Battle writes of the engagement, “15th Thursday – … Heavy fight at Nashville. Cannonading as heavy as I ever heard./16th Friday – Visit the battlefield near Mr. Overton’s in 6 miles of Nashville. Fighting very heavy, surpassed anything I have heard during the war. Our troops behaved with great gallantry – repulsed eight or ten charges made by the enemy until at last by a desperate effort of the enemy to break our center they succeeded and whole of our line gave away in some confusion. I never in my life felt so awful about giving up our good old Tennessee.”
Cowan’s detail about Battle:
Robert Irvine Battle (1842-1921) was born near Nashville, Tennessee, to Col. William Mayo Battle and Sarah Jane Smith Battle. After graduating from the Nashville Medical College in 1860, he enlisted in the Confederate Army on 6/1/1861 as a surgeon in Company B, Tennessee 20th Infantry Regiment. Sometime after the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862), Battle was captured and taken prisoner in West Tennessee. Records list him as a POW on 5/1/1862, and indicate he was confined at Johnson’s Island prison camp in Ohio on or around 5/10/1862.
After six months in prison, a prisoner exchange landed the young surgeon in Richmond, VA, where he then joined General John Hunt Morgan’s forces as part of the Tennessee 9th Cavalry. Battle’s 1921 obituary indicates that he was with General Morgan on his famous summer 1863 raid into Ohio, and that he was among the men of Co. C led by Captain J. D. Kirkpatrick who escaped capture at Buffington Island. These men then made their way on foot through West Virginia and back to the Confederate Army. The obituary then states that upon reaching the Confederate Army, Battle was made headquarters scout for General Benjamin J. Hill, assuming the role with a hand-picked group of men of whom he was made captain. In the summer and fall of 1864 and 1865, General Hill served various roles in the CSA, but remained in the Tennessee region. Like Robert Battle, General Hill was a Tennessee native, and no doubt the General selected Battle as a scout in part because of his familiarity with the territory in which they were fighting.