The Confederates hit the 5th at the same time they hit the 48th Indiana, coming on in full force. Opposite the Iowans was the 3rd Louisiana Regiment, both veterans of the western campaign. The Confederate troops met with stern resistance and were forced back several times. This was due in large part to the leadership of Colonel Charles (Karl) Matthies, commander of the 5th Iowa.
|Colonel Charles (Karl) Matthies|
5th Iowa Regiment
The Iowans delivered volley after volley into the Louisiana regiment, and in turn took horrendous casualties. Smoke from both sides obscured the battlefield to such a point that one veteran recalled that he couldn't distinguish the lines but for the flash of the musket volleys. Soon the Texas Legion, opposite the 11th Ohio Light Battery, began to push into a position where it too could fire onto the Iowans. Matthies withdrew some of his most badly exposed companies back to cover the small gap between the artillery and his main line, but that was not enough. The Confederates smashed the Iowans as they moved and the Fifth began to waver as a large gap developed between them and the cannon.
|Colonel George Boomer|
26th Missouri Regiment
The Missouri companies began to break and Colonel Boomer attempted to rally the men. Some stayed and fought, others skulked off. Suddenly, Boomer was hit by a minnie ball through the lung and only then did he reluctantly order his four companies to retreat. Of the 162 Missourians that rushed to the top of the hill, 97 were killed, wounded, or missing.
Boomer's withdrawal exposed Matthies' flank to the 3rd Louisiana and the Prussian was forced to pull back himself, leaving the Ohio gunners on their own in the center of the line.