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[35] Mississippi, Col. W. S. Statham, began its famous fighting career under the leadership of Lieut.-Col. Edward C. Walthall. The Fifteenth marched in advance of Zollicoffer's brigade against the Federals under George H. Thomas, and its skirmishers first encountered and drove the enemy back. The Nineteenth Tennessee coming up next joined in the fight, but were presently ordered to cease fighting by Zollicoffer, who was under the impression that the fire was directed against another Confederate regiment. Persisting in his error he rode forward as if to give an order to the Federal line, and was shot and instantly killed.

Confusion instantly followed, and in a few moments the Fifteenth Mississippi and the Twentieth Tennessee alone were confronting the enemy. For an hour they held the right and center of the Confederate line. When the left retired they were compelled to leave their position, and then the day was lost. The battle, such as it was, may indeed be said to have been fought by the two regiments, mainly supported by a few Tennessee regiments, against Thomas' division. In his report, Gen. G. B. Crittenden wrote that the Fifteenth ‘was most gallantly led by Lieutenant-Colonel Walthall. The reputation of the Mississippians for heroism was fully sustained by this regiment. Its loss in killed and wounded, which was far greater than that of any other regiment, tells sufficiently the story of discipline and courage. The already extended limits of this report will not permit me to enumerate the individual acts of courage with which this regiment abounded. Suffice it to say that it is entitled to all praise.’ The loss of the Fifteenth was 44 killed, 153 wounded, and 29 missing, out of a total of about 500.

Despite the courage of the gallant regiments named, the Confederate army here suffered heavily, and to this misfortune was added the defeat of the Confederates under Humphrey Marshall.

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