It was an hour or more after this before we had the first real engagement with the enemy. It occurred in an old field to the right of the First, where the regiment engaged a force of the enemy's infantry, supported by a battery of artillery. It lasted only a few minutes. The enemy retired. Our loss at this point was several in killed and wounded.
The manner in which my men sustained themselves in this the first engagement was gratifying and fully justified my expectations, and fortified the belief of what they would do when the time should come which tried men's souls.
It was not long before that time arrived-it was about noon, the turning point of the day the turning point of the battle. Upon the edge of a wheat field, to the right of the field last mentioned, the regiment, with the whole brigade, was drawn up in line of battle, and marching directly to the front, across the field, entered a dense thicket of undergrowth, which led down to a ravine and to a hill beyond. Here we engaged the enemy three different times, and braved a perfect rain of bullets, shot, and shell. Exposed, facing great odds, with the enemy in front and on the flank, the regiment endured a murderous fire until endurance ceased to be a virtue. Three different times did we go into that valley of death, and as often were forced back by overwhelming numbers intrenched in a strong position.
That all was done that could possibly be done the heaps of killed and wounded left there give ample evidence. On the right of the regiment, dauntlessly leading the advance, fell Lieutenant Colonel John B. Thompson, mortally wounded, pierced with seven balls. His loss no one can feel so sensibly as myself. Like Havelock, he united the graces of religion to the valor of the soldier.
Here fell Captains J. T. Gibson, of company H, and Jesse T. McMahan, of Company C, mortally wounded, while cheering their men and leading them on to the charge. Major J. W. Colquitt was here severely wounded, and Captain James Newton, of Company A, dangerously. Lieutenant L. C. Bartlett, of Company C, was killed and several other commissioned officers wounded, all gallantly leading that forlorn hope.
It was late in the afternoon when the enemy were repulsed and were followed up in the direction of the river. That night we slept in the enemy's tents, worn with fatigue, decimated in numbers, but elated that such a hard-fought day had such a glorious close.
About 7 a.m. on Monday, the 7th instant, the regiment marched from the tents it had occupied during the night, being on this day on the right of the First Brigade. Marching toward the left, orders were received to charge a battery of artillery some distance off and to the left. The order was executed and one field piece taken, but abandoned again under a brisk fire from the enemy, who were concealed in numbers in the woods beyond. Under this fire several of my men were wounded, none seriously.
Retiring into a ravine, the regiment was withdrawn from its exposed position and left that portion of the field. An hour or so later it was marched toward the right, where every inch of ground was being hotly contested, and here the regiment engaged the enemy for some time in the most desperate and determined style, moving steadily on against the serried ranks in front of them, and when broken and temporarily thrown into disorder by the tremendous numbers before them, they only retired to rally again and come on with renewed eagerness to the charge. They rallied around their colors and pressed on time and again, until they were forced to retire by the overwhelming pressure against them. Here we suffered severely, losing several commissioned