On the 21st, I moved my command into line of battle in front of the enemy's works and deployed a line of skirmishers in front, and remained in this position till the morning of the 22nd. A general assault having been ordered upon the enemy's works at 10 a. m. this day, I spent the night of the 21st, in connection with the lamented Colonel Boomer, commanding the THIRD Brigade, reconnoitering for the best approaches for infantry to the enemy's works in our front.
It was ascertained that we could approach to within about 80 yards under cover of the hills and form without great exposure to the men, and early on the morning of the 22nd I moved my command into this position, and formed in line of battle on the left of the THIRD Brigade. Colonel Boomer had some doubts as to his ability to carry the works in his front, and as the works left in my front could not be held, if carried, while those on my right were in possession of the enemy, I transferred to him, for the purpose of this assault, the FIFTY-NINTH Indiana Regiment, and deployed the Eighteenth Wisconsin along our whole front as skirmishers.
These dispositions being made, the commanders of regiments were ordered to advance upon the works immediately upon the movement commencing on our right. For some reason the troops on our right did not move, and I retained the same position with some loss till about 3 o'clock, when I received an order from General McPherson, through General Quinby, commanding DIVISION, to move at once and vigorously upon the works. A staff officer was dispatched immediately to the regimental commanders to communicate this order, but before he had succeeded in doing so it was countermanded, and I was ordered to move with all my command, not deployed as skirmishers, to the left, to support Major-General McClernand. I immediately moved my command (with the exception of the Eighteenth Wisconsin, deployed as skirmishers) from its position, some 2 miles to the left, and was there ordered by General Quinby to support Burbridge's brigade, then engaged in front of the enemy's works. I immediately moved forward for that purpose, under the direction of a staff officer, and was led up through a ravine that was raked to a considerable extent by musketry and artillery to a point a few yards in rear of the line of this brigade. I was informed by General Burbridge that the position close to the enemy's works was not so exposed as the ravine, and he desired me to form nearer or in front of his line. I formed my brigade-FIFTY-NINTH Indiana on the right, Forty-eighth Indiana to its left, and the Fourth Minnesota to the left of the Forty-eighth. This position seemed very much exposed, and I lost several men during the formation.
My command was exceedingly exhausted, having had no rest the night of the 19th, marching nearly 20 miles the 20th, moving into camp the 21st, and having been under fire or marching all this day to the time I moved to this position, and one or two of the regiments having already lost 30 men during the day. As soon as my line was formed, General Burbridge's line gave way and his troops left the ground, with the exception of one regiment, which remained in support of the FIFTY-NINTH Indiana.
The enemy was largely re-enforced, and fired rapid and destructive volleys into my command, which were promptly returned, but the enemy, having so high and strong works in front, in cannot be expected with much effect. Once or twice the enemy came over his works in large numbers and formed on my right, with the evident design of turning my right flank, but was promptly driven back by my command with much slaughter.