which, by the circuitous route it was necessary to take, increased the distance to about 70 miles from Milliken's Bend, our starting point.
The Thirteenth Army Corps being all through to the Mississippi, and the SEVENTEENTH Army Corps well on the way, so much of the Thirteenth as could be got on board of the transports and barges were put aboard, and moved to the front of Grand Gulf on April 29. The plan here was that the Navy should silence the guns of the enemy, and the troops landed under the cover of the gunboats, and carry the place by storm.
At 8 a. m. the Navy made the attack, and kept it up for more than five hours in the most gallant manner. From a tug out in the stream I witnessed the whole engagement. Many times it seemed to me the gunboats were within pistol-shot of the enemy's batteries. It soon became evident that the guns of the enemy were too elevated and their fortifications too strong to be taken from the water side. The whole range of hills on that side were known to be lined with rifle-pits; besides, the field artillery could be moved to any position by effecting a landing at Rodney, or at Bruinsburg, between Grand Gulf and Rodney. Accordingly, orders were immediately given for the troops to debark at Hard Times, La., and march across to the point immediately below Grand Gulf.
At dark the gunboats again engaged the batteries, and all the transports run by, receiving but two or three shots in the passage, and these without injury. I had some time previously ordered a reconnaissance to a point opposite Bruinsburg, to ascertain, if possible, from persons in the neighborhood the character of the road leaving to the highlands back of Bruinsburg. During the night I learned from a negro man that there was a good road from Bruinsburg to Port Gibson, which determined me to land there.
The work of ferrying the troops to Bruinsburg was commenced at daylight in the morning, the gunboats as well as transports being used for the purpose.
As soon as the Thirteenth Army Corps was landed, and could draw three days' rations to put in haversacks (no wagons were allowed to cross until the troops were all over), they were started on the road to Port Gibson. I deemed it a matter of vast importance that the highlands should be reached without resistance. The SEVENTEENTH Corps followed as rapidly as it could be put across the river.
About 2 o'clock, May 1, the advance of the enemy was met 8 miles from Bruinsburg, on the road to Port Gibson. He was forced to fall back, but, as it was dark, he was not pursued far until daylight.
Early on the morning of the 1st, I went out, accompanied by members of my staff, and found McClernand with his corps engaging the enemy about 4 miles from Port Gibson. At this point the roads branched in exactly opposite directions, both, however, leading to Port Gibson. The enemy had taken position on both branches, thus dividing, as he fell back, the pursuing forces. The nature of the ground in that part of the country is such that a very small force coulgress of a much larger one for many hours. The roads usually run on narrow, elevated ridges, with deep and impenetrable ravines on either side. On the right were the DIVISIONS of Hovey, Carr, and [A. J.] Smith, and on the left the DIVISION of Osterhaus, of McClernand's corps. The three former succeeded in driving the enemy from position to position back toward Port Gibson steadily all day.