last moment. I ordered them up about 1 o'clock, but only one of them arrived in time to cover the retreat and burn the bridges.
Between 12 and 1 o'clock I attempted, with two of Colonel Cockrell's regiments, to turn the enemy's right flank, and nearly succeeded. They formed three brigades in front of a battery to receive our charge. The first was routed, the SECOND wavered, but the THIRD stood firm, and, after a long and desperate contest, we had to give up the attempt. I am of opinion, however, that this attack saved the right from being overwhelmed, and kept the enemy back until nearly sunset. All day long the fight raged fiercely, our men everywhere maintaining their ground, and I hoped that I could hold it until after dark. Just before sunset a desperate attack was made by the enemy, they having again received fresh troops. My right was forced to give ground, and I was reluctantly compelled to fall back. The order was given and executed without confusion, General Baldwin, who held the center, bringing up the rear. The enemy attempted no pursuit, and all crossed in safety to this side of Bayou Pierre, destroying the bridges behind us. General Baldwin, misled by the burning of the railroad bridge and by rumors that it was the suspension bridge, took the road due north, through Port Gibson, instead of the Grand Gulf road, and unfortunately destroyed the bridge over the north fork of Bayou Pierre, cutting me off from most of the meat, which had been sent between the two forks for safety. I had sent a train around to bring it all here, and some of the wagons were cut off. They are coming in, however, and I expect none will be lost. I an endeavoring to get it over a ferry on the north fork, and, if I do not succeed, shall at events try to destroy it. I ordered all the commissary stores left in town, mainly corn, to be burned.
I can give no estimate of losses, returns not having been handed in, but they must be severe. A section of the Virginia battery was captured by the enemy, an reported. Two more pieces had to be left from want of horses, all having been killed. The men endeavored to drag the pieces off by hand, but had to leave them. The Hudson Battery brought off all their pieces, but had lost so many horses severely, having 20 men wounded. Nearly all the MISSING of the whole command can be considered among the killed and wounded, as very few prisoners were taken.
The enemy have refused to allow me to bury the dead, or visit the wounded beyond the mere sending of surgeons, who are to remain.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNumber S. BOWEN,
Major R. W. MEMMINGER,
P. S. - Since writing the above, I have ascertained that the enemy's force engaged exceeded 20,000, while my own did not number over 5,500.
HDQRS. DEPT. Mississippi AND EAST LOUISIANA, Vicksburg, MISS., May 4, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded, with high commendation upon the gallantry of Brigadier General J. S. Bowen and command, and respectfully urging that he be promoted to the rank of major-general.
J. C. PEMBERTON,