“  of his original position, in obedience, I was informed, to orders from General Loring. Inferring from this that General Loring did not intend to cross at that ford, he having had ample time to commence the movement, I suggested to General Green and Colonel Cockrell to move forward to the Railroad Bridge. My command reached that point at about one o'clock that night, and bivouacked near Bovina.” The entire train of the army, under the judicious management of Colonel A. W. Reynolds, commanding Tennessee brigade of Stevenson's division, was crossed without loss, though the movement of the enemy compelled Colonel Reynolds' brigade to cross the Big Black above the Railroad Bridge. On reaching the line of intrenchments occupied by Brigadier-General Vaughn's brigade of East Tennesseans (Smith's division), he was instructed by myself in person to man the trenches from the railroad to the left; his artillery to remain as then posted, and all wagons to cross the river at once. Special instructions were left with Lieutenant J. H. Morrison, A. D. C., to be delivered to Generals Loring, Stevenson, and Bowen, as they should arrive, and were delivered to all except General Loring, as follows: General Stevenson's division to cross the river and proceed to Mount Alban. General Loring's to cross and occupy the west bank. Brigadier-General Bowen's division, as it should arrive, was directed to occupy the trenches to the right and left of Vaughn's, and his artillery to be parked, that it might be available for any point of the lines most threatened. General Stevenson's division arriving very late in the night, did not move beyond Bovina, and I awaited in vain intelligence of the approach of General Loring. It was necessary to hold the position to enable him to cross the river, should the enemy — which was probable — follow him closely up. For this purpose alone I continued the troops in position, until it was too late to withdraw them under cover of night. I then determined not to abandon so strong a front whilst there was yet a hope of his arrival. I have not, up to this time, received General Loring's report of the share taken by his division in the battle of Baker's Creek, nor have I yet been informed of the reason why he failed to rejoin the army under my command. The Big Black River, where it is crossed by the Railroad Bridge, makes a bend somewhat in the shape of a horse-shoe; across this horse-shoe, at its narrowest part, a line of rifle-pits had been constructed, making an excellent cover for infantry, and at proper intervals dispositions were made for field artillery. The line of pits ran nearly north and south, and was about one mile in length. North of, and for a considerable distance south of the railroad and of the dirt road to Edwards' Depot, nearly parallel with it, extended a bayou, which, in itself, opposed a serious obstacle to an assault upon the pits. This line abutted north on the river and south upon a cypress brake, which spread itself nearly to the bank of the river. In addition to the Railroad Bridge, which I had caused to be floored for the passage even of artillery and wagons, the steamer “Dot,” from which the machinery had been taken, was converted into a bridge, by placing her fore and aft across the river. Between the works and the bridge, about three-quarters of a mile, the country was open, being either old or cultivated fields, affording no cover should the troops be driven from the trenches. East and south of the railroad, the topographical features of the country, over which the enemy must necessarily pass, were similar to those above described; but north of the railroad, and about three hundred yards in front of the rifle-pits, a copse of woods extended from the road to the river. Our line was manned on the right by the gallant Cockrell's Missouri brigade; the extreme left by Brigadier-General Green's Missouri and Arkansas men, both of Bowen's division, and the centre by Brigadier-General Vaughn's brigade of East Tennesseans, in all about four thousand (4,000) men, as many as could be advantageously employed in defending the line, with about twenty (20) pieces of field artillery. So strong was the position that my greatest, almost only, apprehension was a flank movement by Bridgeport or Baldwin's Ferry, which would have endangered my communications with Vicksburg; yet this position was abandoned by our troops almost without a struggle, and with the loss of nearly all our artillery. I speak not now of the propriety or of the necessity of holding this position; I had, as heretofore, noticed my object in doing so; I considered that object sufficient, and I also deemed the force employed for the purpose ample. Brigadier-General Vaughn's brigade had not been engaged at Baker's Creek; his men were fresh, and I believed were not demoralized. I knew that the Missouri troops, under their gallant leaders, could be depended upon. By whose order the battery horses were so far removed from their guns, as not to be available, I do not know; it certainly was not by mine. General Bowen, with whom I had had a personal interview in his tent on the night of the sixteenth, and who received my instructions from my own lips (Lieutenant-Colonel Montgomery, of Lieutenant-General E. K. Smith's staff, being then present, and acting as my A. D. C.), 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 in the morning of the seventeenth, 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 time kept up along our
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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