War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0443 Chapter XXIV. RECONNAISSANCE, ETC.

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Lieutenant Brockway then threw a few shot and shell at a house, said to be headquarters, and near which were some Sibley tents. By the side of one of these tents a trooper dismounted and came forward to reconnoiter. The first shell struck him down and sent his horse flying across the field. The soldier (or officer) struck did not move during the engagement, and laid there when we left, so I presume he was killed. Several shells struck around the earthwork in front and numerous horses ran from the woods in the rear. One round shot went entirely through the house, but not a gun was fired by the enemy from this point.

Two masked batteries, however, opened on Lieutenant Brockway, one a 24 or 32 pounder, which enfiladed the line of skirmishers of the Twelfth Indiana and also the battery. The first ricochetted from the crest of the hill, and making two bounds, passed immediately over Lieutenant-Colonel Humphrey, who, being on foot, fell flat, and I thought him killed. This shot passed down the rear of the whole line of the Twelfth Indiana, between them and their reserves, and several others of the same sort did the same thing, but they never moved an inch till I ordered the battery to take another position and try the earthworks on their extreme left. Hardly had they taken position and opened fire when a masked battery in front, and not over 1,000 yards distant, replied. The brush in front of this being knocked down by their fire, Lieutenant Brockway directed one of his pieces upon it with such effect that at the second fire one of the enemy's guns was knocked over and the horses of the battery seen galloping away over the fields. They fired but one more shot, and were silenced. The heavy gun still kept up its fire on the extreme left of us, and I, having shot and shell brought me from all the batteries, concluded to bring in Lieutenant Brockway and Colonel Humphrey, not knowing where the sections that had passed to our right had gone. I called them in nearer the main body to cover its flank, and started with 3 dragoons to the river's bank to ascertain, if possible, their effective force. I had not proceeded far when a battery within short range opened upon me. I therefore dismounted and crawled to the top of a hill near some low cedars. There I distinctly saw three different regiments under arms in front of their tents back of the woods, two of which had batteries, or sections of batteries, on their right. One of these regiments had tents.

In the woods were tents sufficient for three more regiments, though many of these were wedge-tents, and I might have been deceived. The river was very precipitous on both sides, the less so on that of the enemy, our banks being about 70 feet high. A regiment of cavalry in line was also visible. The river was, I should think, 75 or 80 yards wide. The force of the enemy I estimated at between 5,000 and 7,000 infantry, at least one regiment of cavalry, three full batteries of 6-pounder smooth-bores, and two siege guns, 24-pounders. They used no rifled guns whatever.

Finding no place for my infantry to open an effective fire, even with their rifles, without great exposure from grape and canister, and knowing it was not your wish to risk a general engagement with a force greatly superior to our own and well entrenched, or eve a skirmish which might be disastrous to us, I rode back and ordered the entire force back out of rage, as I saw them taking a gun, drawn by eight horses, in the masked battery between the woods and their large works which we had silenced.

I had hardly moved my command when they opened there with a 24-pounder shell, but badly out of range and in our rear. They fired four