“Report of Col. Thomas C. Boone, One hundred and fifteenth Ohio
Infantry, of operations August 31 ( Wheeler’s raid).
Headquarters 115th Ohio Volunteers,
Murfreesborough, Tenn., September 13, 1804.
I have the honor to report: On the 31st of August, 1804, as per order from your headquarters, commenced mustering and inspecting my command on Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad stationed at the different block-houses, beginning at No. 3, then 2 and 1. Left the latter with my escort of six men, in company with Captain Ware, Company F of my regiment, for No. 4 and La Vergne; en route on pike was informed Wheeler’s force had captured the latternamed place ; arrived at No. 4 without any resistance. Lieutenant Nash, Company G, commanding, was fully prepared and expecting an attack, his house being one that has to be moved and is without a cover. After arriving at La Vergne discovered that I was entirely cut off and could proceed no farther, the enemy appearing on all sides. Lieutenant-Colonel Fitch, then in command, with sixty men, (including musicians), all armed, and [I] regret to state he was not directing with the coolness and judgment necessary to give that assurance and confidence the men have reason to expect of a commanding officer under such circumstances; therefore relieved him on the 5th instant, Captain Hake, Company B, relieving, who now is in command. Without artillery and infantry force, with Blockhouse No. 4 we saved near three miles of railroad, two large watertanks, engine for forcing water, and a large amount of Government wood, said to be 10.000 cords; also wounded of the enemy .’5, 2 of whom have since died; captured 3 prisoners and 5 horses. The enemy persisted in destroying the water-tanks and engine during the night. By magnifying our force and posting pickets at points where they could best protect themselves and do good execution [we] were enabled to check them. At one time the six men (the picket) turned near one whole company, leaving one empty saddle. Lieutenant Eadie, with his usual coolness and energy, rendered good service. He with his men (Company C) are justly entitled to credit for their coolness and bravery exhibited on this occasion; Captain Ware, Company F, also did good service. Proceeding to Smyrna, Block-house No. 5, at 11 a. m. 1st instant, out of range of our artillery and within half a mile of Smyrna bridge, the railroad was entirely destroyed, ties burned, most of the iron bent, ballast a complete lime-kiln. From examination of premises and report of Lieutenant Orr, commanding Block-house No. 5, with thirty men, Company B, have the following to report: The enemy attacked him between 7 and 8 a. m. 31st instant, after asking an unconditional surrender, to which he answered he did not know its meaning, and gave them to understand in language that could not be misunderstood, “No surrender.” The enemy immediately planted four pieces of artillery, consisting of three 3-inch rifle Parrotts and one Impounder smooth-bore, and commenced firing at the block-house, continuing two hours and forty minutes, throwing sixty-four shells, five of which came through, four of them exploding, killing 3 of his men, severely wounding the lieutenant and 2 others, and slightly wounding 6. The number of shells striking the building was fifteen; seven struck the timbers above the embankment and below the roof, five penetrating the timbers. During this time a continuous and spirited fire was kept up, driving the enemy from every position within 1,000 yards, and expending near 1,000 rounds of ammunition, killing 1 of the enemy, wounding and capturing 1 prisoner, a messenger from their advance to General Wheeler’s headquarters, which at that time was near Smyrna. Numerous attempts were made to burn the bridge; a few well-directed shots in each attempt saved it, with near a mile of railroad. I cannot speak too highly of the coolness and determined bravery and skill displayed by Lieutenant Orr and his little band of soldiers at this block-house, which would do credit to old veterans.
Block-house No. 6, at Stewart’s Creek, commanded by Sergt. T. T. Flohr, Company B, was attacked about 12 m. same day, and, unfortunately, surrendered, with but little resistance, and prematurely, they breaking greater portion of arms and throwing ammunition in cistern about the time of surrender and afterward. This blockhouse was not in the best state of defense, owing to the preparations which had been made for removing it to another place. The ground had been removed from one wing, exposing the door to the enemy’s fire. But one shell struck the timbers, and not damaging sufficient to justify a surrender, in my opinion. The enemy burned the house, bridge, tools, wagons, and captured 6 mules. Block-house No. 7 was attacked by the enemy with musketry alone, doing no damage. The entire amount of damage done to the track between La Vergne and Murfreesborough was 1 bridge burned and about 8 miles of track torn up and destroyed. About one-eighth of the rail, I think, was so injured that it could not be used without the use of machinery to straighten them. No damage was done to block-houses. North of La Vergne about 5 miles of track was torn up and destroyed. The remaining portion of my command between Murfreesborough and Tullahoma was not attacked during the late raid, except an occasional shot from straggling squads of the enemy, no damage being done except the destroying of the railroad. [Of] the extent of injury done to the road in that direction [I] am not fully advised.
Omitted stating at La Vergne, in addition to the Government property saved, that we saved and defended for A. Harver, citizen of Shelbyville, near $10,000 worth of cotton; also saved near same amount for citizen of or near McMinnville. The block-houses north of Murfreesborough on Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad are nearly completed. With but two exceptions, Nos. 4 and 0 in their unfinished condition, they have been of great service in protecting the railroad and Government property in this late Wheeler’s raid; when completed, with double casement, will defy any ordinary force.
Captain Campbell, Company K, did good service with his company; they being directly under your command as mounted infantry, therefore defer further comment, knowing their promptness and worth will be properly appreciated by the general commanding. Would be pleased to make favorable mention of some of my non-commissioned officers who distinguished themselves by bravery and coolness but for the length of my report; will merely mention the names of a portion: Sergt. J. J. Clark, Company B, at Block-house No. 5, under Lieutenant Orr, and Commissary Sergt. John Deuble.
I have the honor, captain, to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOS. C. BOONE,
Colonel 115th. Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Commanding.
Capt. E. A. Otis,
A. A. G., Hdqrs. U. S. Forces, Murfreesborough, Tenn.”
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of Official Union Records, by United States War Department, Scott and Lazelle, 1891, pages 506-8