When the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth and Sixty-fourth Ohio advanced to the copse in the open field, I ordered Colonel Opdyke to line the southern side of the copse with skirmishers, with a view to annoying and delaying the progress of the enemy. As he advanced he inclined to his left, evidently with the intention of outflanking my line and turning my right. This movement of the enemy made it necessary I should gain a position in which I could form a shorter and more compact line, in which my right would be more protected by natural obstacles. I accordingly retired my little command to a narrow and short ridge which shoots out nearly at right angles as a spur from the general ridge, which is parallel to the Rossville and Lafayette road. The short and narrow ridge extends athwart the valley in nearly an east and west course. The abprutness of the declivity on either side of it almost gives to this ridge the quality of a natural parapet. Troops holding it could load and fire behind, out of reach of the enemy's fire, and then advance to the crest of it to deliver a plunging fire on the fore. In addition, there was a moral effect in its command over the ground south of it, which inspired the courage of the troops holding it. Here I determined to make an obstinate and determined stand. When General Brannan's right was turned, (by the opening of the gap in our lines, by the movement of my division to support General Reynolds,) he had been compelled to fall back to the general ridge in closing on the west, the valley in which the great battle was fought, which ridge, as already remarked, runs nearly parallel with the Rossville and Lafayette road. When I took position in the narrow ridge, extending partially across the valley, with Harker's brigade, General Brannan formed his command on my right, and higher up on the main ridge, thus giving to our united lines something of the shape of an irregular crescent, with the concavity towards the enemy. This disposition gave us a converging fire on the attacking columns. When my arrangements in this position were concluded, it was probably one P. M., or a little after. The enemy did not leave us long in the quiet possession of our new position. Soon a most obstinate and determined attack was made, which was handsomely repulsed. Similar attacks were continued at intervals throughout the entire afternoon. To describe each one in detail would be unnecessary, and only add useless prolixity to my report. But I deem it proper to signalize one of these attacks specially. It occurred about four o'clock, and lasted about thirty minutes. It was unquestionably the most terrific musketry duel I have ever witnessed. Harker's brigade was formed in two lines. The regiments were advanced to the crest of the ridge alternately, and delivered their fire by volley at the command, retiring a few paces behind it, after firing, to reload. The continued roar of the very fiercest musketry fire inspired a sentiment of grandeur, in which the awful and the sublime were intermingled. But the enemy were repulsed in this fierce attack, and the crest of the ridge was still in our possession. Finally the evening shades descended and spread the drapery of moonlight over the hardly contested field. The battle ceased, and my command still held the position it had taken about one o'clock, maintaining with glorious courage a most unequal contest in point of numbers. But our inferiority did not seem to appall my men. Their courage and steadfast resolution rose with the occasion. I do not believe that history affords an instance of a more splendid resistance than that made by Harker's brigade, and a portion of Buell's brigade, from one o'clock P. M. on the twentieth to nightfall. A part of the contest was witnessed by that able and distinguished commander, Major-General Thomas. I think it must have been two o'clock P. M. when he came to where my command was so hotly engaged. His presence was most welcome. The men saw him, felt they were battling under the eye of a great chieftain, and their courage and resolotion received fresh inspiration from this consciousness. At a most opportune hour in the afternoon, probably between two and three o'clock, Major-General Granger arrived on the field with two brigades of fresh troops, of the division of General Steadman. They were brought into action on the right of General Brannan, (who was on my right,) and rapidly drove the enemy before them. This movement very considerably relieved the pressure on my front. The gallant bearing of General Granger during the whole of this most critical part of the contest was a strong reenforcement. It affords me much pleasure to signalize the presence with my command for a length of time during the afternoon (present during the period of the hottest fighting) of another distinguished officer, Brigadier-General Garfield, chief of staff. After the disastrous rout on the right, General Garfield made his way back to the battlefield, (showing thereby that the road was open to all who might chose to follow it to where duty called,) and came to where my command was engaged. The brigade which made so determined a resistance on the crest of the narrow ridge during all that long September afternoon had been commanded by General Garfield, when he belonged to my division. The men remarked his presence with much satisfaction, and were delighted that he was a witness of the splendid fighting they were doing. Early in the afternoon my command was joined by portions of two regiments belonging to Van Cleve's division, the Seventeenth Kentucky, Colonel Stout commanding, and the Forty-fourth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Aldrick commanding. The fact that these parts of regiments, preserving the form of a regimental organization, did not leave the field after the disaster on the right, when so many other troops fled from the contest, is certainly most creditable to them. This fact also affords very just ground for the inference, that if a more determined effort had been made by the officers, many other regiments that left the field might have been kept on it. The remains of the two
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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