indicated a strong force of the enemy massed on our front and right. My command was formed in line of battle, close behind a narrow strip of cedar thicket, nearly covering our front, and skirting a strip of open level ground, about 20 rods wide, to the corn-field occupied by the enemy's pickets. Being thus satisfied of the close proximity of the enemy in strong force, and apprehending an attack at any moment, I deemed it necessary to use the utmost precaution a gains surprise, and, accordingly, in addition to general instructions, bivouacked without fires, and, to maintain a cautious, quiet vigilance, I ordered my command to stack arms, each man to rest at the put of his musket, and without using his shelter-tent, although the night was dark, chilly, and somewhat rainy, and the men cold, wet, weary, and hungry. I deemed it objectionable to use their shelter-tents, not only because of the hindrance in case of a sudden attack, but even in a dark night they would be some guide to the enemy to trace our line. At a little before 4 a.m. my men were quietly waked up and formed into line; remained standing at their arms until moved by subsequent orders.
As soon as it became sufficiently light to discern objects at a distance, I could plainly observe the enemy moving in three heavy columns across my front to the right, one column striking out of the corn-field and moving defiantly along the edge of the open ground, not more than 60 to 80 rods from and about parallel with my line. It was plainly seen that the fire of my skirmishers took effect in their ranks, and in emptying saddles, to which, however, the enemy seemed to pay no attention. This movement continued from a half to an hour, when a brisk discharge of musketry at considerable distance to my right indicated a rapid advance of the enemy on the right flank, and at the same time their columns were advancing in overwhelming force directly in front, and extending to the left as far as could be seen. At this time my command was ordered to fall back, and to change front to the rear, or nearly so, forming behind a fence. This movement was executed in good order, without the least confusion or faltering. In the course of ten or fifteen minutes the enemy's line approached, but, as previously instructed and ordered, my command reserved their fire until within short range, when they opened with terrible effect upon the advancing ranks, and holding them completely in check until they had delivered 10 to 15 rounds. I maintained this position until the regiments on the right and left of me had fallen back 30 to 40 rods, and the enemy's line directly in front breaking and deploying right and left and about to flank me, I ordered a retreat, which was effected in tolerable order; at least, without the least appearance of a panic. From this point, having fallen back in a straight line between half and three-quarters of a mile, I effected a stand with a considerable portion of my regiment, but could maintain it only long enough to deliver a few shots.
I should here mention that early in the morning three companies of my command had been thrown out as skirmishers, who, in consequence of the first change of line, and of their fidelity and bravery in discharging their duty, had been cut off from the regiment, and unable to rally upon it, until at this point.
First Lieutenant Leffigwell, in command of Company A, came up with a few of his men, and rendered most efficient aid in rallying the regiment. I commend his conduct on this occasion as indicating an efficient, faithful, and brave officer. Falling back from this line a short distance, I succeed in rallying about half of the regiment in rear of the reserve force, which was now driving the enemy back, when, being ordered to form on the brigade, my command had no further part in