of musketry on the advancing enemy, compelling them to the shelter. Many of our men being killed and wounded, and the enemy pressing us hard, we were compelled to fall back into the crater in order to save our little band, while the negroes kept up a heavy fire on the rebels outside the fort.
I found General Bartlett inside the crater, and told him that the enemy had gained the intrenchments on the right of the fort and was preparing to drive us out of the crater. He then ordered me to act as brigade officer of the day and try to rally every man for the defense of the crater. General Bartlett and one of his aides-de-camp, a very gallant and praiseworthy officer, did everything in their power to rally the troops on inside the crater, but found it to be impossible, as the men were completely worn out and famished for water. He succeeded in rallying some twenty-five or thirty negroes, who behaved nobly, keeping up a continual fire of musketry, thereby holding the rebels on the right of the fort at bay and keeping them from entering it. I requested General Bartlett to leave the fort and try and gain our first line of works. He said it would be impossible to do so, and that he would hold the fort until the last. He then ordered me to make every man as well as the officers do their duty, and to give him the name of every officers who refused to rally the men. We felt confident that another charge would be made by our troops upon the enemy on our right and out hopes were to hold the fort until the charge was made. Through the exertions of General Bartlett, myself, and other officers, we succeeded in forming most of the men around the crest of the crater and all were determined to defend the fort to the last. The crest of the fort was swept with canister and grape-shot from the batteries of the enemy. In the mean time the enemy opened a heavy bombardment with their mortar batteries. They had perfect range of the crater; therefore almost every shell exploded in the midst of the dense mass of men, killing and wounding many of our brave soldiers at every explosion.
It appeared in a short time impossible to hold the fort, as our men were overcome with the excessive heat, and the negroes almost destitute of ammunition. We succeeded at last in getting several hundred rounds from the dead and wounded in the fort. The traverses around the fort were filled with the enemy, who attempted to charge into the crater,but were driven off at the point of the bayonet. They succeeded in killing and wounding a great many of our soldiers through the crevices and breaches in the fort. Our brave, heroic soldiers would fill them up as much as possible by putting in blouses, knapsacks, haversacks, and everything that cold be got hold of.
The suffering for want of water was terrible. Many of the negroes volunteered to go for water with their canteens. A great part of them were shot in the head while attempting to get over the works; a few, more fortunate than orders, succeeded in running the gauntlet and returned with water to the great relief of their suffering comrades. I was ordered by General Bartlett to have a stand of colors placed on the fort to show our friends our position. At the hour of 1 p.m. the bottom, sides, and nearly all parts of the crater were strewn with dead, dying,and wounded soldiers, causing pools of blood to be formed at the bottom of the crater. Finding it impossible to get water without great loss of life, General Bartlett ordered a traverse to be cut through the works in order to let the men pass through without being seen by the enemy. After much exertion I succeeded in getting a few negroes to undertake the work, who were put under charge of Lieutenant Seely,