Monday, December 27, 2010

December 4th-6th, 1864 Overalls Creek

Union Blockhouse

From December 4th through the 6th, Charles Milton Adams and the 174th Ohio participated in a running battle near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The cavalry of Nathan Bedford Forrest and General William Bate's division of Hood's Army were sent to attack the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and disrupt the Union supply lines.

The Battle of Overalls Creek

Maj.-General Milroy was ordered by General Rousseau to send a reconnaissance force to look for the Confederates near Murfreesboro. According to Milroy, “About noon on the 4th rapid artillery firing was heard at the block house 4 1/2 mile north on the R.R. at the crossing of Overalls Creek. Distant heavy artillery firing had been heard almost constantly in the direction of Nashville for several days, but the firing at the Block house at Overalls Creek was so near that we saw smoke rolling up. Col Johnson of the 13th Ind Cav (Who got through with about 300 men from Nashville a few days previous) had been started up the Nashville Pike (Which was nearly parallel with the R.R.) about 12 o’clock M. and sent back a dispatch that the enemy were too strong for him to drive. Upon my requesting it Gen Rousseau permitted me to go up with three Regts and a section of artillery (2 guns) to the relief of the Block house which the Rebs were cannonading. I took the 174th Ohio, a new fall Regt the 8th Minnesota a full veteran Regt. that had but a few weeks returned from the far West where they have been fighting Indians for three years and the 61st Illinois, a veteran Regt. of only 200 men and a section of Capt. Bundays N.Y. (13th) battery”.
The Cavalry under Col. Johnson was in a firefight when the infantry arrived, the artillery was moved up and they traded shots to no effect. Unable to determine the enemy strength in the waning daylight, Milroy explains, “I ordered the 8th Minn and part of the 61st Ill down to the block house to try to cross the R.R. bridge and get around to the right of the Reb battery and take it while I with the 174th and the ballance of the 61st Ill crossed the turnpike bridge to flank the battery on the left. The Reb Battery was about 500 yards from the Creek and between the Pike and R.R. and their line lay across the Pike between it and the R.R. I threw forward the 61st (or rather that portion of it with me) across the bridge and deployed it as skirmishers on the other side and followed them closely with the 174th we crossed the bridge under heavy fire of both artillery and small arms. It being a new Regt. and under fire for the first time I felt some doubt about being able to form them in line of battle after crossing the bridge but with the assistance of their excellent field officers, Col Jones, Lt Col Sterling and Maj. Reed (who was killed three days afterwards) and My staff I succeeded in forming them in excellent order and my skirmishers being advanced opened a rapid fire on the Rebs”
Milroy wanted to take the Rebel battery and ordered Col. Johnson forward over a bridge, he did so but met stiff resistance, To help Col. Johnson, General Milroy responded, “I then moved forward the 174th Being a new large Regt it looked like a small brigade in line of battle and advanced in splended order for the new Regt. and opened terrific fire on the Rebs who were rolled back rapidly before the fire of the 174th--A number of prisoners were picked up by the 174th as they advanced laying flat on the ground who stated that the sheet of lead above them was so terrific that they dare not get up to run away. Learning from these prisoners that they belonged to Bates Division of Infantry which was all in front of me and it being now so dark that we could only see where the enemy were by the flashes of their guns, and their fire having nearly ceased.” According to Rousseau‘s after action report, “I sent three regiments, under Gen. Milroy, to its relief. The enemy (Bates' division) were routed and driven off. We took some prisoners, near thirty, but no guns. Loss of the enemy unknown, as night closed in before the fight was over. Our troops, new and old, behaved admirably. We withdrew at night.”. The men withdrew over the bridge for the night at the loss of seven men killed, sixty two wounded and capturing 20 prisoners. ( The official history puts the losses at 6K 38W and 2 officers wounded)
The next day, the fifth of December and all through the sixth, Union and Confederate forces maintained an ongoing skirmish with cannon and pickets. "On the two following days, December 5 and 6, the Confederates showed themselves to the west of us, and demonstrated most ostentatiously against Murfreesboro. From where we stood on the ramparts of Fortress Rosecrans we could plainly see their columns in motion, with flags flying, circling around us as if looking for a good opening. They were beyond the range of musketry, but our big guns in the fortress opened on them and gave them a most noisy cannonading, but what the effect was I don't know,— probably not much*" lamented Leander Stillwell. The rebels had Milroy’s men almost completely surrounded.

On December 6th, a stalemate ensued and Forrest was joined by General Palmer and General Sear's brigades increasing their strength to about 7000. On December 7th was the Battle of Wilkinson Pike.

Milroy Source
Rousseau Source
*The Story of a Common Soldier pg.233-237 By Leander Stillwell
Pics Source

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