undaunted determination, but as another battery had been added since the previous attack, to a position already strong and difficult of access, this assault was alike ineffectual. The enemy, though not driven from his position, was severely punished, and, as the day was far spent, it was not deemed advisable to renew the attack that evening, and the troops held the line they occupied for the night.
The following morning, instead of finding him in position to receive a renewal of the attack, showed that, taking advantage of the night, he had abandoned this last position of his first line, and the opening of the new year found us masters of the field.
This battle of December 31 developed in all parts of the field which came under my observation the highest qualities of the soldier among our troops. The promptness with which they moved upon the enemy whenever they were called to attack him, the vigor and elan with which their movements were made, the energy with which they assaulted his strong positions, and the readiness with which they responded to the call to repeat their assaults, indicated a spirit of dauntless courage, which places them in the very front rank of the soldiers of the world. For the exhibition of these high traits they are not a little indebted to the example of their officers, whose courage and energy had won their confidence and admiration.
January 1 passed without any material movement of either side, beyond occasional skirmishing along the lines in our front. I ordered Chalmers' brigade, now commanded by Colonel [T. W.] White, [Ninth Mississippi,] to occupy the ground in rear of the Round Forest just abandoned by the enemy. This it did, first driving out his pickets.
On the 2nd there was skirmishing during the morning. In the afternoon, about 3 o'clock, General Bragg announced his intention to attack the enemy, who was supposed to be in force on the north side of the river, and ordered me to relieve two of General Breckinridge's brigades, which were still in my front, and send them over to that officer, who had returned to his post, as he proposed to make the attack with the troops of Breckinridge's division. I issued the necessary orders at once, and the troops were transferred as directed. The general commanding ordered me also to open fire with three batteries, which had been placed in Chalmers' line, to distract the enemy at the time of Breckinridge's attack, and to shell out of the woods which covered his line of movement any sharpshooters who might annoy him while approaching the river. The shelling ordered, which was to be the signal for Breckinridge's advance, was promptly executed and the woods were cleared. Of the particulars of this movement General Breckinridge will speak in his own report.
When the firing of my batteries was opened, as above, there was a forward movement of the enemy's infantry upon my pickets in the Round Forest, and a sharp conflict, which lasted for some time, and ended in the enemy's regaining possession of the forest. This position being of much value to us, I found it necessary to regain it, and gave the requisite orders.
On the following morning, at daybreak, I ordered a heavy fire of artillery from several batteries to open upon it, and, after it was thoroughly shelled, detachments from the brigades of Colonels White and Coltart charged it with the bayonet at a double-quick and put the enemy to flight, clearing it of his regiments and capturing a lieutenant-colonel and 13 men. The enemy, however, knew the importance of the position also, and was occupied during the day in throwing up earth works for the protection of batteries within easy range. These being completed,