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Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 2.djvu/131

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CHAPTER XXIX


The Battle of the First Day.—1863


GENERAL THOMAS had just succeeded in placing his leading divisions under Baird and Brannan in position early on the morning of September 19 when Colonel Daniel McCook, commanding the brigade of the reserve corps that had been serving on the front for some days, reported to him that he had discovered during the night an isolated rebel brigade on the west bank near Reed's Bridge, and that it could be cut off and captured, as he had destroyed that bridge behind it. Thereupon General Thomas ordered General Brannan to try and capture the rebel body. Brannan proceeded to carry out the order at once, and, by nine o'clock, his second brigade had taken one road to Reed's Bridge, and the third brigade another running a short distance to the north from McDonald's house in the same direction, so as to catch the rebels be tween them. The two brigades were followed by the first as support. The second brigade, after advancing three-quarters of a mile and driving the hostile skirmishers before them, was brought to bay and vigorously attacked at about 10 A.M. by a large body. It was part of Forrest's cavalry corps fighting as infantry under his own command. A severe conflict ensued, in which two regimental commanders fell, but, being reinforced by a regiment, the brigade managed to hold its ground for a time. The third brigade, after marching about a mile and a half towards the stream, also struck the dismounted rebels, who opened upon it a heavy fire of musketry and artillery at short range; but it pushed on and pressed them back to within a

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