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[551] you) leading the infantry force. A severe skirmish occurred at an old saw-mill, ten miles beyond Pleasant Hill, in which Lieutenant-Colonel Webb, of the Seventy-seventh Illinois, was killed; but the enemy kept falling back, and were pursued by the cavalry and our division, about eight miles further, to Sabine Cross-Roads, three miles this side of Mansfield. Here the enemy was met in force, and a check made to our progress.

The Eighty-third was six miles in the rear, as guard for the ammunition-train, and the remainder of the force had gone into camp near the sawmill before mentioned. Orders were immediately sent back for the Eighty-third and the Third division of the Thirteenth corps, to come up “double-quick.” The fatal error of that day consisted in having the forces divided, and the advance so far from support. A general engagement was not apprehended, but the mistake was, nevertheless, an inexcusable one, and the parties who are censurable, should meet with a severe punishment. Who they are, I am unable to say, but there is a very general want of confidence felt in the head of the department, who, although he proved himself on that day not devoid of courage, is not generally looked upon as possessing great military ability. Certainly, there never was a more forcible illustration of the old Indian chief's theory of the bundle of sticks, which, taken together, it was impossible to break, but when taken singly, the feat was easily accomplished. But I anticipate. The Eighty-third reached the division, before the engagement became general, and took up a position on the extreme right. Soon after its arrival, the enemy who were posted upon a small, crescent-shaped elevation, which commanded the road, opened fire, and the conflict soon became terrific. The rebels were in very heavy force, and closed in upon both our flanks, charging with desperate fury upon them, and it becoming evident that the position could not be maintained, a retreat was ordered, which was accomplished with heavy loss, until the broken ranks met the Third division coming to their assistance. Orders were now sent for the Nineteenth corps to come up, but they were eight miles in the rear, and it was feared they would not reach us in time to be of any avail. The Third division formed in line and checked the progress of the enemy, and the battle raged furiously once more, but their overwhelming numbers soon crushed the gallant little division, and drove them in all directions.

The Nineteenth corps was now most anxiously looked for, and they soon came up in gallant style, and formed in line three miles to the rear of the first line of battle, and in the face of the flying squadrons of the cavalry division and Thirteenth corps.

On came the rebels, charging furiously upon the new line, which, when they were within one hundred and fifty yards of it, opened fire upon them along its whole length, slaughtering them dreadfully, and bringing them to a stand, thus saving the remainder of the Thirteenth corps and the wagon-train from capture. Another error of this fatal day was bringing the train so close to the field of battle, by which the road was blockaded, and the artillery prevented from escaping.

The Nim's battery, of six pieces, Chicago Mercantile battery, of the same number, two pieces of the First Indiana battery, and two mountain howitzers belonging to the cavalry division, were lost, also the cavalry division's wagon-train and twenty-two loads of ammunition.

It was now nearly dark, and the fighting continued with some slight intermissions, until night brought it to a close. Estimates of losses are so various and contradicting, that a reliable report cannot be given until the official report is made.

The Second brigade, Fourth division, lost, in killed, wounded, and missing, about five hundred and fifty men, as near as can be ascertained. General Ransom, commanding the Thirteenth corps, was wounded above the knee, but is doing well. Colonel J. W. Vance, of the Ninety-sixth Ohio volunteer infantry, commanding Second brigade, Fourth division, was severely wounded and taken prisoner, as was also Colonel Emerson, of the Sixty-seventh Indiana, commanding First brigade of the same division.

The loss of the Eighty-third was three officers and twenty-eight enlisted men killed, wounded, and missing. I append a list of names: Captain Cornelius A. Burns, company F, was instantly killed by a musket ball through the head. Captain J. P. Cummins, company I, was severely wounded in the left arm and side, but is doing well; and Captain Lawrence Waldo, company B, is missing. The officers and men all behaved nobly, but Captain Waldo particularly distinguished himself by his coolness and bravery, and it is deeply regretted that he is among the missing; but hopes are entertained that he is still living.

As soon as the scattered fragments could be collected together, an order was issued to return to Pleasant Hill, which was reached at sunrise of the ninth, the Nineteenth corps covering the retreat, and forming in line a mile beyond it. The enemy followed us closely, and picket-skirmishing continued all the forenoon.

Here we met General A. J. Smith, with his force, coming to our rescue, and he was exceeding wroth at the manner in which his old command (Fourth division) had been handled and entrapped. The management of affairs was virtually placed in his hands, and about eleven o'clock A. M., the train was moved to the rear, the lines formed, and the artillery placed in position on the southern and eastern sides of an open field of perhaps three hundred acres in extent. General Smith divided his command and the cavalry force, placing a portion of each on the wings in the woods some distance to the rear, but within supporting distance of the batteries.

The shattered fragment of the Thirteenth corps was ordered to follow the train as a guard, and the Nineteenth was placed in front, with directions to fall back in good order before the enemy's advance.

Battery L, of the First United States artillery, was placed somewhat in the advance as a bait


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