also to receive reports of reconnaissances made in my front before proceeding farther-I did not issue orders to continue the movement at an early hour the following morning.
Immediately on my arrival at Mrs. Elliston's on the night of the 15th, I sent for Colonel Wirt Adams, commanding the cavalry, and gave him the necessary instructions for picketing all approaches in my front, and directed him to send out scouting parties to discover the enemy's whereabouts. I also made strenuous efforts to effect the same object through citizen, but without success. Nothing unusual occurred during the night.
On the morning of the 16th, at about 6. 30 o'clock, Colonel Wirt Adams reported to me that his pickets were skirmishing with the enemy on the Raymond road some distance in our front. While in conversation with him, a courier arrived and handed me the following dispatch from General Johnston:
CANTON ROAD, TEN MILES FROM JACKSON, May 15, 1863-8. 30 a. m.
Our being compelled to leave Jackson makes your plan impracticable. The only mode by which we can unite is by your moving directly to Clinton, informing me, that we may move to that point with about 6,000 troops. I have no means of estimating enemy's force at Jackson. The principal officers here differ very widely, and
I fear he will fortify if time is left him. Let me hear from you immediately. General Maxey was ordered back to Brookhaven. You probably have time to make him join you. Do so before he has time to move away.
I immediately directed a countermarch, or rather a retrograde movement, by reversing the column as it then stood, for the purpose of returning toward Edwards Depot to take the Brownsville road, and thence to proceed toward Clinton by a route north of the railroad. A written reply to General Johnston's instructions, in which I notified him that the countermarch had been ordered and of the route I should take, was dispatched in haste, and without allowing myself sufficient time to take a copy.
Just as this reverse movement commenced, the enemy drove in Colonel Adams' cavalry pickets, and opened with artillery at long range on the head of my column on the Raymond road. Not knowing whether this was an attack in force or simply an armed reconnaissance, and being anxious to obey the instructions of General Johnston, I directed the continuance of the movement, giving the necessary instructions for securing the safety of the wagon train. The demonstrations of the enemy soon becoming more serious, orders were sent to DIVISION commanders to form in line of battle on the cross-road from the Clinton to the Raymond road, Loring on the right, Bowen in the center, and Stevenson on the left. Major-General Stevenson was instructed to make the necessary dispositions for the protection of the trains then on the Clinton road and crossing Baker's Creek. The line of battle was quickly formed, without any interference on the part of the enemy. The position selected was naturally a strong one, and all approaches from the front well covered. A short time after the formation of the line, Loring's DIVISION was thrown back so as to cover the military road, it being reported that the enemy had appeared in that direction. The enemy made his first demonstration on our right, but after a lively artillery duel for an hour or more, this attack was relinquished, and a large force was thrown against our left, where skirmishing became heavy about 10 o'clock, and the battle began in earnest along Stevenson's entire front about noon.
Just at this time a column of the enemy were seen moving in front of our center toward the right. [John C.] Landis' battery, of Bowen's DIVISION, opened upon and soon broke this column, and compelled it to