Although outnumbered five to one, Bowen
was enabled to hold his ground until late in the afternoon, ten hours, by his own skill and courage, and the excellent conduct of Brigadier-Generals Tracy
, and the firmness of their troops-aided greatly, it is true, by the strength of the position, intersected by deep ravines and covered with fallen timber, and bushes interlaced with vines.
He then began to fall back, but, being reinforced by Baldwin
's brigade, which had marched twenty miles to join him, he halted and again formed for battle, supposing, probably, that the whole Confederate army was advancing to meet the enemy, but the Federal
commander did not renew the engagement.
reported that his loss in this action was severe in killed and wounded, but slight in prisoners; among the first was the gallant Tracy
, whose death was much regretted by the army.
While the troops were engaged, General Pemberton
telegraphed to me: “A furious battle has been going on since daylight, just below Port Gibson
.... General Bowen
says he is outnumbered trebly.... Enemy can cross all his army from Hard Times to Bruinsburg
.... I should have large reenforcements .... Enemy's success in passing our batteries has completely changed character of defense.”
In the reply, dispatched immediately, he was told: “If General Grant
's army lands on this side of the river, the safety of the Mississippi
depends on beating it. For that object you should unite your whole force.”
In a telegram, dispatched to him next day, the instruction was repeated: “If Grant
's army crosses, unite all your troops to beat him; success ”