On Sunday morning, while most of the troops were at breakfast, heavy firing was heard on our lines in a direction southwest from my camp. In a few minutes the Second Brigade, consisting of the Fifteenth Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Ellis; Twenty-fifth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan; Forty-sixth Illinois. Colonel Davis, and the Fourteenth Illinois, Colonel Hall, was formed in line and awaiting orders. In a short time General Hurlbut's aide, Lieutenant Long, directed me to move forward to support General Sherman, and to take position near a field used for reviews, beyond Colonel Ross' headquarters. When we reached the field the enemy was pressing rapidly toward that point. A line of battle was already formed in front of us and a second line, in the rear of the first, was being formed on our right.
I had but little time to examine the ground, but took the best position that could be found to support the troops in front of us. An officer, repressing himself as acting under General Sherman's orders, rode up in great haste, and directed me to move my brigade by the right flank and join the line which was forming on our right. I executed the movement as directed; but it placed the right of my brigade on worse ground than I had chosen, it had the advantage of forming a line of battle of greater length. The enemy now opened fire on the troops in front of us, which threw them into confusion,and they broke through the lines of the Fifteenth and Forty-sixth Illinois, many of them without returning a fire. At the same time the line on the right of this brigade gave way, and left the Fifteenth Illinois exposed to the whole force of the enemy's fire in front and a raking fire from the right. Lieutenant-Colonel Ellis heroically held his ground and returned the fire with deadly effect. While cheering his men and directing their fire he fell mortally wounded. Nearly at the same time Major Goddard was killed, and the regiment, now without field officers, was compelled to fall back before overpowering numbers.
The enemy was moving another heavy column on the point occupied by Colonel Davis, of the Forty-sixth Illinois. The line in front of him broke and rushed through his ranks, throwing them into confusion. As soon as these scattered troops had cleared his front he poured in a well-directed fire upon the enemy, which for a time checked his progress; but it was impossible to hold his position against a force so far superior. Major Dornblaser was severely wounded, a large number of his company officers disabled, and his color guard shot down. Colonel Davis seized his colors and bore them from the field, presenting a most noted mark for the enemy, who sent after him a terrific fire as he retired. I directed him to fall back and rally his men in the rear of the fresh troops that were then advancing.
The force of the enemy at this point now fell on the Fourteenth Illinois and Twenty-fifth Indiana. These regiments met the fire with firmness and returned it with great spirit, changing front in good order, so as to meet the enemy in the new direction in which he was now advancing and attempting to flank us on the right. They held the ground with great determination until ordered to fall back, to save them from being surrounded by a very superior force.
The Fifteenth and Forty-sixth Illinois, having been separated from the brigade by the first heavy attack fell back to the rear on our-right, and there formed with a portion of General McClernand's forces, and new troops rapidly filling up the line between us, they were hindered from joining the brigade and were not under my command again during the day; but they joined the first line of battle at the point where they