into line, when General McCook's whole division, thus supported, advanced and drove the enemy beyond General Sherman's camps.1This was not done, however, until General Beauregard had determined to withdraw from the field, in order not to prolong a then useless contest. Just about the time (10.30 A. M.) when General McCook was assuming the offensive with his whole division, and was near pushing through the gap between General Breckinridge's left and General Bragg's right, caused by the absence of General Polk with one of his divisions, the latter arrived on the field. It was relief, indeed, to General Beauregard, whose anxiety concerning Polk had been intense. Unable, since morning, to hear anything of General Polk's whereabouts, the thought had even crossed his mind that the commander of his First Corps had been captured. But, at half-past 9 o'clock, he at last ascertained that, through a misunderstanding of the orders given the previous evening, General Polk had retired, with Cheatham's division, to his bivouac of the 5th, for the purpose of recruiting and re-supplying that command with provision and ammunition. A message—and rather an imperative one—was instantly sent him, to hurry back to the front—and hurry back he did. Dashing forward, with drawn sword, at the head of Cheatham's fine division, he soon formed his line of battle at the point where his presence was so much needed, and, with unsurpassed vigor, moved on, against a force at least double his own, making one of the most brilliant charges of infantry made on either day of the battle. He drove back the opposing column in confusion, and thus compensated for the tardiness of his appearance on the field. Shortly before this, General Beauregard had placed a battery in position, on a slight elevation some distance in advance of the Shiloh meeting-house, thereby holding the enemy in check through the gap referred to, and materially assisting the gallant charge of Cheatham's division. During the night of the 6th and early morning of the 7th, General Grant's shattered forces, of a mixed character, had been partially collected and formed into three divisions, under Generals Sherman, McClernand, and Hurlbut, in advance of the bivouacs of the first two commands, not far from the bridge across Snake Creek. General Lew. Wallace's fresh division, with two batteries
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1 ‘History of the Army of the Cumberland,’ vol. i. pp. 113, 114.
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