War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0266 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI

Search Civil War Official Records

had ample time to commence the movement, I suggested to General Green and Colonel Cockrell to move forward to the railroad bridge. My command reached that point at about 1 o'clock that night and bivouacked near Bovina.

The entire train of the army, under the judicious management of Colonel A. W. Reynolds, commanding Tennessee Brigade, of Stevenson's DIVISION, was crossed without loss, though the movements of the enemy compelled Colonel Reynolds' brigade to cross the Big Black above the railroad bridge.

On reaching the line of intrenchments occupied by Brigadier-General Vaughn's brigade of East Tennesseeans (Smith's DIVISION), he was instructed by myself in person to man the trenches from the railroad to the left, his artillery to remain as then posted, and all wagons to cross the river at once. Special instructions were left with Lieutenant J. H. Morrison, aide-de-camp, to be delivered to Generals Loring, Stevenson, and Bowen, as they should arrive, and were delivered to all except General Loring, as follows:

General Stevenson's DIVISION to cross the river and proceed to Mount Alban.

General Loring's to cross and occupy the WEST bank.

Brigadier-General Bowen's DIVISION, as it should arrive, was directed to occupy the trenches to the right and left of Vaughn's, and his artillery to be parked, that it might be available for any point of the lines most threatened.

General Stevenson's DIVISION, arriving very late in the night, did not move beyond Bovina, and I awaited in vain intelligence of the approach of General Loring. It was necessary to hold the position to enable him to cross the river, should the enemy, which was probable, follow him closely up.

For this purpose alone I continued the troops in position until it was too late to withdraw them under cover of night. I then determined not to abandon so strong a front while there was yet a hope of his arrival.

I have not up to this time received General Loring's report of the share taken by his DIVISION in the battle of Baker's Creek, nor have I yet been informed of the reason why he failed to rejoin the army under my command.

The Big Black River, where it is crossed by the railroad bridge, makes a bend somewhat in the shape of a horseshoe. Across this horseshoe, at its narrowest part, a line of rifle-pits had been constructed, making an excellent cover for infantry, and at proper intervals dispositions were made for field artillery. The line of pits ran nearly north and south, and was about 1 mile in length. North of and for a considerable distance south of the railroad and of the dirt road to Edwards Depot, nearly parallel with it, extended a bayou, which in itself opposed a serious obstacle to an assault upon the pits. This line abutted north on the river and south upon a cypress-brake, which spread itself nearly to the bank of the river.

In addition to the railroad bridge, which I had caused to be floored for the passage even of artillery and wagons, the steamer Dot, from which the machinery had been taken, was converted into a bridge, by placing her fore and aft across the river. Between the works and the bridge, about three-quarters of a mile, the country was open, being either old or cultivated fields, affording no cover should the troops be driven from the trenches. East and south of the railroad the topographical features of the country over which the enemy must necessarily pass were similar to those above described; but north of the railroad and