As stated, Generals Pemberton
's and Gardner
's Confederate forces had been captured, and there remained in observation of this large force in Mississippi
two small divisons of Confederate States
infantry—Loring at Canton
, and French at Jackson
—about 9,000 men, with several batteries.
General Stephen D. Lee
, with four brigades of cavalry, Stark
' and Ross
', composing Jackson
's Divison, and General S. W. Ferguson
's Brigade, which had been drawn from northeast Mississippi
, covering the country from opposite Yazoo City
to Natchez, Miss.
(over 300 miles), and numbering about 3,500 effectives.
was south of the Tallahatchie river
in northwest Mississippi
, picketing towards Memphis
and the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, his force numbering about 3,500 men. The entire Confederate force in Mississippi
did not exceed 16,000 men.
This was the condition of affairs in January, 1864.
The concentration of troops at Vicksburg
and the marshaling of 10,000 cavalry in west Tennessee
was duly observed and reported to General Polk
, commanding in Mississippi
Spies reported the force as consisting of an army of four divisions of infantry with the usual complement of artillery and a brigade of cavalry, making an army of over 26,000 men, to move from Vicksburg
early in February.
Another column of 7,000 cavalry, under General W. Sooy Smith
, was to move from west Tennessee
direct to Meridian
to meet the army under General Sherman
near that point, and then the combined forces to go either to Selma
, as might be indicated.
was to hold Lee
's Confederate cavalry and any infantry in his front, and General W. Sooy Smith
was to engage Forrest
with his cavalry force, which outnumbered Forrest
by double as many men.
To meet the enemy, General Lee
concentrated his cavalry in front of Vicksburg
, along the Big Black river
and near the Yazoo river
On January 28th, the Yazoo river
expedition began to move.
Federal cavalry advancing on the Yazoo City
road from Snyder's Bluff on the Yazoo
This force was met by Ross
' Texas Brigade and driven back.
On February 3rd, Federal infantry began crossing the Big Black river
at the railroad crossing and six miles above, at Messenger's ferry, distant from Vicksburg
twelve or fifteen miles, and rapidly drove in the cavalry pickets on the two roads leading to Clinton
Early on the morning of February 4th, there was severe skirmishing on both roads, the enemy deploying their force in the open country and steadily driving back the brigades of Adams