Illinois Volunteers in the front line of battle, the Twenty-second Illinois Volunteers and Fifty-first Illinois Volunteers about 300 yards to the rear, deployed into line; Colonel Opdycke's
demi-brigade on the left, the Third Kentucky Volunteers and the Sixty-fourth Ohio Volunteers in the front line, the Sixty-fifth Ohio Volunteers and the One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio Volunteers in the second line, all deployed, the Seventy-ninth Illinois Volunteers in double column about 200 yards in rear of the second line.
This disposition being made, Colonels Opdycke, and Walworth were ordered to move forward at the firing of the signal gun from Orchard Knob, and to carry the works at all hazards-were directed to conform to the movements of General Wagner's brigade, which was on my left. The ground in my immediate front was covered with timber for a distance of about one-eighth of a mile; from there to the rifle-pits at the foot of Missionary Ridge, a distance of half a mile, the ground was entirely cleared of timber and comparatively level.
At the given signal, the lines moved forward quite handsomely. Arriving at the open ground we were exposed to a most terrific fire of shot and shell from the enemy's battery located on the ridge in our front. The brigade on my left, now moved in
double-quick time, which was conformed to by my own command. My troops carried the first of rifle-pits at the foot of the ridge simultaneously with the brigade on my left and right. We reached it, however, much fatigued and somewhat disorganized from the rapid march across the plain and the severe artillery firing to which we had been exposed. The advance troops, eager to complete the work so well begun, commenced ascending the ridge, though they were in effective range of the enemy's musketry, which now opened most furiously, while shot and shell from the artillery gave place to grape and canister. The ascent was somewhat irregular, owing to the conformation of the ground and the difficulty of ascending; they, however, continued gaining ground, taking advantage of trees, stumps, &c., until they had reached about one-third of the distance from the foot to the summit, when the brigade upon my left commenced retiring-which I afterward learned was by order-thus leaving my left entirely without support and partially exposed to a cross-fire. I ordered Colonel Opdycke to retire beyond the first line of rifle-pits and reform his command. Before this order was conveyed to Colonel Walworth I saw General Sheridan, who stated that the falling back was not by his order, and that he would order an advance again as soon as the troops had recovered a little from their fatigue. Colonel Walworth's demi-brigade did not fall back. The order to again push forward was soon given by General Sheridan, and was obeyed with alacrity by the command. The difficulty and danger which the brave officers and men passed through from the foot of the hill to the summit baffles description. From the nature of the ground it was impossible to move forward with regularity and in line, exposed to the most galling fire of musketry and under a ceaseless storm of grape, canister, and other deadly missiles. The brave officers and men pushed forward with a determination which nothing could daunt, and entirely worthy of the great cause for which we are struggling. Though officers and men were constantly falling, the command moved steadily forward, taking advantage of every depression in the ground-or tree, or stump-to rest for an instant, reload, and the move forward; thus, foot by foot and pace by pace, the crest was being reached to the admiration of all who witnessed