carried out; previous to crossing the river, however, Colonel A. W. Reynolds' brigade, of Stevenson's division, had arrived. Not having heard from General Bowen after 5.30 P. M., on the first instant, I dispatched him, via Rocky Springs, on the morning of the second, as follows: “If you are holding your position on the Bayou Pierre, and your communication is open by the Big Black to this place, continue to hold it. I am informed that you have fallen back to Grand Gulf; if this is so, carry out my instructions just sent in cipher.” These instructions were, in case he had fallen back to Grand Gulf, which is a cul-de-sac, to destroy his heavy guns, and such stores as could not be transported, and endeavor to retire across the Big Black. The last brigade of Major-General Stevenson's division, which had been hurried forward to reinforce Bowen, with the hope of enabling him to hold his position on the Bayou Pierre; or, in case he should be compelled to fall back, to protect his retreat, had not all arrived when the retiring column, under Major-General Loring, commenced crossing the Big Black, at Hankinson's Ferry. For the details of the battle of Port Gibson, the list of casualties, &c., I beg to refer to the official report of Brigadier-General Bowen, and the reports of his subordinate commanders, which I have the honor to transmit herewith; as also the report of Major-General Loring, who commanded the retreat, after the column had been put in motion by Brigadier-General Bowen. Amongst the slain whom the country deplores, I regret to mention Brigadier-General E. D. Tracy, a brave and skilful officer, who fell where it is the soldier's pride to fall, at the post of duty and of danger. Though disastrous in its results, the bloody encounter in front of Port Gibson, nobly illustrated the valor and constancy of our troops, and shed additional lustre upon the Confederate arms. Confronted by overwhelming numbers, the heroic Bowen and his gallant officers and men maintained the unequal contest for many hours, with a courage and obstinacy rarely equalled; and though they failed to secure a victory, the world will do them the justice to say they deserved it. With a moderate cavalry force at my disposal, I am firmly convinced that the Federal army, under General Grant, would have been unable to maintain its communications with the Mississippi River; and that the attempt to reach Jackson and Vicksburg from that base would have been as signally defeated in May, 1863, as a like attempt from another base had, by the employment of cavalry, been defeated in December, 1862. The repulse of General Bowen at Port Gibson, and our consequent withdrawal to the north bank of the Big Black, rendered it necessary that I should, as rapidly as possible, concentrate my whole force for the defence of Vicksburg from an attack in the rear by Grant's army, which was hourly swelling its numbers. Orders, therefore, were immediately transmitted to the officers in command at Grenada, Columbus and Jackson, to move all available forces to Vicksburg as rapidly as possible. On the morning of the third, two of the enemy's barges, loaded with hospital and commissary stores, were destroyed in attempting to pass the batteries at Vicksburg. On the fifth, I telegraphed General Johnston that: “Six thousand cavalry should be used to keep my communications open, and that the enemy advancing on me was double what I could bring into the field.” To the Honorable Secretary of War I sent the following telegram, under date of May sixth: “General Beauregard sends but two brigades, perhaps not five thousand men. This is a very insufficient number. The stake is a great one. I can see nothing so important.” On the seventh the President notified me that all the assistance in his power to send should be forwarded, and that it was deemed necessary to hold Port Hudson as a means of keeping up our communications with the Trans-Mississippi Department. Major-General Gardner, who, with Brigadier-General Maxcey and five thousand (5,000) men, had previously been ordered to Jackson to reinforce this army, was immediately directed to send Maxcey's brigade rapidly forward, and to return himself, with two thousand (2,000) men, to Port Hudson, and hold the place at all hazards. On the seventh, indications rendered it probable that the enemy would make a raid on Jackson; the staff departments, therefore, and all valuable stores, were ordered to be removed east. In the meantime my troops were so disposed as to occupy the Warrenton and Hall's Ferry road, which afforded great facilities for concentration, and various positions on the Baldwin's Ferry road, and from thence between Bovina and Edwards Depot — each division being in good supporting distance of the other. Colonel Waul, commanding Fort Pemberton, was directed to leave a garrison of three hundred men at that place, and proceed with the remainder of his force to Snyder's Mills. On the tenth, information was received from a scouting party that visited Cayuga and Utica, where the enemy had recently been, that his cavalry force was about two thousand, and that he was supposed to be moving on Vicksburg. My dispositions were made accordingly, and every effort was used to collect all the cavalry possible. Such as could be obtained was placed under the command of Colonel Wirt Adams, who was directed to harass the enemy on his line of march, cut his communications wherever practicable, patrol the country thoroughly, and to keep Brigadier-General Gregg (who has just arrived with his brigade from Port Hudson, and was then at Raymond) fully advised of the enemy's movements. On the eleventh, Brigadier-General John Adams, commanding at Jackson, was directed to hurry forward, as fast as they could arrive, the troops from South Carolina, to reinforce Brigadier-General Gregg at Raymond. At this time, information was received from Brigadier-General Tilghman that the enemy was in force opposite
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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.