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[407] on each flank, developing the fact that his force was far superior to that portion of ours then engaged. My extreme right after a sharp and bloody contest was forced back, and I was obliged to throw in the only regiment I had in reserve to drive the enemy back and reestablish my line at that point. This work was gallantly performed by the Ninth Minnesota under the heroic Marsh, and I desire here to express to him and his brave men my thanks for their firmness and bravery which alone saved the army at that critical moment from utter defeat and probable capture.

As the enemy on our right was being driven back by the Ninth Minnesota and Thirteenth Indiana, I directed Captain Fitch to put one section of his battery in position on the Guntown road and sweep it with grape and canister. Soon after our success on the right the regiments on the left and left centre gave back in considerable confusion, the rebels following them in force up to the road over which we had advanced, and from which they were kept by the Seventy-second Ohio and Miller's battery, posted in our rear. I endeavored, aided by my staff, to rally the different regiments, and get them to advance to their original position, but failed, succeeding, however, in forming a line along the Baldwin road, and at right angles with it, parallel to the Fulton road, in which position I fought until again flanked on the left, and greatly exposed to a capture of the troops engaged.

At this time I sent word to General Sturgis that I was hard pressed, and that unless relieved soon I would be obliged to abandon my position. I was informed that he had nothing to send me, and that I must use my discretion as to holding my position. It had been evident, for some time, that the troops could not remain in that position long, as the enemy were fast closing round us. I therefore determined to retire, and in order to do so, directed Captains Fitch and Chapman to open a rapid fire, with grape and canister, along the roads and through woods in our immediate front, and to maintain it until the infantry were well under way, and that I would form another line, a short distance in the rear, to keep the enemy from the cross-roads until they could get their pieces away. This new line was a prolongation of that occupied by the Seventy-second Ohio infantry, and was formed by that regiment, the Ninety-fifth Ohio infantry, and about two hundred dismounted men of the Tenth Missouri cavalry, under Captain Currry, who reported to me for orders on the field, and rendered valuable and gallant service in assisting to hold the enemy in check until the retreating column had passed.

The main portion of the First and Second brigades, which had been hotly engaged with the enemy for nearly three hours, now retired under cover of this new line, and continued to march by the flank to the rear. Just after crossing a small stream, about a quarter of a mile in the rear of the cross-roads, I met the Fifty-fifth United States infantry (colored), Major E. M. Lowe commanding; I posted his regiment on the left of the road, with instructions to hold his position until the troops then engaged should retire, when he could bring up the rear. A short distance further to the rear I met Colonel Bouton, with the Fifty-ninth United States infantry (colored), and Lamburgh's section of artillery, in a good position on the right of the road. I remained with him until the other regiments of his brigade, which had been posted near the creek referred to above, fell back, and ordered it into line on his left, directing Colonel Bouton to hold the enemy in check as long as possible, in order to give the retiring column time to take up a new postion in the rear, which was done on a ridge near a white house, about one and a half or two miles from the battle-field.

This line was formed by portions of the First and Second brigades, the whole under command of Colonel Wilken, and Colonel Bouton was informed by Lieutenant Barber, of my staff, that he could fall back and take up a new position in the rear of this line, my object being to retire by successive lines.

In the mean time the wagon train and artillery were moving to the rear as fast as possible.

When Colonel Bouton fell back the enemy followed him up in heavy force, and the line established at the white house soon fell back to another position in the rear, when a stand was made and the enemy repulsed. In this affair the Ninth Minnesota again took a conspicuous part, and the colored regiments fought with a gallantry which commended them to the favor of their comrades in arms. I desire to bear testimony to their bravery and endurance, as well as the gallantry of Colonel Cowden and Major Lowe, commanding regiments. This checked the pursuit and ended the fighting for that evening. The whole column was then put in motion for Ripley. Upon reaching the crossing of the Hatchie the wagon train was found stuck and the road completely blockaded, so that the artillery had to be abandoned, after long-continued and laborious effort, on the part of battery commanders and the men generally, to get it through.

I arrived at Ripley, in company with the Genneral commanding, about five o'clock A. M. on the morning of the eleventh instant. I at once commenced the reorganization of my division. At seven and a half A. M. I reported my command reorganized and in tolerably good shape, with the exception that many of the men had thrown away their arms during the retreat, and that those who had arms were short of ammunition. I was directed by General Sturgis to move out on the Salem road, in rear of the First brigade of cavalry, then in advance. Before the troops all left the town of Ripley the enemy made a furious attack upon the place, gaining possession of the road on which we were marching, and cutting my command in two. In this attack the colored regiments and a part of Hoge's

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Edward Bouton (4)
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