contest of nearly an hour, with large forces of fresh troops that had now met us. This position of the enemy being carried by our joint forces, I called off the further pursuit, after seven and a half hours of continuous and bloody conflict. After the troops were called off from the pursuit, orders were immediately give to the different commands to form and retire to their original position in the entrenchments.
The operations of the day had forced the entire command of the enemy around to our right and in front of General Buckner's position in the entrenchments, and when he reached his position he found the enemy advancing rapidly to take possession of his portion of our works. He had a stubborn conflict, lasting one and a half hours, to regain his position, and held them so firmly that he could not dislodge him.
The position thus gained by the enemy was a most important and commanding one, being immediately in rear of our river batteries and field work for its protection. From it he could readily turn the entrenched work occupied by General Buckner and attack him in reverse, or he could advance, under cove of an intervening ridge, directly it was manifest we could advance, under cover of an intervening ridge, directly upon our battery and field work. While the enemy held the position it was manifest we could not hold the main work or battery.
Such was the condition of the two armies at night-fall, after nine hours of conflict, on the 15th instant, in which our loss was severe, and leaving not nearly than 1,000 if the enemy dead upon the field. We left his dead unburied, because we could not bury them. Such carnage and conflict has perhaps never before occurred on this continent. We took about 300 prisoners and a large number of arms.
We had fought the battle to open the way for our army and to relieve us from an investment which would necessarily reduce us and the position we occupied by famine. We had accomplished our object, but it taking in the wounded and dead, the enemy had thrown around us again in the night an immense force of fresh troops and reoccupied his original position in the line of investment, thus again cutting off our retreat. We had only about 13,000 troops all told; of these we had lost a large proportion in the three battles. The command had been in the trenches night and day for five days, exposed to the snow, sleet, mud, and ice-water, without shelter and without adequate covering and without sleep. In this condition the general officers held a consultation, to determine what we should do. General Buckner gave it as his decided opinion that he could not hold his position a half hour against an assault of the enemy, and said he was satisfied the enemy would attack him at daylight the next morning. The proposition was then made by he undersigned to again fight our way through the enemy's line and cut our way out. General Buckner said his command was so worn-out and cut to pieces and demoralized that he could not make another fight; that it would cost the command three-fought is present numbers t cut its way out; that it was wrong to sacrifice three-fourths of a command to save one-fourth, and that no officer had a right to cause such a sacrifice. General Floyd and Major Gilmer I understood to concur in this opinion. I then expressed the opinion that we could hold out another day, and in that time we could get steamboats and set the command over the river and probably save a large portion of it. to this General Buckner replied that the enemy would certainly attack him in the morning and that he could not hold his position a half hour.
The alternative of these propositions was a surrender of the position