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[397] bluff, covered with underbrush, as their advanced line. Through the night they abandoned this, which gave them the best position for opposing Lew. Wallace, and had fallen back across some open fields to the scrub-oak woods beyond. The advantage of compelling our advance over unprotected openings, while they maintained a sheltered position, was obvious, but certainly not so great as holding a height which artillery and infantry would make as difficult to take as many a fort. Nevertheless they fell back.

Want of system on our side.

The reader who is patient enough to wade through this narration, will scarcely fail to observe that thus far I have said little or nothing of any plan of attack or defence among our commanders. It has been simply because I have failed to see any evidences of such a plan. To me it seemed on Sunday as if every division general at least — not to say in many cases, every individual soldier — imitated the good old Israelitish plan of action, by which every man did what seemed good in his own eyes. There may have been an infinite amount of generalship displayed, in superintending our various defeats and re-formations and retreats, but to me it seemed of that microscopic character that required the magnifying powers of a special permit for exclusive newspaper telegraphing on government lines to discover.

Sunday night there was a council of war, but if the Major-General commanding developed any plans there beyond the simple arrangement of our line of battle, I am very certain that some of the division commanders didn't find it out. Stubborn fighting alone delayed our losses on Sunday; stubborn fighting alone saved us when we had reached the point beyond which came the child's “jumping-off place;” and stubborn fighting, with such generalship as individual division commanders displayed, regained on Monday what we had lost before.

To those who had looked despairingly at the prospects Sunday evening, it seemed strange that the rebels did not open out on us by day-break again. Their retreat before the bombshells of the gunboats, however, explained the delay. Our own divisions were put in motion almost simultaneously. By seven o'clock Lew. Wallace opened the ball by shelling, from the positions he had selected the night before, the rebel battery, of which mention has been made. A brisk artillery duel, a rapid movement of infantry across a shallow ravine, as if to storm, and the rebels enfiladed and menaced in front, limbered up and made the opening of their Monday's retreating.

Nelson's advance.

To the left we were slower in finding the enemy. They had been compelled to travel some distance to get out of gunboat range. Nelson moved his division about the same time Wallace opened on the rebel battery, forming in line of battle, Ammon's brigade on the extreme left, Bruce's in the centre, and Hazen's to the right. Skirmishers were thrown out, and for nearly or quite a mile the division thus swept the country, pushing a few outlying rebels before it, till it came upon them in force. Then a general engagement broke out along the line, and again the rattle of musketry and thunder of artillery echoed over the late silent fields. There was no straggling this morning. These men were better drilled than many of those whose regiments had broken to pieces on the day before, and strict measures were taken, at any rate, to prevent the miscellaneous thronging back to places of safety in the rear. They stood up to their work and did their duty manfully.

It soon became evident that, whether from change of commanders or some other cause, the rebels were pursuing a different policy in massing their forces. On Sunday the heaviest fighting had been done on the left. This morning they seemed to make less determined resistance here, while toward the centre and right the ground was more obstinately contested, and the struggle longer prolonged.

Till half-past 10 o'clock, Nelson advanced slowly but steadily, sweeping his long lines over the ground of our sore defeat on Sunday morning, and forward over scores of rebel dead, resistlessly pressing back the jaded and wearied enemy. The rebels had received but few reenforcements during the night, their men were exhausted with their desperate contest of the day before, and manifestly dispirited by the evident fact that notwithstanding their well-laid plans of destruction in detail, they were fighting Grant and Buell combined.

Gradually, as Nelson pushed forward his lines under heavy musketry, the enemy fell back, till about half-past 10, when, under cover of the heavy timber and a furious cannonading, they made a general rally. Our forces, flushed with their easy victory, were scarcely prepared for the sudden onset, where retreat had been all they had been seeing before. Suddenly the rebel masses were hurled against our lines with tremendous force. Our men halted, wavered, and fell back. At this critical juncture Capt. Terrell's regular battery came dashing up. Scarcely taking time to unlimber, he was loading and sighting his pieces before the caissons had turned, and in an instant was tossing shell from twenty-four-pound howitzers into the compact and advancing rebel ranks.

Here was the turning-point of the battle on the left. The rebels were only checked, not halted. On they came. Horse after horse from the batteries was picked off. Every private at one of the howitzers fell, and the gun was worked by Capt. Terrell himself and a corporal. Still the rebels advanced, till, in the very nick of time, a regiment dashed up from our line, and saved the disabled piece. Then for two hours artillery and musketry at close range. At last they began to waver. Our men pressed on, pouring in deadly volleys. Just then Buell, who assumed the general direction of his troops in the field, came up.

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