directly in our rear, and the advancing columns of the enemy were seen on our right and front. Here I received orders to hold my position to the last extremity. For this purpose, I executed a partial change of front, and placed my troops in the convex order, as follows: The Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania, Col. Sirwell, on the right, on the brow of a small hill, the right resting on Schultz's battery, of Colonel Stanley's brigade; the Thirty-seventh Indiana, Col. Hull, on the right centre; the Seventy-fourth Ohio, Colonel Moody, on the left centre, behind a rail fence; Marshall's battery, on a small hill, in the open field, to the left of the Seventy-fourth Ohio; the Twenty-first Ohio, Lieut.-Colonel Neibling, on the left, in a thicket fronting the enemy's works; and Ellsworth's battery near the log house, between Palmer's right and the Twenty-first Ohio. Simultaneously with the advance of the enemy from the right, a heavy force advanced from the enemy's works on my left wing. The batteries at the enemy's works were manned and opened fire over the heads of the enemy's infantry. Before my regiments were properly in position, a most terrific fire was opened upon every part of the line by infantry and artillery, but there was no wavering, and as the advancing columns of the enemy approached, they were met by a well directed and terribly destructive fire from our lines. The batteries were worked with admirable skill, and the firing along our whole line was executed with creditable precision. The enemy halted but did not abate his fire. The roar of musketry and artillery now became almost deafening, and as the unequal contest progressed it became more terrible. Once the strong force in the open field in front of my left wing attempted a bayonet charge upon the Twenty-first Ohio, but were gallantly met and repulsed with great slaughter. On one of the flags was inscribed the “Rock City guards.” The battle continued with unabating fierceness on both sides until the sixty rounds of ammunition with which my men were supplied was nearly exhausted. The Thirty-seventh Indiana was the first to report a want of ammunition and withdrew a short distance to the rear for a supply, the Seventy-fourth Ohio and Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania filling up the interval. The teamsters of the ammunition-wagons had moved to the rear, and when ammunition was being brought forward they turned and fled. Colonel Hull again led his regiment forward and fired the few remaining cartridges on the persons of the men, taking also such as could be had from the dead and wounded. At this juncture the troops on our right retired, and some unauthorized person ordered Colonel Sirwell to retire his regiment. This regiment was fighting gallantly and holding the position on the crest of the hill, but on receiving the order retired to the cedars in the rear. Seeing this, I immediately ordered Colonel Sirwell forward to the same position. This order was obeyed promptly, and the men again took position in admirable order. Soon after this, a heavy force was observed to advance on General Palmer's left, and a hard contest ensued. General Palmer's right brigade held their ground for a short time, and then began to retire. Just at this time I received orders from General Negley to retire slowly with my command into the woods. My troops were then nearly out of ammunition, the enemy were advancing on my right flank and on my left. The fire in front was no less destructive than it had been during the engagement. The movement was made in good order by the infantry; but it was impossible for the artillery to obey. Nearly all the horses had been killed; the ground was soft and muddy, and the men had not the strength to haul away the pieces. Five guns were lost. Four were saved by the men of the batteries, assisted by the infantry. On reaching the wood, I halted the command and formed line of battle, faced by the rear rank, and delivered several well-directed volleys into the enemy's ranks, now crossing the open field over which we had retreated. This checked the advance of the enemy for a short time, strewing the ground with his dead. Being closely pressed on both flanks, and receiving fire from three directions, I again retired my command, the men loading while marching, and firing to the rear as rapidly as possible. In this way my command retreated for the Nashville pike in a north-east direction. While in the forest, being closely pressed in the rear, the enemy, in strong force, was encountered on the line of retreat, when a destructive fire was opened upon my columns, which caused them to break to the right. My men did not run, but marched to the pike, carrying many of our wounded. When near the pike, and while rallying his men, Colonel Hull, of the Thirty-seventh Indiana, was severely wounded and disabled. He fought bravely and gallantly during the whole engagement. The Twenty-first Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Neibling, rallied near the pike, and, at the request of Gen. Rousseau, took position for the support of a battery, then at work near the road. Ammunition was furnished, and this regiment fought with the battery over an hour, and then rejoined my command on the left of the road where I had organized and obtained ammunition. During this entire engagement, and under all these terribly appalling circumstances, both officers and enlisted men of my command behaved with admirable coolness and bravery. Examples of heroic daring and gallantry were everywhere to be seen, but where all acted so well it is difficult to make special mention without doing injustice to many. The cool courage and distinguished gallantry of Col. Wm. Sirwell, Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania, Col. Granville Moody, Seventy-fourth Ohio, (who was wounded early in the engagement and had his horse shot under him, but refused to leave the field,) Col. J. S. Hull, Thirty-seventh Indiana, and Lieut.-Col. James M. Neibling, Twenty-first Ohio, regimental commanders, deserve the highest praise; and the skill and ability with which these brave officers performed their responsible
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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