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[147] opened a brisk fire from a masked battery within short-range, making it necessary for the entire line to fall back a short distance to a line of battle selected for the operations of the day following. My regiment being directly in range of the enemy's fire, M. O. Felmly and Corporal Cook, were killed, and I. B. Caspares, Corporal of the same company, was seriously wounded. A strong picket-guard was thrown out about thirty rods in front, which occasionally drew fire from the enemy's pickets, and their camp-fires not being more than three quarters of a mile distant, extending along the further edge of a corn-field, a long distance beyond the extreme right of our division, indicated a strong force of the enemy massed on our front and right. My command was formed in line of battle close behind a narrow strip of cedar thicket, nearly covering our front and skirting a strip of open, level ground, about twenty rods wide, to the corn-field occupied by the enemy's pickets. Being thus satisfied of the close proximity of the enemy in strong force, and apprehending an attack at any moment, I deemed it necessary to use the utmost precaution against surprise, and accordingly, in addition to general instructions to bivouac without fires, and to maintain a cautious, quiet vigilance, I ordered my command to stack arms, and each man to rest at the butt of his musket, and without using his shelter-tent. Although the night was dark, chilly, and somewhat rainy, and the men cold, wet, weary, and hungry, I deemed it objectionable to use their shelter-tents, not only because of the hindrance in case of a sudden attack, but even in a dark night they would be some guide to the enemy to trace our line. At a little before four o'clock A. M., our men were quietly waked up, formed into line, and remained standing at their arms until moved by subsequent orders. As soon as it became sufficiently light to observe objects at a distance, I could plainly discern the enemy moving in three heavy columns across my front to the right, our column striking out of the corn-field and moving defiantly along the edge of the open ground, not more than sixty to eighty rods from, and about parallel with, my line. It was plainly to be seen that the fire of my skirmishers took effect in their ranks, and in emptying saddles; to which, however, the enemy seemed to pay no attention. This movement continued from a half to an hour, when a brisk discharge of musketry, at considerable distance to my right, indicated a rapid advance of the enemy on the right flank; at the same time their columns were advancing, in overwhelming force, directly in front, and extending to the left as far as could be seen. At this time my command was ordered to fall back and to change front to the rear, or nearly so, forming behind a fence. This movement was executed in good order, and without the least confusion or faltering. In the course of ten or fifteen minutes the enemy's line approached; but as previously instructed and ordered, my command reserved their fire until within short-range, when they opened with terrible effect upon the advancing ranks, and holding them completely in check until they had delivered ten or fifteen rounds. I maintained this position until the regiments on the right and left of me had fallen back thirty to forty rods, and the enemy's line, directly in front, breaking and deploying right and left, and about to flank me, I ordered a retreat, which was effected in tolerable order — at least without the least appearance of a panic. From this point, having fallen back in a straight line between half and three quarters of a mile, I effected a stand with a considerable portion of my regiment, but could maintain it only long enough to deliver a few shots. I should here mention that early in the morning three companies of my command had been thrown out as skirmishers, who, in consequence of the first change of line, and of their fidelity and bravery in discharging their duty, had been cut off from the regiment and unable to rally upon it until at this point. First Lieutenant Leffingwell, in command of company A, came up with a few of his men and rendered most efficient aid in rallying the regiment. I commend his conduct, on this occasion, as indicating an efficient, faithful, and brave officer. Falling back from this line, a short distance, I succeeded in rallying about half of the regiment in rear of the reserve force, which was now driving the enemy back. When being ordered to form on the brigade, my command had no further part in the fighting of the day, except that two companies of my regiment were sent out, just at night, as skirmishers under command of First Lieutenant Blakesley, who rendered important service in a brilliant skirmish with a large cavalry force. The day following my regiment was put in line of battle at an early hour, and stood at their arms till near night, momentarily expecting to make or receive an attack. On Friday just at night, my command was put in rapid march across Stone River, to the extreme left, where a fierce battle was raging; but was closed just before our arrival, by the retreat of the enemy. Later in the evening we bivouacked here without fires, in such close proximity to the enemy's line as to produce frequent skirmishing between the pickets during the night — which was very lark and stormy — remaining here through the following day and night, suffering the severities of an almost uninterrupted storm, without fires or shelter, until four o'clock. Sunday morning I returned with my command to the camp previously occupied. The hardships, privations, and exposure in the march from Louisville to Crab Orchard, and thence to Nashville, have been regarded nearly unendurable by new troops; and yet, while they sink into utter insignificance, compared with those of our march and engagements during these eight days, I have the gratification of knowing that my regiment has met and endured them with the utmost promptness, fortitude, and cheerfulness, facing the enemy in the heat of battle with the coolness, courage, and determination of experienced soldiers and true patriots, ready at every call to face new dangers without faltering; undergoing the most extraordinary

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Leffingwell (1)
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