War of the Rebellion: Serial 037 Page 0084 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI.

Search Civil War Official Records

destruction of life to have formed a line of battle with my brigade in its then position, marching as it was by the left flank on the road, and a portion of which had already changed direction to the left, in order to enter it, under the heavy fire of the enemy hidden from view, exposed, too, to an enfilading fire form a battery which had been established by the enemy on a commanding eminence at short range, and at the same time my column was continually broken by men of other brigades, who, driven back, were rushing pell-mell from the scene of action and resisting all attempts made to rally them.

My command being thus fully exposed to the enemy, I changed direction of the head of the column to the left, about 150 yards from the crest of the rise in the road occupied by the enemy, to a covered position, and formed the brigade. Two of my strongest regiments were detached from the rear of my brigade as it passed the cabins -one by order of General Pemberton, the other by order of General Bowen. The strength of my brigade at this critical moment was thus unceremoniously and materially reduced, this being done without my knowledge, and without any report being made to me of the fact by the generals who gave the orders. I waited the approach of the enemy, who must advance through an open, clear space. The enemy, however, halted in the road and established a battery. To have charged him from my position, with my brigade reduced in strength and over an open space of several hundred yards, would have cost it half its numbers. I therefore moved the brigade by the right flank to a position protected by timber to the ground occupied by the enemy, with the view of moving against the position held by him in the road. I had not completed the disposition of my command when I discovered that the enemy were rapidly turning both the right and left flanks of the position I held, as well as that occupied by him, against which I proposed to move. In all probability I might have taken the position at a great sacrifice, but it would be untenable, and I would have been forced to have given it up almost immediately, besides running the risk of having my entire brigade captured, as I was entirely without support, my strength reduced nearly one-THIRD by the regiments being detached, and as all the troops of our center and of the left wing were leaving the field in great disorder. I therefore threw my brigade back about a quarter of mile from the negro cabins, and in the direction of Edwards Depot, on a commanding position, where I joined you with General Featherston's brigade.

I was ordered to move brigade into position, so as to move against the enemy's right and pierce his line, and thus, by a vigorous and well-directed attack, force him to abandon the field, it having been reported that his center was falling back, and thus retrieve the day. I was joined here by the Twelfth Louisiana and Thirty FIFTH Alabama Regiments, and moved rapidly forward, and was forming in position, when I was informed by one of my staff officers that you had received positive orders to withdraw the forces from the field, and had commenced retiring. I immediately ordered the brigade to march by the left flank, and rejoined you then on the retreat toward Baker's Creek. Being informed that a section of artillery, with a support of infantry, had been detailed as a rear guard, I move forward, but was soon informed that the enemy was pressing on my rear both with cavalry, infantry, and artillery, and that one piece of the Pointe Coupee Battery had been abandoned, as the horses were killed by the sharpshooters, so as to render it an impossibility to remove it. This battery had been brought from its original position to the left, and ordered by Colonel [W. T.] Withers, chief of artillery of department, to send four pieces to Vicksburg, and