Letter written by Private Asbury Fouts of Company I, 9th IA Infantry, to his parents, from a camp near Nashville, TN, during Hood’s Tennessee Campaign. Fouts writes about marching out to the breastworks under the command of General James B. Steedman, where they could see Confederate rifle pits. The brigade was ordered to draw the Confederates out, though heavy fire caused them to leave before doing so. Two days later they were ordered to Fort Negley to hold the breastworks. On December 19th, 1864, they started for Murfreesboro, and went as far as Huntsville, AL, when they heard the Confederates were at Decatur. A hard march brought them to the Tennessee River, which they crossed on gunboats. The Confederates shelled them, and the town was eventually evacuated.
Camp Near Nashville
Jan the 16th 1865
It is with pleasure that I seat myself down to write you a few lines, for I have not had time to write until now. For about 6 or 7 weeks I wrote you a few lines while at Courtland but do not know whether you received them or not. I wish I had kept an account of our movements since we came to Nashville. I have forgotten all the dates, so I will not attempt to give an account of the Battle of Nashville. Four days after we came to Nashville we drew our arms for the defense of the city, and marched out to the breastworks on the left under Gen.
Steedman’s command. The Rebs’ rifle pits were in plain view about a mile and a half off. We remained in this position for 8 days without disturbance from the enemy. I believed they would have stayed there all winter without attacking us if we had not drove them out. One day our brigade [Col. A. G. Mallory’s, Capt. C. C. Cox’s Battalion] was ordered out on skirmish for the purpose of drawing them out of their works. Our reg[iment] advanced along in front, with the reserves down under the hill. We fought them until the [fire] got too hot for us, and fell back slowly without accomplishing our purpose. The man standing next to me was wounded. Just before the fight one of the boys gave his revolver to his comrade and said, boys, this is the last time I will have of
speaking to you. Pointing to them, he said there is the Rebels, they will kill me. He was shot through the neck and killed instantly. In two days afterward our corps was ordered over to the right, or rather in front of Fort Negley, to hold the breastworks. That day our forces attacked their works. A heavy cannonading was kept up all day. The second day still heavy infantry fire – very heavy. The fight became general all around. Our company was not in the fight at all. [We were] held as reserves in the breastworks. It is hardly necessary for me to try to give a description of our brave boys fought; it is old news to you before this time. The Rebs fought
well. On the 19th of December we started for Murfreesboro, there taking the cars, went down as far as Huntsville, Alabama. There we heard the Rebs was at Decatur. We started for that place on the 25th. After marching through mud knee deep, wading swamps & rivers in cold weather, we reached the Tennessee River opposite Decatur about noon on the 28th. [We] crossed over on the gunboats above the city. The boats played on them while we prepared for a night attack. They shelled us a while, but did not pay much attention to them. About ten o’clock they evacuated the town. It was well fortified. It is getting dark. I will close for the present.
[balance of letter missing – unsigned]
Asbury Fouts, from Taylor County, IO, enlisted at age 19 in Company I of the 9th IA Infantry on October 19, 1864. When en route to the 15th Army Corps (W. T. Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee), via Nashville, Fouts was assigned for temporary combat duty at Nashville along with other recruits and also veterans returning to active service. He was placed in Colonel A. G. Mallory’s brigade, Capt. C. C. Cox’s battalion, and participated in the reconnaissance of December 13th along the Murfreesboro Pike toward the Rains farm. Mallory’s brigade suffered 10 total casualties. Fouts joined the 9th Iowa in March 1865, and was discharged at Louisville, KY On July 18, 1865.