menced skirmishing with our rear guard of cavalry, Major-General Lovel, commanding First Corps, had gone out with a portion of my division to check them. I immediately rode out with a portion of my staff and body guard to the point selected by General Lovell on which to form, and found that he had pushed forward a portion of the First Brigade, under [Brigadier] General [W. E.] Baldwin, on the right of the main road to Water Valley, while the Ninth Arkansas, of General Rust's division, commanded by Colonel Isaac L. Dunlop, was placed in line of battle on the left of the same road. Colonel A. P. Thompson [Third Kentucky], commanding brigade, of the Second Division, had also been ordered to place the Third Kentucky Regiment, of his brigade, upon a road leading out from Coffeeville to the west of the main road spoken of, in order to watch our left flank. Upon the main road and in rear of the Fiorst Brigade, upon a small eminence, four pieces of artillery had been placed, being part of Captain [Alcide] Bouanchand's company of the Point Compee Artillery, while at 300 yards to the rear of this battery two Parrott guns from Captain [W. H.] Hedden's battery, of my own division, were placed on a still higher point and in a position not to endanger the infantry or the battery in front should occasion present itself to open upon the enemy.
Before reaching the point at which General Lovell was stationed I heard brisk cannonading, and on joining General Lovell, near where the rear battery was placed, found that it proceeded from our advanced battery, which was being replied to by a rifle gun of the enemy. I immediately reported for orders to General Lovell, who directed me to ride with him to the position held by the advanced battery. On reaching that point and finding that the enemy had obtained the exact range of our guns I retired with General Lovell to the rear battery, and was immediately ordered to open fire with he Parrott guns at short intervals. This was done, and in few moments the fire of the enemy's battery ceased. I then asked permission of the major-general commanding to press the enemy and drive them back, and upon receiving his orders to do so, with information that General Rust had been ordered to maneuver on my right with parts of two of his brigades, rode rapidly to the front, ordering at the same time the Fourteenth Mississippi Regiment, under Major W. L. Doss, which had been held in reserve, to move up at double-quick and take position on the extreme right of my line. The cavalry, under Colonel [W. H.] Jackson [Seventh Tennessee Cavalry], numbering about 700, were placed at my disposal also. The proper disposition of the forces was soon made. Orders were given to General Baldwin, on the right, and to Colonel A. P. Thompson, of the Second Division, who had assumed the direction of the Ninth Arkansas of his own brigade, to deploy the right companies from each regiment as skirmishers 100 paces in front of the main line; a greater distance was not deemed prudent, as the woods were very dense and the enemy known to be in close proximity. The cavalry was formed in the main road and ordered to move with caution in rear of the main line.
The line of skirmishers being formed and everything prepared orders were given to the men to hold their fire until within 50 yards, to move with caution until the enemy was reached, but then to press them with all their energy. The command forward was given and both skirmishers and the main line moved. The line had not advanced 200 yards before the enemy opened on our left a brisk fire. This was answered first by a yell along our whole line, the men moving rapidly and with great enthusiasm until they were within good range, when the Ninth Arkansas, directed by Colonel A. P. Thompson, and the Eighth Kentucky, under Colonel