The enemy in force.
Just before sunset, as the skirmish line approached the river and Howlett House line of entrenchments, that had been recently evacuated by General Beauregard
's forces, the enemy were found in force.
They had advanced some little distance over the Confederate
works, and had located themselves a few hundred yards in front of them, and most of the troops had stacked arms, and many were in a reclining and careless position—not expecting an attack.
The Confederate reconnoissance had up to this time been so successfully executed that no discovery had been made by the Federals
that the Confederates
were upon them.
When this was accomplished and a halt made, Colonel Morrison
passed to the left of the line and interviewed Captain Hudgin
, whose line rested on the river, to know if his left flank was safe from surprise.
It was then near sunset.
The main line of Corse
's brigade was nearly if not quite a mile away in the rear.
Before communication could be had with General Corse
it would be dark, and the Federal
forces could in all probability discover the Confederate
position and attack it. Our force was weak and far from support.
The other force was strong and close to breastworks.
While Colonel Morrison
and Captain Hudgin
were in conference as to what should be done, many of the officers and men importuned them to make an immediate attack.
The sun was dropping behind the hills.
It was too late to get support from the rear; besides, it would take a strong force a long time to move in line of battle through the woods over broken ground to the point of attack.
There was no time for long deliberation.
Any moment the Confederate
position might be discovered and preparations made not only to repel an assault, but to completely overwhelm and gobble up the little ‘army of observation.’