At 6 AM on December 30, 1862 my brigade of some 1800 men was camped in
the woods west of the Tollgate on the Nashville Turnpike. I was ordered
by General Palmer to move to the left, tying my right in to Colonel Hazen's
brigade near the Round Forrest and deploy my brigade from that point to the
small hill overlooking the Stone's River ford across from Wayne's Hill.
By 9 AM my brigade was in position and I saw General Woods division on the
other side of the river moving against Wayne's Hill with General Van
Cleve's division moving toward McFadden's Ford to support him. At 10 AM
General Woods opened his attack against Wayne's Hill with my attached
artillery providing fire support. I ordered the 36th Indiana regiment to
take up a position on this side of the ford. Shortly after 11 Am General
Woods brigades were seen retreating from the woods north of Wayne's Hill
with the rebels in hot pursuit. The sound of artillery and musket file
from the north near McFadden's Ford indicated the rebels were attacking
there too. General Woods forces were pushed away from the ford with only
the 35th Indiana of Price's brigade managing to cross at the ford in our
front before the rebels secured the eastern bank shortly after 1 PM.
Meanwhile a third rebel force began advancing on our position from the
Nashville Turnpike area preventing me from providing any support to General
Woods and Crittenden on the other side of the river. By 2 PM this attack
had been beaten off with assistance from Colonel Zahm's cavalry brigade.
By that time the fate of our troops on the other side of the river was
sealed with the rebels having taken McFadden's Ford and cutting off their
retreat. At 4 PM my brigade was back in its earlier position covering the
ford with our guns on the high ground to its west. We continued in this
position the rest of the afternoon and remained there through the night.
Roll call the morning of the 31st indicated the brigade had lost some
400 men in the previous days fighting. We were ordered to continue to
cover the ford and prevent the rebels from crossing the river. Our
artillery engaged in a duel with the rebel guns on Waynes Hill for over an
hour before I ordered it to withdraw as we were out gunned. This was done
around 830 AM and no further fighting took place for several hours. Around
11 AM increased movement by the rebels on our front was reported by my
skirmishers and around Noon they crossed the river at the ford and attacked
our positions there. After a brief fight they were repulsed by 1 PM and
retreated back across the river. Our elation at our success was short
lived however as the sounds of heavy firing to our left indicated the
rebels had succeeded in crossing the river in that part of the field.
Shortly afterwards I received word from General Palmer that Colonel Hazen
and Cruft's brigades would be moving to the left to stop the rebels who
apparently had pushed back Colonel Phyffe's division. I was ordered to
hold the ford at all hazards. At 3 PM I was forced to pull back from the
ford as the rebels had forced Hazen and Cruft to retreat and my left was
threatened. The rebels quickly crossed the river over the undefended ford
and began moving against my line of battle. Facing overwhelming odds my
brigade continued retiring until we were forced south of the Round Forrest.
Around 5 PM Colonel Walker's brigade came up on our right and with this
reinforcement we were able to halt the rebel attack and re-establish our
lines just east of the Nashville Turnpike. We held this position until
night fell around 6 PM. Roll call showed we had only 700 men remaining in
the brigade having suffered 60% casualties over the two days fighting.
Colonel William Grose