This was done in tolerable order but under a most galling fire, Lieutenant Burbridge, Company H, and a number of men being killed, and Captain Ewing, acting major, with perhaps 30 to 35 men, too badly wounded to get away, being left on the ground. This conflict was short and bloody, begun at a great disadvantage, the bayonet had been freely used and defense had become hopeless.
On retiring to the fence to position No. 2 the regiment was in great part promptly rallied, though under a severe direct and cross fire and the loud cheers of the advancing rebels. From this position an effective fire was poured back into the enemy, and he was compelled to retire to the timber for cover. But now a most terrible fire was concentrated upon us, direct and right and left oblique, there being no support on either of my flanks. The officers and men conducted themselves most heroically; many of the latter and all of the former, particularly those of the left wing, to whom my attention was more closely directed, disdaining the cover of the low fence and defiantly receiving and returning the concentrated fire of more than twice their front.
Again the enemy was closing up on my left flank not 30 yards from in and rapidly gaining my rear. I still hoped, though I had not seen it, there was some support on the left, and, depending for support for my right upon a rally that was being made around some old buildings 250 yards distant on the prolongation of my right, as well as upon a few brave heroes scattered along the fence between me and those buildings, I determined to hold the fence a few minutes longer; but it seemed of no avail. There was now almost a semicircle of fire around us; it was growing hotter every moment; we were beginning to receive the fire of our own troops rallied in the ditch below us and in the woods beyond. The five left companies had lost from one-half to three-quarters of their numbers. The left center company had but 5 men left from 24, and 1 of its officers was killed. Lieutenants Morrow, Ruley, and Williams, each commanding a left wing company, had been cut down while most gallantly cheering on their men in the unequal contest. Lieutenant Platt, of Company G (the Ninth), though still commanding his company, was painfully wounded, and already too many noble privates had written themselves heroes with blood stains upon the sod. It was a proud thing to have died there with those that were dead; it was duty to save the remnant of the living for still another struggle.
I now gave the command to fall back to the ditch. Many wounded had already sought this as a place of refuge from the storm of musketry, grape-shot, and shell now sweeping the field from the edge of the timber on both sides. Many others had also rallied here from the troops that had retreated over my line as above mentioned. Many of my own men had rallied here when the line first fell back ditch afforded. From this third position another defense was now opened, and for a few moments vigorously and effectually maintained. But this line, like the others, was flanked and raked with a murderous fire. Many of the wounded were again struck, even the second and third time. The enemy had not yet attempted to cross the open field. Our own artillery and infantry were already pouring into them an effective fire from the timber in the rear. The troops collected around the old buildings before mentioned were successfully holding the enemy's left, and under cover of their fire