Soon after the opening of the fire from the enemy, in response to one of our batteries, the brigade was moved forward a short distance, and placed under a low bank which ran at that point nearly parallel to the road, and forty or fifty yards in advance of it, and a company was deployed as skirmishers in front of the right. The ground between the road and the bank was wooded; in front and rear it was open. The men were here sheltered from a direct fire from the lower fort, but exposed to an enfilading fire from gunboats, and apparently from some light pieces placed in or near the edge of the town. This fire of rifle-shells of large calibre, and twelve-pound spherical shot and shell, was exceedingly well aimed and heavy, and may, I think, be considered a fair test of the coolness and courage of the men composing the brigade. They received it in their exposed position with entire composure. The Forty-third having lost some men, and the fire increasing in severity, I withdrew the regiment to the road before mentioned, on the edge of the wood, about forty yards in rear of the bank, but the movement was evidently seen by the enemy, and their fire was directed with a good deal of precision upon the new position. I then placed this regiment in the corn-field on the left of the lane, about one hundred yards in rear of the Sixty-third, and caused the men to lie down. Their position here not being visible to the enemy, they were exposed only to the direct fire from the fort at our batteries. The position of the Sixty-third seemed to be concealed from the enemy, as the enfilading fire from our left did them no damage, but the direct fire, which was at times very heavy, passed close over their heads during the entire day. The position of the brigade was not changed until it was relieved by a portion of General Hamilton's division on the morning of the fourteenth. Early in the night of the thirteenth, three companies of the Forty-third, under Major Herrick, of that regiment, were moved to the right and front and deployed as skirmishers, the left resting near the right of the batteries, and the right reserved and a line of sentinels was then thrown in advance of them. Three companies, except a small reserve, occupied a strip of forest in front of the right of position. About daylight, the brigade having been relieved, in accordance with your instructions, I withdrew it to camp. I take great pleasure in saying that the officers and men who composed my command, without exception, merit high praise for their coolness under fire, but especially for their cheerfulness and soldier-like endurance of the fatigue of remaining thirty hours under arms, a large part of the time exposed to fire, and for some hours of the night of the thirteenth inst., to a drenching rain. It would be unjust to omit mention of the fact that companies A, D, G, F, and C, of the Forty-third Ohio, composing the right wing of that regiment, under command of Major W. F. Herrick, Forty-third Ohio volunteers, were at work in the trenches during a great part of the night before the attack, and that no word or sign of complaint or discontent was heard or seen from any officer or soldier of these companies during the thirty-six hours of unremitted exposure and exertion.
Col. John Groesbeck's report.
headquarters First brigade, First division, District of the Mississippi. New-Madrid, Mo., March 15, 1862.Captain: I have the honor to report to the General commanding the First division the part taken in the late action before New-Madrid by the brigade under my command, consisting of the Twenty-seventh and Thirty-ninth regiments Ohio infantry, under Col. Fuller and Lieut.-Col. Gilbert, respectively. On the afternoon of the twelfth inst. I detailed companies A and F, Twenty-seventh, and I and H, Thirty-ninth Ohio, under command of Lieutenant-Col. Kennett, Twenty-seventh Ohio, to drive in the pickets of the enemy, hold an advanced position, and cover the parties detailed to plant our heavy artillery. He drove in the pickets and took the position assigned him within eight hundred yards of the enemy's gunboats and principal fort. At three o'clock on the morning of the thirteenth, I moved forward with my brigade, and took position on the right of our artillery. The enemy's skirmishers immediately commenced firing upon us, but without doing any injury. A few minutes afterward our artillery opened the engagement, and my brigade was ordered to fall back some two hundred yards, which it did, in good order, under a heavy fire of shot and shell. While lying there, five companies of the Twenty-seventh Ohio were detached, to take a position several hundred yards to the left, upon a road leading past the lower fort, to guard against any flank movement. I then moved the brigade a hundred yards to the left, and took position within easy supporting distance of the artillery, where the sloping bank of a bayou afforded considerable protection to the men. We remained thus placed during the day. The firing ceased about sunset. Having thrown out a company of pickets in front of the extreme left, we remained in our position till daylight, when my brigade was relieved. I take pleasure in mentioning the good conduct of my command. It behaved with great coolness, although exposed the whole day to a heavy fire. Considering the closeness and rapidity of the firing, the casualties were remarkably few, consisting of one killed and three badly wounded in the Twenty-seventh, and one very slightly wounded in the Thirty-ninth regiment. I am, Captain, very respectfully your obedient servant,