My idea was then to meet the enemy outside of the fortifications, and by being overpowered, to fall back to Fort B, and from thence to Fort A, which place could be held against any force of the enemy.
The position selected by me (Captain [Thomas J.] Majors, First Nebraska, and Lieutenant [Adolphus] Stauber, Welfley's battery) was west of Cape Girardeau, about three-quarters of a mile from Fort B. The small number of the defending force allowed only to protect the northwestern part of the town, which commands all other places in and around town. The troops had made up their mind to defend the place to the last man, and never to surrender to the rebels.
On the evening of the 24th, General McNeil arrived and took command of the place. The general approved of my plan of defense, and ordered, on the 25th, Welfley's battery, consisting of six pieces, and part of the Thirty-second Iowa for the protection of the north and west side of the town. The position north, on the Perryville road, was very important, and the force of defense was two companies (F and G), First Nebraska, two field [pieces] of Welfley's battery, and three companies of the Thirty-second Iowa, all under the charge of Captain [Thomas J.] Weatherwax, First Nebraska. The central position was between the Bloomfield and Jackson roads, on a hill, which commands all approaches from the west, on which was placed four pieces of Welfey's battery, under Lieutenant [Lawrence] Jacoby, and five companies of the First Nebraska, commanded by Captain Majors. The first division of the First Nebraska, commanded by Captain Majors. The first division of the First Nebraska Infantry (Companies B and D) were placed as skirmishers in advance, and, after twenty-four hours on duty, they were relieved by Companies I and C, of First Nebraska. Captain [H. H.] Ribble, Company I, was on the right of the skirmish line, on the Jackson road, where the attack of the enemy was first made on the morning of the 26th, at 10 a. m. The rebels were stopped by the fire of the pickets, who had orders to fall back on the battalion. Companies B and D were sent as a detachment on a hill, near the Jackson road, to act as skirmishers, and could do good service. The main attack was made northwest of the Jackson road. The guns of our position on the Perryville road fired first. Then, from the central position, and in the rear of the two outside positions, the guns of Fort B opened fire. The cross-fire of the artillery was so well directed, and the artillerists so much skilled and intrepid, that the enemy could not advance from the ambush. The five companies (C, I, K, E, and A) of First Nebraska did not give up one inch of ground in the face of the enemy, who were about ten to their one, and fired all their ammunition away. Never can soldiers perform their duty on the battle-field better or braver than did this small band of heroes. The enemy tried then to attack our right flank, on the Perryville road, when I moved two pieces of artillery on the hill, on the Jackson road, protected by Companies B and D, and their position was very destructive to the enemy. The left flank, on the Bloomfield road, was protected by the First Wisconsin Cavalry, Colonel [O. H.] La Grange, Lieutenant-Colonel [Henry] Pomeroy. Three of their companies dismounted and fought the enemy on foot with their carbines. Two mountain howitzers did also excellent service in dislodging a battery of the enemy. The position on Perryville road was strengthened by taking two more field pieces to the place; also the five companies of the First Nebraska, which were supplied with new ammunition. The firing against the enemy was still kept up from the position on the Jackson road and Fort B, until about 3 p. m., when the enemy fell back. Only small detachments were sent out to ascertain where the enemy had gone. Some of them went our as far as 3 miles. The artillery and infantry were under arms all