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[555] as circumstances would permit, after reconnoitring and feeling the rebel position. Colonel Emerson's brigade, of the Thirteenth corps, was stationed on the left of the line, with Nim's Massachusetts battery; Colonel Landrum's forces, parts of two brigades, on the right and centre, with Rawles's battery G, Fifth regulars, and a battery of the First Indiana artillery in rear of his right and centre. Colonel Dudley's brigade of cavalry (of Lee's corps) supported the left, and held itself in readiness to repel any attempt to flank; while Lucas protected the right flank. Colonel Robinson, with his brigade, was in rear of the centre, protecting the wagontrain, which was on the Shreveport road.

General Banks and staff rode upon the field by the time this disposition of our forces was effected, and word was sent back to General Franklin to make all speed for the scene of the momentarily expected battle. It was the design of General Banks to remain quiet until the balance of his army came up, and then open the battle himself; but Kirby Smith, knowing his own superiority in numbers, began the conflict before they could arrive.

About five o'clock the firing between the skirmishers became very hot, and in a short time our skirmish-line was driven back upon the main body by an overwhelming force. The whole strength of the enemy was then advanced, and heavy and repeated volleys were discharged and replied to on our right and centre. Soon this portion of our line became heavily engaged, and all our available strength was required to prevent its being crushed by the masses of the enemy. Our left, which was now also hotly fighting, was necessarily much weakened, and it was observed that a strong body of the enemy was massing in a dense piece of woods, preparatory to dashing down and flanking this end of the line. The danger was plain and imminent, but there was no remedy. General Stone ordered General Lee to have Nim's battery withdrawn, although it was doing great execution, in order that it might not become a prize to the enemy, and General Lee sent his aid-de-camp, Colonel J. S. Brisbin, to withdraw the battery. On reaching the point, its removal was found impossible, nearly every one of the horses having been killed. In a few moments more a solid mass of the rebels swept down upon the spot, and four of the guns were taken, the other two being dragged from the field by hand. The havoc made in the ranks of the enemy at this point of the action is represented as appalling, the whole six guns belching forth double charges of grape and canister; and some five or six rounds were fired between the time the rebels left the woods until the artillerymen were forced from their pieces. As the rebels were in mass, the execution such a shower of missiles caused can be easily imagined. The two senior officers of the battery were wounded, Lieutenant Snow mortally, he having since died.

The forces that made this charge were commanded by the rebel General Mouton, who fell shot through the body with four balls.

The fighting on all parts of our line was now at short-range, and to use the expression of one of the participants: “We were holding on by the skin of our teeth only.” It was known that Franklin's troops had been sent for, and anxious and wistful were the glances cast to the rear. General Cameron with his brigade came up, and going at once into action on the right, where the battle again waxed hottest, created the impression that the veterans of the Nineteenth had arrived, and a glad and exultant shout went up from our wearied and desperately situated little band. This belief was strengthened by the arrival of General Franklin, who dashed boldly into the thickest of the fray, cap in hand and cheering on the men. General Banks, too, seemed ubiquitous, riding wherever the men wavered, and by personal example inciting them to renewed deeds of daring and reckless valor. Colonels Clark and Wilson, with other members of the staff, sabre in hand, mixed with the soldiers on foot and horseback, and cheered and encouraged them to continue the unequal fight.

But human beings could not longer withstand such fierce and overpowering onslaughts as our men were bearing up against, and our line finally gave way at all points and the men fell back, fiercely contesting the ground they yielded. Unfortunately a sad mishap befell them at this time.

The large and cumbersome wagon-train blocked up the way; the frightened horses dashed through the infantry lines, entangled themselves with the artillery, and created a momentary but unfortunate confusion. This gave the rebels, who were rapidly pressing us, possession of several pieces of artillery.

General Franklin was conspicuous during this part of the day, rallying the men, and two horses were killed under him; Captain Chapman, of his staff, had both feet taken off by a round shot, and the horse of Captain Franklin was killed at the same time.

The enemy followed our men step by step for three and a half miles, but he was advancing to meet a fearful retribution. The Nineteenth army corps had been ordered to stop and form its line of battle — the retreating Union troops passed through this line and formed in the rear. The rebels, thinking they had repulsed our whole army, dashed impetuously on, and through the line, but half visible through the woods before them, was another feeble but desperate stand of a few men.

General Emory commanded this force, consisting of two full brigades, and he ordered the fire to be reserved until the rebels were within shortrange, when from both infantry and the artillery posted thickly along his line, a storm of iron and lead was hurled upon the foe that literally mowed them down. The rebels halted in amazement, but still they fought, and bravely. Volley after volley was discharged from each side full into the ranks of their opponents, but neither gave

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William B. Franklin (4)
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Charles P. Stone (1)
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