heads, and our rest was broken at intervals during the whole night by occasional and spirited firing between the skirmishers.
At the break of day on the 17th the artillery reopened, and the rap idly increasing rattle of musketry notified us of the commencement of a general engagement with a foe vastly superior to us in numbers and confident of an easy victory. Our men, although much worn down with long and rapid marches, and but recently from the bloody fields of Manassas, were again ready to meet our boastful enemy, with undaunted front, and when, at 7 a. m., the order forward was given, it was heard with enthusiasm and obeyed with alacrity from one end brigade to the other.
We had scarcely emerged from the woods in which we had rested during the night, when we found ourselves face to face with the enemy, heavily massed and within close musket range. Still, we charged forward in the face of a murderous fire, which thinned our ranks at every step, until our progress was arrested by a lane, on either side of which was a high, staked fence stretching along our whole front, to pass which, under the circumstances, was an impossibility. The men, being formed along this fence, kept up an accurate and well-sustained fire, which visibly told upon the enemy's ranks; and, although we suffered greatly, as well from musketry in front as from a battery on our left, which enfiladed us with grape and canister, still, not a man was seen to flinch from to conflict. By some mistake or misapprehension, the troops which were intended, as I have since been informed, when the order to retire was given and obeyed, the men withdrawing in tolerable order, and fighting as they fell back.
It was in this early part of the engagement that our brave and chivalric leader, Brigadier General William E. Starke, loved and honored by every man under his command, fell pierced by three Minie-balls, and was carried from the field in a dying condition, surviving his wounds but at hour.
The enemy, flushed with their supposed success in the first onset, rent the air with shouts, and pressed upon us with redoubled energy. Their exultation was, however, but short-lived. The command of the brigade having devolved upon Colonel L. A. Stafford, of the Ninth Louisiana, he lost no time in reforming our somewhat disordered line, when, other troops coming to our support, we gathered our strength for a fresh charge upon the rapidly advancing and exulting foe, and, with a determination to win or die, hurled ourselves against his lines with an impetus which first staggered, then drove him, fleeing, from the field, and leaving behind him hundreds of his dead and wounded. The enemy being thus completely repulsed on his right, did not again offer to renew the combat on that portion of his lines during the day.
Later in the day the brigade wa again called out to support a battery, when, in consequence of a severe contusion of the foot, received by Colonel Stafford early in the action, which prevented his taking the field, the command devolved upon the undersigned. Those who had passed unharmed thorough the severe conflict of the morning evinced again their readiness to meet the foe by promptly taking the field, though they were not again called upon to fire a gun.
I beg leave to speak in the highest terms of the gallantry and fearlessness displayed by Colonel L. A. Stafford, of the Ninth Louisiana Regiment, who commanded the brigade in the morning. Colonel J. M. Williams, commanding the Second Louisiana Regiment.