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In a time like this, minutes count for years. General Grant used them to a golden purpose. Colonel Webster, chief of staff, and an artillery officer of ability, had arranged all the guns he could collect in a sort of semi-circle, protecting the Landing, and bearing chiefly on the Union centre and left, by which the rebels were pretty sure to advance. Corps of artillerists to man them were improvised from all the batteries that could be found. Twenty-two guns in all were placed in position. Two of them were very heavy siege guns, long thirty-two's. "Where they came from, what battery they belonged to, no man questioned. It was quite unimportant. Enough that they were there, in the right place, half a mile back from the bluff, sweeping the approaches by the left, and by the ridge Corinth road, but with few to'work them. Dr. Corvine, surgeon of Frank Blair's First Missouri Artillery, proffered his services, which were gladly accepted, and he worked them with terrible effect.
It wxs half-past four o'clock—perhaps later still. Every division of the Union army on the field had been repulsed. The enemy occupied almost all their camps. The struggling remnant of Federal troops had been driven to within little over half a mile of the Landing. Behind was a deep, rapid river. In front was a victorious enemy. Still there was an hour for fighting. O, that night or Lew. Wallace would come! Nelson's division of Buell's army evidently could not cross in time to save the day. No one could tell why Lew. Wallace was not on the ground. In the justice of a righteous cause, and in that semi-circle of twenty-two guns in position, lay all the hope these beleagured men could see.
At five o'clock the artillery which had been thundering so stormily, held its fire a little; the flash of muskets from the enemy's lines died away, and his columns fell back on the centre for nearly a mile. With a sudden swoop they wheeled and again threw their entire force on the left wing, determined to end the fearful contest of the day then and there.
Suddenly a broad, sulphurous flash of light leaped out from the darkening woods, and through the glare and smoke came whistling leaden hail. The rebels were making their crowning effort for the day, and as was expected, they came from the left and centre. They had wasted their fire at one thousand yards. Instantaneously a new tempest from the black-mouthed Union guns flung out its thunderous response. The rebel artillery opened, and shell and round shot came tearing across the open space back of the bluff. The Union infantry poured in a glorious response from their broken battalions, invigorated by the announcement that the advance of Buell's army was in sight. Just then a body of cavalry appeared across the Tennessee river, waiting transportation. In their extremity the soldiers tarned their eyes anxiously that way. Was it Buell—was it Nelson coming to the rescue?
ARRIVAL OF GENERAL BUELL.
The eyes of those weary soldiers brighten. Their courage revived. Help was near. Even in that lurid atmosphere they could see the gleaming of the gumbarrels amid the leaves and undergrowth down the opposite side of the river. They caught hopeful glimpses of the steady, swinging tramp of trained soldiers. A division of Buell's army was coming up.
Then came a boat across with a lieutenant and two or three privates of the Signal Corps. Some orders were given the officer, and as instantly telegraphed to the other side by the mysterious wavings and raisings and droppings of the flags. A steamer came up with pontoons on board, with which a bridge could be speedily thrown across the river.
She quietly reconnoitered a few moments, and steamed back again. Perhaps, after all, it was better to have no bridge there. It made escape impossible, and left nothing but victory or death to the struggling Union troops. Preparations were rapidly made for crossing General Nelson's division, (for he had the advance of Buell's army,) on the dozen transports that had been tied up along the bank.
The division of W. H. L. Wallace held the enemy at bay in his last desperate effort to break the Union lines. While forcing through a cross fire, General Wallace fell mortally wounded. Brigadier-General McArthur took the command, but he too was wounded, and Colonel Tuttle, as senior in rank, rallied the shattered brigades. He was joined by the Thirteenth Iowa, Colonel Crooker; Ninth Blinois, Colonel Mersy; Twelfth Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Chatlain, and several other fragments of regiments, and forming them in line on the road, held the enemy in check until that noble line was formed that breasted that last desperate charge.
At this critical moment a long, loud shout from the Union forces welcomed in the reinforcements. Eight thousand strong had at length crossed the river, and swept down upon the battle-field. Buell and Nelson, by forced marches, made within sound of the booming thunders of artillery, reached the battle-field just as the fate of war trembled in the balance. There was no pause for rest or council. So eager were they for the strife, they scarcely paused for breath before a line of battle was formed which decided that stormy day's fight.
The men, weary from the long march, and panting- from the speed which had marked its last stages, ranged themselves in advance of the exhausted, but unfaltering troops of Sherman, McClernand, Hurlbut and of W. H. L. Wallace, who lay dying on the battle-field, while Colonel Tuttlo led his brigades to their noble work.
The gunboats Tyler, Lieutenant Gwinn commanding, and Lexington, James W. Shirk commanding, now steamed up to the mouth of the little creek, near which Stuart's brigade had lain in the morning, and where the rebels were attacking the Union left. When they reached the mouth of the stream the boats rounded to, commanding a ravine cut through the bluff, as if for the passage of their shells, which poured destruction into the ranks of the enemy. This movement was made under the direction of General Hurlbut, and it soon swept the enemy's ranks, carrying terror with every burst of deadly iron the guns belched forth.
Eager to avenge the death of their commanding General (now known to have been killed a couple of hours before), and to complete the victory they believed to be within their grasp, the rebels had incautiously ventured within reach of their most dreaded antagonists, as broadside after broadside of seven-inch shells and sixty-four-pound shot soon taught them. This was a foe they had hardly counted on, and the unexpected fire in flank and rear produced a startling effect. The boats fired admirably, and with a rapidity that was astonishing. The twentytwo land guns kept up their stormy thunder; and thus, amid the crash and roar, the scream of shells and demon-like hiss of minie balls, that Sabbath evening wore away.
Startled by the accumulated force, and disheartened by the fearful combinations against them, the rebels fell slowly back, fighting as they went, until they reached an advantageous position, somewhat in the rear, yet occupying the main road to Corinth. The gunboats kept pouring a storm of shell on their track, until they retired completely out of reach, and the battle of the first day ended.
As the sounds of battle died away, and division generals drew off their men, a council of war was held, and it was decided that as soon as possible after daybreak the enemy should be attacked and driven from their snug quarters in the Union camps. Lew. Wallace, who was coming in on the new road from Crump's Landing, and crossing Snake Creek just above the Illinois Wallace's (W. H. L.) camps, was to take the right and sweep back toward the position from which Sherman had been driven on Sunday morning. Nelson was to take the extreme leftBuell promised to place Crittenden next to Nelson, and McCook next to him, by a seasonable hour in the morning. The gap between McCook and Lew. Wallace was to be filled with the reorganized divisions of Grant's army; Hurlbut coming next to McCook, then McClernand, and Sherman closing the gap between McClernand and Lew. Wallace.
From the first fearful onslaught upon Buckland's brigade, which, gathering up its shattered regiments, and firing as they ran, to form in