Two Futile Charges
The Union line, positioned about one-quarter mile north of here, made two futile charges against the Confederate guns. Forrest then ordered a general advance and his line, utilizing a frightful barrage of artillery and small arms fire, began to tighten the arc around the Union position.
Withdrawal to the Fence
The pressure of the combined firepower forced the Union troops to withdraw from the high ground. They fell back to this position, taking cover behind a split-rail fence much like that before you.
"Right at half past 11 we were brought under a terrific fire of shell, grape and canister. We lay behind a fence at the edge of a strip of timber, while across in front of us some 500 yards were planted the enemy's cannon they were planted on a ridge within full view and had we not lain down while we were there many more must have been killed." — Private William H. Peter, 122nd Illinois
Shells Shattered the Brittle Rails
The split-rail fence provided no protection. Shells shattered the brittle rails, turning them into instruments of death. Private Joseph Hotz, 50th Indiana, later wrote his wife, "? many a poor soldier lost his life and many lost arms and legs. It was a fearful sight."
Dunham realized that the Confederate artillery must be silenced if his men were to survive, let alone emerge victorious.