up the march by column with your brigade in the direction of the firing. Meanwhile the engagement seemed to have become general along our whole line, and the nearer approach of the firing, together with the number of straggling soldiers, gave unmistakable evidence that our forces were falling back and the enemy advancing.
About 1 mile from our camp we were halted and deployed into line of battle, supporting a battery on our left. Very soon the enemy opened a battery on our position, and for some minutes shell fell very close to us and in some instances exploded in a few feet of our lines, wounding some of the men of my command; but he officers and men stood their ground without flinching,and all seemed eager for the conflict to begin in earnest. While resting in this position several regiments of the enemy were seen filing past an open field and about 400 or 500 yards obliquely to our left. The distance was considered too great for effective firing, and I ordered the men to reserve their fire, which they readily obeyed. I immediately called your attention to the movement of the enemy, whereupon your ordered me to send forward one of my flank companies as skirmishers. I executed this order by sending Captain Underwood, of Company A, forward, and his men were promptly arranged for skirmishing. This position was held by him for a short time, when he reported to me that shell and grape from our own batteries were falling amongst his men and had wounded one of them. Under my order he then fell back with his company to his position in line.
After we had been on the ground for about one hour a unfortunate accident occurred with me, which rendered me incapable of retaining the command, and you are respectfully, referred to the report of Major Wall, who took command of this battalion for the remainder of the day. From my own observation in the morning and reports since made to me I am proud to say that the officers and men of this command proved themselves to be true patriots and gallant soldiers, and it is a matter of no little pride with our officers and men that you were present with them, conducting the whole of the engagement and witnessing their conduct.
On the morning of the 7th our men, much fatigued by the labors of the previous day and from having been exposed to the rain during the night, without sleep, were wholly disqualified for a renewal of the conflict; yet, at the command from you, a respectable number of the (say 65) promptly fell into line, and in connection with portions of other regiments of your brigade, took their position for the support of the right of our army, when they were again engaged in a hotly-contested engagement, in which they discharged their whole duty. Major Wall having received three flesh wounds on the previous day, which disabled him, and being myself yet scarcely able to mount my horse and entirely unfit for command, my men were placed under command of Colonel McHenry, of the Seventeenth Kentucky, with your approbation, and no doubt his report will do full justice to their valor and courage on that day.
I have the satisfaction to know that each officer and soldier of this command discharged his duty heroically, and when all behaved so well it is impossible to give particular credit to any single one.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient,
B. H. BRISTOW,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Twenty-fifth Kentucky,
Commanding Third Brigade, Fourth Division