Their position placed the enemy in front, the ground being unfavorable for a flank movement. Making a fallen tree their breastwork, these forty men—who had never before stood face to face with an enemy, who, for the first time were required to point a gun or pull a trigger—held in check, for hours, six hundred rebel cavalry, by emptying the saddles of the advance until, to their great relief, a volley
in the rear of their enemy announced the arrival of part of the 72d regiment,, led by Colonel Buckland, who, becoming alarmed at their long absence, hastened to their rescue at a "double-quick," and just in time to defeat a charge the rebels had drawn sabre to make. Although Major Kawson was not in command of the detachment, yet, owing to the feeble health of Captain Raymond, the conduct of the defence devolved principally upon him. Under his direction, a volley
of only ten guns were fired at one time, so that a sufficient reserve should remain to meet out, with steady aim, another and still another volley, if the dashing cavalry should choose to follow up their advance after receiving the first round.
CHESTER A. BUCKLAND.Camp Shiloh, West Tennessee, 1 . Saturday, April 5, 1862. /
Dear Mother:—You may glory in us now. Yesterday, while drilling, about a mile from here, our pickets were fired upon. In a very few moments the Seventy-second was on its way to battle at a double-quick step, Company B in the rear. When we arrived at a convenient place, we were deployed as skirmishers, and were to try and surround the rebels. We wandered along a couple of miles. Henry and I were near the end of the company. The company was in groups of four, each twenty paces apart. An order was given to rally on first group, when the front commenced to fire, but ceased before we could get up. We wandered in a body for nearly an hour, making frequent halts. Every ear was listening and every eye watching for sound or sight of the enemy. Nearly an hour from the first fire we got sight of them again, and nearly all got a chance to fire. We think one was killed or badly wounded. Here we found there were more than we thought, so we retreated to a pen built of rails and then to a big tree on the brow of a ravine. In a little time the rebel cavalry rode up in sight, and then the fight began. I could hear the balls go "whip" through the air and strike the trees around us. There were a hundred and fifty rebels against forty-four of us. Once in a while one would drop from his horse or, a horse would fall dead or wounded. We would load, run up where we could see, drop on our knees, take aim and fire, and then run back to load. In this manner we made them believe there were a great many more of us than there were. In this part of the fight two of our men were wounded, Charles H. Bennett in the right leg and James Titswood through the left breast above the heart. When we had fought about three fourths of an hour, it commenced to rain and hail, which made it difficult to load without wetting the powder. Then the rebels retreated. In a very little time it rained so hard we could not see more than a couple of rods, which was just exactly the time for them to ride on and cut us in pieces. We threw out guards to watch for them. I never knew it to rain so hard. When the rain had ceased, we saw them forming on a sort of prairie beyond the reach of our Enfields. In a short time they gave a great shout and advanced on us. As soon as they were in good reach, we commenced to drop them again. They had been reinforced to about four or five hundred, beside what may have been in reserve. We fought here about a quarter of an hour more, during which three more were wounded and several had holes shot in their clothes, one having a thumb broke, two shots in his arm, one through his clothes, and one in his boot. Now was the desperate time. The rebels fired a volley
, drew sabres, and began to advance. They were on three sides of us. Our hearts began to sink. We rallied around the old white oak, each one firmly grasping his gun with its powder stained bayonet, and determined to give as good as we got. How fierce we felt. Our last chance seemed gone, when a volley
sounded in the rear of the rebels. It was the Seventy-second. How loud the hurrahs sounded then. It was the sweetest music I ever heard. The rebels turned and fled. We were saved. We fired as long as we could reach them and then took Titswood in care, and then we went over to where part of the rebels had been.