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[543] his fresh troops, which were met by a courage and resolution of which our country may be proudly hopeful. Again and again our troops were brought to the charge, invariably to win the position already in issue, invariably to drive back this foe. But hour by hour, thus opposed to an enemy constantly reinforced, our ranks were perceptibly thinned under the increasing withering fire of the enemy, and at 12 meridian, eighteen hours of hard fighting had sensibly exhausted a large number, my last reserves had necessarily been disposed of, and the enemy was evidently receiving fresh reinforcements after each repulse. Accordingly, after 1 P. M., I determined to withdraw from so unequal a conflict, securing such of the results of the victory of the day before as was then practicable.

Officers of my staff were immediately despatched with the necessary orders to make the best disposition for a deliberate, orderly withdrawal from the field, and to collect, and post, a reserve to meet the enemy, should he attempt to push after us. In this connection I will particularly mention my Adjutant-General, Colonel Jordan, who was of much assistance to me on this occasion; as he had already been on the field of battle, on that and the preceding day.

About 2 o'clock P. M. the lines in advance, which had repulsed the enemy in their last fierce assault on our left and centre, received the orders to retire. This was done with uncommon steadiness, and the enemy made no attempt to follow.

The lines of troops established to cover this movement had been disposed on a favorable ridge, commanding the ground of Shiloh church; from this position our artillery played upon the woods beyond for a while, but upon no visible enemy, and without a reply. Soon satisfied that no serious pursuit was, or would be, attempted, this last line was withdrawn, and never did troops leave battle-field in better order; even the stragglers fell into the ranks, and marched off with those who had stood more steadily to their colors. A second strong position was taken up about a mile in rear, where the approach of the enemy was waited for more than one hour, but no effort to follow was made, and only a small detachment of horsemen could be seen at a distance from this last position, merely observing our movements.

Arranging through my staff officers for the completion of the movements thus begun, Brigadier-General Breckinridge was left with his command, as a rear guard, to hold the ground we had occupied the night preceding the first battle, just in front of the intersection of the Pittsburg and Hamburg roads, about four miles from the former place, while the rest of the army passed in the rear, in excellent order.

On the following day General Breckinridge fell back about three miles, to Mackie's, which position we continue to hold, with our cavalry thrown considerably forward, in immediate proximity to the battle-field.

Unfortunately, towards night, on the 7th instant, it began to rain heavily; this continued throughout the night. The roads became almost impassable in many places, and much hardship and suffering here ensued, before all the regiments reached their encampments.

But, despite the heavy losses and casualties of the two eventful days of the 6th and 7th of April, this army is more confident of ultimate success than before its encounter with the enemy.


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