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[144] An order to halt the column at a point indicated for the formation of the regiments in line, was not executed by the advance, owing to the pressing request of a messenger from one of the Illinois regiments, then to the right, to hurry forward, and engage the enemy. The guide sent with the head of the column, here shamefully abandoned it, not, however, until he had given Col. Shackelford an improper instruction. After passing Taylor's battery, in the direction of the enemy's entrenchments, and entering the woods just beyond, the head of the column became suddenly engaged with a superior force of the enemy, in front and to the right. This appeared to be a force that was endeavoring to out-flank the battery, and the line of infantry supporting it, and pass into the ravine behind. A well-directed fire was opened upon the Twenty-fifth Kentucky and Thirty-first Indiana, before they could form to assist it. The line of battle, however, was formed rapidly and steadily, under continued volleys of the enemy's musketry. The Seventeenth Kentucky and Forty-fourth Indiana were shortly brought up in good order, and entered the action. The enemy's fire upon the right continued to be very severe, and this assault was pressed up to within twenty feet of our lines. It continued for some minutes with much fury, and was being replied to with effect by our men. I was then at the left of the line. At this juncture it is reported to me, that two officers from other regiments then on the right, rode up, and without consulting the Colonel of the Twenty-fifth Kentucky, ordered his men forward, down the enemy's line. They pressed down under a heavy volley, and again opened their fire. While thus fighting, officers from the other regiments, then at the right, rode up, and ordered the Twenty-fifth to cease firing, and it accordingly did. Almost simultaneously with this, troops from the other brigade, at the right, retreated in confusion, and some of them passing obliquely against my line, broke through it, disconnecting a portion of the Twenty-fifth Kentucky, with Col. Shackelford and his associate field and staff-officers, and Lieut.-Col. Osborn, of the Thirty-first Indiana, with a few of the privates of his command. The brigade was now left without support, occupying the extreme right of the line of investment, and in advance of it half a mile. It was ordered to fall back in line, and occupy the slope of the hill, a few hundred yards in the rear of the points of attack. The movement was accomplished in good order. This brought the Forty-fourth Indiana in line on the left. A message was now received from one of the Illinois regiments, requesting that the left should not fire; this message was regarded, and the Forty-fourth Indiana commanded to reserve their fire, till ordered. In the mean time a heavy fire was poured into the regiment by the enemy. The line was here twice attacked, and the enemy each time repulsed. From this position an effective charge was made, forcing the enemy to retire for some distance. An attempt was now made to out-flank my line on the right. It was continually worked to our right, however, to resist this. A company of the Thirty-first Indiana was detailed as skirmishers in the right, in the bushes beyond. The fight was still progressing. At this time the regiment to our left, supporting the battery, gave way, (from want of ammunition, as was said,) and a portion rushed into our rear, creating some confusion in the Forty-fourth Indiana, carrying with them some men of that regiment, and exposing it to the flanking fire of the enemy, who appeared at that point with a considerable force of both cavalry and infantry. It was ordered to return the fire, and soon repulsed the enemy. The whole brigade was now moved in line to the rear, in complete order, and occupied a better position on a commanding ridge in front of the enemy. An ineffectual advance was again made by the enemy, which was repulsed, and the firing ceased, except some skirmishing between a small detail of men sent to the front, and the enemy's sharpshooters. Here the enemy drew off, leaving us in possession of the ground, and commenced retreating to the right, pursuing the woods, at times in sight, to a ridge, across a large ravine, about a half-mile to our right, and establishing himself there in force. This threw him to the right and rear of us, and endangered the hospital buildings in our real, to which our wounded had been conveyed. The firing had now ceased on all sides. It being impossible to communicate with General Wallace, or get despatches to him, and information being casually received that the main line had been established further back, it was deemed prudent to retire upon it. This was accordingly done, and the brigade was formed in column and marched to the high ground just north of the hospital buildings, with a view to protect them, to form part of the main line, and to watch the enemy on our right. Upon communicating with the General commanding division, the position was regarded by him as well taken, and the order given to hold it at all hazards. Here the men rested on their arms for some time, having been hotly engaged with the enemy, at intervals, for more than three hours. This concluded our engagement of the morning. The brigade remained in position on the extreme right, (a short distance from Colonel Thayer's brigade,) in view of the enemy, during the subsequent action, at the centre, holding him in check, and protecting the hospital. During the engagement at the centre, a volley was fired on the hospital by the enemy's sharpshooters, from the hills to the right, and but for the presence of the brigade, it would doubtless hare been taken. In this position, valuable information was obtained as to the enemy's movements on the right. From this point despatches were sent, and here subsequently Gen. Wallace met me.

The ground on which the action occurred is a succession of hills and ravines, covered with a thick undergrowth of oak bushes. The deadened leaves of the oak shrubs were almost identical in color with the brown jean uniforms of the enemy, and rendered it almost impossible to distinguish their line, until a fire revealed its locality. This fact, together with the character of the ground,

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Lewis Wallace (2)
James M. Shackelford (2)
John M. Thayer (1)
Ezra Taylor (1)
Osborn (1)
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