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An incident of the Deer Creek expedition of 1863.

By Captain W. L. Bitter.

Baltimore, Md., July 6th, 1881.
Rev. J. Wm. Jones, D. D., Secretary Southern Historical Society, Richmond, Va.:
Dear Sir — With the hope that some one will write a full account of the Deer Creek Expedition of 1863, I mention one incident which is certainly worthy of record.

In January, 1863, Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel W. Ferguson was ordered to proceed to the sunflower country, above Vicksburg, Miss., with a small force, consisting of a six-gun battery and a company of cavalry. The battery was composed as follows: two guns from Captain Bledsoe's Missouri artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Anderson; two guns from a Louisiana battery, commanded by Lieutenant Cottonham; one gun from the Third battery of Maryland artillery, commanded by Sergeant Daniel Toomey; one gun from Captian Corput's Georgia battery, commanded by Sergeant Mitchell Johnston, which two latter pieces were commanded by Lieutenant T. J. Bates, of Waddell's Alabama artillery. These six pieces were commanded by Lieutenant [281] R. L. Wood, of Bledsoe's Missouri artillery. The company of cavalry belonged to Mississippi.

This small force was returning from Bolivar on the Mississippi river, where Colonel Ferguson had been operating against several transports, and after passing Greenville, Miss., the enemy, under the command of Brigadier-General Burbridge, with several regiments of infantry, a battalion of cavalry and a battery of artillery, landed at that point and made an attack on Colonel Ferguson's small force.

The enemy's infantry moved by the way of Fish Lake bridge and the cavalry and artillery by the Black Bayou bridge, both of which had been burned; but the cavalry made a dash at Shelby's bridge, guarded by about twenty pickets, whom they dispersed, and quickly repairing the bridge, crossed and gave chase to our pickets. Colonel Ferguson had received notice of their movements and had sent two pieces of artillery to Fish Lake bridge to check the infantry, while his wagons and artillery escaped. Having driven the infantry back, he withdrew his two pieces of artillery by way of the Deer Creek road, and commenced his retreat. The enemy's cavalry pressed on, and while the artillery was passing around the bend of the creek at Buckner's plantation, they crossed through the field and got in advance of our artillery, capturing our caissons and baggage wagons, which had been sent ahead. Our cavalry stampeded on the approach of the enemy, and with the exception of eight or ten, were seen no more that day. Our artillery thus surrounded, with cavalry in front and infantry and artillery in the rear, had either to surrender or cut its way through. After a few moments' consultation the latter was decided upon, and the order forward, trot, march, was given, and with the true Confederate yell from officers, drivers and cannoneers, the column went thundering down the road, and recaptured the caissons and baggage wagons. The enemy's cavalry took refuge in negro quarters near by, but by means of our pieces they were soon dislodged and driven into the cane brake.

By night the artillery had reached Bogue Faliah, three miles below Colonel Falls's plantation. Colonel Ferguson worked all night, and by the next day at noon had put all the artillery and wagons on flat boats and started down the Bogue, thus escaping capture. During the charge Colonel Ferguson had a personal encounter with several of the enemy's cavalry, one of whom he killed, and wounded two. Two of the cannoneers were severely wounded.


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