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[527]

I made my headquarters at Mrs. Elliston's, where I found Major-General Loring had established his. The divisions of Generals Stevenson and Bowen having been on the march until past midnight, and the men considerably fatigued; desiring also to receive reports of reconnoissances made in my front before proceeding farther, I did not issue orders to continue the movement at an early hour the following morning.

Immediately on my arrival at Mrs. Elliston's, on the night of the 15th, I sent for Colonel Wirt Adams, commanding the cavalry, and gave him the necessary instructions for picketing all approaches in my front, and directed him to send out scouting-parties to discover the enemy's whereabouts. I also made strenuous efforts to effect the same object through citizens, but without success. Nothing unusual occurred during the night.

On the morning of the 16th, at about six and a half o'clock, Colonel Wirt Adams reported to me that his pickets were skirmishing with the enemy on the Raymond road, some distance in our front. While in conversation with him, a courier arrived, and handed me the following dispatch from General Johnston:

Benton Road, Ten Miles from Jackson, May 15, 1863, 8.30 A. M.
Our being compelled to leave Jackson makes your plan impracticable. The only mode by which we can unite is by your moving directly to Clinton, and informing me that we may move to that point with about six thousand. I have no means of estimating the enemy's force at Jackson.

The principal officers here differ very widely, and I fear he will fortify if time is left him. Let me hear from you immediately. General Maxcey was ordered back to Brookhaven. You probably have time to make him join you. Do so before he has time to move away.


I immediately directed a countermarch, or rather a retrograde movement, by reversing the column as it then stood,


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