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[558] entrance to the field on the side of our advance was close up to the woods, and commanded the whole battle-field, while the ridge on the opposite side ran through the open field on the left to the belt of timber dividing the field on the right, along which it sloped gradually until it reached the level of the hollow on the bayou. The outer line of the field beyond the belt of timber on the right was an irregular semicircle, the extremities drawing inward, so as to correspond somewhat to the outline of the dividing wood. The outer line of the field on the left was very nearly at a right angle with the road. The rebel forces, occupying a front of about one mile, were stationed under cover of the woods along the further line of these fields. Their front, therefore, extended from their right flank (our left) in a straight line to the road, and then, following the shape of the field, circled inward until their left flank reached a point that would be intersected by a line drawn across the road at a right angle near the middle of the first field on the right. The main body of the rebels was evidently on the right of the roads. A battery was seen in position near the road, but it was not brought into action.

The Union forces were stationed as follows: On the right and in the belt of timber which separated the first from the second field was Lucas's cavalry brigade, mostly dismounted and deployed as skirmishers, while beyond and supporting this brigade was the Fourth division, Thirteenth army corps, under the command of Colonel Landrum. The Twenty-third Wisconsin, however, which occupied the left flank of this division, was on the left of the road acting as a support to Nim's battery. The Fourth division was composed of the following regiments stationed in line of battle in the following order, commencing at the right, namely: Eighty-second Ohio, Ninety-sixth Ohio, Nineteenth Kentucky, One Hundred and Thirtieth Illinois, Forty-eighth Ohio, Sixty-seventh Indiana, Seventy-fifth Indiana, and Twenty-third Wisconsin. Between the Eighty-second and Ninety-sixth Ohio, on the right, two small howitsers were placed.

The field on the left side of the road beyond the Twenty-third Wisconsin, was occupied by Colonel Dudley's brigade of cavalry, the main body being deployed in line with a small force in reserve near the centre of the field. Nim's battery, six pieces, was stationed on our extreme front, just at the point of the belts of timber on the right. One section was on the right of the road and trained so as to fire through the woods into the field beyond. One piece was in the road and three on the left. To the left of this battery there were two small howitzers. The Chicago Mercantile battery was stationed not far from the centre of the first field, on the right and near a cluster of loghouses, where General Banks had made his headquarters. The section of battery G was further to the left and rear, and trained so as to fire to the right. I have given the position of our forces precisely, as I noted it down in my memorandum-book in passing over the entire ground during the skirmishing before the main attack on our line. About four o'clock, P. M., the Fourth division was moved forward through the belt of timber, and took position in line of battle behind the fence that inclosed the field beyond.

At half-past 4, General Ransom and staff passed on foot along the outer infantry line; our boys were firing very briskly across the field into the woods where the enemy was posted, but as the fire was of little or no effect, and only wasting the ammunition, the General directed it to be withheld until the rebels came out into the field. For half or three-quarters of an hour, every thing remained quiet along the lines. When all at once we were startled by a heavy and continuous discharge of musketry on the right, and on riding rapidly to that side we beheld the rebel forces marching steadily in close ranks across the open field to the attack; while at the same moment a heavy column was moving across the road upon our left, where our only protection was in the cavalry brigade under Colonel Dudley, aided by Nim's battery, the two howitzers, and one small regiment of infantry (the Twenty-third Wisconsin.) Most gallantly now did the old Fourth division sustain its well-earned reputation, and the sad roll of the killed and wounded will fully attest the firmness and obstinacy with which our brave boys resisted the rebel advance, stimulated and encouraged by the conduct of their officers, and wakened to a perfect enthusiasm by the presence of their corps commander, General Ransom, who, utterly regardless of all danger, rushed into the thickest of the fight, rallying the line where it showed any signs of wavering, and disposing his forces so as to protect the weakest points. Every regiment coolly but rapidly poured its destructive fire upon the advancing foe, opening at every discharge great gaps in the rebel ranks, and strewing the field with an almost continuous line of killed and wounded. Under this terrific and well-directed fire, the rebel line was checked, broken, and driven back, the only considerable body remaining together being a mass of some three hundred or four hundred directly opposite the Thirteenth Illinois, which was badly cut up, but held its position without breaking.

Before we had time to rejoice over the repulse of the rebels on this line, the evidences of a much stronger and infinitely more dangerous attack were observed on our left, where the enemy in great force was charging rapidly over the field to the left of the road. At the very first indication of this movement on our left flank, an effort was made to withdraw the Eighty-third Ohio from our extreme right for the purpose of supporting the left, and the entire division endeavored to fall back, and form a new line under the protection of the woods on the ridge to our rear. It was about this time that General Ransom, while engaged in a successful effort to get the Mercantile battery back upon the ridge, where it would have been saved but for the complete blockade of the road by the baggage-train,

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T. E. G. Ransom (3)
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