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Shortly after dark, while the firing was very heavy from all points, and especially upon the flanks, the enemy broke through the line on the extreme left, completely turned the flank of the main works and captured some of the men in them. He was enabled to do this, for the ground here was covered with water, a marshy and densely-wooded flat, and it had been impossible to get earth to throw up works or to make any covering for our men. A battery from an elevated point on the enemy's line, just in front of this flat, swept through it and rendered it almost untenable.

He was at once attacked with the force disposed in advance for this very contingency, and the moment General Holtzclaw gave the information, reinforcements were hastened to him with orders to drive back the enemy by a front and flank attack.

The general reported his force not sufficient for this purpose, and there was some confusion among the troops on the extreme left; that in the dark woods and fallen timber, the necessary disposition could not be made; and that the enemy was certainly in overwhelming strength. My staff officers and scouts brought similar intelligence. Colonel F. L. Campbell, commanding Gibson's brigade, was at once withdrawn from the right and directed to dispose a part of his command in skirmish order around the enemy, and to post the rest as a rear guard at the headway, so as to hold and secure the retreat. They at once drove back the advancing line of the enemy, and so strong and vigorous were these attacks that they soon compelled his overwhelming and constantly swelling forces to assume the defensive. He set to work to entrench. Our left might have been thrown back and re-established, but the labor for such an undertaking was altogether beyond our ability.

Moreover, he had advanced several hundred yards in rear of our works, and the probability arose almost to a certainty that as soon as he discovered where he really was, a general assault would be ordered; and he surely would ascertain this fact either during the night, or beyond all question, at daylight. His lodgment, too, when developed, would have enabled him to cut off retreat. I determined, therefore, to withdraw my troops.

My standing orders from Major-General D. H. Maury, commanding District of the Gulf, had been not to hold Spanish Fort for a moment after the garrison was in danger of capture — not to risk

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Spanish Fort (Alabama, United States) (1)

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D. H. Maury (1)
J. F. Holtzclaw (1)
R. L. Gibson (1)
F. L. Campbell (1)
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