Numbers 14. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Enos P. Wood, Seventeenth Illinois Infantry.
Early on the morning of the 6th of April heavy firing was heard in our front, but thinking it proceeded from our pickets, very little attention was paid to it, except to order the men to be ready to fall in at a moment's notice. About 7.30 a. m. notice came that we were really attacked,when our long roll beat, and the regiment, about 400 strong, fell in promptly. After waiting a time for orders, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General Ryan came with orders from Colonel Raith (who was in command of our brigade by seniority) to the left of Sherman's division, our regiment forming the right of the Third Brigade. In this position our regiment rested behind the encampment of an Ohio regiment, our left in a ravine. A section of some battery and a few skirmishers were already fighting in our front. After a time the enemy seemed to give back here, and we could see them on the opposite hill deploying men and forming heavy columns of regiments, which very soon commenced to advance.
Our front was now ordered to be changed obliquely on our right, throwing the entire left of our brigade back, so as to be clear to the ravine. Very soon the enemy made his appearance, and our boys opened fire on him, doing fine execution. Our fire seemed to check their advance for a short time, when they again advanced, and as they seemed to be flanking us on the left our regiment changed front again and moved obliquely to the left, the regiment on our right having given way and fallen entirely to our rear. The enemy now took possession of the battery in front of our left, about 200 distant, and planting their colors on one of the guns, Lieutenant Davis, of Company K, seized a musket, which had just fallen from the hands of one of his wounded men, aimed it at the rebel color-bearer and fired, when he fell to the ground; but the colors were soon replaced, and the enemy continued slowly to advance. At to advance. At this juncture the order came to fall back and form a continuous line with the division on our right and about 50 or 60 yards in our rear, in our rear, which was effected in good order, still pouring in a terrific fire on the advancing foe.
Major Schwartz now requested my regiment to support his battery, which we promptly did until he was obliged to limber up and moved off without losing a gun. In the mean time the regiments on our right and left had fallen back nearly a hundred yards, when I ordered my men to fall back and form in line again, this move being executed in good order. I found that we must move over the hill to have range on the enemy as they advanced up the opposite side. I consequently pushed my own regiment about 20 or 30 yards in advance of the line, where they could have full play as the enemy advanced. The regiments on our right failing to advance with us to our support, our boys stood their ground well and bravely, doing good execution with their fire until I found we were entirely unsupported both on our right and left, when I again gave the order to fall back.
As we came up to form in line the regiments on our right and left broke up in great confusion. Our ammunition being nearly gone, and having no support, I felt compelled to order a retreat. Facing by the rear rank we moved back near the first field, when I gave the order to move by the left flank, now become our right. The men not all under standing the order alike, here the regiment was for the first time thrown into some confusion. Having lost my horse in the early part of the