On the 26th all the fleet proceeded in order up the Yazoo, gunboats leading and distributed along the column of transports to cover them against sharpshooters from this and canebrake that cover the low banks of the Yazoo. In the fleet of transports Morgan's division led, followed by Steed, he by Morgan L. Smith, and A. J. Smith brought up the rear. This latter division was delayed part of one day by the distance traveled by Burbridge's brigade from Milliken's Bend, and it did not come up until about noon of the 27th.
As soon as we reached the point of debarkation De Courey's, Stuart's, and Blair's brigades were sent forward in the direction of Vicksburg about 3 miles, and on the 27th the whole army was distributed and moved out in four columns: Steele's above the mouth of Chickasaw Bayou; Morgan's, with Blair's brigade of Steele's division, below the same bayou; Morgan L Smith's on the main road from Johnson's plantation to Vicksburg, with orders to bear to his left, so as to strike the bayou about a mile south of where Morgan was ordered to cross it, and A. J. Smith's division keeping on the road.
All the heads of columns met the enemy's pickets and drove them toward Vicksburg. During the night of the 27th the ground was reconnoitered as well as possible, and it was found to be as difficult as it could possibly be for nature and art. Immediately in our front was a bayou only at two points-on a narrow leave and on a sand bar which was perfectly commanded by the enemy's sharpshooters that line the levee or parapet on its appositive bank. Behind this was an irregular strip of bench or table land, on which was constructed a series of rifle-pits and batteries, and behind that a high, abrupt range of hills, whose scarred were marked all the way up with rifle-trenches, and the crowns of the practical hills presented heavy batteries.
The country road leading from Vicksburg to Yazoo City was along the foot of these hills, and answered an admirable purpose to the enemy as a covered way along which he moved his artillery and infantry promptly to meet us at any point which we attempted to cross this difficult bayou.
Nevertheless, that bayou with its levee parapet, backed by the lines of rifle pits, batteries, and following hill had to be passed before we could reach terra forma and meet our enemy on anything like fair terms.
Steele in his progress followed substantially an old levee back from the Yazoo to the foot of the hills north of Thompson's Lake, but found that in order to reach the hard land he wound have to cross a long corduroy causeway with a battery enfilading it, orders cross-firing it, with a similar line of rifle-pits trenches before descried. He skirmished with the enemy on the morning of the 28th, while the other columns were similar engaged; but on a close and critical examination of the swamp and causeway in his front, with the batteries and rifle-pits well manned, he came to the conclusion that it was impossible for him to reach the country road without a fearful sacrifice. As soon as he reported this to me officially, and taht he could not cross over from his position to the one occupied by our canter, I ordered him to retrace his steps and cross back in steamboats to the southwest side of Chickasaw Bayou, and to support General Morgan's division, which he accomplished during the night of the 28th, arriving in time to support him and take part in the assault of the 29th.
General Morgan's division was evidently on the best of all existing roads from the Yazoo River to the land. He had attached to his train the pontoons with to make a bridge in addition to the ford or crossing which I knew was in his front-the same by which the enemy's pickets had retreated. The pontoon bridge was place during the night across a bayou supposed to be the main bayou, but which turned