The rest of my line, stretching off to the left, received an oblique fire from the line of breastworks, which, at a point opposite my center, formed a retiring angle running off toward the Chattanooga and La Fayette road behind.
The accompanying map,* showing the shape of the enemy's line of works opposite my line, will explain our relative positions. Upon reference to it, it will be seen that opposite to my right and right center the enemy's works ran about half a mile north and south, and nearly parallel to the Chattanooga and La Fayette road, which was about 300 yards behind; that at a point opposite my center, his works formed, as before stated, a retiring angle running in a westerly and somewhat oblique direction to the Chattanooga and La Fayette road, and that at a point nearly opposite my right his works formed another retiring angle running back also to the road. My right and right center, consisting of Polk's brigade and Lowrey's regiment, of Wood's brigade, were checked within 175 yards of the advanced part of this portion of the enemy's works, and the rest of the line were halted in compliance with the order previously given to dress upon the right.
Passing toward the left at this time, I found that the line of advance of my division, which was the left of the right wing of the army, converged with the line of advance of the left wing of the army. The flanks of the two wings had already come into collision. Part of Wood's brigade had passed over Bate's brigade, of Stewart's division, which was the right of the left wing, and Deshler's brigade, which formed my left, had been thrown out entirely and was in rear of the left wing of the army. I ordered Wood to move forward the remainder of his brigade, opening at the same time in the direction of the enemy's fire with Semple's battery. That part of Wood's brigade to the left of Lowrey's regiment and to the left of the southern angle of the breastworks in its advance at this time entered an old field bordering the road (Chattanooga and La Fayette) and attempted to cross it in the face of a heavy fire from works in its front. It had almost reached the road, its left wing being at Poe's house (known as the burning house), when it was driven back by a heavy oblique fire of small-arms and artillery which was opened upon both its flanks, the fire from the right coming from the south face of the breastworks, which was hid from view by the thick growth of scrub-oak bordering the field.
Five hundred men were killed and wounded by this fire in a few minutes. Upon this repulse (Lowrey's regiment having also in the meantime been forced to retire), I ordered the brigade still farther back to reform. Semple's battery, which had no position, I also ordered back.
I now moved Deshler's brigade by the right flank, with the intention of connecting it with Polk's left, so filling the gap left in my center by the withdrawal of Wood. This connection, however, I could not establish, as Polk's left had in its turn been also drive back. Finding it a useless sacrifice of life for Polk to retain his position, I ordered him to fall back with the rest of his line, and with his and Wood's brigades I took up a strong defensive position some 300 or 400 yards in rear of the point from which they had been repulsed. Deshler's brigade had moved forward toward the right of the enemy's advanced works, but could not go beyond the crest of a
*See p. 157.