in pursuance of orders from Colonel Samuel A. Rice, commanding Second Brigade, we marched across the bottom at double-quick to a position on the Sterling road. Upon reaching the point designated, I found that the enemy occupied the crest of the hills with their skirmishers, north of Battery A, commanding my position. I immediately sent forward two companies of skirmishers to dislodge and drive them back; but finding them too strongly posted, I continued to re-enforce the line until eight companies were deployed. In the mean time the enemy had placed a battery of two guns in position, with which they opened al brisk fire, and moved rapidly upon us, cheering and exulting as they advanced, being partially shield from view by a fog, which covered the hills at that moment. Our skirmishers met them with a galling and incessant fire, under which they gradually fell back, resolutely contesting every inch of ground as they retired. Our skirmishers advanced steadily and cautiously, and, having gained the crest of the hills previously occupied by the enemy, compelled him to abandon his guns, which, after several ineffectual attempts, he subsequently recovered, and withdrew, leaving one caisson on the field. My men were under a severe fire for more of both officers and men in terms of the highest commendation for their coolness and bravery during the entire action. I saw no flinching or wavering during the day.
It is proper to add that several of my officers and quite a number of my men, who were excused from duty in consequence of physical debility, left their quarters and joined their respective companies where the signal gun was fired.
Any invidious distinctions among the members of my command would not be admissible in this report, but I would not do justice to an accomplished officer should I fail to acknowledge the efficient services of Lieutenant Colonel R. F. Patterson during the action, and the special obligations I am under for the thorough instruction previously given by him to both officers and men in the responsible duties and obligations of the soldier, the importance of which was so forcibly illustrated on the 4th instant.
My regiment was promptly supported by the Thirty-sixth Iowa Infantry, commanded by Colonel [C. W.] Kittredge, and was relieved by him a short time before the enemy left the field.
The enemy's force in front of our line, so far as I have been able to ascertain from the most reliable information within my reach, was one brigade of five regiments of infantry, one battery, and two regiments of cavalry in reserve, under command of Colonel [General] McRae.
I regret to have to report that during the engagement the loss in my regiment was 7 killed and 24 wounded, some of them mortally (2 of whom have since died), and many of them severely wounded, among the number some of my best and bravest men. The enemy's loss t is not possible to state definitely, as he succeeded in removing many of them from the field. We buried 14 of his dead, and found the graves of 17 more buried by himself, and brought 1 of his wounded from the field.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOMAS H. BENTON, JR.,
Colonel Twenty-ninth Iowa Infantry.
Colonel SAMUEL A. RICE,
Commanding Second Brigadier, Thirteenth Division, Thirteenth Corps.