in the history of warfare for its daring deeds, brilliant achievements, and heavy sacrifices.
Our troops, greatly exhausted by twelve hours' incessant fighting, without food, mostly responded to the order with alacrity, and the movement commenced with every prospect of success, though a heavy battery in our front and the gunboats on our right seemed determined to dispute every inch of ground.
Just at this time an order was received from the commanding general to withdraw the forces beyond the enemy's fire. At this was communicated, in many instances, direct to brigade commanders, the troops were soon in motion, and the action ceased. The different commands, mixed and scattered, bivouacked at points most convenient to their positions and beyond the range of the enemy's guns. All firing, except a half-hour shot from the gunboats, ceased, and the whole night was passed by our exhausted men in quiet. Such as had not sought shelter in the camps of the enemy were again drenched before morning by one of those heavy rain-storms with seemed to be our portion for this expedition.
Such was the nature of the ground over which we had fought, and the heavy resistance we had met, that the commands of the whole army were very much shattered. In a dark and stormy night commanders found it impossible to find or assemble their troops, each body or fragment bivouacked where night overtook them.
In this condition morning found us, confronting a large and fresh army, which had arrived during the night, and for the first time the enemy advanced to meet us. He was received by our whole line with a firm and bold front, and the battle again raged.
From this hour until 2 p.m. the action continued with great obstinacy and varying success. Our troops, exhausted by days of incessant fatigue, hunger, and want of rest, and ranks thinned by killed, wounded, and stragglers, amounting in the whole to nearly half our force, fought bravely, but with the want of that animation and spirit which characterized them the preceding day. Many instances of daring and desperate valor, deserving of better success, failed for want of numbers.
My personal services were confined during this day to the extreme left of our line, where my whole time was incessantly occupied. The troops in my front consisted of Ruggles' division, Colonel Trabue's brigade, of Breckinridge's reserve, and other detachments of different corps, all operating to the left of Shiloh Church.
This force advanced in the early morning and pressed the enemy back for nearly a mile, securing for our left flank an eminence in an open field near Owl Creek, which we held until near the close of the conflict against every effort the enemy could make. For this gallant and obstinate defense of our left flank, which the enemy constantly endeavored to force, we were indebted to Colonel Trabue's small brigade, in support of Captain Byrne's battery.
Against overwhelming numbers this gallant command maintained its position from the commencement of the action until about 12 o'clock, when, our forces on the right falling back, it was left, entirely without support, far in front of our whole army. Safety required it to retire.
During this time the right and center were actively engaged. Withers' division, in conjunction with portions of Hardee's and Breckinridge's commands, obstinately disputed every effort of the enemy. But his overwhelming numbers, a very large portion being perfectly fresh troops, the prostration of our men, and the exhaustion of our ammunition, not a battalion being supplied, rendered our position most perilous, and the