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[388] making the slightest preparation for the commonest means of defence!

The rebel plan of attack.

During Friday and Saturday the rebels had marched out of Corinth, about sixty thousand strong, in three great divisions. Sidney Johnston had general command of the whole army. Beauregard had the centre; Braxton Bragg and Hardee the wings. Polk, Breckinridge, Cheatham and others held subordinate commands. On Thursday Johnston issued a proclamation to the army, announcing to them in grandiloquent terms that he was about to lead them against the invaders, and that they would soon celebrate the great, decisive victory of the war, in which they had repelled the invading column, redeemed Tennessee, and preserved the Southern Confederacy.

Their general plan of attack is said by prisoners to have been to strike our centre first, (composed, as the reader will remember, of Prentiss's and McClernand's divisions,) pierce the centre, and then pour in their troops to attack on each side the wings into which they would thus cut our army.

To accomplish this, they should have struck the left of the three brigades of Sherman's division which lay on our right, and the left of McClernand's, which came to the front on Sherman's left. By some mistake, however, they struck Sherman's left alone, and that a few moments after a portion of their right wing had swept up against Prentiss.

Troops First attacked.

The troops thus attacked, by six o'clock, or before it, were as follows: The left of Sherman's brigades, that of Col. Hildebrand, was composed of the Fifty-ninth Ohio, Col. Pfyffe; Seventy-seventh Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel commanding; Fifty-third Ohio, Col. Appler; and Fifty-third Illinois.

To the right of this was Col. Buckland's brigade, composed of the Seventy-second Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Canfield; Forty-eighth Ohio, Colonel Sullivan; and Seventieth Ohio, Col. Cockerell.

And on the extreme right, Col. McDowell's brigade, Sixth Iowa, (Col. McDowell--Lieutenant-Colonel commanding;) Fortieth Illinois, Colonel Hicks; Forty-sixth Ohio, Colonel Thos. Worthington.

Gen. Prentiss's division was composed of the Twelfth Michigan, Sixteenth Wisconsin, Eighteenth Wisconsin, Eighteenth Missouri, Twenty-third Missouri, Twenty-fifth Missouri, and Sixty-first Illinois.

The battle on Sunday, April 6. our men surprised.

Almost at dawn, Prentiss's pickets were driven in; a very little later Hildebrand's (in Sherman's division) were; and the enemy were in the camps almost as soon as were the pickets themselves.

Here began scenes which, let us hope, will have no parallel in our remaining annals of the war. Some, particularly among our officers, were not yet out of bed. Others were dressing, others washing, others cooking, a few eating their break-fasts. Many guns were unloaded, accoutrements lying pell-mell, ammunition was ill-supplied — in short, the camps were virtually surprised — disgracefully, it might be added, unless some one can hereafter give some yet undiscovered reason to the contrary — and were taken at almost every possible disadvantage.

The first wild cries from the pickets rushing in, and the few scattering shots that preceded their arrival, aroused the regiments to a sense of their peril; an instant afterward, shells were hurtling through the tents, while, before there was time for thought of preparation, there came rushing through the woods, with lines of battle sweeping the whole fronts of the division-camps and bending down on either flank, the fine, dashing, compact columns of the enemy.

Into the just — aroused camps thronged the rebel regiments, firing sharp volleys as they came, and springing toward our laggards with the bayonet. Some were shot down as they were running, without weapons, hatless, coatless, toward the river. The searching bullets found other poor unfortunates in their tents, and there, all unheeding now, they still slumbered, while the unseen foe rushed on. Others fell, as they were disentangling themselves from the flaps that formed the doors to their tents; others as they were buckling on their accoutrements; a few, it was even said, as they were vainly trying to impress on the cruelly-exultant enemy their readiness to surrender.

Officers were wounded in their beds, and left for dead, who, through the whole two days fearful struggle, lay there gasping in their agony, and on Monday evening were found in their gore, inside their tents, and still able to tell the tale.

Such were the fearful disasters that opened the rebel onset on the lines of Prentiss's division. Similar were the fates of Hildebrand's brigade in Sherman's division.

Meantime what they could our shattered regiments did. Falling rapidly back through the heavy woods till they gained a protecting ridge, firing as they ran, and making what resistance men thus situated might, Sherman's men succeeded in partially checking the rush of the enemy, long enough to form their hasty line of battle. Meantime the other two brigades of the division (to the right) sprang hastily to their arms, and had barely done so when the enemy's lines came sweeping up against their fronts too, and the battle thus opened fiercely along Sherman's whole line on the right.

Hildebrand's brigade had beep compelled to abandon their camps without a struggle. Some of the regiments, it is even said, ran without firing a gun. Col. Appler's, Fifty-third Ohio, is loudly complained of on this score, and others are mentioned. It is certain that parts of regiments,


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