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[527] Eighty-sixth, and One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Illinois. All are new troops, but General Buell is said to have expressed the greatest confidence in them, confidence which their subsequent conduct fully justified.

At two o'clock on Wednesday morning, Col. McCook began to move forward with his brigade, accompanied by Barnett's battery from Illinois. It was nearly dawn when they arrived within sight of the position they were to occupy, but the moon was still shining brightly, and as they approached the bottom of the hill they could distinctly see the rebel pickets upon the crest.

The Eighty-fifth Illinois, Colonel Moore, was immediately deployed upon the right of the road, the front and flank covered by skirmishers, and the Fifty-second Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel Cowan commanding, was similarly deployed upon the left. The One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Illinois, Colonel Harmon, was posted as a reserve one hundred and fifty paces in the rear, (the Eighty-sixth Illinois had previously been detailed on picket-duty.)

Our skirmishers had hardly taken intervals before the enemy's pickets opened a sharp fire, especially upon the Eighty-fifth Illinois. Although the first fight in which they had ever been engaged, the troops moved forward at the word of command, and continued to advance firmly and steadily up the hill until they had driven the rebels from the crest, inflicting upon them a loss so severe that in their irritation they determined at all hazards to recover the position.

The peaceful moonlight was still slumbering upon the hill when the rebels appeared both upon the right and left in great numbers, planted a battery in front, and commenced pouring a shower of shrapnel upon the Thirty-sixth. For an hour the shot went whizzing over head and crashing through the trees, but not a man flinched from his post.

As soon as the position of the rebel battery was ascertained, a section of Captain Barnett's artillery, consisting of two ten-pounder Parrotts, was brought to the top of the hill, and by a few well-directed shots the rebel battery was silenced. But the rebel artillerymen were again rallied around their guns, again opened fire, and again were driven off by the two formidable Parrotts. A second time they returned to their pieces, only to meet with the same fate, and then the firing from the rebel battery ceased entirely.

Meanwhile the right wing of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Illinois had been ordered up to support the battery, and performed their duty handsomely. The silencing of the rebel battery seemed to check the ardor of the butternuts, and they retired into a woods fronting the position, the Thirty-sixth remaining in undisputed possession of the contested ground.

Brigadier-General Gay, Inspector of Cavalry upon General Buell's staff, came up after the enemy had ceased their efforts to dislodge the Thirty-sixth brigade, and advancing with a cavalry force in the direction the enemy had taken, was soon furiously attacked. A battalion of the Second Michigan cavalry, Colonel A. P. Campbell, was at once dismounted, while the other two were thrown under cover of the woods. The dismounted battalion advanced upon the enemy, assisted by the skirmishers of the Fifty-second Ohio, and after a sharp skirmish, drove them from the woods. They soon rallied, however, had, receiving some reenforcements, they forced our skirmishers and cavalry to retire, contesting every inch of ground.

The fight now became deeply interesting. On came the enemy, pouring heavy volleys into the ranks of the Second Michigan and other cavalry, and pushing it gradually back until it occupied the position from which it first advanced toward the woods. The situation was critical. If the enemy was not immediately checked, he would advance with his fresh forces and renewed courage up the hill, assaulting once more the gallant Thirty-sixth brigade, which had been under arms ever since two in the morning, engaged during the greater portion of the time. General R. B. Mitchell with his division was about getting into line of battle on the right of the hill, and it was now of more importance than ever that the hill itself should be held. As it was in the very centre of our intended line, and commanded the ground for a great distance upon both sides of the road, its possession by the enemy might be attended with the most serious consequences.

It was just then that the Second Missouri, Captain Walter Hoppe commanding, a regiment which distinguished itself at Pea Ridge, came gallantly up to the rescue, and with deafening cheers advanced upon the enemy. The Second Michigan cavalrymen, reanimated by this assistance, advanced as skirmishers before the Second Missouri, and the Fifteenth Missouri came after as a support. In vain the enemy opened upon the advancing line a murderous fire. A continual storm of leaden hail raged round their ears; the Second Missouri steadily moved forward, until the dismayed and conquered rebels broke and ran like sheep. For more than a mile the conquerors pursued, and only gave over when they were ordered back to their first position. The Second Minnesota battery, Captain Hotchkiss, came up nearly at the same time with the Second Missouri infantry, and by delivering a well-directed fire upon the flank of the rebels, assisted materially in driving them from the woods.

Thus ended, at about ten A. M., the preliminary battle of this eventful day, and even at that early hour many a brave and noble spirit had taken its departure to another world. The Thirty-sixth brigade had more than a hundred killed and wounded, while the Second Missouri alone had lost nearly a hundred more. The Second Michigan cavalry had also suffered considerably, and the batteries engaged had met with some slight loss. But at least three hundred rebels had bit the dust, and we remained masters of the field. The conduct of General Gay and his staff is spoken of with much praise by all who witnessed it. All the officers of the Thirty-sixth brigade behaved


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