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[328] He pointed into the woods, whence the roar and rattle of a very sharp musketry fire resounded, and told me that Haynes's brigade was heavily engaged in there. I immediately directed Colonel Harker to form his brigade in battle array nearly parallel to the Rossville and Lafayette road, advance into the woods, and engage the enemy. But the evidence immediately brought to my notice, that Haynes's brigade was retiring, made a change in this position necessary. I consequently directed Colonel Harker to throw forward his right, holding his left as a pivot on the road, thus giving his line an oblique direction to the road, and then advance his whole line. By this disposition I hoped to be able to take the enemy's advancing force in flank. These dispositions, though expeditiously made, were scarcely completed, when a staff officer rode up, and reported that the enemy had gained the road and was advancing up it in the direction of Gordon's Mill. This information rendered necessary a further change in the arrangement of Harker's brigade. I ordered him to refuse his left, which brought the left half of his line at right angles to the road, and gave to his whole front the form of a broken line, with the apex towards the enemy. In this shape he advanced rapidly, engaged the enemy, and drove him between a half and three fourths of a mile. I followed his advance nearly half a mile, and finding he was doing well, as well as having perfect confidence in his ability to handle his brigade, I remarked to him that I would then leave him and go to look after my other brigade, Colonel Buell commanding, which had followed Harker's to the field of battle. For the details of the severe conflict through which Harker's brigade passed at this stage of the battle, for an account of the valuable service it rendered in checking the force which threatened to cut the right of the army from the left, for a report of the heavy loss of gallant officers and men which occurred here, and for a description of the skilful manner in which the brigade was extricated from the perils by which it became environed from encountering in its advance a vastly superior force, I must refer to the more detailed report of Colonel Harker. The list of casualties attests the severity of the fighting. The gallant commander himself had two horses shot under him. Bradley's battery, attached to Harker's brigade, owing to the density of the woods into which the brigade advanced, did not accompany it. The signal service which this battery rendered at a later period of the action will be chronicled at the proper time. Leaving Harker's brigade, I returned to where I had ordered Colonel Buell to halt and form his brigade. When I first met General Davis on the field of battle, I was informed by him that Carlin's brigade of his division was hotly engaged in the woods in advance, or eastward, of the cornfield in which our meeting occurred. The sharp and quick rattle of musketry fully assured the correctness of the statement. Seeing no other reserve at hand, and assured that both Harker and Carlin were seriously engaged, I determined to hold Buell's brigade in hand to meet emergencies. And it was fortunate I did so, for ere long Carlin's brigade was swept back out of the woods, across the cornfield, and into the woods beyond the field on the western side of the road, carrying everything away with it. When I observed the rush across the cornfield, I was near to the One Hundredth Illinois. With a view to checking the advancing and exultant enemy, I ordered Colonel Bartleson, commanding One Hundredth Illinois, to fix bayonets and charge on the foe. The bayonets were properly fixed, and the regiment had just commenced to advance, when it was struck by a crowd of fugitives, and swept away in the general melange. The whole of Buell's brigade was thus carried off its feet. It was necessary that it should fall back across the narrow field on the western side of the road to the edge of the wood, under whose cover it rallied. As soon as possible it was formed along the fence separating the field from the woods, and, with the aid of a part of Carlin's brigade, and a regiment of Wilder's brigade, dismounted, repulsed the enemy. This result was greatly contributed to by the heavy and most effective fire, at short range, of Bradley's and Estep's batteries. At this critical moment these two batteries were most splendidly served. The narrow field separating the woods on the west from the Rossville and Lafayette road is scarcely two hundred yards wide. Buell's brigade was formed just east of the road, when it was struck by Carlin's brigade; it hence had to retire, but the distance of less than two hundred yards to get the shelter of the woods for re-forming. But in crossing this narrow space it suffered terribly. The killed and wounded were thickly strewn on the ground. Captain George, Fifteenth Indiana, of my staff, was struck by a ball and knocked from his horse by my side.

So soon as the enemy was repulsed, I addressed myself to forming Colonel Buell's brigade, for the purpose of advancing it to recover the lost ground. Order being restored, and a sufficiently solid formation acquired to warrant an advance, I led the brigade back in person, and reoccupied the ground from which it had been forced, the side on which it was orignally formed.

In this advance my horse was twice shot, the second one proving fatal. I dismounted one of my orderlies near me and took his horse. In this advance a portion of Carlin's brigade participated, led by General Carlin. Estep's battery, attached to Buell's brigade, accompanied the advance. Scarcely had the lost ground been repossessed, when the enemy emerged from the woods on the eastern side of the cornfield, and commenced to cross it. He was formed in two lines, and “advanced firing.” The appearance of his force was large. Fortunately reenforcements were at hand. A compact brigade, of Sheridan's division, not hitherto engaged, was at the moment crossing the field in the rear of the position then occupied by Buell's brigade and the portion of Carlin's. This fresh brigade advanced handsomely into action, and joining its fire to that of the other troops, most materially aided in repelling a most dangerous attack. But this was not done until considerable

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Harker (9)
Carlin (8)
G. P. Buell (8)
William J. Haynes (2)
Estep (2)
Cullen Bradley (2)
Charles B. Wilder (1)
Philip H. Sheridan (1)
J. E. George (1)
Jefferson C. Davis (1)
F. A. Bartleson (1)
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