This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 artillery. Harris's brigade, the command of which had devolved upon Colonel Stone, of the Twenty-second Iowa, in consequence of the illness of the former, was immediately formed in line of battle. Griffith's and Klaus's batteries brought up and the enemy's fire briskly replied to and silenced. The division rested upon its arms at Shaiffer's plantation during the short remnant of the night. Coming up about day-dawn in the morning, I learned from a fugitive negro, that the two roads diverging at Shaiffer's led to Port Gibson-one to the right by Magnolia Church, and the other to the left, passing near Bayou Pierre, where it is spanned by a rail and earth road bridge; also that the greatest distance between the roads was only some two miles; that the space between and for miles around was diversified by fields, thick woods, abrupt hills, and deep ravines, and that the enemy was in force in front and intended to accept battle. Immediately proving the general correctness of this information by further inquiry and by personal reconnoissance, I determined to advance my forces upon the chord of the rude ellipse formed by the roads, resting my reserve back near the fork of them. After the smoke of the previous engagement and the glimmering of the rising sun had ceased to blind our view, I ordered General Osterhaus to move his division on the road to the left to relieve a detachment of General Carr's division, which had been sent to watch the enemy in that direction, and to attack the enemy's right. The object of this movement was to secure whatever direct advantage might result from attacking the enemy's line at a point supposed to be comparatively weak, and to make a diversion in favor of my right preparatory to its attack upon the strong force understood to be in its front. The first brigade of General Osterhaus's division hastening forward in execution of this order, at half-past 5 A. M. encountered the enemy in considerable force a short distance from Shaiffer's house. The position of the enemy was a strong one, and he seemed determined to maintain it, yet after a hard struggle for more than an hour he was forced to yield it and seek temporary safety at a greater distance, under cover of ravines and houses. The splendid practice of Lanphere's and Foster's batteries disabled two of the enemy's guns, and contributed largely to this success. Communicating with General Osterhaus, I offered him reenforcements, but his second brigade having now come up, he declined them until more urgent occasion should arise. Thus strengthened he pressed forward, until insurmountable obstacles in the nature of the ground and its exposure to the fire of the enemy arrested his progress and proved the impracticability of successful front attack. It was now two o'clock P. M., and about this time General J. E. Smith's brigade of General Logan's division came up, and attempting to carry the enemy's position, by such an attack, failed to do so, thus demonstrating the correctness of General Osterhaus's admonition upon that point. A flank movement had been resolved on by General Osterhaus, to accomplish the same object. With a view to deceive the enemy, he caused his right centre to be threatened, and taking advantage of the effect, rapidly moved a strong force toward his extreme right, and personally leading a brilliant charge against it, routed the enemy, taking three pieces of cannon. A detachment of General Smith's brigade joined in the pursuit of the enemy, to a point within a half-mile of Port Gibson. At a quarter-past six o'clock A. M. when sufficient time had elapsed to allow Osterhaus's attack to work a diversion in favor of my right, I ordered General Carr to attack the enemy's left. General Benton's brigade promptly moved forward to the right of the main road to Port Gibson. His way lay through woods, ravines, and a light canebrake, yet he pressed on until he found the enemy, drawn up behind the crest of a range of hills, intersected by the road. Upon one of these hills, in plain view, stood Magnolia Church. The hostile lines immediately opened on each other, and an obstinate struggle ensued. Meanwhile Stone's brigade moved forward on and to the left of the road into an open field, and opened with artillery upon the enemy's left centre. The action was now general except at the centre, where a continuation of fields extending to the front of my line for more than a mile separated the antagonists. The enemy had not dared to show himself in these fields, but continued to press my extreme right with the hope, as I subsequently learned, of crushing it and closing his concave line around me. General Hovey came up at an opportune moment and reporting his division to be on the ground, I immediately ordered him to form in two lines near the fork of the two roads, and to hold it there for further orders. About the time it had been thus formed, General A. J. Smith's division came up, and General Hovey was ordered to advance his division to the support of General Carr's. In the execution of this order General McGinnis's brigade moved to the right front in support of Benton's, encountering the same obstacles that had been overcome by the latter. Colonel Slack's brigade moved by the flank near the main road, and without much difficulty gained its proper position to the left of McGinnis. During the struggle between Benton's brigade and the enemy the former moved to the right to secure its flank, and left a considerable gap between it and Stone's. This gap was immediately filled up by a portion of Hovey's division, upon its arrival upon the ground assigned to it. The enemy's artillery was only one hundred and fifty yards in front, and was supported by a strong line of infantry which it was reported had just been reenforced, and was the occasion of the shouting of the enemy distinctly heard about this time.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.