Number 18Report of Brigadier General William P. Benton, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade. BIVOUAC IN THE FIELD, Mississippi, May 5, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the First Brigade, Fourteenth DIVISION, THIRTEENTH Army Corps, Department of the Tennessee, in the engagement on the night of the 30th ultimo and 1st instant, near Port Gibson, MISS.:
About midnight I received the order of the general commanding the DIVISION to hasten forward the First Indiana Battery, which was immediately executed at a full run, arriving on the ground in a few minutes. The battery was at once placed in position, and opened a vigorous fire, which was continued, without intermission, till
3 a. m. of the 1st instant, when, the enemy having ceased his fire, we laid upon our arms, awaiting the tardy coming of daylight. In the mean time the infantry, consisting of the Eighth and Eighteenth Indiana and the Thirty-THIRD and Ninety-NINTH Illinois Regiments, lad come on the field, and were also sleeping upon their arms, in support of the battery. At the earliest dawn, all were on the alert, eager for the coming fray. At this juncture, Major-General McClernand came dashing to the front, asking a thousand questions as to the position and strength of the enemy, the roads, and the general topography of the ground, and with matchless energy, proceeded to verify every statement by a personal investigation.
About 6 a. m. I was ordered to push four companies down a road turning to the left of Shafer's house, and directly in the rear of the one on which the previous engagement occurred. I accordingly sent the gallant Major Potter, of the Thirty-THIRD Illinois, with four companies of that regiment, with orders to feel his way down the road cautiously, and hold it until relieved by General Osterhaus' command, which had been ordered up, and then, without further orders, hasten to rejoin his regiment. In few minutes his skirmishers engaged the outposts of the enemy, who replied sharply, both with small-arms and artillery. Owing to the promptness of General Osterhaus, the major's fight, though spirited, was of short duration, and he in turn promptly rejoined his regiment, and shared with it the dangers and glory of the fight on the extreme right.
General Osterhaus having thus secured our rear, by special direction of General McClernand, I ordered the Thirty-THIRD Illinois, commanded by the cool and fearless Colonel Lippincott, to move forward along the high ridge to the WEST, and carefully explore the ravines intervening between Shafer's house and our intended line of battle. At the same time Captain Klauss was ordered to change the position of one section of his battery to the high ground on the left of the road, and open fire with his whole battery, while the gallant Major Brady, of the Eighth Indiana, commanding my skirmishers, consisting of one company from each regiment, was pressing forward under orders, and the Eighth and Eighteenth Indiana formed forward into line of battle. The Ninety-NINTH Illinois was also ordered forward as the reserve of the brigade. In a very short time the battle raged with great fury. Having driven the stubborn enemy at the point of the bayonet several hundred yards from one ravine to another, and completely turned his left flank, I ordered a change of front forward on tenth company, which was accom-
40 R R-VOL XXIV, PT. I