War of the Rebellion: Serial 010 Page 0172 KY., TENN., N. MISS., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXII.

Search Civil War Official Records

view, their banners gaily decking the scene. The skirmishers, in action all the way, cleared the rise, and grouped themselves behind the groundswells within 75 yards of the rebel line. As the regiments approached them suddenly a sheet of musketry blazed from the woods and a battery opened upon them. About the same instant the regiments supporting me on my left fell hastily back. To save my flank I was compelled to order a halt. In a short time, however, the retiring regiments rallied and repulsed the enemy, and recovered their lost ground. My skirmishers meanwhile clung to their hillocks sharpshooting at the battery. Again the brigades advanced, their bayonets fixed for a charge; but pressed on their flank and so threatened in front, the rebels moved their guns and fell back from the edge of the woods. In this advance Lieutenant Colonel John Gerber was killed, and it is but justice to say of him, "No man died that day with more glory; yet many died, and there was much glory." Captain McGuffin and Lieutenant South-wick, of the same regiment, also fell-gallant spirits, deserving honorable recollection. Many soldiers equally brave perished or were wounded in the same field.

It was now noon, and, the enemy having been driven so far back, the idea of flanking them further had to be given up. Not wishing to interfere with the line of operations of the division to my left, but relying upon it for support, my front was again changed-the movement beginning with the First Brigade, taking the course of attack precisely as it had been in the outset. While this maneuver was being effected a squadron of rebel cavalry galloped from the woods on the right to charge the flank temporarily exposed. Colonel Thayer threw forward the Twenty-third Indiana, which, aided by an oblique fore from a company of the First Nebraska, repelled the assailants with loss. Scarcely had the front been changed when the changed when the supporting force on the left again gave way, closely followed by masses of the enemy. My position at this time became critical, as isolation from the rest of the army seemed imminent. The reserves were resorted to. Colonel Woods, with his regiment, was ordered into line on the left. The remnant of a Michigan regiment, sent me by General McClernand, was dispatched to the left of Woods'. Thurber galloped up, and was posted to cover a retreat, should such a misfortune become necessary. Before these dispositions could be effected the Eleventh Indiana, already engaged with superior numbers in its front, was attacked on its left flank; but backward wheeling three companies of his endangered wing, Colonel McGinnis gallantly held his ground. Fortunately, before the enemy could avail themselves of their advantage by the necessary of front, some fresh troops dashed against them, and once more drove them back. For this favor my acknowledgments are especially due Colonel August Willich and his famous regiment.

Pending this struggle, Colonel Thayer pushed on his command and entered the woods, assaulting the rebels simultaneously with Colonel Smith. Here the Fifty-Eighth Ohio and Twenty-third Indiana proved themselves fit comrades in battle with the noble First Nebraska. Here also the Seventy-sixth Ohio won a brilliant fame. The First Nebraska fired away its last cartridge in the hear of the action. At a word the Seventy-sixth Ohio rushed in and took its place. Off to the right, meanwhile, arose the music of the Twentieth and Seventy-eighth Ohio,fighting gallantly in support of Thurber, to whom the sound of rebel cannon seemed a challenge no sooner heard than accepted.

From the time the wood was entered "Forward " was the only order; and step by step, from tree to tree, position to position, the rebel lines