In the mean time I had formed Sill's and Schaefer's brigades on a line at right angles to my first line, and behind the three batteries of artillery, which were placed in a fine position, directing Colonel Roberts to return and form on this new line. I then made an unavailing attempt to form the troops on my right on this line, in front of which there were open fields, through which the enemy was approaching under a heavy fire from Hescock's, Houghtaling's, and Bush's batteries.
After the attempt had proved to be entirely unsuccessful, and my right was again turned, General McCook directed me to advance to the front and form on the right of Negley. This movement was successfully accomplished under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery, every regiment of mine remaining unbroken.
I took position on Negley's right, Roberts' brigade having been placed in position at right angles to Negley's line, facing to the south, the other two brigades being placed to the rear and at right angles with Roberts', and facing the west, covering the rear of Negley's lines. I then directed Houghtaling's battery to take position at the angle of these two lines, Captain Hescock sending one section of his battery, under Lieutenant Taliaferro, and one section of Bush's battery, to the same point. The remaining pieces of Hescock's and Bush's batteries were placed on the right of Negley's line, facing toward Murfreesborough. In this position I was immediately attacked, when one of the bitterest and most sanguinary contests of the day occurred.
General Cheatham's division advanced on Roberts' brigade, and heavy masses of the enemy, with three batteries of artillery, advanced over the open ground which I had occupied in the previous part of the engagement, at the same time the enemy opening from their intrenchments in the direction of Murfreesborough. The contest then became terrible. The enemy made three attacks, and were three times repulsed, the artillery range of the respective batteries being not over 200 yards. In these attacks Roberts' brigade lost its gallant commander, who was killed. There was no sign of faltering with the men, the only cry being for more ammunition, which unfortunately could not be supplied, on account of the discomfiture of the troops on the right of our wing, which allowed the enemy to come in and capture our ammunition train.
Schaefer's brigade being entirely out of ammunition, I directed them to fix bayonets and await the enemy. Roberts' brigade, which was nearly out of ammunition, I directed to fall back, resisting the enemy. Captain Houghtaling, having exhausted all his ammunition, and nearly all the horses in his battery having been killed, attempted, with the assistance of the men, to withdraw his pieces by hand. Lieutenant Taliaferro, commanding the section of Hescock's battery, having been killed and several of his horses shot, his two pieces were brought off by his sergeant, with the assistance of the men. The difficulty of withdrawing the artillery here became very great, the ground being rocky and covered with a dense growth of cedar. Houghtaling's battery had to be abandoned; also two pieces of Bush's battery. The remaining pieces of artillery in the division were brought through the cedars with great difficulty, under a terrible fire from the enemy, on to the open space on the Murfreesborough pike, near the right of General Palmer's division.
In coming through the cedars, two regiments of Schaefer's brigade succeeded in obtaining ammunition, and were immediately put in front to resist the enemy, who appeared to be driving in our entire lines.
On arriving at the open space, I was directed by Major-General Rosecrans to take those two regiments and put them into action on the right of Palmer's division, where the enemy were pressing heavily.