knapsacks, blankets, and all the rations that could be immediately provided.
Precisely at 4.10 on the morning of Saturday, the 15th, General Pillow arrived on the ground, and found my three regiments, which were to constitute the advance, formed and ready to march. Some delay was caused by regiments not arriving promptly, and it was 6 o'clock before the column as put in motion. Marching by the right flank in a narrow and obstructed by-road, the head of the column had advanced nor more than one-third of a mile when, acceding a light elevation, the advanced guard, composed of a company of the Twenty-sixth Mississippi deployed, was fired upon by what was supposed at first to be only the enemy's pickets. A second company of the same regiment was immediately thrown forward to support the first; but both were soon driven back by a brisk and well-sustained fire, which indicated the presence of a considerable force. Meanwhile the column was formed by company and the leading regiment deployed into line to the right. This method of forming line of battle was rendered advisable by the peculiar features of the ground, which sloped gently to the right, thickly covered with timber. About 10 yards to the left of the road, and running nearly parallel, was a fence, which bounded on that side an open field of some 400 or 500 acres' extent. This field afforded no protection to our troops if brought "forward into line," but would expose them, in executing the movement, to a destructive fire, should the enemy have taken advantage of the position.
In executing the deployment the Twenty-sixth Mississippi was three times thrown into confusion by the close and rapid fire of the enemy, taking the men in flank, and three times were they rallied, finishing the movement some 50 yards to the rear and a little to the right of the exact point where their line should have been placed. The subsequent conduct of this regiment fully demonstrates the fact that any other than forward movements are extremely dangerous with volunteers, for during the remainder of the day both officers and men behaved with great coolness and gallantry.
The Twenty-sixth Tennessee was then brought forward, and five companies deployed so as to occupy the space between the fence on the left and the Twenty-sixth Mississippi on their right, leaving the remaining five companies in column in the road to strengthen that point, which would evidently become the center and pivot of operations.
Soon after this disposition was completed, a staff officer having been sent to advise General Pillow that the enemy was before us enforce, other regiment were sent forward from the rear of the column to the right and left. Colonel McCausland, of Virginia, with his command, formed on the right of the Twenty-sixth Mississippi, the First Mississippi, Colonel Gregg's [Seventh] Texas, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lyon's Eighth Kentucky Regiments were formed still farther to our right, the latter regiment thrown back perpendicularly to our line, to prevent the enemy's taking advantage of the cover afforded by the slope of the ground to turn our right.
The Twentieth Mississippi was sent into action, as I have since learned, by direct order of General Pillow, and caused to take position in the field on the left, where they were openly exposed to a destructive fire, which they were not able to return with effect. The regiment was soon recalled, but not before its left wing and suffered heavy loss. Our line advanced some 50 or 100 yards up the slope and remained stationary for more than an hour, the position of the enemy being so well chosen and covered that it seemed impossible to gain an inch of ground. A small