The cartridges were all shot away, yet it came off in good order. Gen. Rosecrans publicly told Gen. Negley, “nothing but the stubborn fighting of the eighth division, saved the army on that bloody Wednesday.” The Seventy fourth was the last regiment to come from that field. It fought twenty minutes after every other regiment had fallen back. Its loss was over thirty percent, but it has been ascertained that of one of the regiments which was pitted against the Seventy-fourth, only fifty remained next morning for duty. This rebel regiment was the Rock City Guards, an old veteran regiment from Nashville.The general fate of that day’s fight was decidedly in favor of the enemy. Our right wing had been driven about two miles, and had it not been for the strong position on an extensive hill, which Rosecrans had prepared for the contingency of a defeat, our army would have been entirely routed.
The deportment of Commanding General during this trying time was cool and decided. He rallied the retreating army, sighted several canon himself, and ordered double charges of grape and canister in case of further advance of the rebels, and when they reformed and attacked us again, they were entirely repulsed, and in the language of Bragg himself they were “successfully resisted.” Gen. Rosecrans came up to the Seventy-fourth and ordered “Fix Bayonets,” and “Lie down”. It was formed directly in front of the Nineteenth regulars, of which Lieut. Lowe of Xenia, is Acting Adjutant. About half of the Nineteenth was gone, and Major Carpenter was carried dead past them. The whole of our army was concentrated upon that hill every heart undaunted. On the Friday following, the enemy attacked our left corps, Gen. Crittenden.
The eighth division was held in reserve just on the brow of the hill and lying down. After the severest fight of an hour, our forces gave way, and Rosecrans ordered Negley to “charge.” Up every man came to his feet, and own the hill went the Seventy-fourth “in at the death.” The rebels bravely stood for a few minutes, but soon gave way. Then forward went the eight division driving Breckinridge’s whole force before them.
The flag of the Seventy-fourth was placed on the captured rebel artillery. Such cheering was heard as was never heard before in this army. It went all along our whole lines. “Thanks be unto God who gave us the victory.”
Our God had crushed the tyrant.
And He had raised the slave,
He had mocked the wisdom of the wise,
And the valor of the brave.
The conduct of Col. Moody during both these battles, has elicited the praise of every one here. All former difficulties in the regiment are now forgotten. The fire of battle has melted all hearts in one. Gen. Rosecrans came around to the Seventy-fourth after we entered Murfreesboro, and said, “Colonel, you have behaved gallantly–I have heard all about it–I shall have to call the Seventy-fourth the fighting regiment.” Major Bell performed his duties cooly and well. He was over seen, where the bullets were thickest, cheering the men. He has the dash and coolness of an experienced officer. The Colonel was wounded and had his horse shot from under him, but he still fought on, and never has been kept from a single duty. The major’s horse was killed but he came out unhurt.
Of the many killed, wounded and missing of the Seventy-fourth, my heart is too sad to speak. You doubtless know them all from the Cincinnati papers, as a list has been sent.
I visited the battle ground after the fight and there lay horse and rider, friend and foe, in “one red burial blent.” If any one delights in war, he should have seen that field of carnage. The gore of many a mortal wound was still red upon the earth, and the dead had still the foam of their gasping upon their cheeks. No smile was on those palid faces, for there had been no gentle hand to smooth their dying pillow. There, in the frosty, moonlight our pale dead brothers lay, with ghastly eyes upturned to heaven, mutely beaseaching God to hand down once more, the Angel of Peace to our land. Thou dire hateful Demon of War, happy will be the time when Christ shall lay you lovw and Peace, and Love prevail!