I returned to my command, and found that the enemy had discovered my position, obtained the range, and was shelling us at a rapid rate. Not having the force to take his battery, and being unable to obtain assistance in that part of the field, I withdrew to a position a short distance in the rear and behind the brow of the next hill. Here I found General Cheatham, with a portion of his command, who had fallen back from a point farther to the left.
I formed on his right, and the enemy now appearing on the left, we encountered him again and pushed him back a short distance to where more favorable ground enabled him to stand. We were in an open plain, with a few scattering trees, but not enough to afford material shelter. The opposing forces were strongly posted in superior numbers in a dense wood, affording excellent cover. Our troops stood and saw their comrades fall about them, but returned the fire with spirit for a length of time, till some detached commands on the extreme left gave way, when the whole line retired behind the brow of a hill some 150 to 200 yards in the rear.
Here they rallied and formed again. General Cheatham was conspicuously active in effecting the reformation, urging his troops to make a stand, and assuring them of their ability to repulse the enemy. Lieutenant Sandidge also, of General Ruggles' staff, did gallant service in the same way.
I take pleasure in referring to a circumstance which came under my own observation, as none of his immediate superiors were present to record it. When one of General Cheatham's regiments had been appealed to in vain to make a charge on the advancing foe, Lieutenant Sandidge, seizing its colors and holding them high overhead and calling upon the regiment to follow him, spurred his horse to the front and charged over the brow of the hill amid a shower of leaden hail from the enemy. The effect was electrical. The regiment moved gallantly to the support of its colors, but superior numbers soon pressed it back to its original position. Colonel Stanley, of the Ninth Texas, did the same thing with the same result.
Large numbers of stragglers could now be seen in all directions making their way to the rear. Officers of several regiments reported to me that their commands were out of ammunition, and that the ammunition wagons had all retired to the rear. I detailed a non-commissioned officer and two men from the Florida Battalion to go in search of ammunition. He soon returned, having succeeded in finding a few boxes in a camp near by; whether left there by our wagons or by the enemy I am unable to say.
While the ammunition was being distributed one of General Beauregard's staff came by, and directed us to retire in order in the direction of our hospital. On reaching the brow of the next hill, in an open space, I halted the brigade and faced about, hoping, with the assistance of two pieces of artillery, which I observed near by, that a check could be given to the enemy's advance, if, indeed, he could not be driven back. He had halted, evidently in doubt whether to advance or not. I rode up to an officer, who appeared to have charge of the pieces alluded to, and requested him to open fire upon a line which I pointed out. He informed me that he was out of ammunition, had no horses to draw off his pieces, and had just received orders to spike them and leave them on the ground. The enemy's lines were still at a halt.
I moved on up the road till I met an officer, who told me it was General Bragg's order that the infantry should form on a certain ridge, which was pointed out. I formed there, but was soon directed by Colonel