mand. While making these disposition, on the afternoon of the 26th, I received a telegram from Colonel Doolittle, commanding at Decatur, that a scout sent out by him on the Somerville road had been driven in by the enemy, and that they appeared about 500 strong in his immediate front. I telegraphed this fact to the general commanding department, stating that I did not think the attack upon Decatur as yet serious, as it could hardly be more than the advance of Hood's army, the entire of it not having had time to arrive before Decatur. My suppositions proved to be correct, as the attack was made by a detachment of Walthall's DIVISION, Stewart's corps. I immediately made arrangements to leave with every available man at Huntsville for Decatur, and arrived there about 5 p. m., just as the fight was closing, there being only a few shots from their artillery and some scattering musketry after my arrival. Colonel Doolittle, in command during my absence, disposed his very limited forces most excellently.
During the night of the 26th the gun-boat Stone River arrived with 200 men from One hundred and second Ohio and Eighteenth Michigan Infantry. Detachments of the Seventy-THIRD Indiana Infantry from Athens, Ala., arrived by train. The enemy received heavy accessions, and the morning showed us his line stretching from the river on the left across the Somerville and Moulton roads, and covering nearly two-THIRDs of our entire front. No demonstration was made by him during the day, and it was evident he was waiting for the arrival of the balance of his forces. Nothing occurred during the day beyond some desultory firing and occasionally brisk skirmishing between our pickets. Re-enforcements arrived during the day, consisting of parts of the Fourteenth U. S. Colored Infantry, the Sixty-eighth Indiana Infantry, Thirteenth Indiana Cavalry, and Seventy-THIRD Indiana Infantry, swelling our garrison by night-fall to 3,000 men. During the day the remainder of General Hood's army arrived and went into position across the Courtland road, covering the remainder of our front. The country about our fortifications for a distance of 800 yards is almost a level plain, entirely unobstructed. At that distance it is intersected by a ravine and water course, commencing on our left and running across the Somerville, Moulton, and Courtland roads. Beyond the ravine the ground rises in a sparsely wooded slope for 700 yards, and is bounded by a dense wood stretching across our entire front, and, bending northward, finds the river at a distance of 1,000 yards upon our right.
During the morning of the 27th the right of our picket-line was forced back by the enemy's skirmishers, but in the afternoon was most gallantly recovered by detachment of Seventy-THIRD Indiana Infantry, and at night our picket-line was established very nearly on its old ground. About 3 o'clock the following morning the enemy, under cover of a dense fog, which enveloped everything, charged our picket-line, driving it in upon our main line of works. I made no attempt to resist this advance of the enemy. By this charge the enemy obtained possession of the ravine above mentioned, and threw up a line of rifle-pits extending near river on our left, across our front, and from the railroad on diagonally across our front, to a point opposite our extreme right, and about 300 yards from our principal fort. These pits were filled by three brigades of infantry and sharpshooters. About 9 a. m. the fog cleared away and the work of the enemy during the night was developed. It was evident immediately that it was absolutely necessary to dislodge the enemy from this position, as they perfectly covered every gun in our principal fort and would soon render it impossible to work them with accuracy. To accomplish this important and delicate work, I selected