Here I received orders from General Negley to hold my position to the last extremity. For his purpose I executed a partial change of my front, and placed my troops in the convex order, as follows: The Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania, Colonel Sirwell, on the right, at the brow of a small hill, the right resting near Schultz's battery, of Colonel Stanley's brigade; the Thirty-seventh Indiana, Colonel Hull, on the right center; the Seventy-fourth Ohio, Colonel Moody, on the left center, behind a rail fence; Marshall's battery on a small hill in the open field, to the left of the Seventy-fourth Ohio; the Twenty-first Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel Neibling, on the left, in a thicket fronting the enemy's works, and Ellsworth's battery near the log-house, between Palmer's right and the Twenty-first Ohio. Simultaneously with the advance of the enemy from the right, a heavy force advanced from the enemy's works on my left wing.
The batteries at the enemy's works were manned and opened over the heads of the enemy's infantry. Before my regiments were properly in position, a most terrific fire was opened upon every part of the line by infantry and artillery, but there was no wavering, and, as the advancing columns of the infantry approached, they were by a well-directed and terribly destructive fire from our line.
The batteries were worked with admirable skill, and the firing along our whole line was executed with creditable precision. The enemy halted, but did not abate his fire. The roar of musketry and artillery now became almost deafening, and as the unequal contest progressed it became more terrible. Once the strong force in the open field in front of my left wing attempted a bayonet charge on the Twenty-first Ohio, but were gallantly met and repulsed with great slaughter. On one of the flags was inscribed "Rock City Guards." The battle continued with unabating fierceness on both sides until the 60 rounds of ammunition with which my men were supplied were nearly exhausted.
The Thirty-seventh Indiana was the first to report a want of ammunition, and withdrew a short distance to the rear for a supply, the Seventy-fourth Ohio and Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania filling up the interval. The teamsters of the ammunition wagons had moved to the rear, and when ammunition was being brought forward they turned and fled. Colonel Hull again led his regiment forward and fired the few remaining cartridges on the persons of the men, taking also such as could be had from the dead and wounded.
At this juncture the troops on our right retired, and some unauthorized person ordered Colonel Sirwell to retire his regiment. This regiment was fighting gallantly and holding the position on the crest of the hill, but, on receiving the order, retired to the cedars in the rear. Seeing this, I immediately ordered Colonel Sirwell forward to the same position. This order was obeyed promptly, and the men again took position in admirable order. Soon after this a heavy force was observed to advance on General Palmer's left, and a hard contest ensued.
General Palmer's right brigade held their ground for a short time, and then began to retire. Just at this time I received orders from General Negley to retire slowly with my command into the woods. My troops were nearly out of ammunition; the enemy was advancing on my right flank and on my left, and the fire in front was no less destructive than it had been during the engagement.
The movement was executed in good order by the infantry, but it was impossible for the artillery to obey; nearly all the horses had been killed; the ground was soft and muddy; the men had not the strength