Sherman's campaign in Mississippi in winter of 1864.
Report of General Ross.
Captain,--In compliance with your call for “a report of the operations of this brigade, on the Yazoo river, during the recent advance of the enemy, under General Sherman,” I have the honor to submit the following — to wit: Immediately upon the return of my command from the Mississippi  river, about the 20th January, I received an order from the Division Commander to take position near Benton, Miss., and was charged with guarding the country west of Big Black river. A few days subsequently, Colonel Mabry, of the Third Regiment Texas Cavalry, commanding the brigade in my absence, received orders to move to the vicinity of Mechanicsburg, at which place the command arrived on the evening of the 26th. Being informed by the scouts in front that a large foraging party was moving upon the “Ridge road” from Vicksburg, Col. Mabry attempted to intercept it, but the enemy, receiving notice of his presence in the neighborhood saved himself by flight. On the morning of the 28th, my scouts reported gunboats and transports coming up the Yazoo river. Two boats were already at Satartia, and the smoke of others was plainly visible below. Hoping to surprise the two advance boats, I moved rapidly from Mechanicsburg to Satartia, leaving one regiment at the former place to guard against the advance of any land force from that direction. The movement was entirely successful, and ere they were aware of our presence, Lieutenant Merre had his pieces in position and opened fire upon them at 900 yards distance. One of the boats, a transport, was landed at Dr. Gales' place, on the opposite side of the river, one-quarter of a mile above Satartia, had debarked its troops and was loading with forage. The gunboat had halted in the middle of the river, being along doubtless merely for the protection of the transport. Our attack was sudden and unexpected, so much so, that before the transport could loose herself from the shore and get off, she received some twenty (20) shots, many of them passing entirely through her hulk but without damage to her machinery so far as we could discover. So hurried was her departure that the men on shore had not time to get aboard, but were left to save themselves as best they could. The gunboat ran off wsthout firing a shot, and both boats being out of reach, I directed some shells to be thrown at a squadron of cavalry which having been picketing up the river while the boats were loading, and hearing our artillery, were now endeavoring to get back. Attempting to run by within range of our guns, a few shells exploding in their midst unhorsed several and scattered the rest in all directions. The men who were unhorsed, were afterwards captured by some of my skirmishers (who crossed the river in a dug-out for this purpose) and proved to be negro troops. Being convinced that the enemy would again advance very soon, en route for Yazoo City, I examined the river banks and selected Liverpool  as the most suitable place at which to fight them. At this point the banks are high and the hills extend down to within musket range of the river, which would enable me to use small arms and artillery at the same time. The bed of the river is also partially obstructed opposite Liverpool by a sunken steamboat, to pass which would require the enemy to move very slowly and carefully. On the 2d February their boats again appeared; this time eleven (11) in number with formidable gunboats Nos. 3, 5, and 38, in advance. They were evidently anticipating resistance at Liverpool and therefore passed the entire day in reconnoitering, but kept beyond the range of our guns, occasionally throwing shells at our scouts and skirmishers. No effort to pass was made, nor did any boat get within reach of our artillery until the morning of the 3d; three gunboats then moved up to within range. A heavy cannonading at once began and continued without intermission for hours. In the meantime three (3) regiments of infantry having landed from the transports below, were advancing with the intention of attempting to dislodge us with small arms. I had but two regiments with me at the time, having dispatched Colonel Mabry with his regiment (Third Texas) to check a force of the enemy advancing from Mechanicsburg, and sent the First Texas legion, under Colonel Hawkins, over to the left to guard another road upon which the enemy were making some demonstrations. However, I knew the men in whom I trusted and was not doubtful of the issue. The Sixth and Ninth regiments Texas cavalry, commanded by Colonel Wharton and Lieutenant-Colonel Berry, nobly sustained their well-earned reputation for gallantry and unflinching firmness. The enemy charged and were driven back, rallied, charged the second time and were again repulsed with six-shooters at twenty-five paces distant, and this time so signally and effectually that they could not be checked again until they were safe on board their boats. Their killed and wounded, with many arms that were thrown away in their flight, were all left in our possession and were collected after the fight. The enemy made no further effort to dislodge us, but late in the evening about-faced and moved off down the river. I did not conclude that they had given up the expedition entirely, and was not surprised when at daylight the next morning their gunboats again appeared in sight. I had, however, exhausted almost all my artillery ammunition and determined to husband the remainder for an emergency. No resistance to the boats passing was therefore attempted, but as the transports went  by with troops and horses, entirely exposed, the Ninth Texas cavalry lined the banks and poured into them several volleys, which must have done much execution. As soon as they were passed, I moved my command direct to Yazoo City, determined to intercept them again at that place and prevent their landing or expend my last shot in the effort. Arrived at Yazoo City on the evening of the 4th. The enemy did not appear until 8 A. M. the following day, when three (3) gunboats turned the bend of the river three miles below town. My position had already been chosen and artillery posted. The bank of the river was lined with my sharpshooters concealed by the rough and broken surface of the ground. When the advance boat, which proved to be the No. 38, had arrived to within a few yards of the landing, one of my rifle pieces opened fire at short range; almost every shot taking effect and some of them passing entirely through the boat into the water beyond. The enemy promptly returned our shots, but in a few moments the No. 38 was disabled and began, with great difficulty to drop back down the river. The other boats, halting beyond the range of our guns, shelled us for an hour or two, and then drew off to their transports, four (4) miles below the city. I now made disposition of my forces for resisting a land attack, suspecting the enemy of an intention to again send out his infantry. Indeed, several regiments had already landed and deployed in line, but showed no desire to come within range of our muskets. Evidently intimidated by the rough handling they had received the day before, at Liverpool, the whole force re-embarked late in the evening, and moved off down the river, closely followed by my scouts, and reported passing Sataritia at ten o'clock next morning. I now deemed it prudent to remain in the vicinicy of Benton until I could obtain reliable information in regard to the movements of Sherman's forces and of our own cavalry. I had received no dispatches for several days, and the reports that reached me were so uncertain and contradictory that I could not credit them. Your dispatches, directing me to join the rest of the division east of Pearl river, reached me at the Ponds four miles west of Benton, Miss., February 8th. I moved at once, and travelled as rapidly as my teams would bear. Arrived at Daleville, Miss., about the same time that the advance of the enemy reached Meridian, and decided to communicate from there with Brigadier-General Jackson or Major-General Lee, and await their instructions. In the meantime, not wishing to continue idle, I moved down to Marion Station, and there meeting the enemy, the Third Texas regiment kept up a sharp skirmish with them  throughout the day. The following day I was ordered towards the northern part of the State, to reinforce General Forrest. Arrived at Starkesville, but too late to be of any service there, as the enemy had already been driven back, and were now in full retreat. At Starkesville, therefore, our route was changed, and in obedience to orders from General Jackson, I returned again to Yazoo county. Arrived at Benton, Miss., on the 28th, and was about encamping my command at the Ponds, four miles west of Benton, when a squadron of negro cavalry from Yazoo city came in sight, I immediately ordered detachments of the Sixth and Ninth regiments, which happened to be the nearest at hand, to charge them. The negroes, after the first fire, broke in wild disorder, each seeming intent upon nothing but making his escape. Being mounted on mules, however, but few of them got away. The road all the way to Yazoo city was literally strewed with their bodies. The negro troops, after this, were very timid, and never came out to reconnoiter but that they were easily chased back by a few scouts. On the evening of the 4th of March, the West Tennessee brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General Richardson, arrived at my camps. I had been in communication with General Richardson for several days, and at my request, he had brought his command down to assist me in an attempt to drive the enemy from Yazoo city. Being the senior officer, I advised him to assume command of both brigades, but this he declined. At 8 A. M. of the 5th, in accordance with the plans agreed upon the evening before, our combined force moved on Yazoo City, the object being to feel the enemy's position, and having determined his strength to decide then upon the policy of attempting to take the place. The Third Texas Regiment, of my command, being in advance, drove in the enemy's pickets and advanced to within two hundred yards of a strong redoubt on the Plank road, which was held by the Eleventh and 109th Illinois Regiments consolidated. The Ninth Texas being directed to the left took position on a fortified hill to the south of this redoubt and about 500 yards distant. In the meantime, General Richardson, with his own and two (2) regiments of my command, had borne to the right, taking a road that leaves the Plank road, one and a half miles from Yazoo City, leading into the northeast corner of the town, and had occupied another hill to the south of and six hundred (600) yards distant from the redoubt on the Plank road. The artillery of both brigades being now in position and within easy  range of the enemy, opened brisk fire, many shells exploding within the redoubt, and must have done much execution, but failed to drive the enemy from his position. Finding this to be the case, General Richardson pushed forward his column, and occupied the town, driving all opposition before him. The enemy in the redoubt were now completely surrounded, and their capture seemed inevitable. I demanded a surrender, and being refused, we decided to again concentrate our artillery upon the redoubt at short range, hoping to drive them out with shell, for, to have assaulted the place would have been a sacrifice of more men than it was worth. We had now undisputed possession of Yazoo city, except a warehouse immediately on the river bank, in which a few of the enemy were crouching under the protection of their gunboats. General Richardson had fired a large lot of cotton which the Yankees had collected for transportation down the river, and destroyed a large quantity of quartermaster and commissary stores. The hospitals of the enemy, with all his wounded (some thirty in number), were in our possession, together with eighteen prisoners, and a large number of horses and mules. We had accomplished all that could be effected by holding the city, and therefore decided to withdraw our forces therefrom, which was effected quietly and without confusion. The enemy in the redoubt seeing this movement in town, and thinking we were retreating, sallied out and attempted to charge the two regiments in their front, but were quickly repulsed. About this time two transports arrived with reinforcements, upon which it was decided to withdraw all our forces, which we did, retiring to our former encampment near Benton. The following morning the enemy all left Yazoo city, evidently anticipating a renewal of the attack. My command had acted most gallantly throughout the day, and indeed during the entire campaign on the Yazoo river. Men and officers displayed true courage. To them their country is indebted for any success that may have attended our efforts. To Brigadier-General Richardson I am under obligations for his ready and zealous cooperation in the attack on Yazoo city. This truly gallant officer is an honor to the service, and a noble exponent of unflinching fidelity to the South. I am, Captain, very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
Report of General Ferguson.
Headquarters cavalry brigade, Calhoun Station, March 31, 1864.Major,--I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the cavalry under my command from the 28th of January to the present time. On the 26th of January, in obedience to telegraphic orders received late at night, the Second Tennessee battalion, my brigade, was ordered to report to Major-General Forrest; the Twelfth battalion, Mississippi cavalry, then on a scout to the line of the M. & C. railroad, was recalled, and the commanding officer directed to join me at Jackson by the most direct route; Owens's battery was ordered from Aberdeen to Egypt Station, at which point its guns and baggage, and the baggage of the balance of the brigade, were shipped to Jackson in charge of the dismounted men and the sick. On the 28th of January, having relieved myself of every incumbrance, I broke camp and marched with my command for Jackson, but on reaching Canton (February 3d), in obedience to telegraphic orders there received, I moved rapidly to Clinton to meet the advancing columns of the enemy, sending artillery horses and horses of men who came by cars direct to Jackson. On the morning after I reached Clinton (February 5th, 1864), with a command very much reduced in numbers, the enemy approached that place, and I received orders to fall back so as to cover the roads to Canton and Madison Station, which I at once obeyed. I remained in line of battle, covering these roads, in sight of the enemy, until near sunset, when I withdrew my command some eight miles and went into camp for the night. On the following morning I marched to Madison Station, where I remained during that and the following days. From this point that portion of Miller's regiment in camp was sent on a reconnoissance to Jackson, which duty was promptly and efficiently accomplished. This command did not rejoin me until the 14th of February. At daylight on the 8th ultimo I marched for Morton, crossing Pearl river at Smith's Ferry, and reached that point with the advance of my column by sunrise the next day. The enemy was, however; ahead of me and skirmishing at once began, and was continued until the volleys of musketry and the presence of infantry in some force satisfied me that it was impossible for me to get between him and General Polk's rear. Accordingly I withdrew my command, leaving a squadron on the Morton road to cover the movement, and  proceeded by the most direct route to Hillsboro. At this point I found General Polk, and was directed to ascertain, first, whether or not the enemy was advancing in force on Hillsboro, from nearest railroad station, and afterwards to push on with my command so as to reach Newton Station before the enemy and cover the embarkation of General French's division on the cars. Having ascertained that the enemy was not advancing that day on Hillsboro, but had fallen back some little distance, I left Lieutenant-Colonel Maxwell, temporarily under my command, at Hillsboro to cover General Loring's rear, and made a forced march for Newton Station, which point I reached early on the following morning (10th February) and in the vicinity of which I remained during that day and until the following afternoon, when, by General Lee's order, I struck across the country to get between General Loring's rear and the enemy's advance, then near Decatur. This I accomplished by a tiresome and difficult night-march, over roads little travelled and covered up with pine straw, and the next morning (12th February) met the enemy at Chunkey river. From this time until I left the vicinity of Old Marion, on the afternoon of the 18th of February, my command was almost continually engaged with the enemy, the skirmishing at times being kept up until after dark. On the morning of the 20th of February, I left Almucha to reinforce General Forrest. On reaching Macon General Adams's brigade was temporarily placed under my command, thus giving me a division, with which, by forced marches I reached Starkesville on the 22d of February. On the 24th February, in obedience to orders from General Lee, I moved my command south to attack General Sherman's retreating column, in flank, on the east of Pearl river. From information received at Louisville, I changed my plan of operations, and having crossed the Yockanuckamy at La Floor's Ferry, soon encountered the foraging parties of the enemy, which were at once driven in with a loss to them of seven (7) killed and thirty eight (38) captured; to me of one officer and one man wounded. On the following day General Adams's brigade was sent off to operate on the left flank of the enemy and south and west of Canton, and acting under General Jackson's orders, I pushed on directly in the enemy's rear and skirmished with him until he passed beyond Livingston on the 3d March. The next day I marched my exhausted command to Madison Station and went into camp. I have thus succinctly given a report of operations extending over a  distance of nearly four hundred miles, and under difficulties that severely taxed the fortitude and patriotism of my men. At all times prompt to respond to every order, they boldly engaged the advance of a large and confident army, and unflinchingly held their position until ordered off the field. I regret to say I lost some men by desertion on the route, but with a well organized court this evil can be corrected in the future. To the officers and men of my command who remained with me, and to the officers of my staff, my thanks are due for the zeal and ardor displayed in the performance of their several duties. I append a list of casualties. I have the honor Major, to be, very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
Report of General Adams.
Headquarters cavalry brigade, March 12th, 1864.Captain,--In obedience to orders from division headquarters, requiring a report of the operations of my brigade, during the recent advance of the enemy from Big Black to Meridian, I have the honor to submit the following: My command having just returned from East Louisiana, whither it repaired under orders from Lieutenant-General Polk, directing me “to threaten Baton Rouge or Manchas,” reached, by two days forced marches, the vicinity of Raymond on the afternoon of the 28th of January. I was then met by orders from division headquarters to watch closely all the ferries and approaches in the direction of Big Black, south of the railroad bridge, in anticipation of the expected advance of the enemy, and in case he crossed to advance and oppose him, offering all the resistance and at points as near the river as possible. On the evening of the 3d February, at 6 P. M., I received intelligence from my scouts that the enemy was crossing in force at the railroad bridge and advancing towards Bolton's. I immediately mounted my command, consisting of eight hundred (800) men and a rifled section of King's Battery, and moved beyond Raymond, on the Edwards's Depot Road. Halting until four o'clock next morning, I again put my command  in motion, marching rapidly towards Bolton's, one mile beyond which I took position; sending Colonel Wood's regiment forward to reconnoitre and ascertain certainly whether the enemy was moving on the Raymond or Bolton Road. Near Champion Hill, Colonel Wood encountered a dismounted cavalry force, which, after a brief skirmish, was gallantly charged by Captain Muldron's squadron, killing and wounding a number, and capturing eight (8) prisoners. Colonel Wood reported to me that the enemy's cavalry force was on the Raymond Road and consequently moving on my left flank. I at once detached Colonel Dumontiel, and instructed him to move his regiment, Fourteenth Confederate, down the road on which I had come to the junction of the two roads, and hold the enemy in check, reporting to me his numbers movements, &c. With this force he soon became engaged, skirmishing briskly for several hours. I also sent Major Stockdale directly across a field to the same road, to take the enemy in flank, but he encountered an infantry and artillery force, from which he was compelled to retire, bringing off several prisoners. The main column of the enemy soon afterwards advanced upon the Bolton's Road, deploying a strong line of skirmishers and using one piece of artillery. He was held in check for several hours at this point by Wood's regiment and Stockdale's battalion, dismounted. Nothing could excel the unflinching courage and steadiness of these commands, eliciting at the time the commendation of the Major-General commanding. About 3 o'clock P. M., the greatly superior force of the enemy having failed to dislodge them, a brigade of infantry, marching in column, was pushed across the creek on my extreme left, and moved rapidly towards some buildings which crowned an eminence on my left. At the same time he advanced in line of battle directly against my front. The position being no longer tenable, I was ordered to withdraw my command across Baker's Creek Bridge, half a mile in my rear, and send two squadron's of Colonel Wood's regiment to check the enemy's advance on my left. Leaving Major Akin's Ninth Tennessee battalion to cover the withdrawal of the command across the bridge, I removed the remainder as promptly as possible. Major Bridges, with two escort companies, supported by Captain Muldron's squadron of Wood's regiment, soon became warmly engaged with the enemy on the left, driving him from the buildings on the hill, but strong reinforcements coming up he was obliged to relinquish them soon afterwards. At this point fell Major Bridges, Lieutenant Wilson and eight men.  I next took position on the Bolton and Clinton road, one mile from that just relinquished. The enemy advanced in four lines of battle across the field I had just left, but did not advance beyond Baker's Creek that evening. Throwing out a strong picket and numerous scouts on my front and flanks, I withdrew my command one mile, to Mr. Thomas's plantation, where I fed my horses and encamped for the night. Before daylight on the morning of the 5th of February, I resumed my position, directing Captain King to train his rifled pieces on the bridge over Baker's Creek, eight hundred yards in my front, and posted Colonel Griffith's Arkansas regiment on the right, and Major Stockdale's battalion on the left, both dismounted as supports for the artillery. I held Colonel Wood and Colonel Dumontiel in reserve — the former dismounted and forming a second line — the latter mounted and in column in the road. At 7 A. M., the enemy advanced in column across the bridge in my front, when I directed Captain King to open fire with his two rifled pieces, which did not, however, check the enemy. He pressed steadily forward, deploying to the right and left in the open field. A rapid artillery fire was maintained for some time, and when within range, Colonel Griffith and Major Stockdale engaged his whole line, offering the most determined and stubborn resistance and maintaining their position to the last moment. Colonel Griffith and Major Stockdale, as usual, distinguishing themselves by their gallant and fearless bearing. After offering all the resistance possible to the largely superior force of the enemy, I withdrew Colonel Griffith's and Major Stockdale's commands, ordering Colonel Wood to cover the movement. Colonel Wood was released by Colonel Dumontiel and Major Akin successively, as the command retired in perfect order along the Clinton road. When near Clinton, I was ordered by the Major-General commanding to hold the enemy in check until Colonel Starke's brigade, coming in on the Queen's Hill road, could pass through the town. After the passage of this command, I moved through Clinton, taking the Jackson road beyond. Two miles east of Clinton, I again took position on the eastern limit of an extended open field, and was joined by a section of Craft's and a section of Waties's South Carolina battery. The enemy soon showed himself on my front, but advanced cautiously. His line of skirmishers was promptly driven back by the artillery, the practice of which was excellent. After the lapse of two hours and a careful reconnoisance, he moved an column out of view by a road one mile to my right, and falling into the Jackson road two miles in my  rear. Advancing a six-gun battery at the same time, with a strong infantry support to a commanding elevation on my front and left, and two twenty-pound Parrots in my front, he opened a rapid and vigorous fire of artillery, pushing forward at the same time a strong line of skirmishers under cover of a wood from the column moving past my right. As the enemy showed no inclination to advance in my front, and my artillery was seriously endangered by the column turning my position, I ordered the artillery and supports to withdraw, following with the remainder of the command. In passing the points where the road on my right entered the Jackson road, the enemy poured a severe volley into Major Stockdale's battalion, acting as a rear-guard. Colonel Wood's regiment was immediately moved back to his support, but the enemy was so posted as to prevent any effective movement against him. I then moved my command on the Jackson road, and again took position three-and-a-half miles west of the city, with a broad open field in my front. Against this the enemy did not advance, but throwing forward an infantry and cavalry force on a road a mile to the left, pushed immediately for Jackson. After an irregular artillery fire at scattering parties of the enemy, I was ordered to withdraw by a lateral road towards the Canton road, the enemy having gained, near nightfall, the road between me and Jackson. This was done without loss In these various positions taken between Champions Hill and Jackson, and the severe checks given the enemy, I cannot commend too highly the alacrity, courage and steadiness of my officers and men. They could not have acquitted themselves better. On the march from Pearl river to Meridian but one opportunity was offered of striking the enemy. This was at Decatur, and was discovered by a bold reconnoissance in person of the Major-General commanding. The enemy's wagon train halting in the suburbs of the town, I directed Colonel Wood to make a dash at it with two squadrons, which was executed in gallant style, killing and wounding a number of the enemy, and killing the teams of a large number of wagons. A heavy infantry force in front and rear of the train precluded all hopes of bringing them off. In these various affairs from Champion Hill to Decatur, I sustained a loss of 129 killed, wounded and missing, and 143 horses. Marching from Alamucha to Starkesville and hence to Canton, I was ordered by General Jackson to pass that place, then occupied by the  enemy, and operate upon his left flank in his march towards Vicksburg. This was done on the 29th ultimo and 1st and 2d instant, resulting in killing and capturing about sixty of the enemy, and the capture of thirty-three (33) horses, two wagons and teams and a number of small arms. In these affairs, Major Stockdale, Captain Muldron and Captain Yerger were the most conspicuous and gallant participants. I have to lament the loss of Captain McGruder, of the Fourth Mississippi, who fell seriously if not mortally wounded, whilst leading a charge near Canton. I am indebted to Captain F. W. Keyes, Captain A. T. Bowie and Lieutenant George Scott, of my staff, and Lieutenant George Yerger, who volunteered his services, for efficient and valuable assistance. I am, Captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,