Dunlap. In a short time Brigadier-General Leggett came up, and I sent by signal a dispatch to Major-General Blair, in these words:
General Smith has one brigade, facing south, extending to the rear, in the woods behind us. If some troops can connect on his left the rebels can easily be driven out of the woods.
Soon after this the rebels advanced again, and this time in great force. The roar of musketry was louder than ever, and bullets so thick around us that we began to think of leaving, as it was almost certain death above the rifle-pits. Just then a dispatch was brought by Captain Cadle from Brigadier-General Smith to Major-General Blair, of which a copy is inclosed herewith, marked A.* While sending it, the rebels advanced by the flank (against a fire which moved them down in great numbers) along the line C D, and planted their flag behind the breast-work B, twenty feet from our flag, obtaining an enfilading fire along the line N K. Lieutenant Conard "flagged" the first part of the message and myself the rest. I was much annoyed by men running from the rifle-pits out of the fire and down hill, who got in the way of the strokes of my flag, which I took care should descend on their heads not very gently. The Sixty-eighth and Seventy-eighth Ohio formed a line at E F with rails, under a hot fire, and held it. After sending the dispatch we descended the hill to a safer location, but while there word came that the ammunition was nearly out, and I carried up a box to the corner N, under the hottest fire I have ever been in, stepping over dead and wounded men at every step in that fatal corner. The box I brought came at a very timely moment, as they were out, and I was loudly welcomed. I subsequently returned and took up another box. The rebels kept their flag and fire up all night, but left early in the morning. The ground on both sides of the works showed the nature of this struggle and the deadly effect of the fire, our works on this hill containing great numbers of dead on both sides. In fact our men sometimes fought on one side of the works and then on the other, depending on the direction of the hottest fire, and on our success in holding this hill depended the success we achieved in repulsing this surprise on our left.
I cannot speak in too high terms of Second-Class Private Philip W. Ashton, who "flagged" the first message above given under a sharp fire. Besides his good conduct in action, he is noted in this detachment for his soldierly qualities. He was severely wounded next day while standing by my side, and I recommend very respectfully that he be promoted to the grade of first-class private.
Attention is called to map B,+ showing positions at beginning and close of action.
I have the honor, captain, to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,
2nd Lieutenant, C, 72nd Ill. Infty., Actg. Sig. Officer, U. S. Army.
Captain O. H. HOWARD,
Chief Signal Officer, Army of the Tennessee.
*Not found as an inclosure.