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[298] remaining guns of Manning's battery were in position on the right bank of the bed of Bayou Gap. This was the real line of defence for the left flank, covering the north and east of the arsenal grounds. Gen. Williams, in his instructions to myself and Lieut.-Col. Bean, commanding Fourth Wisconsin volunteers, was very clear and positive in his orders to hold this position at all hazards, as he anticipated the enemy would advance (under cover of the fire from the ram Arkansas, with the gunboats from the Red River) through the open grounds of the Sawmill and Dougherty's plantation, and take possession of the Manae ground. The above-mentioned advance on the left bank of the Bayou was only ordered by Gen. Williams, after a lengthy consideration, on the evening of the fourth inst., with the intention of checking an advance on the same position by the Bayou Sara and Clinton roads; and for that reason we only brought forward the light howitzers of Manning's battery to the advance positions, leaving the heavy guns on the original line.

At early daylight on the morning of August fifth, the enemy threw his whole force on the camps of the Fourteenth Maine, Twenty-first Indiana and Sixth Michigan, with the batteries attached to each regiment. These troops stood their ground nobly, meeting the tremendous force thrown upon them with unflinching bravery. On looking over the battle-ground since the engagement I cannot conceive how it was possible for so many men to have been engaged in so small a space of ground. The attack was nearly simultaneous; but the first fire in line from the enemy's right was directed on the Fourteenth Maine, and was instantly answered by that regiment by a solid line volley, which must have done terrible execution. The companies of the Twenty-first Indiana, which were in advance as pickets, had fallen back in order. The whole regiment advanced towards the Magnolia cemetery and east of it. At this time Major Hays was seriously wounded, and was taken from the field. The regiment worked, advancing and retiring, and changing front as the enemy showed himself through the smoke. At nearly the close of the action Lieut.-Col. Keith, commanding regiment, had to leave the field, badly wounded, leaving the regiment, without a field-officer, in command of Captain Grimsley. It was at this stage of the battle that Gen. Williams fell, mortally wounded. He had just said to the men of the Twenty-first: “Boys, your field-officers are all gone. I will lead you.” The men answered with three cheers for the General. The sounds had scarcely died away when he fell. The General had previously issued an order for the line to fall back, and the artillery having done so, the regiments retired in good order to the positions now occupied. For details of movements and conduct of the regiments and batteries, I would refer you to the accompanying reports. I will only trespass on the patience of the Commanding General further than to say what the officers commanding regiments and corps cannot say for themselves — that more undaunted bravery, coolness and skill, in the handling of their commands, has not been displayed on any battle-field than on that of Baton Rouge, and that, too, by officers who never before handled troops in a fight. From the Twenty-first Indiana and Sixth Michigan, myself, in common with others, expected a great deal, and were not disappointed; but when I look back a few short months, and bring to my mind the arrival of the Fourteenth Maine at Ship Island, and today consider the work done by that regiment in the action, the smoothness and steadiness of its evolutions in difficult ground and under fire from the veterans of the confederate service, I can only say that, for his efforts in building up his regiment, the most serious task of a commander, and his conduct in the field, Col. Nickerson, of the Fourteenth Maine, deserves the highest praise. To the impetuous Lieut.-Col. Keith, of the Twenty-first Indiana, no words of mine can do justice. He was every where, in every place, working his men through tents, trees and underbrush like a veteran, and when seriously wounded and taken from the field he would not give up, but moved around among his officers and men, counselling and assisting in every thing, to the injury and irritation of his wounds. Colonel Roberts, of the Seventh Vermont, fell mortally wounded, and has since died. He was a gentleman of a generous nature and of cultivated mind.

Col. Nickerson, of the Fourteenth Maine, had his horse shot from under him by a discharge of grape. He sprang from under his dying steed, and, waving his sword, called upon his men for one more charge. The men sprang forward, with three roaring cheers, and drove back the advancing foe. At this time the gallant Capt. French, of company K, Fourteenth Maine, received his terrible wound. The charge was made in presence of Gen. Williams, who complimented the men very highly. Capt. French was placed on board the unfortunate steamer Whiteman, and was lost when she went down. His name deserves special mention. The conduct of the officers and men of the several batteries was every thing that could be looked for by the Commanding General. The various batteries were very much reduced by sickness and deaths, and, even with the assistance of details from the infantry, were worked short-handed. Lieutenant Hall, in command of second piece Nim's battery, wishes special mention made of the successful rally by men of the Twenty-first Indiana and three men of the Ninth Connecticut, who, with the assistance of private Tyler, who left his sick-bed and acted as sergeant, gunner, etc., and privates Shield and Clogston, as also Sergeant Cheever, who left the hospital sick to do his duty, rallied and brought off the gun, when every man and horse was shot down and the piece in the hands of the enemy. The names of the privates of infantry engaged in this gallant exploit will be forwarded as soon as ascertained. The Ninth Connecticut and Fourth Wisconsin volunteers were brought up from their position early in the action, and were placed, by General Williams's order, in line across the grounds of the Orphan Asylum, immediately


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