of companies, left in front, and we hurriedly took another position diagonal across the northeast part of our camp. For the moment firing had ceased in every direction. In a short time, however, we discovered a regiment (through the smoke and fog, which was densely black) of Louisiana troops moving by the right flank upon the next street to our front at double-quick. Toward the city and down to our right was a battalion deployed as skirmishers and taking position uncomfortably near to us.
We made a dash at the head of the regiment moving into the city. Time would not allow much order in the movement, but we succeeded in giving them a most destructive fire, which we repeated before they could recover from their surprise and ascertain our position; and, finally, after a short stand, they broke in utter confusion and left the ground.
During this time, however, the Twenty-first Indiana suffered the most.
At the moment we started for the attack last mentioned the battalion of skirmishers upon our right opened upon us a most galling fire with desperate effect. Another or two regiments had formed in our camp and opened upon our rear a hot fire. Our position was an awkward one, to say the least, when we had driven the first regiment back, and consequently our fighting now became upon the principle of "every man for himself." Our men took cover behind trees and such things as would shield them. To add to the danger and desperation of our situation, the Seventh Vermont, from their camp back of us, opened a fire in the direction of all engaged, which killed many of our own men outright and wounded several more. At this we gave back, when we met General Williams and acquainted him with the fact. He gave the Vermonters a severe reprimand, and ordered them forward to our support. We reformed and moved down to our old position.
Some regiment (I think the Thirtieth Massachusetts) at this moment came to our assistance with a part of, perhaps, the Fourteenth Maine, and from that on our combine forces punished the enemy most terribly. Finally, under the most determined resistance and desperately destructive fire from us, they left the field, only taking a part of their wounded, and leaving our camp and the ground immediately north covered with their dead.
At the most critical period of the fight, when the Seventh Vermont Regiment, which was ordered by General Williams to support us, refused to do so, waving his sword and cheering us on to deeds of duty and daring, our accomplished, gallant, brave, and long to be mourned adjutant, Matthews A. Latham, was killed. Lieutenant-Colonel Keith, who had been brave, cool, and most energetic for success, while passing through the hottest of the fire and thickest storm of bullets, dispensing orders and cheering on his men, was badly wounded in the right shoulder.
For the brave, gallant officers and men of the Twenty-first Indiana I cannot say too much. Under the first fire and under the intermediate fires to the last they tasted the most desperate circumstances of the battle. They were continually at their post, and ever ready and ambitious to do the full measure of their duty. The battle was fought in and around our camp, and we defended it-let the rebel forces themselves certify how nobly.
After Lieutenant-Colonel Keith was wounded your humble servant and subscriber, being the senior officer present, took command of the battalion.