Battle of Hartsville, TN
A very interesting (though often little known) conflict of some substance took place on this date of December 7, 1862 – 150 years ago today in Hartsville, Tennessee. And like an infamous event on this calendar date 79 years later in Hawaii, it was accomplished with an early morning surprise attack!
The end of this month and calendar turnover into 2013 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro) – a huge event with the highest percentage of loss on both sides of any major battle of the Civil War. The event of today’s topic is a part of the campaign and movements leading toward that eventual cataclysmic occurrence.
General Braxton Bragg and his Army of the Tennessee had retreated southeast from Nashville after his loss at the Battle of Perryville in early October. Union General William S. Rosecrans was moving his Army of the Cumberland also to the southeast toward Murfreesboro.
Hartsville was a crossing point on the Cumberland River about 40 miles upstream from Nashville, north of Murfreesboro. Guarding the river crossing at Hartsville was a 2,400-man brigade consisting of the 106th and 108th Ohio Infantry, 104th Illinois Infantry, and 2nd Indiana Cavalry commanded by Colonel Absalom B. Moore.
Bragg ordered the 1,300-man force of General John Hunt Morgan on a raid to the north to harass the supply lines of the advancing Union men. In severe winter weather that included a river crossing Hunt’s group of largely Kentuckians inflicted a dawn attack that completely surprised Moore’s men. By 8:30, totally surrounded, they surrendered. The Confederates lost about 135 casualties in the quick conflict, but came away with a huge stash of supplies and 1,844 prisoners! General Joseph E. Johnston called this a “brilliant feat” and recommended that Morgan be appointed brigadier general – accomplished almost immediately, as Jefferson Davis happened to be in the vicinity at Murfreesboro and promoted Morgan in person when he arrived.