previous next


[484] upon the march. Skirmishers were thrown out from the Fifth Iowa regiment, which came upon the pickets of the enemy about seven miles south of Iuka. As the pickets were driven in we advanced. At a white house on the right of the road, a large force of pickets collected, and for some time kept up a sharp fire, severely wounding several of our cavalry scouts. They were, however, soon forced to leave their position and a sumptuous dinner prepared by the proprietor of the house. To punish him for giving shelter, aid, and comfort to the enemy, his house was ordered to be sacked and burned to the ground.

At this point, the right wing of the Twenty-sixth Missouri regiment was thrown out as skirmishers, to relieve those of the Fifth Iowa regiment. It was not until about four o'clock P. M. that our skirmishers came upon the main body of the enemy drawn up in line of battle to a frightful depth. This fact was reported to Gen. Rosecrans. The Eleventh Ohio battery, under command of Lieutenant Sears, of Cincinnati, was halted upon the road. The Fifth Iowa had filed past it, and was taking a position on the right of the road in line of battle. The Twenty-sixth was just filing past in two ranks, when a rebel battery, concealed by the trees and thick brush, opened upon us with canister from the left of the road. Our battery was immediately put in position on the right of the road near a small unoccupied house, the Fifth Iowa supporting the right, and the Forty-eighth Indiana the left. The left wing of the Twenty-sixth Missouri regiment, of which my company composed the extreme left, was posted immediately in the rear of the right wing of the battery, and the extreme left of the Fifth Iowa. Some of the caissons were in the rear of my company. The Eleventh Missouri was posted in our rear, and the Sixteenth Iowa in the rear of the Forty-eighth Indiana, as a reserve. A slight ravine headed up toward the battery, from an open field, some distance on the right. Our four companies lay upon the opposite side of this ravine, from the battery.

While these dispositions were being made, the rebels kept up a severe fire of canister from their battery, which raked the sassafras bushes above our heads, and wounded several of the battery-horses in our immediate front. The battle had already become intensely exciting. The Eleventh Ohio battery opened upon the rebels, who in turn came on to the charge with deafening cheers. Simultaneously they opened fire of musketry upon the battery, the left wing of the Fifth Iowa, and the Forty-eighth Indiana. Their line of battle must have been several regiments deep, as volley followed volley in rapid succession. It was now clearly perceived that the rebels had massed upon the battery with the determination of taking it at whatever cost of blood.

In a few moments the Forty-eighth Indiana gave way in confusion, and their position on the left of the battery was at once occupied by the rebels in mass. At the same time, the left of the Fifth Iowa was cut down, almost to a man, and fell back a few paces. The four companies of the left wing of the Twenty-sixth Missouri regimen were ordered up to occupy the position in front, between the battery and the right wing of the Fifth Iowa regiment. We received orders to “commence firing” when a sheet of flame leaped from our front, and our compliments were telegraphed to the rebel lines. An incessant roar of artillery and musketry was kept up on both sides, and bushels of shell, canister, and Minie — balls came thick and fast among us. My men were ordered by me to “lie down, load,” rise and fire. In this way I saved the lives of my men. After a few rounds were fired, a command was given by a rebel officer, in a loud tone, to fire low, when a leaden hail swept through our ranks, wounding several of my men, and throwing my company into confusion. Some of the men in the centre of the company turned their faces to the rear, and began to break ranks. My attention was called to this fact by the order of Col. Boomer to the men to stand fast. I immediately moved from the right to the centre of the company, struck up the guns of the men with my sword, commanded them to stand fast and face the enemy, and turned two men around into their places with my own hands. During this time the company had fallen back a few paces. I then commanded “forward,” and made a second charge to the right of the battery, and almost into the rebel lines. The firing was now conducted as before, but at this time the commander of the battery was shot from his horse, on my left, and one of his subalterns came to me and requested me to fall back a few paces, so that he could “limber up” and get away. But at this juncture the scene became perfectly terrific. Our Colonel, just in the rear, was shot through the lungs and carried from the field. A terrible fire was poured into the battery from the left and front, and the horses harnessed to the fore carriage of the guns, brought up from the ravine to haul them off, were wounded unto death, and rearing, bleeding, and charging, came like an avalanche down on my right, wounding one of my men, breaking the ranks of company H immediately on my right, and lunging forward, one horse over another, in the pains and madness of death, and massing themselves on a caisson in one awful pile of wounded and dying horses, dead men, and broken gun-carriages.

I rallied my men a third time and advanced to the front. The battery had now ceased firing — the gunners had been killed or ordered to save themselves in flight. The rebels were in possession of the left wing of the battery, and were pouring in a deadly cross-fire through it upon our flank, and down the ravine in our rear, sweeping every thing before it, and the roar of musketry from the front continued without ceasing. At this time I was on the right in line, my first lieutenant on the left, each instructing and encouraging the men. Then came a momentary lull in the storm, like that of a tornado, then an awful fire from the rebels burst upon us almost within bayonet reach, and swept my company from the field. I looked but for a moment upon



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Iuka (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Cincinnati (Ohio, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
A. P. Sears (2)
W. S. Rosecrans (2)
Boomer (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: