In our front, Colonel Carr’s Division fought steadily and earnestly during the entire day, but was pressed back fully two-thirds of a mile. General Curtis gave it what re-enforcements he could, but there were very few to be spared. When it was fully ascertained that the Rebels on our left had gone to our front, we prepared to unite against them. Our left was drawn in to re-enforce Colonel Carr, but the movement was not completed until long after dark.
Thus night came. The rebels were in full possession of our communications. We had repulsed them on the left, but lost ground, guns, and men on our front. The Rebels were holding Elkhorn Tavern, which we had made great effort to defend. Colonel Carr had repeatedly wished for either night or re-enforcements. He obtained both.
The commanding officers visited General Curtis’s head-quarters, and received their orders for the morrow. Our whole force was to be concentrated on our front. If the enemy did not attack us at daylight, we would attack him as soon thereafter as practicable.
Viewed in its best light, the situation was somewhat gloomy. Mr. Fayel, of the Democrat, and myself were the only journalists with the army, and the cessation of the day’s fighting found us deliberating on our best course in case of a disastrous result. We destroyed all documents that could give information to the enemy, retaining only our note-books, and such papers as pertained to our profession. With patience and resignation we awaited the events of the morrow.
I do not know that any of our officers expected we should be overpowered, but there were many who thought such an occurrence probable. The enemy was nearly twice as strong as we, and lay directly between us and our base. If he could hold out till our ammunition was exhausted, we should be compelled to lay down our arms. There was no retreat for us. We must be victorious or we must surrender.
In camp, on that night, every thing was confusion. The troops that had been on the left during the day were being transferred to the front. The quartermaster was endeavoring to get his train in the least dangerous place. The opposing lines were so near each other that our men could easily hear the conversation of the Rebels. The night was not severely cold; but the men, who were on the front, after a day’s fighting, found it quite uncomfortable. Only in the rear was it thought prudent to build fires.
The soldiers of German birth were musical. Throughout the night I repeatedly heard their songs. The soldiers of American parentage were generally profane, and the few words I heard them utter were the reverse of musical. Those of Irish origin combined the peculiarities of both Germans and Americans, with their tendencies in favor of the latter.
I sought a quiet spot within the limits of the camp, but could not find it. Lying down in the best place available, I had just fallen asleep when a mounted orderly rode his horse directly over me. I made a mild remonstrance, but the man was out of hearing before I spoke. Soon after, some one lighted a pipe and threw a coal upon my hand. This drew from me a gentle request for a discontinuance of that experiment. I believe it was not repeated. During the night Mr. Fayel’s beard took fire, and I was roused to assist in staying the conflagration.