M.] McKinney to call the regiment into line on the Military road running in front of where the regiment was lying.
About 10 a. m., calling in a working party of 100 men, and keeping the regiment in this state of readiness for two hours or more, he ordered the arms stacked, and had the whole regiment detailed for work upon a heavy intrenchment which he had been ordered to have erected in front of the encampment, and about 200 yards in the rear of the rifle pits skirting the water thrown back by Dam Numbers 2, making arrangements for carrying on the work the whole of the ensuing night. Our pickets were in front of the rifle pits, close along the water's edge. From the best information I have at the point the enemy charged the depth of the water was about 4 feet and its width from 150 to 200 yards, and covered with heavy timber and thick undergrowth.
About 3 p. m., the regiment being engaged upon the works alluded to, the pickets gave the alarm that the enemy were charging rapidly across the water and making to our rifle pits. The regiment was immediately thrown in line of battle, and, being ordered by Colonel McKinney, advanced at a double-quick and with a yell upon the enemy, who had taken partial shelter behind the earth thrown from our pits before the regiment could reach them, and opened a terrible fire upon us as we advanced. Their fire was returned with promptness and with deadly effect upon the enemy. Volley after volley in rapid succession immediately followed from both sides, amid which Colonel McKinney gallantly fell in the early part of the engagement, shot through the forehead. He fell near the center of the line, and his death was not known to either officers or men for some time after it occurred, and a deadly fire was kept up by both sides until about 5 p. m.
Not knowing the strength of the enemy at the commencement of the engagement, Colonel McKinney dispatched an orderly to Brigadier-General Cobb for re-enforcements, and after having been engaged about two hours in close conflict, the enemy having given away on our right, the Seventh Georgia Regiment, under Colonel Wilson, came to our assistance, and at this moment the enemy gave way in precipitate retreat, and did not again rally at any point on our line. The regiment had about 500 men engaged.
I have no means of definitely ascertaining the force of the enemy, but it must have been superior to ours. Prisoners report that they belonged to the Third Vermont Regiment, commanded by Colonel Hyde. We captured 8 of them. The number of killed of the enemy in front of where the regiment was engaged has been ascertained to be 30; how many fell in the water is not known.
I regret that I cannot under present circumstances make a more detailed report of the engagement and its incidents.
Too much cannot be said in commendation of the gallant bearing of both officers and men under a terrific fire of musketry for the space of two hours, and the fate of the gallant dead calls the living to other deeds of daring for their country's cause.
It is with peculiarly deep feelings of regret that I report the death of Colonel Robert M. McKinney, a conscientious, brave, just, and skillful officer, and a Christian gentleman.*
Your obedient servant,
R. R. IHRIE,
Brigadier General HOWELL COBB,
Commanding Second Brigade, Second Division.
*Nominal list of casualties shows 12 killed and 31 wounded.