Stones River After Action Report
Report of Major Henry Leaming, 40th Indiana Infantry, including skirmish at LaVergne, December 17
HEADQUARTERS FORTIETH INDIANA VOLUNTEERS
Near Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 9, 1863
SIR: On the 26th ultimo the 40th Indiana Volunteers, commanded by Colonel John W. Blake, marched from Nashville, in the direction of Murfreesborough, and camped near the village of LaVergne, the pickets from this regiment covering the right of the brigade, and one-half of the regiment having been thrown forward for this purpose, the entire picket line of the brigade being made the charge of Lieutenant Colonel Elias Neff, of this regiment.
The night passed quietly, but early on the morning of the 27th firing commenced between our outposts and those of the enemy who occupied the village, which was kept up briskly for some time, and terminated with a few rounds of artillery firing on either side. The regiment had 1 man wounded in this skirmish.
At about midday we again took the road, and without further casualty marched to Stewart’s Creek and encamped, remaining till the morning of the 29th, when we crossed the creek and moved forward amid occasional skirmishing till arriving about 2 1/2 miles from Murfreesborough, where we halted, our right resting on the turnpike at the toll-gate, and the left resting on the railroad.
We remained at this point till the morning of the 31st without casualty, having picketed the front on the nights of the 29th and 30th.
On the 31st firing was heard off to our right from both artillery and small-arms, indicating an important movement in that direction; but the regiment made no change of position, keeping the men ready for instant action.
About 9 a.m. the troops to our right were discovered to be falling back, and we were ordered to retire and move to a position from which we could advance to their support. The enemy were soon repulsed, however, and we were then ordered to take position in rear of Cox’s battery, and on a line with that the regiment occupied in the morning, our right resting on the railroad, the left extending nearly at right angles from it. In this position we were exposed to the fire from the enemy’s guns, and lost some men, wounded.
We remained here but a short time, when we were ordered to retire the regiment slowly, which order was about being executed when General Palmer, mistaking the 40th for the 9th Indiana, ordered it to remain. Some time was comsumed in explaining the mistake, which kept the regiment to the rear of the line of the retiring brigade. The movement on the part of the 40th Indiana was being executed with much confusion and greatly to the dissatisfaction of the company officers, as well as to Lieutenant Colonel Neff and myself, the confusion arising from the intoxication of Colonel Blake, who was discovered to be utterly unfit to command. These facts were reported to Colonel Wagner, who promptly put Colonel Blake in arrest, and ordered Lieutenant Colonel Neff to assume command.
Shortly thereafter an order came from Colonel Wagner directing that the regiment advance at once and engage the enemy; but after this order was found to be impracticable, as there were at that moment two lines immediately in front of us. Lieutenant Colonel Neff, however, directed the adjutant to say to the officer commanding the front line that the 40th was ready to relieve him; but it was ascertained that the enemy’s guns engaging this line were silenced, and that our assistance was not required. In a few minutes another order came from Colonel Wagner, directing the regiment to the support of General Hascall’s brigade, which was now engaging the enemy and occupying the ground which we had been resting on in the morning.
The regiment was reported to General Hascall, and was by him ordered to take a position, with the right resting at the old house near the toll-gate, and the left extending across the railroad, which struck the line about the colors, and lie down. This ground being elevated several feet above that occupied by the front line, placed the regiment in a position much exposed to the fire of the enemy, which was at this time very heavy, both artillery and musketry. Many of our men were wounded here, 1 mortally, and 3 were killed outright.
It was while lying here that I was advised that Lieutenant Colonel Neff was severely wounded in the arm, and had quit the field in consequence thereof. After having laid about three-fourths of an hour on this spot, we were ordered to relieve the 58th Indiana, which occupied the advance line in our front. I called up the regiment and advanced at once, notifying the officer commanding the 58th of my purpose. The 58th was withdrawn and the 40th took their place.
For some minutes after getting into a position we were only annoyed by artillery fire, but soon we observed a brigade of the enemy moving toward us in order, with the evident intention of attacking us. On nearing the ruins of the burned brick building in our front, one regiment was detached from the brigade and bore down upon us. I allowed them to gain a point within easy range of musketry fire, and directed the regiment to open upon them, which they did with great briskness, and with such effect as to repulse the enemy handsomely.
When I found the enemy had been effectually driven back, I ordered my command to cease firing, and immediately set about replenishing the cartridge-boxes with ammunition, and quietly awaited any further advance on the part of the enemy, which, however, was not made. Nightfall found the regiment occupying the same ground upon which we had bivouacked since arriving, on the 29th.
The regiment remained in position, with a picket thrown forward, till 4 a.m. of the 1st instant, when we were ordered to retire, which we did quietly, and took position a few rods to the left of the railroad, and about half a mile to the rear of one abandoned. Nothing of any moment occured to the regiment on the 1st. We kept the front well covered with skirmishers, and kept in readiness for any attack.
On the 2nd, early in the day, we were subjected to a vigorous artillery fire from the enemy, which, however, had no serious result. On the evening of the 2nd, at nearly sundown, the enemy attacked the troops on the left of our position, and the regiment threw forward an additional skirmishing company to support our line, which, being in the open field, was much exposed, and had been subjected throughout the day to a vicious fire from the outposts of the enemy, who were concealed by the timber in front, which resulted in wounding Captain DeWitt C. Wallace (Company C) and two of his men. The enemy were repulsed on the left, and the regiment was directed to move to that part of the field.
Crossing the river we moved forward to the advance line, and taking position remained till the evening of the 3rd, when we were relieved and retired to the skirt of woods on the bank of the river, where we bivouacked till 4 a.m. of the 4th, when we were withdrawn to the rear, recrossing the river and taking position on the turnpike 1 mile in advance of the general hospital. Shortly after arriving here we learned that the enemy had evacuated.
Our loss during the engagement was 4 killed and 68 wounded. Among the latter were Lieutenant Colonel Elias Neff, Captains DeWitt C. Wallace and Orpheus C. Harvey (Company B), First Lieutenant (Adjutant) Willard Griswold, and First Lieutenant William L. Coleman (Company D) and Second Lieutenant Henry A. Hazelrigg (Company K).
In conclusion, I must state that the conduct of the regiment under the most trying circumstances was worthy of all praise. The coolness and quiet determination of officers and men were admireable, and not less so the cheerfulness of sprit with which the hardships and exposure to cold and rain were borne. The regiment did it’s duty faithfuly. I know no higher praise that can be given it.
Major, Commanding Regiment
Captain H.C. TINNEY,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Twenty-first Brigade.
From the supplement to the OR:
December 31, 1862 loss-4 killed, 68 wounded
Company B-2 Killed, 14 wounded
Regiment under command of Colonel John W. Blake, then Lieutenant Colonel Elias Neff, then Major Henry Leaming
Reported casualties: 4 killed, 68 wounded, 13 missing, total 85
Tabulated Casualties: Killed 6, Died of wounds 8, Died while POW/on parole 0, Wounded 66, Missing 0, Captured 0, TOTAL 80.
Field and Staff:
Colonel John W. Blake, wounded in left arm when being taken to rear under arrest for drunkenness, captured and paroled
Lieutenant Colonel Elias Neff, severely wounded in arm
Adjutant William Griswold, severely wounded in thigh
Killed: Private John Montgomery, Private George Porter, Corporal William Shellington;slightly wounded in hip near leg, died of wounds and disease April 25, 1863, Private William Morris;severely wounded in right foot and leg, died of wounds January 18, 1863, Private Joseph Patton, severely wounded in leg and died of wounds January 27, 1863.
Wounded: First Sergeant John A. Baer; slightly wounded in shoulder, Corporal William R. Hutton; slightly wounded in side, Corporal Sylvester Leaming; severely wounded in leg, Private Samuel Cambe; severely wounded in forearm near elbow, Private Scott Elliott; slightly wounded in shoulder, Private S. Fremm; wounded in left thigh, Private Nelson K. Howard; slightly wounded in arm, Private William Huelton; wounded in right arm, Private Peter Illianfritz; slightly wounded in “belly”, Private James F. Julian; slightly wounded in side, Private William H. Manary; slightly wounded in leg, Private Walter Morris; wounded in foot, Private James Patten; wounded in right hand, Private Aaron Shaw; wounded, Private Jacob Sheets; wounded in head near ear and shoulder, Private Reuben B. Wilson; wounded in right leg.
Killed: Private Robert Aitcheson, Private Jacob Walling, Private Cassius M. Cook; slightly wounded in leg, died of wounds in 1863, Private Milton Miller; wounded in foot, foot shot off, leg amputated, died of wounds December 31, 1862, Private Sanford Staley (Statley); severely wounded in hip and died of wounds in 1863.
Wounded: Captain Orpheus C. Harvey; slightly wounded in head (or right arm)’ Sergeant Jeremiah Brower; slightly wounded in back, Sergeant Grimes L. Murphy; slightly wounded in arm, Corporal Henry S. Philabaum; slightly wounded in shoulder near left arm, Private Thomas Helvey; wounded in right arm, Private Hiram Julian; wounded, Private William McConaha; wounded in hand and breast, Private Charles E. Morrett; wounded in head and shoulder, Private David Ramsey; slightly wounded in brest, Private William Van Schoyck; slightly wounded in back.
Wounded: Captain DeWitt C. Wallace; severely wounded in right arm January 2, 1863, Corporal Josiah Davis; slightly wounded in hand, Private Peter T. Beaty; slightly wounded in thigh, Private Ambrose Bell; wounded in shoulder, Private John Groves; wounded in arm, Private John C. Monfort; slightly wounded in side, Private James E. Sinnett, slightly wounded in neck, Private Adam Whitmore; wounded in face.
Killed: Private George W. Harvey
Wounded: First Lieutenant William L. Coleman; severely wounded in head, Private George D. Davis; severely wounded in head (parietal bone), Private John L. Lewis; slightly wounded in neck; Private James Meek; slightly wounded in arm.
Killed: Private Peter Writsman; wounded in back, died of wounds January 23, 1863.
Wounded: First Sergeant Richard Kolb; severely wounded in right arm near hand, Corporal Thomas D. Henderson; severely wounded in thigh, Private P. Hartman; wounded in left foot, Private A.M. Hilt; wounded in arm, Private Silas N. Jackson; severely wounded in head, Private Andrew McNett; wounded in head and foot, Private Salathiel K. Wise; wounded in right foot.
Killed: Private Reuben M. Caldwell
Wounded: Private Marcus A. Brockway; slightly wounded in arm, Private Francis M. Dinsmore; slightly wounded in head, Private William H. Dooley; slightly wounded in left hip, Private James Moldoon; slightly wounded in thigh.
Killed: Private Elijah C. Moore; severly wounded in right forearm, died of wounds in 1863.
Wounded: Sergeant William W. Curnett; slightly wounded in arm, Private Luke Conner; slightly wounded in hip, Private Oliver James; slightly wounded in leg, Private William Lonberger; slightly wounded in left hip, Private Joseph N. Patterson; severely wounded in thigh, Private Horace C. Seely; severely wounded in right forearm, Private William Silvers; slightly wounded in hip.
Wounded: Private John Brily; wounded in foot.
Wounded: First Sergeant Eugene A. Ruth; wounded in hip, Private David Benson; wounded in right thigh, Private James A. Hicks; wounded in left knee, Private Daniel H. Richardson; wounded in hip.
Wounded: Second Lieutenant Henry L. Hazelrigg; severely wounded in right leg, Corporal Henry W. Chambers; slightly wounded in left arm near hand, Private Horatio Veatch; severely wounded in right hand.