Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/528

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47
CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY.

been killed, and his soldiers had been worn out by the hard work of the previous day, while the Federals were reinforced by Buell's fresh army and Wallace's division. Now it was the enemy who advanced, and the Confederates who fought to maintain their ground and withdraw with as little loss as possible from a position which they had not sought for any other purpose than to strike Grant alone and crush him before Buell could arrive.

General Chalmers, with his Mississippians, was attacked early in the morning as he was moving to the left. Falling back to the first camp he had captured, he found ammunition and was reinforced by several regiments, when he assigned Col. R. A. Smith, of the Tenth, to his brigade command. They were driven from their position, rallied and retook it, and were again driven back, when Col. Preston Smith, with two regiments, one of them the survivors of Blythe’s volunteers, joined them. "Believing that one bold charge might change the fortunes of the day," wrote Chalmers, "I called upon my brigade to make one more effort, but they seemed too much exhausted to make the attempt, and no appeal seemed to rouse them. As a last resort I seized the battleflag from the color-bearer of the Ninth Mississippi and called them to follow. With a wild shout the whole brigade tallied to the charge, and we drove the enemy back and re-occupied our first position of the morning, which we held until the order of retreat was received, when we fell back in good order, the enemy not daring to pursue. In this last charge, so gallantly made, the Ninth Mississippi sustained a heavy loss in the fall of its brave commander, Lieut.-Col. William A. Rankin, who fell mortally wounded after having led his men fearlessly throughout the whole of the first and second day. Most of my command behaved well. Col. R. A. Smith, of the Tenth, was particularly distinguished for his bold daring, and his clarion voice could be heard above the din of battle cheering on his men, Maj. T. E. Whitfield, of the Ninth,