NO REPORT. — The storm this morning "laid out" the wires somewhere near Costsburg, and in consequence thereof we are without our usual telegraphic dispatches.
[From the Cincinnati Times.]
PITTSBURG, April 6, Midnight.
At two o'clock this morning, Col. Peabody, of Prentiss's Division, fearing that everything was not right, dispatched a body of four hundred men beyond the camp, for the purpose of looking after any force which might be lurking in that direction. This step was wisely taken, for a half mile's advance showed a heavy force approaching, who fired upon them with great slaughter. Those who escaped fell back to the Twenty-fifth Missouri regiment swiftly pursued by the enemy. The contest had been of short duration, and the advance of the secessionists reached the brigade of Col. Peabody just as the long roll was sounded and the men were falling into line. Their resistance, taken so unawares, was of but short duration, and they retreated in as good order as was possible under a galling fire, until they reached the lines of the second Division.
At six o'clock the attack had become general along the entire front of our line. The enemy, in large force had driven in the pickets of Gen. Sherman's Division, and fallen with vengeance on the 48th Ohio V.M., Col. Sullivan, the 70th, Col. Cockerell, and the 72d, Col. Buckland. The troops here had never before been in action, and being so unexgectedly attacked, ere they could finally understand their position, or get into file, they made as able a resistance as was possible, but were, in common with the forces of Gen. Prentiss, forced to seek support on the troops immediately in their rear. The 5th Ohio Cavalry, formerly of this division, had been removed to Gen. Hurlbut's command the day before yesterday, and their places supplied and camp occupied by the Second Illinois Cavalry. — These latter knew nothing of the approach of the enemy until they were in their midst, firing into their tents and applying the torch as they came.
The slaughter of this first onslaught of the enemy was very severe, scores falling at every discharge of the enemy's guns, and all making their best effort to escape, or repel the foe. It soon became evident that the secession force was overpowering, and nothing was left for the advance line but retreat — This was done in considerable disorder, both officers and men losing every particle of their baggage, it, of course, falling into the enemy's hands.
At half past eight o'clock the fight had become quite general, the second line of divisions having received the advance in good order, and made every preparation for a suitable reception of the foe.
As your correspondent reached the third line of our forces, he met several thousand stragglers, many of them from the hospitals, but many more who had never before witnessed the service of the battlefield, and who, so far, had not found it much to their liking. Their faces were turned toward the river, and neither persuasion nor threats could induce them to change their course. I must say, that at this juncture, your correspondent was strongly reminded of the great panic at Bull Run, for appearances indicated that the same scenes were likely to be re-enacted upon this occasion. Men and women came promiscuously, singly and by dozens, filling the road, limping, staggering along, in some cases supported on the arms of comrades or others, but all having the same destination, and bent on the accomplishment of the same purpose, viz: To escape from the sound of the whizzing balls, which were flying in every direction.
The timely arrival of Gen. Grant, who had hastened up from Savannah, led to the adoption of such measures as put a termination to this uncalled for flight from the battle-field. — A strong guard was posted across the thoroughfares, with orders to halt every soldier whose face was turned riverward. Some few of the wounded were allowed to proceed, but the self-constituted guard who had chosen that as a means of escape, were made to keep within the lines under penalty of a stronger admonition at the hard of the established line of sentries.
All the wagons and other vehicles of transportation on their way to the camps were turned back, and the road given as far as was practicable to the use of the ambulances, which were now getting to be very plenty. — They were not however, sufficient for the demands of the occasion, there being in many cases but two to each regiment, and heavy army wagons were used to make up the deficiency. These rattled along over the jagged road, through the mud, over roots and stones, filled to the top with the wounded and such of the sick as were unable to leave the regimental hospitals without assistance.
At ten o'clock the entire line on both sides was engaged in one of the most terrible battles ever known in this country. The roar of the cannon and musketry was without intermission from the main center to a point extending half way down the left wing. The great struggle was more upon the gathered forces which had fallen back on Sherman's position into the next line of troops. A desperate charge had just been made upon the 14th Ohio battery, and it not being sufficiently sustained by a force of infantry, it was at last relinquished, and it fell into the hands of the enemy. Another severe fight occurred for the possession of the 5th Ohio battery, which resulted in three of its guns being taken by the secession troops.
By eleven o'clock quite a number of the commanders of regiments had fallen, and in some cases not a single field officer remained; yet the fighting continued with an earnestness which plainly showed that the contest on both sides was for death or victory. The almost deafening sound of artillery, and the rattle of the musketry, were all that could be heard as the men stood and silently delivered their fire, evidently bent on the work of destruction with a fervor which knew no bounds. Foot by foot the grounds was contested, a single narrow strip of open land dividing the opponents. Not having had time in their hasty departure from their camps to bring forward the hand stretchers so necessary for the easy transportation of the wounded, such available means as were at hand were adopted, and the soldier's outstretched blanket received his cripple comrade, as the only available method by which he could be carried to the rear. Many who were maimed fell back without help, while others still fought in the ranks until they were actually forced back by their company officers.
Finding it impossible to drive back the center of our column, at twelve o'clock the enemy slackened their fire upon it, and made a most vigorous effort on our left wing, endeavoring to outflank it by driving it into the river bank at a point about one and a half miles above Pittsburg Landing. This wing was under command of Gen. Hurlbut, and composed of the 14th, 32d, 47th and 58th Indiana, the 8th, 31st and 18th Illinois. Fronting its entire line was a brigade under Gen. Sherman, composed of the 54th, 57th and 77th Ohio. Taylor's 5th Ohio cavalry was also in Gen. Hurlbut's division, but from the improper nature of the arms with which they were provided, they were not able to do one half the execution the men desired.
With the first demonstration of the enemy upon the left wing it was to be seen that all the fury was being poured out upon it with the determination that it should give way. For nearly two hours a sheet of fire blazed from both columns, and I could liken the explosion of the small arms to nothing save a cane brake in a state of conflagration. The Mississippi rifleman, a large and well organized body of good marksmen and desperate men, fought with a valor that was only equaled by those who received their unerring fire, and returned it with an energy which assured them that many of those who have endured the fire of Donelson were in the ranks before them.
In this quarter it seemed, for the period of nearly an hour, that the enemy would succeed in driving our forces. Three different times they drove our men slowly before them, until they came in sight of the river, and were plainly visible even to those on the main landing below.
While the conflict raged the hottest in the quarter we are writing of, the gunboat Tyler passed slowly up the river to a point directly opposite the force of the enemy, and poured in a broadside from her immense guns. The shell went tearing and crushing through the woods, felling trees in their course, and spreading havoc everywhere they fell. The explosions were tremendous, and the shell falling far inland, most probably from their direction in the very heart of the secession force, must have told with a startling effect. At any rate, I attribute the failure of the foe to carry the left wing, in a great measure, to the well directed shots of the Tyler. The land force might have been able to have successfully kept back the immense weight of the enemy, but from my observation of the matter, I think they were greatly aided by the well-directed shots from the gunboat.
Up to three o'clock, it will be remembered, the battle had raged with a fury which defies description. At every point the rebels had found every attempt to break our lines unavailing. They had striven to drive in our main column, and finding that impossible, had turned all their strength upon our left wing. Foiled in that quarter, they now made another attack on the center, and fought like tigers. They found our lines well prepared for and in full expectation of their coming; every man at his post, and all willing to bring the contest to a definite conclusion.
In hourly expectation of the arrival of the forces under Gens. Nelson and Thomas, who were at Savannah, and to whom messengers had been sent, a fact as well known to the secessionists as to ourselves, they made every effort to rout our forces before these reinforcements should have come forward. They were, however, fighting against a wall of fire and steel manned by as brave hearts as ever smelled the essence of gunpowder. Volley answered volley, and for a time the battle of the morning was re-enacted over the same ground, and with the same vigor on both sides.
At five o'clock there was a short cessation in the firing of the enemy, their lines falling back on the center for the distance, perhaps of half a mile. They then suddenly wheeled and threw their entire force upon our left wing, determined to make the final struggle of the day in that quarter. The gunboat Lexington, in the meantime, had arrived from Savannah, and after sending a messenger to Gen. Grant to ascertain the direction in which the enemy lay from the river, the two boats took position about half a mile above the landing, and poured their shell upon a deep ravine reaching to the river on the right. The shots were thick and fast, and told with thrilling effect.
In the meantime Gen. Wallace had taken a circuitous route form Crump's Landing, and appeared suddenly on the right wing of the enemy. In face of this combination of circumstances, the rebels felt that their enterprise was for the day a failure, and as night was about at hand they slowly fell back, fighting as they went, until they reached an advantageous position, somewhat in the rear, and yet occupying the main road to Corinth. The gunboats continued to send their shell after them until they had entirely got beyond their reach. Thus ends an outline of the battle of the first day.
[CONCLUDED IN OUR NEXT.]