General Palmer and the line adjusted thereto. The artillery of the division now opened on the enemy, and was soon replied to. During the day this position was firmly held. Several quite obstinate attempts were made to turn the left of the division, but with the vigilance of the cavalry and some timely precautions adopted by Colonel Champion, commanding Second Brigade, they were prevented. It was apparent to the most casual observer that the enemy had superior force in our front and on the left flank, as well as a superior position for his lines. The assault on the enemy on the right was handsomely made about 3 p.m., but was not wholly successful.
During this assault the artillery of this division and the skirmishers opened as brisk fire as practicable by way of diversion from our right. There was nothing of interest transpired in our front after taking the ridge. The men of the front line speedily erected temporary barricades, and lay behind them awaiting attack or orders to advance. The enemy were threatening all day but made no attack, and the fight gradually subsided to a contest between skirmishers and artillery on both sides, and finally ceased toward evening. About sunset the enemy opened a rapid artillery fire on the entire line. This was speedily replied to by Colonel Grose with Battery H, Fourth U. S. Artillery, and after a few moments every thing was again quiet.
About 8 p.m. orders were received to fall back to the position occupied in the morning, the objects of the reconnaissance having been effected. The division marched at 10 p.m., and was brought back to Lee's house in good order and without accident, the advance reaching there by 1 a.m.
Friday, February 26, under orders from major-general commanding, the three brigades of the division were placed in position to hold the valley about Lee's against any attack. Colonel Dickerman's brigade was sent in the gap east of the house on the main road, Colonel Grose's brigade opposite the gap 1 1/2 miles south, and Colonel Champion's across the valley holding the Tunnel Hill road. Orders from the major-general commanding, however, changed these dispositions soon after they were made. Colonels Grose and Champion were both sent considerably farther down the valley to positions indicated in orders. Early in the day the enemy advanced their cavalry upon us. Colonels Dickerman and Grose had hardly assumed their first positions before sharp skirmishing commenced on their picket-lines. This was maintained until Colonel Long's cavalry force was dispatched to clear the front, which was soon done, the enemy skirmishing away from his advance.
But a single casualty occurred to my command. Early in the morning Captain Van Antwerp had been sent with his cavalry command down the road to Neal's farm, and if possible to go to the place of the engagement of the day previous. Assistant Surgeon Ravenot, of the Seventy-fifth Illinois Volunteers, was sent with the cavalry detachment to visit a wounded soldier who had been left at Burke's house, near big Spring, and became separated from the troops and was probably captured.
Captain Van Antwerp reached a point below Neal's and about 1 mile distant from the line of battle of Thursday, where he encountered a superior force of the enemy's cavalry, and was compelled to fall back. On returning he also encountered another mounted party of the enemy at the Tunnel Hill and Varnell's Station road, and was compelled to make a detour to the right to avoid it and reach his camp.