The Battle at Pittsburg Landing.
PITTSBURG, April 6, Midnight.
THE SECOND DAY'S FIGHT.
PITTSBURG, April 7th, 1862.
During all the horrors of last night the steamers lying at this point, which were not too heavily ladened with stores or too much filled with the wounded, were engaged in ferrying the troops belonging to Nelson's division from the opposite shore. Every load was greeted with cheers from those on shore, and returned lustily by those who had so opportunely arrived to take part in the battle of today. As the boats reached the shore the troops immediately left, and, without music, took their way to the advance on the left wing of our forces. They had received marching orders at a late hour in the afternoon, and had come on a "double quick" from Savannah. They gave, however, but little evidence of exhaustion, and evinced a stolid determination that they had not come for a child's recreation.
Among the troops near the landing they were regarded as something like veterans in the cause, and the greatest confidence began to grow up as to the successful termination of the battle, whose results had been doubtful more than once during the struggle of yesterday.
With the first hours of daylight it was evident, however, that the enemy had also been strongly reinforced, for, notwithstanding they must have known of the arrival of the new Union troops, they were the first to open the battle, which they did about seven o'clock and with considerable alacrity. The attack then began from the main Corinth road, a point to which they seemed strongly attached, and which at no time did they leave at all unprotected. It mattered not where the main force was engaged, nor where the fight raged the fiercest, there was at all times evidence that the safe security of that thoroughfare was continually cared for.
General Nelson, on taking his position on the left wing, last night, had dispatched a messenger to Lieut. Gwynne, of the gunboat Tyler, with his compliments, requesting the loan of a box of cigars and a bottle of wine, and extending an invitation to the gunboat officers, that they should visit him at his headquarters, under an oak tree, near the river bank. He also assured them that they should see some man-of-war fighting to-day.
At the conclusion of yesterday's fighting, General Grant had assured the soldiers that "they should be in Corinth to night," and those who had heard of his prediction in regard to the taking of Fort Donelson, made three days previous to that time, looked somewhat cheerfully to such a result, although they felt confident that it would take some more hard fighting to get there.
Within half an hour from the first firing of the morning, the contest had again spread in either direction, and both the main center and left wing were actively engaged. The rebels were, however, not so anxious to fight their way to the river's bank as on the previous day, having had a slight experience of what they might again expect if brought again under the powerful guns of the Tyler and Lexington, whose black bulls steamed slowly along the stream, keeping a careful, watchfulness for any signs they might be able to gather as to the exact location of the enemy in the dense forest which stretched away to their right.
The foe was not, however, lacking in activity, and they were met by the reinforcements, together with the still unwearied soldiers of yesterday, with an energy that they certainly could not have expected. At 9 o'clock the sound of the artillery and musketry fully rivalled that of the day previous, though it could not be said to continue so long in one quarter. It now became evident that the rebels were avoiding the extreme of the left wing, and endeavoring to find some weak point in the lines by which to turn our force, and thus create an irrecoverable confusion. — It is wonderful with what perseverance and determination they adhered to this purpose.
Notwithstanding the continued rebuff of the rebels, wherever they had made their assaults, up to eleven o'clock they had given no evidence of retiring from the field. Their firing had been as rapid and vigorous at times as during the most terrible hours of the previous day, yet not so well directed, nor so long continued to one point of attack.
Still further reinforcements now began to arrive. The steamers Crescent City, Hiawatha. Louisville, John Warner and others, having left Savannah, loaded to the guards with troops belonging to Gen. Buell's command. These immediately mounted the hill and took position upon the right of the main center, under Gen. Wallace.
So far the fight of the morning had been waged some one and a half miles within our former lines, and but a very short distance from the river's bank, in a due westerly direction.
Generals Grant, Buell, Nelson, Sherman and Crittenden (I learn, though I have not seen him,) were present everywhere, directing the movements for a new stroke on our part against the foe. Gen. Wallace's division, on the right, had been strongly reinforced, and suddenly both wings of the army were turned upon the enemy with the intention of driving the immense body into an extensive ravine. At the same time a powerful battery had been stationed near an open field known as the "battalion drill ground" for Sherman's division and this, loaded with canister, poured volley after volley upon the somewhat disgusted rebels. The cannonading of the day previous had been mostly confined to shell and heavy ball, but it was evident that the change now made was having a telling effect.
At half past eleven o'clock the roar of the battle almost shook the earth in this vicinity, for the Union guns were being fired with all the energy that the prospect of the enemy's defeat could inspire. The fire from the rebels was not, however, so vigorous, and they began to evince a desire to withdraw. They fought as they slowly moved back, keeping up their fire from their artillery and muskets along their whole column, and apparently disdaining any motion which could be considered as approximating to a retreat. As they retreated they went in excellent order, battling at every advantageous point, and delivering their fire with considerable effect. Moving somewhat in the direction of the river, closely followed by our men, Gen. Grant feared that some mistake might occur on the part of the gunboats, whereby our men might be injured by their fire. Accordingly a messenger was sent ordering the Tyler and Lexington to "Steam up to Hamburg, four miles above, and on no occasion to fire inland before reaching that point as our men had driven the enemy so far that the shells might injure the wrong party.
It was now a matter, settled beyond dispute, that the enemy were retreating. They were making but little fire, and heading their entire column for Corinth, by both roads leading in that direction. From all divisions of our lines they were closely pursued, a galling fire being kept upon their rear, which they still returned at intervals, but with little or no effect.
I have neglected heretofore to mention that from Sunday noon until night, and from Monday morning up to the time I have now reached in the outline description of the battle, not less than three thousand cavalry had remained seated in their saddles on the hilltop overlooking the river, patiently awaiting the arrival of the time when an order should come for them to pursue the flying enemy. That time had now arrived, and a courier from Gen. Grant had scarcely delivered his message before the entire body was in motion.
Those who have never witnessed a charge of so large a force of horsemen should have been there to have seen the wild tumult of the eager riders, and apparently equally excited steeds. The enemy have been driven beyond our former lines, and are in full retreat in the direction of Corinth.