passed Mrs. Elliston's house, where it was halted and the troops bivouacked in order of march. I made my headquarters at Mrs. Elliston's, where I found Major-General Loring had also 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 further, 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 fifteenth, 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 sixteenth, at about half past 6 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:
I immediately directed a counter-march, or rather a retrograde movement by reversing the column as it then stood, for the purpose of returning towards Edwards' Depot to take the Brownsville road, and thence to proceed towards Clinton by a route north of the railroad. A written reply to General Johnston's instructions, in which I notified him that the countermarch had been ordered, and that the route I should take, was dispatched in haste, and without allowing myself sufficient time to take a copy. Just as this reverse movement commenced, the enemy drove in Colonel Wirt Adams' cavalry pickets, and opened with artillery at long range, on the head of my column on the Raymond road; not knowing whether this was an attack in force, or simply an armed reconnoissance, and being anxious to obey the instructions of General Johnston, I directed the continuance of the movement, giving the necessary instructions for securing the safety of the wagon train. The demonstrations of the enemy soon becoming more serious, orders were sent to division commanders to form in line of battle on the cross road, from the Clinton to the Raymond roads — Loring on the right, Bowen in the centre, and Stevenson on the left. Major General Stevenson was instructed to make the necessary dispositions for the protection of the trains then on the Clinton road and crossing Baker's creek. The line of battle was quickly formed without any interference on the part of the enemy; the position selected was naturally a strong one and all approaches from the front well covered. A short time after the formation of the line, Loring's division was thrown back so as to cover the military road, it being reported that the enemy had appeared in that direction. The enemy made his first demonstration on our right, but after a lively artillery duel for an hour or more, this attack was relinquished and a large force was thrown against our left, where skirmishing became heavy about ten o'clock, and the battle began in earnest along Stevenson's entire front, about noon. Just at this time a column of the enemy was seen moving in front of our centre toward the right. Landis's battery of Bowen's division opened upon and soon broke this column and compelled it to retire. I then directed Major-General Loring to move forward and crush the enemy in his front, and directed General Bowen to co-operate with him in the movement. Immediately on the receipt of my message, General Bowen rode up and announced his readiness to execute his part of the movement as soon as Major-General Loring should advance. No movement was made by Major-General Loring; he informed me that the enemy was too strongly posted to be attacked, but that he would seize the first opportunity to assault if one should offer. The enemy still making strenuous efforts to turn Major-General Stevenson's left flank, compelled him to make a similar movement towards the left, thus extending his own line and making a gap between his and Bowen's division. General Bowen was ordered to keep this interval closed, and the same instructions were sent to General Loring, in reference to the interval between his and General Bowen's division. General Stevenson having informed me that unless reinforced he would be unable to resist the heavy and repeated attacks along his whole line, Bowen was ordered to send one brigade to his assistance, which was promptly brought forward under Colonel F. M. Cockrell, and in a very short time his remaining brigade, under the command of Brigadier-General Martin E. Green, was put in, and the two together under their gallant leaders charged the enemy, and for a time turned the tide of battle in our favor, again displaying the heroic courage which this veteran division has made conspicuous on so many stricken fields. The enemy still continued to move troops from his left to his right, thus increasing his vastly superior forces against Stevenson's and Brown's divisions. FeelingCanton 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, informing me that we may move to that point with about six thousand men. 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.