67                                  HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.

us with anything but pleasant sensations. We ascertained the following to be the position of affairs, on Saturday evening the 14th, which satisfied us that either the enemy would surrender next morning or we have some hard fighting, and the Seventy-Eighth Ohio Regiment have probably a very rough invitation.

           The rebel position was a strong one. The water batteries had been successful in so far injuring the gunboats, that they could not be of any more service for several days. The place must be taken by a land force. The rebel defenses were strongly protected by a line of rifle-pits, and these protected in turn by fallen trees and brush, making almost impassable obstructions. The main fort was in the rear, and occupied a position on a high ridge, which commanded the country for miles in the sweep of its common range. The rebel General Floyd was in command of the works, and next in rank were Generals Pillow and Buckner. General U. S. Grant was in command of the Federal army, which consisted of three divisions. General McClernand's Division on the right, General Smith's on the left, and General Lew Wallace's in the center.

           General Grant established his lines on Friday, parallel with the rebel line of works, and completely enclosed them. On this day some hard fighting took place on our right and center. General Wallace made an attack upon a strong rebel position, but without much success. The gunboats, under command of Admiral Foote, did some very severe fighting, losing fifty-four men, killed and wounded, and was himself severely wounded in the foot. The Admiral, seeing his boats doing fine execution, thought he was about being successful in silencing the rebel batteries commanding the river, but at that moment a shot disabled one boat, and the other was so badly injured that it was compelled to float down stream to get out of range of the enemy's guns. That Friday night was one of great suffering and hardship to the troops, who slept without tents or fire, and within rifle shot of the enemy's works. The night was dark, and soon a cold heavy rain began to fall, and finally turned into sleet and snow, with fierce tempests of wintry wind. Occasionally the sharp crack of the pickets' rifle was heard over the sound of the agitated forest, and bending and breaking trees. In this cold, pelting storm the men lay without a murmur, upon their arms, ready for the terrible storm of the next day's conflict.      *      *      *

           *   General Grant having the enemy closely invested, determined to hold them in their position, and storm them into a surrender, but the rebel Floyd, fearing this same thing, decided that he would, the next morning, concentrate his forces upon General McClernand, who held our right, and cut his way out and escape towards Nashville. This caused the most terrible fighting on Saturday, and well nigh did Floyd accomplish his plan. The day was damp and cold; at dawn of day the soldiers rose from their wintry resting place, and soon were standing shivering in their ranks, but cold frost and snow were soon forgotten, and unfelt, as the heavy roar of the enemy's guns, and the rapid musketry firing broke the morning's stillness. The battle-field was made up of hills and ravines, all covered with dense forest. On every commanding eminence artillery was placed, which belched forth shot and shell into our lines below. Through the dense woods the battle surged backward and forward, till our advance regiments on the right, overpowered by overwhelming numbers, gave way, and were driven back from their first position. At one time the enemy threatened to sweep the entire battle-field, and even broke through McClernand's lines. M'Callister's Battery of four twenty-four pounders, which had poured so much death into the rebel ranks, could do nothing more to prevent the advance of the enemy. Captain M'Callister had fired away his last

Intro Previous Next ToC Index