Major-General Loring, then at Meridian, was ordered to send two of his regiments across the break on the Southern Railroad, near Chunkey River, and Colonels [M.] Farrell and [A. E.] Reynolds, who were WEST of the break, were ordered to proceed immediately to Jackson. Major-General Buckner, commanding at Mobile, was notified that I should look to him to assist me in protecting the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, as I required all the troops I could spare to strengthen General Bowen. Major-General Gardner, at Port Hudson, was also ordered to move Gregg's brigade rapidly to Jackson. Brigadier-General Tilghman, then on the Mississippi Central Railroad, was directed to move promptly with all of his troops (save bridge guards) to Jackson. Major [M. R.] Clark, commanding at Brookhaven, was instructed to send couriers to all cavalry commanders near him, ordering them to move toward Grand Gulf, with directions not to encounter the main body of the enemy, but to harass him in the rear and flank. Similar instructions were forwarded to Osyka and Hazlehurst. To General Johnston, at Tullahoma, the following telegram was sent:
The enemy is at Hard Times, La., in large force, with barges and transports, indicating an attack on Grand Gulf, with a view to Vicksburg. I must look to the Army of Tennessee to protect the approaches through Northern Mississippi.
The following also to Major-General Stevenson at Vicksburg:
Hold 5,000 men in readiness to move them. With your batteries and rifle-pits manned, the city front is impregnable.
To General Bowen, at the same time, the following was sent:
I have directed General Stevenson to have 5,000 men ready to move on your requisition, but do not make requisition unless absolutely necessary for the safety of your position. I am also making arrangements for sending you 2,000 or 3,000 men from this direction in case of necessity. You cannot communicate with me too frequently.
I believe that I fully estimated the importance of preventing an advance upon Jackson, if it could be done without sacrificing Vicksburg; but if the latter was lost, the former was comparatively of little value. Vicksburg might still be held with Jackson in possession of the enemy, but it was the hope of being able to hold the position on Bayou Pierre, upon which the safety of Jackson depends, that made me most anxious to re-enforce General Bowen, or, failing in that, at least to have a sufficient force at hand to secure his retreat across the Big Black.
On April 30, I received the first information of the landing of the enemy on the east bank of the Mississippi River. General Bowen reported by telegraph that 3,000 Federal troops were at Bethel Church, 10 miles from Port Gibson, at 3 o'clock on the evening of the 29th, and that they were still landing at Bruinsburg. Brigadier-General Tracy, of Stevenson's DIVISION, had reached Grand Gulf with his brigade on the 30th. Lieutenant-Colonel [William N.] Brown, of the Twentieth Mississippi, with 50 mounted men of his regiment, left Jackson for the same place on the 29th, and Major J. D. Bradford, a good artillery officer, was sent to replace the lamented Colonel [William] Wade, as chief of artillery.
Between 12 m. and 2 p. m. on the 30th, Brigadier-General Baldwin, with his brigade, of Smith's DIVISION, had crossed the Big Black at Hankinson's Ferry.
At 9 a. m. May 1, General Bowen informed me by telegraph, his army being then in position 3 miles south of Port Gibson, that General Baldwin was entering the latter place. On the same day General Bowen telegraphed me that prisoners taken reported McClernand in
17 R R-VOL. XXIV, PT. I