Reports of both Lt. Col. Housum and Capt. Rose
Report of Lieut. Col. Peter B. Housum, Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania Infantry.
HDQRS. SEVENTY-SEVENTH REGT. PENNSYLVANIA
VOLS., In Camp, November 27, 1862.
CAPT.: In reply to Special Orders,
No.--, of this date, asking why the detachments sent out on the left of La Vergne did not move up rapidly and charge the rebel
battery, as ordered, I give you a statement of the operations of the Twenty-ninth Indiana Regiment, Maj. Collins, and Seventy-seventh
Regiment, both under my command, until the detachment under Col. Dodge, Thirtieth Indiana, joined me.
After receiving orders to join the Seventy-seventh to the Twenty-ninth and assume command, I proceeded, as ordered, to
take and hold the grove on the left of the Murfreesborough road, and keep the right a specified distance from the road. When
in the grove, and in line of battle, the skirmishers thrown in advance from the Twenty-ninth Indiana Regt. became engaged
in front and on the left. I at once ordered Company B, of Seventy-seventh, Capt. Rose, forward on the left of the line already
deployed, with orders to advance as rapidly as circumstances would permit. As soon as deployed, he became engaged with the
enemy, when I ordered the whole line forward to the bed of the stream, and immediately crossed, when it became necessary to
march the line by the left flank to get under cover of the woods, and also to cross a ravine which was in front. As soon as
a sufficient distance had been taken to the left to cover the troops, I ordered an advance, with the injunction from Capt.
Wagner not to advance too rapidly on the woods, or too close on the line of skirmishers. After advancing some distance, I
was ordered to again move by the left flank to what I thought would be a point opposite the battery, and advance on it. After
marching by the flank what I supposed a sufficient distance, I again resumed the march by the front, advanced steadily, under
a severe fire, when I observed the enemy moving to our left, and supposing the object might be to outflank us on our left,
their line in front already exceeding our in length or front, I ordered a halt, and sent Lieut. Walker, Of the staff, to the
left, to notify the cavalry to keep a strict watch to prevent any attempt to flank us on the left, at the same time notifying
Col. Kirk that probably an attempt would be made to outflank us. Lieut. Walker returning, I immediately ordered the men forward,
when, from the maneuvering of the enemy in front, I ordered two additional companies forward on the line of skirmishers. At
this moment Col. Dodge joined me on the right, when he also threw one company forward on the line of skirmishers; thus re-enforced,
and the skirmish line strengthened, I ordered a rapid advance, clearing the woods of the enemy. Col. Dodge now came to me,
and, as my superior officer, he assumed command and ordered me to change front forward on the left company. When the whole
line was thrown forward in the new direction, he ordered an advance to the edge of the woods. At this point he ordered the
Twenty-ninth Regt. forward, supported by the Seventy-seventh and Thirtieth, to charge the battery, while moving forward as
rapidly as the ground would admit of, and obstructed, as it was, by a number of fences, which had to be torn down as they
advanced, and also under a severe fire from the rebel battery on the hill in front. About the time the advance was tearing
down a heavy fence, the firing of the battery ceased.* We advanced to the top of a hill in the rear of La Vergne, when Col.
Dodge received orders to return to town.
I thought at the time, and think so still, that our advance through the woods was as rapid as circumstances would admit
of. The only time lost was when I directed the cavalry to reconnoiter on our left. Halting at that time was thought to be
Hoping the above will fully explain the matter to in Orders, No.--, I remain, respectfully, yours,
P. B. HOUSUM.
D. C. WAGNER,
CAMP NEAR INSANE ASYLUM, November 29, 1862.
SIR: In compliance with the request of Lieut.-Col. Housum, commanding
Seventy-seventh Regiment, I have the honor to make the following report of the part that I took in the skirmish near La Vergne,
When the Seventy-seventh had formed on the left of the Twenty-ninth Indiana, I was ordered to take one company and deploy
it forward as skirmishers, and join on the left of the skirmishers of the Twenty-ninth, which I did, and which post I had
the honor to hold throughout the skirmish. After I had got my company into position, we were ordered to advance across the
woods, and over a ditch, which was the bed of a small creek; thence across an open space to the edge of the grove on the left
of the town. From the time I first deployed the company, the enemy had firing on us, and in a short time after we entered
the latter grove the firing became quite heavy upon my position of the line. At this time the whole line of skirmishers was
ordered to halt, and my little band sustained the concentrated fire of the rebels for a considerable length of time, when
the rebels advanced us with a loud cheering, which cheering we as lustily returned. My portion of the command being at this
time re-enforced, we charged upon them, and drove them back through the woods and across an open space to the next grove beyond,
their officers using their utmost endeavors to rally them, which they partially succeeded in doing behind a fence on the opposite
edge of the grove. They did not stay our progress, however, and one portion of the rebels returned pell-mell down the road
toward the Lebanon pike, and the other in tolerable order toward the railroad. We were here ordered to move by the right flank,
which we did for about 150 or 200 yards, and then advanced directly across the railroad at an angle first, and when the left
of my line had passed over the railroad about 100 yards, I discovered a section of artillery belonging to the enemy a little
to the front, but almost upon my right flank. I immediately signaled my skirmishers to change direction to the right, to gain
the rear of the battery, which they did until we had wheeled about 30 degrees, when we encountered about 300 dismounted cavalry,
which at first I took to be a regiment of infantry. We attacked them a loud cheer, and they immediately began to give way,
but disputed the ground for probably 100 yards, when they fled precipitately to their horses, which were posted in the rear
of the battery. We pushed at doublequick toward the battery, but, as soon as the cavalry reached their horses, both cavalry
and artillery commenced a thundering retreat, and we continued in full pursuit, although we were a quarter of a mile in advance
of our main reserve, until an orderly came up, stating that he was the bearer of an order from the brigade commander directing
us to fall back, which we did until we neared the town, where I assembled my skirmishers and returned to the regiment.
Your obedient servant,
THOS. E. ROSE,
Capt., Comdg. Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers.
S. T. DAVIS,
Seventy-seventh Regt. Pennsylvania Volunteers.