Maddened by the death of their leader, the Rebels charged with redoubled fury, but again they were repulsed and driven back over the bluff. In the meantime they had moved a column up the ravine around the right flank of the Union line, and now came charging down obliquely in the rear and again at the same time in the front. Just at this time (four o'clock) Gen. Saunders was mortally wounded and carried off the field, the 45th Ohio being in the greatest danger, was the first to break. The two advancing lines formed a wedge and there was but one way for (the Federal forces) to escape --to make a rapid movement by the left flank. When Maj. Dow saw that the whole force would be captured in a very few minutes, he gave the order, in clear ringing tones, to fall back.

Back through the orchard they rushed, followed by shot and shrieking shells, down across the second creek and up the opposite side. Most of the 8th Michigan and some of the 112th "took to the woods" on the left, to get out of range of the artillery. Going around, they joined the command of the hill above. A position was taken some distance in front of the fort (afterwards named Fort Saunders) in honor of Gen. Saunders. Lieut. Milchrist with Co. G and Lieut. Thompson with Co. B occupied a large brick dwelling between the Union and Rebel lines in order to observe the the Rebels and prevent them from occuping it with sharpshooters. They remained there until darkness. This building was later burned to prevent the Rebel sharpshooters from occupying it, as it was within range of the fort.

The Rebels advanced their lines through the orchard to the bluff south of the creek and the day's work was done.
           About one-thirty p.m., the enemy positioned four artillery pieces on the hill near the brick house
           and opened fire with shot and shell. The first shot mortally wounded Capt. A.A. Lee and killed
           Thomas Nowers of Co. A of the 112th. For two long hours the line of Union troops lay there
           helpless without artillery and received the fire of the Rebel guns. The terrain of the ground was
           such the 8th Michigan and the left wing of the 112th were protected from the artillery fire -- the
           guns could not be depressed enough to reach them -- but the right wing of the 112th and the 45th
           Ohio suffered severely.

           About three-thirty p.m., the Rebels formed a line in the ravine, three lines deep and charged
           fiercely upon the Union lines, but were repulsed with heavy loss. They fell back, reformed and
           charged again, and again were repulsed. Again they advanced to the charge. The Union troops
           were directed to hold their fire until the advancing line was in easy range, and then take good aim
           and fire to kill. The enemy misunderstood the motive for withholding the fire; they believed the
           Union troops wished to surrender, and a Confederate Colonel rode forward alone and called out:
          "Lay down your arms, boys. You can't get out of here. You will all be killed; we will take good
           care of you; you had better surrender." Rider and horse fell together, pierced by a dozen Union
During this retreat, Adjutant Charles Fearns of the 45th was killed. Four other men of the regiment lost their lives on this day, while six were mortally wounded and thirteen captured, including my ancestor, William Rea. The remainder of the 45th withdrew into the city, and for the next several days, were held in reserve and set to stacking arms in the city center.

Later in the month the 45th again crossed the Holston River and was posted in the defensive works on the south bank. Wrote Blair:
           The city was now entirely invested except a narrow valley up along the south or east back of the
           river. Rations were now very scarce and continued to decline until we only received daily about 3
           ounces of heavy black bran bread and same of fresh pork and no salt. The spirit of  the troops
           declined with the rations and curses are lavished by many hungry wretches upon generals,
           president, goverment [sic], rebels, selfs, etc. The talk of Gen. Sherman coming to our relief  both
           believed and dis-believed until a brigade of his cavalry break in through the rebel cavelry [sic]
           pickets and bring us the proofs on the night of ___.
Another Ohio soldier present at the siege of Knoxville,  Corporal John Watkins of the 19th Ohio Battery, described it in a mid-December letter to a friend:
           On the 20th [November] there was hardly any firing till dark then the rebels got another battery in
           position fired 4 or 5 times throwing shell clear over the town and bursting 200 feet high. On the
           21st it rained most all day and no fighting. The rebels had got clear round us from the river on the
           west side of the town to the river on the east side of town.

Panorama of Knoxville, Tennessee, photographed on March 18, 1864 from the cupola of the University of East Tennessee.