I was soon in sight of the enemy's encampments, behind the first of which he had formed his line of battle. He was very advantageously posted and overlapped my left flank by at least half a brigade. His line was lying down behind the rising ground on which his tents were pitched, and opposite my right he had made a breastwork of logs and bales of hay. Everywhere his musketry and artillery at short range swept the open spaces between the tents in his front with an iron storm that threatened certain destruction to every living thing that would dare to cross them. An almost impassable morass, jutting out from the foot of the height on which the enemy's tents stood, impeded the advance of my center, and finally caused a wide opening in my line. The Fifth Tennessee and the regiments on its left kept to the left of this swamp, and the Sixth Mississippi and Twenty-third Tennessee advanced on its right. My own horse bogged down in it and threw me, and it was with great difficulty I got out. My brigade was soon on the verge of the encampments and the battle began in earnest. Trigg's battery, posted on some high ground in the woods in my rear, opened over the heads of my men, but so thick were the leaves, he could only see in one direction, while the enemy were playing on him from several. The result was he was unable to accomplish much, and was ordered to a new position. I had no artillery under my command from this time forward.
The Sixth Mississippi and Twenty-third Tennessee charged through the encampments on the enemy. The line was necessarily broken by the standing tents. Under the terrible fire much confusion followed, and a quick and bloody repulse was the consequence.
The Twenty-third Tennessee was with difficulty rallied about 100 yards in the rear; again and it was only when the regiment had lost 300 officers and men killed and wounded, out of an aggregate of 425, that it yielded and retreated in disorder over its own dead and dying. Colonel Thornton and Major Lowry, the field officers, were both wounded. It would be useless to enlarge on the courage and devotion of the Sixth Mississippi. The facts as recorded speak louder than any words of mine.
Col. Mat. Martin, former commander of the Twenty-third Tennessee, arrived on the field just as his old regiment broke; though not then on duty, he voluntarily assisted me in rallying and inspiring the men with renewed determination, and remained with it until severely wounded at a subsequent period of the day.
While my right was reforming I galloped around the morass to my left, which, after a desperate fight and heavy loss, caused chiefly by the fact that the enemy flanked me on the left, had driven him back at all points, and was now in possession of his first line of encampments.
Here the Second Tennessee, coming up on the left, charged through a murderous cross-fire. The gallant major, William R. Doak, fell mortally wounded, and the colonel, W. B. Bate, had his leg broken by a Minie ball. Tennessee can never mourn for a nobler band than fell this day in her Second Regiment.
Here the Twenty-fourth Tennessee won a character for steady valor, and its commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Peebles, showed that he possessed all the qualifications of a commander in the field.
Here the Fifteenth Arkansas inflicted heavy loss upon the enemy, and lost many good men, and its major, J. T. Harris. He scorned to pay any regard to his personal safety; he moved up within pistol range of the enemy, and was shot dead while firing on them with his revolver.
Finding my advance on the left wing for the present unemployed, I