No enemy being visible in our front, I caused a few shells to be thrown into the woods beyond, but met no response. The topography of the country in this line and in my front was a cotton-field, which we then occupied, at the farther end of which was a belt or strip of timber, ending at a corn-field on my left and front, and immediately in front of Brigadier-General Sill's right. This
corn-field extended to a narrow, heavy-timbered wood, bordered by a rail fence. Beyond this timber was a corn-field, receding toward a ravine, terminated by a bluff wood bank, along the foot of which, in the ravine, was the enemy's line of battle, with its supports and artillery on the elevation.
We remained in position until about 3 p.m., when my skirmishers were ordered forward to occupy the belt of timber, which they did. Major McIlwain, who was in command, reported to me that the enemy's skirmishers were in the fattest wood to our front and left, and desired me to send him a further support of one company, which was sent him, with orders to press their skirmishers back. The skirmishing soon commenced briskly, and my brigade was ordered to advance, which it did in admirable order, and was halted in the first belt of timber.
Desiring to know the position of the enemy's line, and the situation of their skirmishers, I proceeded to the line of skirmishers, to assist in directing their movements and urge them on, and, having given them directions in person, returned to my command, to be ready to move forward to their support. The wood was so thick and bushy on my right that it was difficult to see farther than the left of the Second Brigade; but as I discovered it advancing, we moved forward also, to protect its flank. Sheridan's division had halted some 100 yards in rear of my brigade, his line of skirmishers joining my line of battle.
At this juncture my skirmishers commenced falling back rapidly, and I endeavored to get the officer in command of those of Sheridan's division to advance to their support, as those of my brigade had not only driven the enemy from my front, but General Sill's also; but, as he had no orders to move forward, he refused. The emergency being imminent, Colonel Williams was ordered to detach the left company of his regiment, and deploy it forward as skirmishers, to relieve or strengthen those engaged, as circumstances might require, while the brigade was advanced to support them.
The command pressed forward in splendid order, and soon became hotly engaged, and drove the enemy back through the wood and
corn-field in their own lines. As we were now far in advance of any support upon the left, I deemed it advisable to halt and wait for them to come up, and, therefore, took position in rear of the rail fence, my right nearly at right angles to my line of battle, thereby obtaining an oblique, as well as direct, fire; but space to be occupied by this brigade was so great that the Eighty-first Indiana Regiment was ordered up to complete my line, thereby leaving me no reserves.
The battery was placed in the angle of the fence to protect my right and front. Shortly after taking this position,
Brigadier-General Sill joined me on the left. We remained in position, receiving a heavy fire, and occasionally replying with shell, until toward night, when the enemy opened a heavy artillery fire, apparently on the right of Colonel Carlin's brigade. Thus, discovering their battery, and mine being in good range and position to enfilade theirs, Captain Carpenter was ordered to silence their battery, which he did in handsome style in about five minutes.
An attack of infantry was then made from the same point on Colonel Carlin, and as their lines presented the same advantage, Captain Carpenter