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[222] Wheeler, in advance, in front of Nelson, were the first to become engaged. Nelson came out with vigor, and the Confederates retired slowly to concentrate their strength. By 8 o'clock, Hardee, however, had massed in that quarter a number of his own corps, as well as Withers' Division of Bragg's, and the combat began in good earnest. Nelson now found a lion in his path, but Hazen's Brigade pushed forward with decided pluck, and the Confederates were driven from their position with the loss of a battery. A well-timed concentration, however, enabled the Confederates to hurl Hazen back from his prey, and in turn pressed Nelson so sorely that by 9 A. M. he was calling lustily for aid. In this affair the Confederate officers led their ranks notably. Chalmers, seizing the colors of a regiment as his brigade wavered, rode forward in a storm of missiles, waving the flag above his head; his men rallied, and quickly resuming the offensive, carried the contested point. There has been no grander display of courage on any field. At the same time, Colonel Wheeler did the like with the flag of the 19th Alabama; and Lieutenant-Colonel W. A. Rankin, of Mississippi, lost his life, giving a conspicuous example of determined courage to his regiment.

Nelson was re-enforced by Terrell's Battery (regulars), and an obstinate struggle for the mastery of this part of the field raged until about I P. M. But neither party gained any material advantage, except that Terrell's Battery was so cut up that he had to assist as a gunner at one of his pieces, and the battery narrowly escaped capture.

Crittenden by this time was likewise hotly engaged in the immediate center, and on his right were arrayed several thousands of Grant's troops under McClernand.

The Confederates on his front, at first retiring to concentrate at his advance, finally rebounded, as upon Nelson with as great ardor and cheering as heartily as the day before in the full tide of their brilliant success. And as Nelson was borne back, so was Crittenden by the same refluent wave.

One of McCook's Brigades, under Rousseau, leavened by three battalions of regulars, had been on the field as early as daylight, on the right of Crittenden, neighboring Sherman and Lew Wallace. His other brigades reached and took position

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William Nelson (7)
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Withers (1)
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