War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0671 Chapter XXXVI. BATTLE OF PORT GIBSON, MISS.

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up to my support. But it seems that about the time I ordered my regiment to make the charge, they received orders to withdraw, which they did rapidly and without my being apprised of it. Consequently, my messengers never reached them. I held this position until my ammunition was nearly exhausted, my line and the enemy's being within 20 yards of each other, when, finding that the enemy had flanked me on the right with a brigade of fresh troops, I reluctantly determined to withdraw from a position which had been so gallantly won and perseveringly maintained. The proximity of the enemy on my front rendered this a most hazardous undertaking. I therefore went to each captain, and notified him that I intended to give the command "fix bayonets," so that the enemy could hear it, and make a demonstration as if I were going to charge the line in front of me; but, instead of carrying out the charge, they must face their companies to the left, and withdraw quietly by the left flank, each company firing a volley as it passed a certain point, to hold them in check and prevent them from discovering the true object of the maneuver until our escape should be effected. This movement was executed with such precision and in such good order as to induce the enemy to believe that we were moving to their right, with a view of charging them and turning their right flank, and caused them to change their front to receive us, during their right flank, and caused them to change their front to receive us, during the execution of which I caused the head of my column to debouch to the left and take advantage of a thickly timbered hollow which ran in the direction it was necessary we should go. As soon as they discovered that we were withdrawing, they advanced their lines on my right, and I again formed my men in line of battle, as if intending to give them fight. This had the effect to check them, but they having discovered the smallness of my force, determined tround me, and were making disposition of their forces in order to effect it, when I ordered my men to face by the rear rank and retire at double-quick, which they did in good order, under fire from the enemy's whole line, for a distance of 300 yards, across an open corn-field. I again halted my men, formed them, and marched off in the direction of the bridge over Bayou Pierre, on the road from Port Gibson to Grand Gulf, which point I reached a little e after dark.

My regiment was the last to leave the field, and had Tracy's brigade joined me in the charge, instead of withdrawing at that time, we would have completely routed their left wing.

The section of artillery captured in the early part of the charge had to be abandoned, as the horsed had all been killed but two.

I went into the fight with 400 men, and my loss in killed, wounded, and MISSING was 82, as will be seen by accompanying report, marked A. * Thus it will be seen with one regiment I charged the whole left wing of the Federal army, drove them for a distance of a quarter of a support, and withdrew in good order under fire from their whole line, with a loss of only 82 men.

My officers and men, without exception, did their duty nobly, and where all are heroes it would be unjust to make distinction.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

EUGENE ERWIN,

Colonel, Commanding Sixth Missouri.

Captain J. M. FLANAGAN,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, first Brigade.

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*Not found.

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