It was impossible for me beforehand to ascertain the force of the enemy, and nothing is more embarrassing than to make dispositions against a concealed foe occupying, as this was, a strong natural position. I then supposed, and still think, this position was held by a small brigade of the enemy.
My preliminary arrangements having thus been made, two 20-pdr. Parrott rifled guns, of Silfversparre's battery, under the immediate supervision of Major Taylor, chief of artillery, were moved silently through the forest to a point behind a hill, from the top of which could be seen the house and grounds to be contested. The guns were unlimbered, loaded with shell, and moved by hand to the crest. At the proper time I gave the order to Major Taylor to commence firing and demolish the house or render it decidedly uncomfortable to its occupants. About a dozen shells well directed soon accomplished this. Then designating a single shot of the 20-pounder Parrott gun of Silfversparre as a signal for the brigades to advance, I waited till all were in position, and ordered the signal, when the troops dashed forward in fine style, crossed the field, drove the enemy across the ridge and field beyond into another dense and seemingly impenetrable forest.
The enemy was evidently surprised, and only killed 2 of our man and wounded 9. After we had reached the ridge he opened on us with a two-guns battery on the right and another from the front and left, doing my brigades but little harm, but killing 3 of General Veatch's men. With our artillery we soon silenced his, and by 10 a.m. we were masters of the position. Generals Grant and Thomas were present during this affair and witnessed the movement, which was admirably executed, all the officers and men keeping their place like real soldiers. Immediately throwing forwarded a strong line of skirmishers in front of each brigade,we found the enemy
re-enforcing his front skirmishers, but the woods were so dense as completely to mask his operations. An irregular piece of cleared land lay immediately in front of General Danver's position, and extended obliquely to the left in front of and across Morgan Smith's and Veatch's brigades, which were posted on the right and left of the main Corinth road, looking directly south.
For some time I was in doubt whether the artillery fire we had sustained had come from the enemy's fixed or field batteries, and intended to move forward at great hazard to ascertain the fact, when about 3 p.m. we were startled by the quick rattle of musketry along our whole picket line, followed by the cheers and yells of an attacking column of the enemy. Our artillery and Mann's battery of Veatch's brigade had been judiciously posted by Major Taylor, and before the yell of the enemy had died away arose our reply in the cannon's voice. The firing was very good, rapid, and well directed, and the shells burst in the right place. Our pickets were at first driven in a little, but soon recovered their ground and held, it and the enemy retreated in utter confusion. On further examination of the ground, with its connection on the left with General Hurlbut and right resting on the railroad near after dark, and the work substantially finished by morning.
All this time we were within 1,300 yards of the enemy's main intrenchments, which were absolutely concealed from us by the dense foliage of the oak forest, and without a real battle, which was at that time to be avoided, we could not push out our skirmishers more than 200 yards to the front. For our own security I had to destroy two farm houses, both of which had been loop-holed and occupied by the enemy. By 9 a.m. of yesterday (29th) our works substantially