was in a south-east direction. This was about eleven o'clock A. M. No enemy being visible in our front, I caused a few shells to be thrown into the woods beyond, but met no response. The topography of the country on this line and in my front was a cotton-field, which we then occupied, at the further edge of which was a belt or strip of timber ending at a corn-field on my left and front, and immediately in front of Brig.-Gen. Sill's right. This cornfield extended to a narrow, heavy timbered wood, bordered by a rail fence; beyond this timber was a corn-field receding toward a ravine terminated by a bluff, woody bank, along the foot of which, in the ravine, was the enemy's line of battle, with its supports and artillery on the elevation. We remained in position until about three o'clock P. M., when my skirmishers were ordered forward to occupy the belt of timber, which they did. Major McIlvain, who was in command, reported to me that the enemy's skirmishers were in the furthest wood to our front and left, and desired me to send him a further supply of one company, which was sent him, with orders to press their skirmishers back. The skirmishing soon commenced briskly, and my brigade was ordered to advance, which it did in admirable order, and was halted in the first belt of timber. Desiring to know the position of the enemy's line and the situation of their skirmishers, I proceeded to the line of skirmishers to assist in directing their movements and to urge them on, and, having given these directions in person, returned to my command to be ready to move forward to their support. The wood was so thick and bushy on my right that it was difficult to see further than the left of the Second brigade, but as I discovered it advancing we moved forward also to protect its flank. Sheridan's division had halted some one hundred yards in the rear of my brigade, his line of skirmishers joining my line of battle. At this juncture my skirmishers commenced falling back rapidly, and I endeavored to get the officer in command of those of General Sheridan's division to advance to their support, as those of my brigade had not only driven the enemy from my front, but Gen. Sill's also, but, as he had no orders to move forward, he refused. The emergency being imminent, Colonel Williams was ordered to detach the left company of his regiment and deploy it forward as skirmishers to relieve or strengthen those engaged, as circumstances might require, while the brigade was advanced to support them. The command pressed forward in splendid order, and soon became hotly engaged, and drove the enemy back through the woods and corn-fields on their own lines. As we were now far in advance of any support upon the left, I deemed it advisable to halt and wait for them to come up, and therefore took position in rear of the rail fence, my right nearly at right angles to my line of battle, thereby obtaining an oblique as well as direct fire, but the space to be occupied by this brigade was so great that the Eighty-first Indiana regiment was ordered up to complete my line, thereby leaving me no reserve. The battery was placed in the angle of the fence to protect my right and front. Shortly after taking this position, Brig.-General Sill joined me on the left. We remained in position, receiving a heavy fire, and occasionally replying with shell, until toward night, when the enemy opened a heavy artillery-fire, apparently on the right of Col. Carlin's brigade. This discovering their battery, and mine being in good range and position to enfilade theirs, Capt. Carpenter was ordered to silence their battery, which he did in handsome style in about five minutes. An attack of infantry was then made from the same point on Col. Carlin, and as their lines presented the same-advantage, Capt. Carpenter again opened fire, with such terrific effect that their yells of pain, terror, and anguish, as our shells exploded in their dense ranks, could be distinctly heard where we stood. So well was the battery served that their attack ceased, and darkness closed the conflict. We slept on our arms, without fires, and prepared for the battle which we well knew would open on the morrow. During the night we discovered what appeared to me to be a continued movement of troops, which led me to believe that the enemy were massing troops on our right, which information I had the honor to report to my immediate superior, Brig.-Gen. Davis. As soon as day dawned I examined the line of battle, and as I had no supports, placed three pieces in battery on my left, and pointed out to Brig.-General Sill the weakness of the line at this point, and requested him to order up some regiments of his brigade, held in reserve to strengthen his right and protect my left, feeling certain that the enemy meditated an attack, and that it would be made at that place. He agreed with me, and immediately ordered up two regiments, who remained there but a short time, and then resumed their former position as reserves. Deeming the knowledge of this fact of paramount importance, I despatched a staff-officer to Brig.-Gen. Davis, to give him the information. Afterwards the General informed me that I must hold the position as best I could, for he had no support to send me. Almost simultaneously with the withdrawal of the reserves ordered up by Brig.-General Sill, the enemy made their attack in five heavy lines, and we were immediately engaged. Capt. Carpenter's battery opened upon them with terrific effect with grape and canister, and they were mowed down as grass beneath the sickle, while the infantry poured in a well-directed and very destructive fire. Sheltered by the rail fence, they were partially protected, and fired with the coolness of veterans. As soon as the battle became general, the Twenty-fourth Wisconsin, which joined my left, gave way, leaving my battery and left flank exposed to an enfilading fire. I finally succeeded in rallying them as a reserve. At this moment, the right of Brig.-General Sill's brigade commenced to swing to the rear, and Col. Carlin's was discovered falling steadily back. I then received orders to take position to the rear some three hundred yards, in the belt of timber. I informed the staff-officer who brought the order that we could maintain
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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