Gen. Mahlon D. Manson marched south along the Old State Road (US 421) from Richmond seeking the Confederate army. As he topped the hill where Mt. Zion Church stands he began to deploy his army. Using the road as his guide, he deployed his infantry and artillery, alternating his infantry regiments with his artillery. The west end of the Union line, the Union right, was held by the 69th Indiana, which was positioned west of Mt. Zion church. To their east, and just east of the road, was Lt. Byron D. Paddock's section of Battery D 1st Michigan Artillery. To their east was the 55th Indiana, then Lt. Edwin O. Lanphere of Battery G 1st Michigan Artillery. On the far east end of the line, the 16th Indiana held the Union left. The 71st Indiana was held in reserve so that if a portion of the line was threatened the 71st or a portion of it could be rushed to that area.
Manson was ordered not to risk a general engagement unless he was sure of success. This was sage advice since Manson's brigade was green. The 55th Indiana was the veteran of the group, having been mustered in June 16, just over two months earlier. the other three regiments were all mustered in late August 1862. Even the artillery was improvised; guns and officers were scraped together for Manson's command. While Manson had managed to get his brigade into a textbook line of battle, he still had to engage in battle against a division of veterans.
Civil War battles often played out in the manner prescribed by field manuals for maneuvering and fighting soldiers, such as Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics: For The Exercise And Maneuvers Of Troops When Acting As Light Infantry Or Riflemen, by Brevet Lieut. Col. W.J. Hardee, more commonly referred to as Hardee's Tactics. All of the officers who were trained at West Point were well versed in these rules, as were many of the amateurs who served in the militia. Soldiers generally arrived at a battlefield in a column, that is, a line of four men across. In order to fight the battle the man were then deployed in line of battle. Imagine a vertical line becoming horizontal, in a maneuver carried out in a rigidly prescribed way with thousands of men.