his regiment (Nineteenth Illinois), as skirmishers, to protect our right flank, but not to bring on an engagement, as you had orders not to do so at that time. It, however, became necessary to occupy some buildings in a field, from which we were annoyed by the enemy, and Colonel Scott drove them from the place and afterward held it. We were then annoyed from a barn and brick-kiln in our advance and right, and Colonel Scott charged and drove them away. Quite a number of the enemy were killed in these skirmishers and some two or three of our men.
During the day General McCook came up on our right and sharply engaged the enemy. At night we lay on our arms, and early on the morning of December 31 our skirmishers advanced and drove the enemy's skirmishers partly through the woods in our front, and General McCook engaged them on our right, but eventually fell back, and then a very heavy force was precipitated on our front and right, and on the Seventh Brigade, to my left. This infantry force was supported by a battery on our front and one in intrenchments on our left, and the fire was very severe; but the brigade (as also did the Seventh Brigade, on my left) sustained the fire without falling back, and poured such a well-directed fire upon the enemy that they faltered, and their ranks were thin and stayed; but the troops on our right and left had fallen back so far as to bring the enemy on three sides of us and fast closing on our rear. At this time General Negley directed the division to cut its way through, to join our other troops in the rear. This we did in good order, halting at two points and checking the enemy by a well-directed fire, which by this time they had learned to fear.
After we had formed in line behind the crest of a hill, an officer from another division rode to the front of the Eighteenth Ohio and ordered them forward, himself leading the way, and made the charge upon the enemy in the woods; but the enemy was so strong there that the regiment was compelled to fall back with heavy loss. As soon, however, as I saw the move, I called upon the Eleventh Michigan to follow me to their support, which they did most gallantly; but I soon called them off, as they had no support and the fire was murderous. I exceedingly regretted this order from an officer not having command over me, and without consulting yourself or me. Many of my men were left on the field.
Early in the action of this day I discovered that Colonel Cassilly, of the Sixty-ninth Ohio Volunteers, was so drunk as to be unfitted to command, and I ordered him to the rear in arrest, and placed Major Hickcox in command, who soon after was injured by the concussion of a shell, so as to be unfit for duty, and thus the regiment was left without a commander. I, however, knew nothing of this for some time after; but members of my staff found them scattering, rallied them, and directed the senior officer present, Captain Putman, to take command. Captain Brigham,the senior captain of the regiment, had been out with skirmishers, and was not at this time with the regiment. The regiment did but little service in the action, but the company officers did what they could, and in that way helped us some.
I recommend the dismissal of Colonel Cassilly from the service. I cannot for a moment tolerate or pass over such flagrant conduct. I saw nothing of him after the action, but have learned that he was wounded and had gone to Nashville. A man who will come to the field of battle, having the lives of so many in his keeping, in such a situation, no matter what his social position, is totally unfit for any command.
On January 2, the enemy attacked the left flank of our army in strong force of infantry and artillery, and soon drove our scattered forces to the rear. General Rosecrans and General Negley were both on the