which is the fort we were attacking, three regiment of my command, the SIXTEENTH Indiana, eighty-THIRD Ohio, and Sixty-seventh Indiana on the right of General Benton's along the hill and in front of the fort, and not more than 20 steps from it.
By 10. 30 a. m. We had silenced their batteries to a great extent, and the regiments had their colors flying against the walls of the fort. There being some symptoms of an attempt to turn our flanks, I sent four companies of the Twenty-THIRD Wisconsin to support the Sixty-Seventh Indiana on the right, and the remaining six companies to the left, in support of the SIXTEENTH Indiana.
While this was being done I received orders from General SMITH to send two regiments of my command to support General Benton's left; but as this would reduce my force one-half, and leave my front terribly exposed, I immediately sent to General SMITH representing these facts. His answer was,"it is an order from General Carr, and must be obeyed. " I again sent an aide to urge the state of the case, and received permission from General SMITH to retain my position, but shortly received an inquiry from General Carr why the regiments were not forthcoming. I then went myself to see General McClernand, and represented to him that it would be the destruction not only of my regiments, but of the whole front. General McClernand, while assenting to my statements, referred me to General Carr, who commanded the advance. Notwithstanding my representations. General Carr renewed his order concerning the regiments, and telling him I obeyed his order under protest, I returned to my command, and with a heavy and foreboding heart gave the requisite orders for the Twenty-THIRD Wisconsin and Sixty-seventh Indiana to withdraw from the ground which had been gained with so much labor and maintained with so much valor, thus leaving my two remaining regiments. SIXTEENTH Indiana and Eighty-THIRD Ohio, unsupported.
As I had anticipated and feared, the rebels, finding the fire slackened and the line weakened in their front, opened a most destructive fire. On consultation with General Benton, I determined to take the responsibility of replacing my regiments without delay, but the work was now most difficult, as the rebels had the advantage and seemed determined to keep it. Just as I had ordered my regiments back, a message came from General Carr, telling me to use my discretion about withdrawing my regiments. Such a message ten minutes before, or such consent when I pleaded for it, would have saved a hundred lives.
After repeated applications, I succeeded in getting permission to carry a piece of artillery to my front line. Accordingly, a gun from the Mercantile Battery was taken by a squad of the Twenty-THIRD Wisconsin close up to the point held by the SIXTEENTH Indiana, and supported by the latter regiment not more than 25 or 30 feet from the fort, against which it did admirable work. By this time the guns of my command had become so foul by constant firing that I was compelled to use caliber 54 in place of 58, the caliber of the arms. A brigade was sent us from General Quinby's DIVISION, but, owing to their incautious manner of approaching, drew from the enemy a most galling fire of musketry and artillery, followed by an attempt of the enemy to charge, probably with the view of capturing the gun we were using so effectively. The brigade re-enforcing us broke and retired in great disorder. My brigade, now greatly reduced in strength, manfully held its ground, and the SIXTEENTH Indiana prepared with fixed bayonets to receive the threatened charge, which, however, did not come. It was