Accounts of War

Charles Peter Lilley

“Enlisted Sept. 3, 1864, in Co. B of the 177th Ohio Vol. Infantry, 1st Brig., 2d Div., 23d Army Corps, and served until June 20, 1865, when he was mustered out with his regiment. When the Confederate General Hood with his formidable army moved against General Thomas at Nashville, in December, 1864, our kinsman, C. P. L., writes me that he was with General Milroy at Murfreesboro, and that when the great battle at the Tennessee metropolis was fought he heard the booming of the heavy guns for several days. But he was also destined to have a hand in some of the fighting of that memorable campaign. Hood sent his cavalry under Forrest around to seize the Union position at Murfreesboro and destroy the railroad leading to Nashville. Milroy had noticed that Forrest was coming to attack him with 8,000 men, and felt quite ready to receive him with his own force of 5,000. In the evening, when Forrest arrived he sent a flag of truce to Milroy and demanded him to surrender. The undismayed Milroy quickly and curtly replied, says C. P. L., ‘I will fight you till hell freezes over, and then will fight you on the ice.’ The next morning, when Forrest opened the ball by driving in the Union pickets and was moving to attack, he was himself unexpectedly attacked by Milroy and with such fury and vigor that he was driven back in defeat, with a loss of more than four hundred men. Lilley’s regiment lost four men during the day. Forrest left his dead and wounded on the field. He hurried away to join Hood at Columbia, to serve as his rear guard, as the latter was now in flight toward Alabama, after wasting his strength in a vain effort to drive Thomas out of Nashville. Lilley was with his regiment several months longer, sharing its ‘stern alarums and dreadful marches,’ when he was attacked with rheumatism, and laid up in the hospital at Wilmington, N. C., until the close of the war” (from Heinrich Gernhardt and His Descendants, pg. 111).

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