War of the Rebellion: Serial 024 Page 0522 WEST TENN. AND NORTHERN MISS. Chapter XXIX.

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of Captain Henry, of Company M, sent to the earthwork; another division to the block-house, as a re-enforcement, and a third party, under Lieutenant Slade, to guard the approach to the river, about one-quarter of a mile from and to the west of our position. This disposition of my force had scarcely been completed when the rebels (as infantry and in large force) made their appearance, formed their line for a charge, and came rapidly forward, with a loud cheer, evidently expecting to force us into a surrender, with little if any resistance on our part. Their impetuosity was checked, however, by the uneven ground, the river, and the steady and destructive fire from our defenses. For a time their ardor appeared to have diminished; but their numbers being largely increased an effort was made to force a passage over the bridge, and for this purpose their forces were massed and a desperate attempt made to secure a footing on our side; but after a most obstinate attempt on their part and an equally determined resistance on ours of some minutes' duration they were compelled to fall back with considerable loss. During this time their forces had been gradually and rapidly augmenting, and their line extended from and even beyond the railroad on their left, to a distance of 300 or 400 yards to the right, from which they poured upon us an almost continuous shower of leaden hail. Efforts were also made at several points to effect a crossing over the river, but these were unsuccessful.

In a short time indications of a second attempt to cross the bridge were apparent, and deep masses, with banners flying, and urged on by their officers, advanced, only to be again driven back in confusion and dismay. The firing by this time was very heavy along their whole line and concentrated upon our little earthwork and block-house; but nothing daunted, and now firm in the belief that we could hold them at bay my gallant little band poured in upon them volley after volley in rapid secession.

Soon a third and similar attempt to cross was made, but met with a like defeat. A few of their men, however, succeeded in crossing, but these hastily took refuge under the bridge. After a most incessant firing of three and a half hours' duration the enemy withdrew, leaving a part of their dead and such of the wounded as they were unable to carry off the field in our hands. Those who ha shielded themselves under the bridge, not being able to make their escape with the main force, exhibited the usual token of surrender and were ordered to and took shelter within our works.

Several attempts were made to fire the trestle work by means of cotton balls saturated with turpentine. The fire from the block-house was poured in upon them with such excellent precision and rapidity that they were compelled to abandon the enterprise. Some few shielded themselves here from the fire by means of the trestle work, and when the retreat was ordered were unable to get out of their position without great danger, and very wisely hoisted the white flag and presented themselves as prisoners.

Shortly after the retreat the bearer of a flag of truce appeared with a verbal message from the general commanding desiring to know if a surrender on our part was in contemplation or had been decided upon. A respectful but decided negative was returned in reply. I am firmly impressed with the belief that such a thought had not even been entertained for a single moment by any officer or private of my command, although the enemy far outnumbered us.

From the best information I am of the opinion that the rebel force was not much less than 6 000, while my force numbered only 200 in-