War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0258 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC Chapter XXXVI.

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command; that three DIVISIONS had landed, one of which took the right hand road from Rodney, and that the enemy's force was estimated at 20,000 men. He adds, however, "I disbelieve the report. " At 3 p. m. the same day, General Bowen advised me that he still held his position, but that he was hard pressed, and concluded by asking when Major-General Loring would arrive. In reply, he was notified by telegram that another brigade from Vicksburg was en route to re-enforce him, and would probably reach him before Major-General Loring could arrive from Jackson. At 5. 30 p. m. he informed me that he was falling back across the Bayou Pierre, and that he would endeavor to hold that position until the arrival of re-enforcements. On reaching Rocky Springs, about 18 miles from Grand Gulf, Major-General Loring, learning that Brigadier-General Bowen had fallen back before a large force from Port Gibson in the direction of Grand Gulf, directed two regiments and a field battery of Tilghman's brigade, which had been withdrawn from the Big Black Bridge, to move as rapidly as possible to Grindstone Ford, and hold it at all hazards, to prevent the enemy from flanking Bowen in that direction, and then proceeded himself to the headquarters of General Bowen, near Grand Gulf. Major-General Loring, concurring with General Bowen as to the impracticability of holding his position with so small a force, directed its withdrawal across Big Black at Hankinson's Ferry.

In his official report Major-General Loring says:

This had hardly been determined upon, when your communication was received, stating that the army had fallen back toward Grand Gulf,, and ordering it to move at once out of its position, and to cross the Big Black at Hankinson's Ferry.

The movement was promptly carried out. Previous to crossing the river, however, Colonel A. W. Reynolds' brigade, of Stevenson's DIVISION, had arrived. Not having heard from General Bowen after 5. 30 p. m. on the 1st instant, I dispatched him, via Rocky Springs, on the morning of the 2nd, as follows:

If you are holding your position on the Bayou Pierre, and your communication is open by the Big Black to this place, continue to hold it. I am informed that you have fallen back to Grand Gulf. If this is so, carry out my instructions, just sent in cipher.

These instructions were, in case he had fallen back to Grand Gulf, which is a cul-de-sac, to destroy his heavy guns and such stores as could not be transported, and endeavor to retire across the Big Black. The last brigade of Major-General Stevenson's DIVISION, which had been hurried forward to re-enforce Bowen, with the hope of enabling him to hold his position on the Bayou Pierre, or, in case he should be compelled to fall back, to protect his retreat, had not all arrived when the retiring column, under Major-General Loring, commenced crossing the Big Black at Hankinson's Ferry.

For the details of the battle of Port Gibson, the list of casualties, &c., I beg to refer to the official report of Brigadier-General Bowen and the reports of his subordinate commanders, which I have the honor to transmit herewith,* as also the report of Major-General Loring, who commanded the retreat after the column had been put in motion by Brigadier-General Bowen.

Among the slain whom the country deplores I regret to mention Brigadier General E. D. Tracy, a brave and skillful officer, who fell where it is the soldier's pride to fall-at the post of duty and of danger.

Though disastrous in its results, the bloody encounter in front of Port

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*See pp. 657 et seq.

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