At the moment of retreating a few steps, the brave and gallant Major Carpenter, commanding the Nineteenth Infantry, fell from his horse with six mortal wounds, regretted by all who knew him. The left wing of the brigade, First and Second Battalions Eighteenth Infantry, was, during the remained of the battle, committed mostly to Major Townsend, the right wing, deprived of its field officers, requiring, as I thought, more of my attention.
About the middle of the afternoon an extended line of men was discovered far to our front, advancing with our national colors, and, having passed over a slight rise, descended into a corresponding depression, partially concealing them, when a white flag with a dark ball in its center was substituted, after which they unfurled the rebel flag; whereupon Captain Guenther directed the fire of his battery, causing the line to break in double-quick time to their left flank and disappear into the cedar forest.
Though occasionally visited by the enemy's shot, but little heed was given to it, and thus closed the action of the brigade the first day, being the last of the year, December 31, 1862. During the night our wounded were gathered together, as far as the enemy's pickets would permit.
A short time before daybreak of New Year's day the brigade retired, according to orders, to a point in the rear of the commanding general's headquarters, to meet an attack on our right. Some shifting of position took place until about 2 p.m., when it marched toward Stewart's Creek, and on arriving near there it was ordered back in double-quick time, which being executed, and night coming on, the brigade bivouacked on the left of the roadway and night coming on, the brigade bivouacked on the left of the roadway and near the commanding general's headquarters.
On the third day [the 2nd instant] the brigade marched, before breakfasting, to the front to meet the enemy's attack, and we retained this position during the day and following night, the battery assisting to silence the enemy's batteries and effect the repulse of the enemy in their attack on the left wing of the army, under General Crittenden, in the afternoon.
On the 3rd instant [the fourth day] the brigade and battery moved forward to the standpoint of the first day, December 31, 1862, where slight epaulements were thrown up, principally by the men of the brigade, and encamped within them, though rendered almost untenable by heavy rains, which filled them partially with ad dark, a severe attack was made by some portion of the division upon the enemy in front, which resulted in gaining possession of the enemy's first line of breastworks for a time, and subsequently abandoning them, owing to exhausted ammunition.
On the 4th instant I reported, at 7.30 a.m., that the enemy had evacuated our front. The brigade held the same position, employing the day and following night in the sad duty of collecting our dead, who were interred with military honors just in front of our intrenchments, and on the standpoint of the brigade and battery, maintained from the first to the last day's conflict.
The heavy rains of the 2nd and 3rd instant covered this position and the trenches with mud and water, in which the whole brigade had to stand or recline while seeking to obtain a little rest. Not a murmur escape the lip in all this trying and painful as well as arduous and dangerous service. On the contrary, cheerfulness and alacrity were evident on their countenances, and this while subsistence was so scarce as to force a consumption of horses killed in the battle.