man's and Prentiss' divisions, I sent a messenger to General Sherman's headquarters to inquire into the cause of it. Soon after my messenger returned with General Sherman's request that I should send a battalion of my cavalry to join one of his, for the purpose of discovering the strength and design of the enemy.
Before my cavalry had reached General Sherman's camp his was seen retiring to the rear of his line, which was now being formed nearly parallel with and within a short distance of the left of my camp. Hastening forward, General Sherman informed me that the enemy had attacked him in large force and that he desired support. At the same time the firing in the direction of General Prentiss' division indicated a partial abatement of the resistance offered by his division.
Before my left, consisting of the Third Brigade, could form for the support of General Sherman, the enemy had pierced General Prentiss' line, afterward taking him and a number of his men prisoners, and rapidly forcing back General Sherman's left wing, was pressing upon my left with a mass five regiments deep, bearing the American flag. Discovering that this honored emblem was not borne by General Prentiss' retiring forces, but was used by the enemy as a means of deception, I ordered the Third Brigade to form in line of battle, fronting the enemy's advance, nearly at a right angle with General Sherman's line; but before this order had been fully executed the enemy had approached within short musket-range and opened a deadly fire upon us.
Colonel L. F. Ross, of the Seventeenth Illinois Infantry, being absent, the command of the Third Brigade had devolved on Col. J. S. Rearden, Twenty-ninth Illinois Infantry, whose illness in the morning preventing him from taking part in the engagement, it next devolved on Colonel Julius Raith, Forty-third Illinois Infantry, whom I instructed to take command at the very moment he was forming his regiment. Although thus unexpectedly called upon to assume the functions of brigade commander, by forming the line of battle in the face of an overwhelming foe, he did so promptly and skillfully.
While the line was being formed Captain Stewart, of my staff, brought information that the enemy, whose fire he had wonderfully escaped, were advancing in line of battle in strong force to the left of the brigade. Colonel Raith, having completed his line, ordered a charge upon the enemy, in which he fell mortally wounded while encouraging his men by his heroic and daring example. The charge, although successful in repulsing the enemy in front, left the flanks of his command liable to be turned by the superior numbers of the enemy, which was only prevented by changing the fronts of the two flank regiments, the Seventeenth hand Forty-ninth Illinois Infantry. Besides Colonel Raith several other officers were killed or wounded in this charge.
The situation of the Third Brigade at this juncture was most critical. Generals Prentiss' and Sherman's divisions had retired, leading the brigade exposed to combined attack. The enemy in front was recovering from the disorder of his repulse, and the forces of Beauregard and Polkwere sweeping around on the right and left. In obedience to my order the brigade fell back, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Engelmann, Forty-third Illinois, about 300 yards, and reformed in front of my headquarters, joining the Second Brigade, under command of Colonel C. C. Marsh, Twentieth Illinois, and the First Brigade, under command of Colonel A. M. Hare, Eleventh Iowa, on the left, the Eleventh Iowa being formed as a reserve, to support the center and left. Burrows' Ohio battery was advanced to the center, at a point on the Corinth road, near my headquarters; Schwartz's battery, in support of Sher-