convenient distance in rear of the first line, consisting of the Seventy-sixth Ohio and the Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Illinois. The new front thus formed covered the retiring regiments, helpless from lack of ammunition, but which coolly halted not far off, some of them actually within reach of the enemy's musketry, to refill their cartridge boxes, and, as formed, my new front consisted of Wood's battery across the road; on the right of the battery the First Nebraska and Fifty-eighth Illinois; left of the battery a detached company of the Thirty-second Illinois, Captain Davidson, and the Fifty-eighth Ohio, its left obliquely retired. Scarcely had this formation been made when the enemy attacked, coming up the road and through the shrubs and trees on both sides of it, and making the battery and the First Nebraska the principal points of attack. They met the storm, no man flinching, and their fire was terrible. To say they did well is not enough. Their conduct was splendid. They alone repelled the charge. Colonel Cruft, as was afterwards ascertained, from his position saw the enemy retire to their works pell-mell and in confusion. Too much praise cannot be given Lieutenant Wood and his company and Lieutenant-Colonel McCord and his sturdy regiment. That was the last sally from Fort Donelson.
This assault on my position was unquestionably a bold attempt to follow up the success gained by the enemy in their attack upon our right. Fortunately it was repelled. Time was thus obtained to look up Colonel Cruft's brigade, which after considerable trouble was found in position to the right of my new line, whither it had fallen back. Riding down its front I found the regiments in perfect order, having done their duty nobly but with severe loss, and eager for another engagement. The deployment of a line of skirmishers readily united them with Colonel Thayer's brigade, and once more placed my command in readiness for orders.
About 3 o'clock General Grant rode up the hill and ordered an advance and attack on the enemy's left, while General Smith attacked their right. At General McClernand's request I undertook the proposed assault. Examining the ground forming the position to be assailed (which was almost exactly the ground lost in the morning), I quickly arranged my column of attack. At the head were placed the Eighth Missouri, Colonel M. L. Smith, and the Eleventh Indiana, Colonel George F. McGinnis, the two regiments, making a brigade, under Colonel Smith. Colonel Cruft's brigade completed the column. As a support two Ohio [Seventeenth and Forty-ninth Illinois] regiments under Colonel Ross were moved up and well advanced on the left flank of the assailing force, but held in reserve. Well aware of the desperate character of the enterprise, I informed the regiments of it as they moved on, and they answered with cheers and cries of "Forward!" and I have the word.
My directions as to the mode of attack were general, merely to form columns of regiments, march up the hill which was the point of assault, and deploy as occasion should require. Colonel Smith observed that form, attacking with the Eighth Missouri in front. Colonel Cruft, however, formed line of battle at the foot of the hill, extending his regiments around to the right. And now began the most desperate, yet in my opinion the most skillfully executed, performance of the battle.
It is at least 300 steps from the base to the top of the hill. The ascent is much broken by outcropping ledges of rock and for the most part impeded by dense underbrush. Smith's place of attack was clear, but rough and stony. Cruft's was through the trees and brush. The