War of the Rebellion: Serial 010 Page 0230 KY., TENN., N. MISS., N. ALA., AND SW. VA., Chapter XXII

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Numbers 55. Report of Major W. Foster, Twenty-fifth Indiana Infantry.


Pittsburg, Tenn., April 11, 1862

SIR: Early on the morning of Sunday, April 6, 1862 in conformity with your orders, the Twenty-fifth Indiana Regiment of Volunteers was marched out of its quarters and took its position in the brigade. It immediately accompanied the brigade beyond Brigadier-General Hurlbut's quarters, and took position on the edge of the field used as the review ground, on the center of the line of the army, the right of the Twenty-fifth Indiana joining the Fourteenth Illinois, and the left supporting a battery of artillery which was firing upon the enemy beyond the field. After remaining in this position for nearly an hour the forces which were engaging the enemy were driven back from our front, and a large part of the retreating column passed directly through our lines, but the regiment continued unbroken and presented as steady a front as the receding forces would allow. Just at this time, as we were beginning to receive the heavy fire of our enemy on our front and left, your order was received to change our front to the rear on the left company, and 100 yards back from our first position, in order to meet a large force of the enemy which was moving rapidly forward in that direction with the intention of flanking your brigade.

The regiment executed this movement in good order and coolness under a very heavy fire of musketry and artillery on our left, and hardly had our regiment taken its position when the immense double columns of the enemy were fairly in view, emerging from the timber and thick undergrowth. The order was given immediately to lie down. It had hardly been executed when the enemy opened upon us one continual blaze of musketry along our whole line and on the right and left of it. The deadly volley passed harmlessly over us. With great alacrity and order the regiment rose and poured in upon the enemy volley after volley, which was most terrible upon their close columns, staggering them in their rapid and successful advance; but our attempt to give a permanent check to their progress was unavailing. The regiments on our right were beginning to waver and fall back, and the enemy had completely outflanked us on the left, and were pouring in upon us a heavy cross-fire. There was no alternative except to fall back or be completely surrounded by the overwhelming numbers attacking us. Hardly had Lieutenant Colonel William H. Morgan given the order to fall back when he received a severe flesh wound in the leg, which disabled him, and he was reluctantly carried from the field. His absence during the remainder of the engagement was a severe loss, as it threw the entire responsibility of the command upon me, and deprived the regiment of his military skill and courage.

The regiment fell back in as good order as the thick undergrowth and deadly fire of the enemy would permit for about 100 yards, when, taking advantage of a slight depression in the surface of the ground, I planted the flag against a fallen tree and called upon the men to rally to their colors, which they did with a readiness and coolness which saved the regiment from entire dismemberment and perhaps annihilation. I was in my proper position on the left wing, and did not see Colonel Morgan fall, who was on the right and entirely concealed by the undergrowth, and therefore supposed he had drawn off the right companies; but, in his absence, the several captains collected their