Reports of Colonel Williams T. Withers, First Mississippi Light Artillery, of operations December 26, 1862-January 2, 1863.
HEADQUARTERS IN THE FIELD,
Chickasaw Bayou, January 3, 1863.
GENERAL: I respectfully submit the following report of the operations of the troops you did me the honor to place under my command:
On Friday morning, the 26th ultimo, I received orders from you to assume command of the defenses at Chickasaw Bayou. I immediately proceeded to that point in company with you, and shortly after our arrival notice was given that the enemy had effect a landing below, and that three regiments of infantry and a squadron of cavalry were in Mrs. Lake's field in front of our position. The entire force at my disposal at that time was the Seventeenth Louisiana, Colonel [Robert] Richardson commanding; the Twenty-sixth Louisiana, Colonel [Winchester] Hall commanding; two companies of the Forty-sixth Mississippi, under Captain [J. B.] Hart, [Company E], and Captain [Jeff. L.] Wofford's company of my light artillery regiment. The Twenty-sixth Louisiana and the tow companies of the Forty-sixth Mississippi were immediately thrown forward and deployed as skirmishers across Mrs. Lake's field along the road leading from her residence to the swamp. The enemy kept up a continual fire from their artillery abroad of their boats, and their sharpshooters also fired rapidly. The Abolitionists hesitating to advance on our position, nd their guns being of longer range than our, as 12-pounder howitzer, under charge of Captain Wofford, was advanced, and by a few well-directed shots caused the infantry to retire to the cover of the woods. This gave us possession of Mrs. Lake's corn-cribs, which had been completely commanded by the enemy's sharpshooters, and they were fired by Captain Wofford to prevent the corns falling into possession of the enemy. The enemy having retired from the field, the Twenty-sixth much as possible from the fire of the gunboats. Late in the evening they were relieved by the Seventeenth Louisiana, which passed the night at and near Mrs. Lake's residence.
On the morning of the 27th, about 10 o'clock, the pickets brought information that the enemy were advancing on our position sin two directions. A portion of the Seventeenth Louisiana, with a howitzer of Wofford's battery, were advanced to Mrs. Lake's gin-house to hold in check the force in that direction. Soon afterward the two companies of the Forty-sixth Mississippi, stationed as pickets in rear of Mrs. Lake's residence, were driven in and the enemy appeared in the edge of the field in considerable force, consisting of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. One of Captain Wofford's howitzers, under command of Lieutenant [W. A.] Lockhart, immediately opened on them. The enemy replied with spirit from their battery, when a brisk artillery duel occurred, under cover of which the howitzer and part of the Seventeenth Louisiana at the gin-house were withdrawn and our forces concentrated to resist the attack now threatened both in our front and on our right flank. A strong position was selected in a narrow skirt of timber bordering the field, our line of battle formed, and skirmishers thrown out. The ground being difficult to retire over under fire, after consultation with Captain [Paul] Hamilton of your staff, the artillery was ordered to retire to our regular line, and as you had instructed me to hold the enemy