left; when, about noon, the sound of guns, on that flank and on our rear toward Decatur
, apprised Sherman
that mischief was afloat.
had determined, while holding the bulk of our army with a small part of his, by reason of the strength of his defenses, to fall, by a long flank night-march, with his main body, led by Hardee
, on our left and rear, rolling up and pulverizing each division before it could be supported by another.
had already struck his first most unexpected blow at Giles A. Smith
's division of Blair
's corps; while Gen. McPherson
, riding in fancied security through a wood in the rear of that division, had been shot dead, just as he had given an order to hurry up Wangelin
's brigade of Logan
's corps to fill a gap between Blair
's and Dodge
's corps, into which the charging Rebels were pouring like a torrent.
's battery (6 guns) was surprised and taken — the men generally escaping to the woods; and two more guns were lost by Smith
, as one wing of his division was forced back by the impetuous rush of the enemy.
Simultaneously with Hardee
's flank attack, Stewart
's corps was to have struck Blair
in front; but Stewart
was not up to time.
swept along the slope of the hill on which Blair
was preparing to plant his batteries, making prisoners of his working party.
The Rebel charge bore heavily on Giles A. Smith
's division of Blair
's corps, which was compelled gradually to give ground and form a new line connecting with Leggett
's division, which held the crest of the hill; and here for hours the battle raged fiercely: our men having the advantage in position, and inflicting heavy loss on the enemy.
At 4 P. M., the Rebels
virtually desisted here, having been unable to drive Blair
; while Dodge
, striking their right, had handled it severely, capturing many prisoners.
's cavalry (ours on this wing, under Garrard
, being absent at Covington
, breaking up a railroad) had raided, unopposed, to Decatur
, where were McPherson
's wagons, and attempted to capture them ; but Col. Sprague
, in command there, covered them skillfully and held firmly; sending them off; so fast as he could, to the rear of our center, and losing but three, whereof the teamsters had fled with the mules.
After a brief lull, the enemy charged again up the Decatur
road; catching a regiment thrown forward upon it unsupported, and taking two more guns; pushing through the interval between Wood
's and Harrow
's divisions of the 15th corps, posted on either side of the railroad, and hurling back Lightburn
's brigade in some disorder.
was close at hand, and, perceiving the importance of checking this advance, he ordered several of Schofield
's batteries to stop it by an incessant fire of shell; Logan
(now commanding McPherson
's army) was directed to make the 15th corps regal at any cost its lost ground; while Wood
, supported by Schofield
, was to go forward with his division and recover the captured batteries.
These orders were promptly and thoroughly executed; all our guns being retaken but two, which had been hurried off the field; and the day closed with our army triumphant and the enemy recoiling to his defenses.
In this stubborn contest, our total