on the 4th instant, referring you to my report up to the 4th of May, at which date we were encamped near Hankinson's Ferry, on the Big Black River. We continued in that position until the 9th, when, receiving orders to march, the command broke camp and moved in the direction of Raymond, MISS.
On the morning of the 12th of May, the DIVISION being on the march, the THIRD Brigade being in the rear of the column, I received orders to move forward with all possible dispatch, as the enemy were in force in our immediate front. I caused the command to move with alacrity, coming up to the crest of a hill in full view of the field, where, by order of Major-General McPherson, I deployed the command in double lines as a reserve, the Seventh Missouri, Eighty-first Illinois, and Thirty-SECOND Ohio being present, the Eighth Illinois being detailed as rear guard. I immediately ordered up the Eighth Illinois to the front. The enemy making determined resistance to our advancing lines, and indicating a disposition to flank our right, I was ordered to take position on the right of our line, to check the movement of the enemy. Whilst engaged in executing the command, I received orders from Major-General Logan to send one regiment of my command to take position on the right of the First Brigade. I immediately ordered the Eighty-first Illinois to take position. Soon afterward I received a SECOND order from Major-General Logan to send to extreme left another regiment of my command, as the enemy were pressing at that point in force and with great determination. The Eighth Illinois Regiment, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Sturgess, having arrived on the ground, was immediately sent to the point indicated. I then ordered the Seventh Missouri, under Major Wakefield, to take position on the right of the Eighty-first Illinois. I held the Thirty-SECOND Ohio Volunteers, under Colonel B. F. Potts, in its original position on the extreme right. Each of these movements was made with skirmishers properly deployed.
On the extreme right, where I was in person, the enemy made a demonstration as if for a flank movement, with a heavy line of skirmishers, which was soon driven back by the skirmishers in front of the Thirty-SECOND Ohio Volunteers. In the mean time the fight raged with great fierceness on the left and center. The Eighth Illinois Volunteers, gallantly led by Lieutenant-Colonel Sturgess, charged the advancing line of the enemy with its usual impetuosity, and at the point of the bayonet dislodged them from a strong position from which they had poured a most destructive fire upon our lines.
Soon the whole line advanced, and the enemy was driven from the position. In this advance the Eighty-first Illinois Volunteers, under command of Colonel J. J. Dollins, behaved with signal valor.
The Seventh Missouri Volunteers, under command of Major Wakefield, failing to unite with the Eighty-first Illinois on the left, advanced through a dense thicket to an open field in front. The regiment, being at the base of a hill held by the enemy, resolutely advanced to take possession of the hill, and whilst under a most terrific fire, was ordered by the commanding officer to retreat, and retired in great disorder and with heavy loss, the enemy in their front consisting of at least three regiments. Learning that the regiment had broken, I immediately proceeded to that part of the field, rallied the regiment, the enemy falling in and forming a new line.
Captain Wiles, of the pioneer corps, having come upon the field with his gallant company, and desiring to share the work and dangers of the field, I placed him with his command on the left of the Seventh Missouri. At this time Major-General McPherson, having strengthened