Gibson nobly illustrated the valor and constancy of our troops, and shed additional luster upon the Confederate arms. Confronted by overwhelming numbers, the heroic Bowen and his gallant officers and men maintained the unequal contest for many hours with a courage and obstinacy rarely equaled, and though they failed to secure a victory, the world will do them the justice to say they deserved it. With a moderate cavalry force at my disposal, I am firmly convinced that the Federal Army under General Grant would have been unable to maintain its communications with the Mississippi River, and that the attempt to reach Jackson and Vicksburg from that base would have been as signally defeated in May, 1863, as a like attempt from another base had by the employment of cavalry been defeated in December, 1862.
The repulse of General Bowen at Port Gibson, and our consequent withdrawal to the north bank of the Big Black, rendered it necessary that I should as rapidly as possible concentrate my whole force for the defense of Vicksburg from and attack in the rear by Grant's army, which was hourly swelling its numbers. Orders, therefore, were immediately transmitted to the officers in command at Grenada, Columbus, and Jackson to move all available forces to Vicksburg as rapidly as possible.
On the morning of the 3rd, two of the enemy's barges, loaded with hospital and commissary stores, were destroyed in attempting to pass the batteries at Vicksburg.
On the 5th, I telegraphed General Johnston that-
Six thousand cavalry should be used to keep my communications open, and that the enemy advancing on me was double what I could bring into the field.
To the honorable Secretary of War I sent the following telegram, under date of May 6:
General Beauregard sends but two brigades, perhaps not 5,000 men. This is a very insufficient number. The stake is a great one. I can see nothing so important.
On the 7th, the President notified me that all the assistance in his power to send should be forwarded, and that it was deemed necessary to hold Port Hudson as a means of keeping up our communications with the Trans-Mississippi Department. Major-General Gardner, who, with Brigadier-General Maxey and 5,000 men, had previously been ordered to Jackson to re-enforce this army, was immediately directed to send Maxey's brigade rapidly forward, and to return himself with 2,000 men to Port Hudson, and hold the place at all hazards.
On the 7th, indications rendered it probable that the enemy would make a raid on Jackson. The staff departments, therefore, and all valuable stores, were ordered to be removed east.
In the mean time my troops were so disposed as to occupy the Warrenton and Hall's Ferry road, which afforded great facilities for concentration, and various positions on the Baldwin's Ferry road, and from thence between Bovina and Edwards Depot, each DIVISION being in good supporting distance of the other. Colonel [T. N.] Waul, commanding Fort Pemberton, was directed to leave a garrison of 300 men at that place, and proceed with the remainder of his force to Snyder's Mill.
On the 10th, information was received from a scouting party that visited Cayuga and Utica, where the enemy had recently been, that his cavalry force was about 2,000, and that he was supposed to be moving on Vicksburg. My dispositions were made accordingly, and every effort was used to collect all the cavalry possible. Such as could be obtained were placed under the command of Colonel Wirt Adams, who was directed to harass the enemy on his line of march, cut his communications wherever practicable, patrol the country thoroughly, and to keep Brigadier-