Before the battle as the lines were being formed, Sanborn rushed up his brigade's artillery battery, the 11th Ohio. Sanborn ordered the battery's commander, Lieutenant Cyrus Sears, to set up his guns on the hill, which he faithfully did. The battery rolled its guns up nearly wheel to wheel and opened fire on the approaching rebels.
Sears's first target was the dismounted skirmishers of the 3rd Texas Cavalry. They opened fire when the rebels were only 100 yards away with double canister shot. Hundreds of Texans fell forcing to gather its skirmishers and reform the regiment, buying the Sanborn the vital time he needed move up the 5th Iowa and the 48th Indiana on the battery's flanks.
|Lieutenant (later Colonel) Cyrus Sears |
following the war.
As both the right and left flanks gave way, Sears's men stood to the last man. A few squads from the 26th Missouri found themselves alone after the rest of the regiment retreated off the hill. They too stood to the last man.
Vengeful Confederate troops charged the battery and failed on their first two tries. Finally on the third try the Texans overwhelmed Sear's left section. The ferocity of the Ohioans' defense shocked the Texans. Muskets and bayonets crossed with gun swabs and ram rods. In one instance, David Montgomery, a lone ammunition carrier, had reached up and pulled the lanyard of his cannon and fired a double load of cannister into the approaching Texans that were within an arm's reach of the gun. A Texan raised his rifle to club Montgomery, but the cannoneer dodged. He picked up a cannister round and smashed the Texan's skull and then beat a hasty retreat into the nearby brush.
The fight for the center was finished. Sanborn's brigade was shattered, but the Confederates were badly mauled and their attack faltered. Each of the assaulting regiments had lost about 100 men. The assault was halted and a strange lull took form on the battlefield.