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[535] a personal interview in his tent on the night of the 16th, and who received his instructions from my own lips (Lieutenant-Colonel Montgomery, of Lieutenant-General E. Kirby Smith's staff, being then present and acting as my aide-de-camp), I do not believe to be responsible for it; he was too old and too good a soldier. Enough, however, will, I think, be developed in a few words to cover the whole case. Early on the morning of the 17th the enemy opened his artillery at long range, and very soon pressed forward with infantry into the copse of wood north of the railroad; about the same time, he opened on Colonel Cockrell's position with two batteries, and advanced a line of skirmishers, throwing forward a column of infantry, which was quickly driven back by our batteries. Pretty heavy skirmishing was for a while kept up along our whole line, but presently the enemy, who had massed a large force in the woods immediately north of the railroad, advanced at a run, with loud cheers. Our troops in their front did not remain to receive them, but broke and fled precipitately. One portion of the line being broken, it very soon became a matter of sauve qui peut. I shall only add, with reference to the affair of Big Black, that a strong position, with an ample force of infantry and artillery to hold it, was shamefully abandoned, almost without resistance.

The troops occupying the centre did not do their duty. With an almost impassable bayou between themselves and the enemy, they fled before the enemy had reached that obstacle.

I have received no report from Brigadier-General Vaughan of the operations of his brigade on this occasion. Colonel Cockrell says, in his official report:

After a lively skirmish-fire had been kept up for some time along our whole front, I saw the line between the railroad and first skirt of timber north of the railroad beginning to give way and then running in disorder. I watched this disorderly falling back a few minutes, when I saw that the enemy had possession of the trenches north of the railroad,


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