volley of musketry proceeding from the direction of the former reports and extending some distance to my right and left in a line running parallel with the front of my command. The rapid and continuous fire in front convinced me that General Zollicoffer had encountered the enemy in strong force and a determined and sanguinary conflict had commenced.
I immediately moved my command forward at double-quick about half a mile to the brow of a hill and deployed my columns in line of battle, making the summit of the hill a partial protection for the men. While forming and preparing for the engagement the regiment of Colonel Murray constituted the right of my line of battle, and was extended the full length of its line on the east side of Fishing Creek road, while the Seventeenth Tennessee Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, composed my left, and expended in a similar manner on the west side of the road. Colonel Powell's regiment [Twenty-ninth Tennessee] was drawn up in the rear of the Twenty-eighth, designed to act as a supporting or reserve corps, as circumstances might require. Colonel Wood's Sixteenth Alabama was posted about 100 paces in rear of the Twenty-ninth, and on the east side of the road. Branner's cavalry was directed to take post in rear and supporting distance of my left flank, while McClung's artillery was stationed in rear of my center.
This disposition of my forces was partly induced by surrounding circumstances. The morning was exceedingly cloudy, and rendered still darker by the dense volumes of smoke arising from the firing in front, so that the eye could distinguish objects clearly only at a short distance. I could, therefore, only judge of the probable force and position of the enemy by the flash and report of their guns. Judging as correctly as I could by these indications, I was induced to think that the most vigorous attack was being made in front and east of my right wing.
In order to determine the proper manner and most available point of bringing my force into action, I left my command stationary, and with my staff rode forward until I came in view of the enemy, on the declivity of the opposite hill, engaged in fierce conflict with a portion of General Zollicoffer's brigade. I then approached you, reported for orders, and returned to my command. Soon afterwards your aide, Captain Thornton, rode up and ordered me to advance a regiment to sustain the gallant Fifteenth Mississippi in a charge which he was then on the way to order.
I accordingly ordered Colonel Murray's regiment to move forward to the foot of the hill and take shelter behind a rail fence and some surrounding timber. In a few minutes the chivalrous Mississippians gallantly charged and were driving the enemy rapidly before them. While thus engaged a regiment of cavalry commenced a flank movement against their left. I then ordered Colonel Murray to advance his regiment against this flanking force. This order was received with a shout by the entire regiment, who, led by their colonel, dashed into the thickest of the fight. About this time a strong re-enforcement of the enemy appeared on our left, evidently intending to attack and turn our left flank. In order to thwart this design, I ordered Colonel Cumming's regiment, of General Zollicoffer's brigade, which was near at hand and for the moment disengaged, to move by the left flank in the direction of the approaching enemy, thus extending our lines nearly to the full extent of their right. Misunderstanding the order, the regiment fell into some confusion, which was, however, quickly overcome by the promptness and activity of the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Walker. It then moved in good order to the place assigned it and did