The enemy concluded his operations against the left, as night approached, by opening on it with his artillery. Cox's and Estep's batteries gallantly and effectually replied, but darkness soon put a conclusion to this artillery duel, and when the night descended and brought a period to the long and bloody contest of this ever-memorable day, it found the First and Second Brigades, Hascall's and Wagner's, occupying, with some slight interchange in the position of particular regiments, the ground on which they had gone into the fight in the morning. Every effort of the enemy to dislodge them had failed; every attack had been gallantly repulsed.
I cannot speak in too high terms of the soldierly bearing and steadfast courage with which the officers and men of these two brigades maintained the battle throughout the day. Their good conduct deserves, and will receive, the highest commendation of their commanders and countrymen. The commanding general of the enemy has borne testimony, in his dispatch, to the gallantry and success of their resistance.
Cox's and Estep's batteries were splendidly served throughout the day, and did the most effective service. They lost heavily in men and horses, and it was necessary for Estep to call on the One hundredth Illinois Volunteers for a detail to aid in working his guns.
I have previously remarked that the Third Brigade, Colonel Harker, was detached early in the day and sent to re-enforce the right. It remained on that part of the field during the entire day. I am unable, consequently, to speak of its services from personal observation; but its extremely heavy list of casualties shows how hotly it was engaged and what valuable service it rendered. I am sure it fully met the expectations I had ever confidently entertained of what would be its bearing in the presence of the foe.
Bradley's Sixth Ohio Battery was associated with this brigade during the day; was skillfully handled, and did most effective service. It lost two of its guns, but they were spiked before they were abandoned. They were subsequently recaptured by the Thirteenth Michigan Volunteers, attached to the brigade.
From all I have learned of the service of the Third Brigade and Bradley's battery, I am sure they deserve equal commendation with the two brigades and batteries which so stoutly held the left.
An official report of events so thrilling as those of the battle of the 31st ultimo, made from personal observation, amid the din and road of the conflict, and unaided by the reports of the subordinate commanders, must necessarily present but a brief and meager outline of the part enacted by the troops whose service it professes to portray. A report so prepared may, unintentionally on the part of the writer, do injustice to particular troops and officers. From inability of reference to the reports of subordinate commanders, I cannot give any detail of the heavy casualties of the battle of the 31st. I must leave them to be reported, with the subsequent casualties, by my successor in command. The absence of such reports prevents as particularly distinguished themselves; but, where all did so well, it would be difficult, perhaps invidious, to discriminate among them.
To my brigade commanders, Brigadier-General Hascall, commanding First Brigade; Colonel Wagner, Fifteenth Indiana Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, and Colonel Harker, Sixty-fifth Ohio Volunteers, commanding Third Brigade, my warmest thanks are due for their valuable assistance, their hearty co-operation, and intelligent performance of duty throughout the whole of that trying day. For these services,