During this time a single line of Federal infantry was engaged with Wheeler
's troops, the skirmishers of Featherston
's own, and Adams
's brigades, and those of Quarles
's brigade of Walthall
's division — all in the shelter of rifle-pits.
The firing was always within easy, and frequently very short range.
A body of the assailants charged into Quarles
's rifle-pits, where most of them were killed or captured.
In the assault upon Loring
's left (Cockrell
's Missouri brigade) the assailants advanced rapidly from the west-their right extending to the south of the Burnt Hickory and Marietta
road, and their left encountering the brigade (Sears
's) on Cockrell
Their right dashed through the skirmishers of Walker
's right before they could be reinforced, and took in reverse those on the right and left, while they were attacked in front.
In a few minutes about eighty of Walker
's men had been bayoneted or captured in their rifle-pits.
The Federal troops approaching Walker
's line on the south of the road were driven back by the fire of artillery directed against their left flank by Major-General French
; but the main body, unchecked by Cockrell
's skirmishers, pressed forward steadily under the fire of the brigade, until within twenty or thirty paces of its line.
Here it was checked and ultimately repulsed, by the steady courage of the Missourians.
The action had continued with spirit for almost an hour, during most of which time fifty field-pieces were playing upon the Confederate
But the most determined and powerful attack fell upon Cheatham
's division and the left of Cleburne
's. The lines of the two armies were much nearer to each