picket line was thrown out from 150 to 200 yards in front, with a cornfield in front of their [the picket] line. Every precaution that was possible was taken to prevent surprise, and to give seasonable warning of the approach of the enemy.
The brigade was up and under arms for nearly or quite an hour before daylight. Just after daylight a part of the horses of the battery were unhitched from the caissons and taken to water, which was close by. Just at this moment the enemy made his appearance on our front and right in immense force, and formed in close columns, with a front equal to the length of a battalion in line and ten or twelve ranks in depth. General Kirk immediately ordered the Thirty-fourth Illinois to advance to near where the picket was stationed, in order to check, at least, the advance of the enemy, and save the battery, if possible, which movement was promptly executed under an awful fire, which almost annihilated the picket line or line of skirmishers, which it really was, and killed or wounded a large number in the line of skirmishers, which it really was, and killed or wounded a large number in the line, some 150 or 200 yards in the rear. The battery under command of Captain Edgarton immediately opened with canister upon the enemy, and only had time to fire eight rounds before the battery was taken. Nearly or quite one-half of the horses were killed or wounded, so as to be unmanageable, by the first fire from the enemy, and it was impossible to remove it from the ground.
Captain Edgarton and his officers and men fought nobly, as the number of killed and wounded will testify, and did everything possible to maintain their ground against an overpowering force. The captain was taken prisoner while assisting to work his guns, and Lieutenant Berwick was bayoneted and taken prisoner while assisting him. General Kirk was seriously wounded at almost the first fire, and I then succeeded to the command of the brigade.
The fire the enemy received from us, although well directed, and as effective as a fire from two ranks generally is, produced no visible effect upon him as he moved his heavy column forward upon a double-quick. General Rains, who commanded a part of their column, fell dead or mortally wounded at this point.
The enemy then moved to the left oblique, or nearly, by his left flank, until his center was opposite our extreme right, when he moved forward again, changing direction to his right as he did so, so as to bring his whole force upon our most exposed point. We held our ground until our ranks were not more than 20 yards from the enemy, when I was forced to retire, having no support and seeing that it was a needless waste of life to contend in that position with at least twenty times the number of men I then had left, which was done in the best order possible, across a corn-field in the rear and to the left of our first position, to a field one side of which was on rising ground and overlooking the ground over which the enemy must advance to attack.
I here formed the Thirtieth Indiana, at that time under command of Lieut. Col. O. D. Hurd, of that regiment, and the Seventy-ninth Illinois, Col. S. P. Read commanding, that had just reported to me [it having been detailed to guard a train the day before, and had just arrived upon the field], behind a fence on the rise of ground before spoken of. Before the Seventy-ninth Illinois reached the fence, and while it was at least 200 yards distant from it, the enemy made his appearance and instantly poured a terrible fire into their ranks. Although a new regiment, they advanced with a firmness that would have done credit to veterans, and, after reaching the fence, poured a terribly destructive fire into the enemy.