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[308] camp, it was discovered by the position of an Indiana regiment standing behind an improvised breastwork of knapsacks, a little re-retired from the crest of the hill beyond, with ‘arms ready,’ that we were too far to the left, and ordered to march by the right flank down the ravine, until our right opposed their extreme left.

And now comes the strange part of this sketch. Not a gun in our regiment was loaded. In the verdancy of our military career and ardor for fight, we had overlooked one of its most essential precautions.

I heard Colonel Smith, who was sitting upon his horse a few paces in front of his line, and from his elevated position, exposed to the enemy not fifty yards off, give the commands: ‘Order arms,’ ‘Load,’ ‘Fix bayonets,’ ‘Shoulder arms.’ Then followed this pertinent language: ‘Soldiers, we have been ordered to charge those fellows in blue (pointing with his sword to the enemy); I want you when I give the order to forward, to advance steadily to the top of the hill, fire with deliberation, and then give them the bayonet.’ ‘Forward, then,’ was the next sound heard, and Smith's orders, as always, were observed. Both parties fired about the same time with deadly effect, after which the enemy broke and fled in confusion. General Chalmers immediately rode up to Colonel Smith, and after remarking in my presence, that he deserved to be a Major-General, commanded him not again to expose himself so recklessly, but it being purely a personal, and not strictly a military order, was not obeyed, until soon after his horse was shot from under him.

Throughout that day, the right, under Bragg, did not sustain a reverse, but took position after position in such quick succession as to justify the confident belief that the entire Federal army under General Grant would be annihilated before the close of the day.

About 4 P. M., as we were halted in line of battle to reform, while a brigade of prisoners just captured were being escorted by our

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Robert A. Smith (3)
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