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[42]

In a short time the musketry firing on my right opened briskly, and increased in volume until it was evident that all our troops were engaged and that the enemy were making a most determined stand, with a force sufficient to hold our people in check and occasionally to stagger them.

At this juncture my battery was ordered by a staff officer to the edge of the field near Prentice's camp, and to a position sweeping his rear approaches, and from which I had previously retired. As I went into action Captain Stanford formed on my right. I found the Washington artillery already in position on my left and firing rapidly.

Captain Robinson's twelve-pounder battery formed on the right of Stanford, with Captain (since Major) Rutledge on his right, and some one or two other batteries still further to the right, but by whom commanded I am not now able to state.

The effect of this tremendous concentrated fire was very evident. The reserves, which could be plainly seen going up to Prentice's relief, fell back in confusion under the shower of shot, shell and canister that was poured upon them, whilst our infantry, encouraged by such heavy artillery support, rushed forward with a shout and carried the position.

I regret that I cannot state the name of the staff officer ordering me up, or to whose staff he belonged. All I have been enabled to ascertain, upon consultation with battery commanders touching this remarkable concentration of artillery is that it was not the result of accident, but under and by the direction of one controlling mind, as batteries were brought up from various portions of the field and directed to this particular position.

I have made repeated inquiry of officers of the artillery and staff officers to ascertain by whose order this movement was executed, and the only reliable information I have received was communicated to me by Lieutenants A. H. Polk and William B. Richmond, Aids to Major-General Polk, who state that they felt assured it was executed under the direction of Brigadier-General Ruggles, as they saw him at that time on our extreme left engaged in ordering up batteries for some position along the line.

I have the honor to remain, Captain, your obedient servant,

Smith P. Bankhead, Colonel Artillery, P. A. C. S.

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Stanford (2)
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