- 12 Jul 2020 15:07
July 13, Sunday
Before dawn, Colonel Forrest sends Colonel Wharton and a detachment of his 8th Texas Cavalry on a reconnaissance toward Murfreesboro. They return an hour later with fifteen captured Federal pickets, who admit that the Murfreesboro garrison has no inkling of Forrest’s presence. They also disclose that the Federals have one camp just west of town and another even farther west on the bank of Stones River. Forrest issues orders for an attack at first light. Wharton will engage the Federals encamped on the outskirts of town. Meanwhile, part of the 2nd Georgia under Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Hood will dash into the center of town to seize the jail and free the men from Woodbury. The remainder of the 2nd Georgia and part of the 8th Texas will take the courthouse and other key buildings, including General Crittenden’s headquarters at the hotel. Another column will circle the town to the west to cut off any advance from the Federal encampment on the river.
With first light, Wharton’s cavalrymen charge into the Federal camp near town, taking a detail of the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry completely by surprise and stampeding the dismounted troopers into the nearby tents of Colonel William W. Duffield’s 9th Michigan Infantry. Despite the confusion, Duffield is able to form a line of battle, steady his men, and open fire. Now it is the Texans’ turn to be driven back. In the exchange of fire, both Wharton and Duffield go down with serious wounds. Duffield’s replacement, Lieutenant Colonel John G. Parkhurst, fears that his Federals cannot withstand a second assault in their present position. He orders a hasty retreat to the cover of a nearby wooden fence, with the men adding further protection by overturning supply wagons behind it. The wagons are barely in place when Lieutenant Colonel John C. Walker, who has taken over from Wharton, redeploys the Confederates and opens a hot fire on the Federals to keep them pinned down.
Meanwhile, Morrison and Hood lead a pell-mell charge into Murfreesboro. The prisoners in jail hear the rescuers coming, including Confederate Army Captain William Richardson, an escapee from a prisoner-of-war camp who was arrested traveling in civilian clothes and has been condemned as a spy. While some of the raiders besiege the jail, others quickly overrun the hotel, capturing General Crittenden and his staff. Nearby, a company of Michigan soldiers barricade themselves inside the courthouse and opens fire on the Confederate attackers. The raiders charge the building from all sides as some of their numbers break down the front door with an improvised ram. The Confederates swarm inside and quickly capture the defenders. At the jail, the situation is precarious. The jail guards, realizing that they can’t escape, nevertheless do not intend to surrender their prisoners alive; they try to shoot the Confederates in their cells. Captain Richardson and the others survive only by cringing into a nook in a forward corner of the cell where the guards can’t bring their guns to bear. But the captives are far from safe. Before leaving the jail, one of the Federal guards lights a bundle of papers and shoves them beneath the flooring. By the time the Southern riders reach them the fire is already under good headway and the jailer has fled with the keys. The rescuers pry at a heavy metal door, managing to bend it enough to extricate the prisoners. Just as they escape the burning building, Colonel Forrest rides up.
Meanwhile, Colonel Lawton has run into trouble to the west of town. The sound of gunfire has awakened Colonel Henry C. Lester in the Federal camp on Stones River, about a mile and a half from town. Lester forms the 3rd Minnesota Infantry and the Kentucky Light Battery into a column and heads for the fighting. In a tree-bordered cornfield near the town, the Federals run into Lawton’s waiting Confederates. Lester shells the Confederates, forcing them to pull back into the tree line on the east side of the field. Lawton and his men are stalled there under fire when Forrest rides up. Sizing up the situation, he orders the 1st Georgia, along with a Tennessee and a Kentucky company, to ride around the Federals and burn their camp on the river.
It is now 11 am, and some of Forrest’s officers begin to worry about Federal reinforcements arriving by train from Nashville. They propose a withdrawal. “I didn’t come here to make half a job of it,” Forrest snaps. “I’m going to have them all.” He devises a ruse. While his designated units circle Lester’s position and attack and set fire to the westernmost Federal camp, Forrest rides back to where Colonel Parkhurst’s troops lie pinned down behind their wagons and sends in a flag of truce. Forrest claims to have captured all the other Federal troops in the area and demands Parkhurst’s surrender, adding that if his raiders have to attack they will take no prisoners. Parkhurst, thinking he is the last to hold out, surrenders at noon. Forrest immediately returns to his troops at the cornfield and prepares another bluff. Ordering his men to march back and forth in order to inflate their actual numbers in the eyes of the enemy, Forrest sends an intimidating note to Colonel Lester demanding his unconditional surrender and threatening to take no prisoners. Thoroughly intimidated, Lester surrenders his 450 men and four guns. With that, Forrest has them all—1,200 prisoners, 50 wagons and teams, a battery of artillery and about a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of assorted supplies. Before leaving, he destroys the railroad depot and tears up the track near town. Since the loot is more than his troops can carry, Forrest makes a deal with some of the prisoners: They will help haul the goods to McMinnville, and he will parole them to their homes.
General Buell, hearing of the wholesale surrender at Murfreesboro, is outraged. But he has much greater problems. Lacking tight security at the many outposts along his extended line of supply and lacking the cavalry with which to chase down the raiders, he will be forced yet again to delay his advance on Chattanooga to deal with the threats to his rear. He sends Brigadier General William (Bull) Nelson with a 3,500-man division to Murfreesboro to stop Forrest, repair the railroad there, and keep it open.
This morning, at the risk of leaving the Richmond defenses with less than half as many troops as General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac to the south, General Lee orders Stonewall Jackson to rush his two divisions north to Gordonsville to oppose Banks’s ordered advance—an advance that hasn’t started yet, as General Hatch is still assembling artillery and supply wagons for what is supposed to be a lightning strike.
Union forces destroy the railroad bridge over the Rapidan River at Rapidan Station, Virginia, during a skirmish. Another skirmish is fought near Wolf River, Tennessee.
Lincoln and McClellan continue their correspondence over how many men McClellan has and whether he can take Richmond. Lincoln has increasing doubts about his evasive commander on the Peninsula.
On the Grand River in Indian Territory, in the idleness and heat, the morale of Weer’s Federals plummet and their supplies run low. Suddenly a combined force of Texans, Chickasaws, and Choctaws led by Colonel Douglas H. Cooper—belatedly ordered north by General Albert Pike—appear in their front, across the Arkansas River. With guerrillas in Missouri threatening their rear and Cooper’s force in front of them, Weer’s officers become restive. Finally, they mutiny. Prussian-born Colonel Frederick Salomon of the 9th Wisconsin Volunteers, a mostly German-born regiment, arrests the inebriated Weer and assumes command. Salomon leaves the three Amerind regiments to patrol the northern part of the Territory and starts his White troops back toward Kansas, taking along John Ross, who rides with his entourage in a caravan of carriages that also holds the boxed-up treasury and archives of the Cherokee nation. Many of the refugee Amerinds, their hopes dashed, trudge along, heading back to more months of miserable exile in Kansas.
Ross’s capture plunges the Cherokee country into chaos. In the wake of the Federals’ retreat, a reign of terror breaks out. The shaky alliance between the pro-Confederate Cherokee and the Northern sympathizers unravels completely, and each side seeks vengeance against the other, resulting in murdered families, burned homes, destroyed crops, and slaughtered herds of livestock. Unable to police the region, the three Union Amerind regiments withdraw to Kansas, leaving the Territory once again in the hands of Confederate Amerinds. The secessionist Cherokee quickly name Stand Watie in Ross’s place, triggering the flight of a new wave of frightened pro-Union Amerinds to the already crowded refugee camps in Kansas.
Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We don’t allow our enemies to have guns, why should we allow them to have ideas?
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.