carried by him, brought them up in line on Wolfe's right. In the general movement of the day the skirmish line was thrown out of position and to the right. At the time of the charge the skirmish line, which originally was in front of my two right brigades, was in front of McArthur's left.

With a view to a clear understanding of the position at the time of the assault, it would be well to state that the rebels had a continuous line of works facing toward Nashville, and extending from toward the Franklin pike over to the Granny White pike. Near the Granny White pike and east of it there was a small redoubt forming an angle with the continuous line, then there was a series of detached works, extending back toward the hills and in the direction of the Hardin pike. The first of these forts was just west of the Granny White pike, and some 600 to 1,000 yards from the small redoubt at the angle. The Fourth Corps passed over the line of works, its right near the angle; Wolfe passed over the redoubt at the angle; and Hill's brigade, McArthur's division, passed over the fort west of Granny White pike. The skirmishers of the One hundred and twenty-second Illinois and One hundred and seventeenth Illinois were in front of Hill, and the One hundred and twenty-second captured the battery flag, but the three guns captured in that fort rightfully belong to Hill's brigade. Wolfe's brigade captured in the redoubt two guns, one disabled, and a third gun some distance in the rear of the redoubt, which the enemy had attempted to carry off.

On the morning of the 16th, at 8 a.m., the division was advanced in line in the direction of the Franklin pike--Gilbert on the right, Moore in the center, and Wolfe on the left. It was soon found necessary to change front forward on the right brigade, in order to face the enemy's line. This was done under heavy artillery fire; and to form connection with McArthur's line, Wolfe was brought up in line in my center and Gilbert moved to the right. A fortified hill in front of my left was carried by the skirmish line and the artillery brought into action. An effective and continuous artillery fire was kept up, and the skirmish line advanced close up to the enemy's works. The Fourth Corps was formed on my left. Noticing, about 4 p.m., a heavy musketry fire on the right of the corps, and believing that the critical point in the battle had arrived, I gave the order for the whole division to charge. This order was most promptly and gallantly obeyed. Gilbert's and Wolfe's brigades moved forward as a unit, and Moore a little retired. The division charged in the face of heavy artillery and musketry fire from the enemy's works, but its advance was so determined and rapid that the enemy was completely routed and driven in confusion from his intrenchments. His works consisted of a strong stone wall capped with earth, having a ditch and abatis in front. The enemy abandoned his artillery. Gilbert passed over and captured 5 guns, with the battery flag; Wolfe, 5; and Moore a battery of 4 guns a little to the left of that portion of the enemy's works carried by his brigade. This battery was captured by the One hundred and twenty-second Illinois, by moving off by the left flank after passing over the enemy's works. In addition to the above-enumerated guns, six more were captured by Moore's brigade. They were on a road just behind the first hills and were taken from the enemy as he was endeavoring to run them off. In the hills quite a number of wagons, limbers, and caissons were captured. During the assault all the artillery of the division, under the direction of the chief of artillery, was massed on the hill where my line had been formed, and was served with great rapidity and effect.

I inclose the report of the chief of artillery, that the major-general commanding the corps may be informed more in detail of the valuable service rendered by that arm in the late battle.(*)

On this day 20 guns and about 850 prisoners were captured, including Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson and other officers. On both days the first thought of myself and officers was to defeat and pursue the enemy, and I have to regret that proper care was not taken to secure receipt for the three guns on the 15th nor the twenty on the 16th, nor even for the prisoners which were captured; many of these were even taken to the provost-marshal in Nashville and left there without stating to what command they belonged. With the exception of the four guns on the extreme left on the 16th, I was an eye-witness to the fact of the different brigades passing over the batteries reported as captured by them; I also saw the battery on the left during the charge, but passed forward and out of sight of it before the One hundred and twenty-second Illinois captured it. The Fourth Corps, on my left, did not advance until I had carried the enemy's works, and I was, on this account, compelled to hold the Twenty-first Missouri in reserve, in rear of my left brigade, to provide against any attack on my flank; this flank, from the course of the enemy's works, was exposed to and in the charge suffered from a cross-fire.

It is with a feeling of just pride and pleasure that I refer to the good conduct and gallant bearing of the division throughout the two days' engagement. Under the many trying circumstances which surround a battlefield, both officers and men yielded a prompt and cheerful obedience to all orders, and in the assaults they displayed a determination and zeal which gained for them a complete and great victory. Among the many who did nobly I would ask the especial notice of the major-general commanding the corps to Col. James I. Gilbert, commanding Second Brigade, and Col. Edward H. Wolfe, commanding Third Brigade. These officers, for their efficiency as brigade commanders, and their soldierly bearing on the battle-field, I would respectfully recommend for promotion to the rank of brigadier-general.

To the officers on the division staff' I feel under many obligations for their useful assistance to me. Lieut. James B. Comstock. Twenty-first Missouri, acting assistant adjutant-general; Capt. William B. Dugger, One hundred and twenty-second Illinois, provost.marshal; Lieut. Richard Rees, Twenty-first Missouri, acting inspector-general, and Lieut. Sargeant McKnight, One hundred and twenty-second Illinois, acting aide-de-camp, were with me during both days, and by the intelligent and soldierly manner in which they discharged their duties, contributed materially toward the success of the division.

For the detailed action of brigades and regiments and special mention of regimental officers I have the honor to refer you to the reports of the brigade commanders herewith inclosed.

My loss, I am pleased to report, is small, only 4 officers and 160 enlisted men killed and wounded.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I--Volume XLV--In Two Parts. Part 1--Reports, Correspondence, etc. Page 472 - 475

No.163. Report of Colonel James I. Gilbert, Twenty-seventh Iowa Infantry,
commanding Second Brigade, of operations December 15-16,1864,

In the Field, Tenn., December 20, 1864

LIEUTENANT: In relation to the part taken by my brigade in the late battles with the enemy near Nashville, Tenn., on the 15th and 16th of December, 1864, I have the honor to make the following report:

My command was comprised as follows: The Twenty-seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry, 477 effective force, Lieutenant Colonel Jed Lake commanding; the Thirty-second Iowa Volunteer Infantry, 362 effective force, Lieutenant Colonel G.A. Eberhart commanding; the Fifty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, 331 effective force, Major R.W. Healy commanding; the Tenth Kansas Veteran Volunteer Infantry, 187 effective force, Captain W.C. Jones commanding; the Third Indiana Battery, six guns, 114 effective force, First Lieutenant Thomas J. Ginn commanding.

In compliance with orders from General Garrard, commanding Second Division, Detachment Army of the Tennessee, I had my command in readiness to move at daylight on the morning of the 15th instant. About 7 a.m. I moved the brigade outside the line of entrenchments encircling the city and formed the regiments of infantry in column by division, sending out the Tenth Kansas with one company of the Twenty-seventh Iowa, Company B, as skirmishers, to cover the entire front of the brigade. Soon afterward I received orders to form in line of battle and advance, governing my movement by that of the troops upon my right, guiding, however, to the left. I immediately deployed into line in the following order: The Thirty-second Iowa on the right, the Fifty-eighth Illinois in the center, the Twenty-seventh Iowa on the left, the battery following closely in the rear, my left resting near the right of the Fourth Army Corps. We had advanced but a short distance when brisk skirmishing commenced. Our skirmishers were checked only a few minutes, however, and soon drove the enemy from his sheltered skirmish line back upon his reserves, and yet steadily back to within 400 yards of a strongly entrenched position. Here they were checked, but, being re-enforced, again advanced to within 200 yards of the rebel works, driving the enemy inside, and, finding good shelter behind trees and stumps, held this position until the main line was ready to charge, all the while doing excellent service in sharpshooting the gunners of a rebel battery in their immediate front. The approach of my command toward the rebel works was necessarily very slow, as it was nearest the pivot upon which the whole right wing of the army swung around upon the enemy's left flank. Heavy cannonading from the enemy occurred at times during the advance, but owing to the thick timber in front he failed to get range so as to do me material damage. About 4 p.m., the main line having arrived close upon the left of the enemy's works, my skirmishers were relieved and reported to the command, when I received orders to move by the right flank to the rear of the First and in support of the Third Brigade, now ready to charge thaw works. I immediately executed the order in quick time, but had little more than reached the position assigned me when I heard the shouts of victory and saw several hundred prisoners passed to the rear. I was soon afterward ordered to move half a mile to the right and form my command upon the right of the First Brigade, when, as it was now dark, I was ordered to rest for the night.

My casualties on this day did not exceed twenty, nearly all of which were in the Tenth Kansas Veteran Volunteer Infantry, and I cannot close the report of the day without justly complimenting this regiment and Company B, Twenty-seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry, for excellent performance of skirmish duty.

On the morning of the 16th, just after daylight, I received orders to form my command in line of battle, my right resting near the left of the First Division, my brigade constituting the right of the Second Division. I at once formed as directed, in the following order, sending out five companies of the Fifty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under command of Captain Kittel, as skirmishers: The Thirty-second Iowa on the right, the Twenty-seventh Iowa the right center, the Fifty-eighth Illinois left center, and the Tenth Kansas on the left, which last-named regiment was soon afterward posted as a reserve, and so held throughout the day; the Third Indiana Battery again followed the movements of the command. About 7.30 o'clock, conforming to the movement of the line upon my right, I moved the brigade forward nearly the distance of half a mile through an open corn-field, partially wheeling to the right. Having reached the Granny White pike I moved some 500 or 600 yards by the right flank upon the pike, when I again moved forward, still advancing my left fasted than my right, over another open corn-field, where the enemy opened upon us a severe fire from a battery within their line of works, some 1,000 yards distant. The command moved in quick time, but with much coolness, until I had passed a little ravine, crossed a brook, and reached the brow of a hill in front, sheltered by trees, where I ordered the command to halt. I had occupied this position but a few minutes when I heard heavy musketry and saw a sudden changing of troops upon my right. Fearing that it might possibly be the line giving way I immediately ordered my command to recross the brook and then halt, whilst I rode up on an adjacent hill in order to discern the precise nature of the movements upon the right. Perceiving that the First Division was contracting in order to double its lines, I hastened back, and, under brisk artillery fire, moved the command by the right flank, breaking considerably to the rear, following a little ravine which, fortunately, ran nearly parallel to the enemy's line of works, until my right again rested near the First Division. I now ordered the command to lie down, where it remained for several hours, almost entirely safe from the missiles of the enemy, although the firing was severe and we lay within 400 or 500 [yards] of his line of works. At some distance to our right the enemy's fortified line ascended a hill. From this point his sharpshooters, having full view of my line, made frequent attempts to reach it. One of their bullets passed very close to two of my staff officers, and killed a horse belonging to Major Hutchinson, Thirty-second Iowa Infantry. In the meantime my battery, which had failed on the previous day to get into action on account of the impossibility of procuring a suitable position, had followed the movements of the brigade until the infantry advanced from the Granny White pike. It was at this time that the enemy opened a heavy fire form a covered position. I immediately ordered Lieutenant Ginn into position at double-quick, on a rise of ground in the open corn-field, from which position he opened a rapid fire upon the enemy, which was continued until his ammunition (canister excepted) was wholly exhausted. About 1p.m., having received a fresh supply of ammunition, Lieutenant Ginn was ordered some 400 yards to the left, where he expended some sixty rounds of ammunition. He was then ordered by Captain Lowell, chief of artillery Second Division, some 100 yards to the right, where he expended sixty additional rounds upon a rebel battery immediately in his front. Thence Lieutenant Ginn was ordered by Major-General Smith to the left of my brigade. From this position he continued fire with three guns upon the battery in my front, and the other three upon a battery in front of the Third Brigade, until the final charge was made. Throughout the day the battery did good service, and, although most of the time in an exposed position, its firing was rapid, accurate, and effective, expending 923 rounds of ammunition during the action.

A few minutes before 4 p.m., everything being in readiness, General Garrard's order was received to charge the enemy's works. The order was instantly given to my command and as instantly obeyed. From right to left my entire infantry command sprang to their feet, raised the crest of the little hill in front, gave a wild hurrah, and pressed directly forward. Notwithstanding a severe fire of musketry, grape, and canister, which, but for the fact that it was delivered too high, must have terribly torn my ranks, the whole line pressed eagerly on. As we passed the skirmish line, Captain Kittel, Fifty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, with admirable skill, collected his skirmishers on the run and joined in the charge. The rebels were seen to leave their rifle-pits and rush back over the works, and when within fifty paced of their line, a last volley of musketry, grape, and canister was poured upon my line, but it also passed almost harmless through the air over out heads. In a few minutes more the whole command had reached and passed the enemy's entrenchments, killing and capturing some of the artillerists at the guns, whilst the main line of the rebels ran in every direction. Five cannon were passed by my brigade, but, by my direction, were left without a guard, and the whole command ordered forward in pursuit of the enemy. Prisoners were taken singly and in squads numbering as high as thirty, most of whom were simply disarmed and ordered to the rear, which seemed very much in accordance with their desire. The command pressed on to the foot of and some distance up the base of the mountain, where I was ordered to halt. From the heights above, Captain Harris, Thirty-sixth Mississippi, hung out the white flag, and, with a few men yet with him, came down and were passed to the rear. Regimental commanders report not less than 150 prisoners taken in the pursuit. William May,* a private of Captain Benson's company (H), Thirty-second Iowa Infantry, as we approached the works, dashed forward and captured the battery guidon, which is now in my hands. Several of the official papers of the battery were also captured, showing it to have been A. Bouanchaud's. I am thus explicit in relation to the capture of the five guns, as I have been informed that they were claimed by some other command, which drew off the guns long after my brave men had captured and passed them in pursuit of the enemy.

The Tenth Kansas occupied the crest of the mountain as picket, and my command bivouacked for the night at its base, whence on the morning of the 17th it set out with the division in pursuit of the whipped, demoralized, and routed enemy.

Regimental commanders report excellent conduct on the part of both officers and men of their respective commands, which, as far as my observation extended, I do most heartily indorse and confirm.


*Awarded a Medal of Honor.


The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I--Volume XLV--In Two Parts. Part 1--Reports, Correspondence, etc. Page 480 - 483

No.165. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Jed Lake, Twenty-seventh Iowa Infantry,
of operations December 15-16, 1864.
Spring Hill, Tenn., December 20, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report the part taken by the Twenty-seventh Iowa Infantry in the battle near Nashville, Tenn., on the 15th instant, and the charge on mountain heights, south of Nashville, on the 16th instant, and the list of casualties.

On the 15th instant, at 7 a.m., I received orders from Colonel Gilbert, commanding Second Brigade, Second Division, Detachment Army of the Tennessee, to send out one company to report to the commanding officer of the Tenth Kansas as skirmishers. I ordered Captain S.W. Hemenway, commanding Company B, to comply with the order. At 8 a.m. I received orders to move the regiment outside of the entrenchments and form in column by division on the First Division, right in front. About 9 a.m. I was ordered to deploy column and move forward. My regiment was on the left of the brigade, our left resting on the right of the Fourth Army Corps. The skirmishing commenced in our front and was pretty sharp for about two hours, out men gradually driving the enemy's skirmishers and the regiment following them in line of battle. From 2 to 4 p.m. the cannonading was very severe on our right and left, but my regiment was shielded by the woods and hills so that the enemy's artillery was not directed at it. At about 4 p.m. Company B joined us, having been relieved as skirmishers. I received orders from Colonel Gilbert, commanding brigade, to wheel my regiment to the right and in the rear of the right of the Fourth Corps. At the same time the charge commenced on the enemy's works. We followed close in the rear of the Fourth Corps till the works were carried, then moved by the flank to the right and encamped for the night. No casualties.

On the 16th instant, at daylight, we formed in line of battle. My position was the left center of the brigade. About sunrise, by orders from Colonel Gilbert, we made a half wheel to the right and moved forward across an open field into the Granny White pike, and thence across another field, under fire of the enemy's guns, in all about a mile. We were then moved by the right flank about half a mile into a ravine, in a corn-field, where we were ordered to lie down. Here the fire of the artillery was very heavy, the missiles from the enemy's battery and our own passing directly over my regiment. One man of Company I was hit on the hip by a spent musket-ball while in this position. About 4 p.m. I received orders from Colonel Gilbert to prepare for the charge. At the command "Forward, double-quick, march!" every man went forward with a will. In passing between a house in our front and the outbuildings, both flanks were thrown back and crowded on the center, but, on reaching the open field about 200 yards in front of the enemy's works, immediately deployed and went over the parapet in good style. The enemy were doing their best to escape, and we followed them through the woods and across an open field and to the foot and up the side of the mountain, until men from the top hung out the white flag in token of surrender.

Every man and officer behaved with great gallantry, and it would be unjust to the others to particularize.

List of casualties.*

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.

Lieutenant W.G. DONNAN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


*Nominal list (omitted) shows 12 men wounded.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I--Volume XLV--In Two Parts. Part 1--Reports, Correspondence, etc. Page 485 - 486