of Loring's DIVISION, halted about one-half a mile from the ford on the east side, and directed him to cross. I there addressed a note to General Loring, informing him of what I had done, telling him of the change I had caused Colonel Scott to made in his position, stating that with the troops then there and others that I could collect I would hold the ford and road until his DIVISION could cross, and urging him to hasten the movement. To this note I received no answer, but in a short time Colonel Scott moved off his regiment quickly in the direction of his original position, in obedience, I was informed, to orders from General Loring. Inferring from this that General Loring did not intend to cross at that ford, he having had ample time to commence the movement, I suggested to General Green and Colonel Cockrell to move forward to the railroad bridge. My command reached that point at about 1 o'clock that night and bivouacked near Bovina.
In the action of the next morning my command took no part. After the enemy had made their successful attack upon the intrenchments upon the east side of the river, I received orders from the lieutenant-general to place one of my brigades in position on the heights of the WEST bank, to cover the crossing of the troops who had occupied the intrenchments. This duty was assigned to and executed by the command of Brigadier-General Lee.
At about 10 a. m. I received orders to take command of the army and conduct its retreat to the fortifications around Vicksburg. The brigade of Brigadier-General Baldwin, of Smith's DIVISION, was assigned to the duty of bringing up the rear. Just before getting into the works, I was joined by the brigade of Colonel Reynolds, to whom, as I before stated, had been intrusted the charge of the trains of the whole army. He had crossed the Big Black after much difficulty and delay, occasioned by the absence of any facilities for so doing, at Bridgeport. By a mistake in the transmission of the order, the regiment of Colonel Beck (Lee's brigade) remained at the river, resisted the attempts of the enemy to cross until 11 o'clock that night, and only withdrew upon the receipt of a peremptory order. The retreat was conducted in a leisurely and orderly manner, and the troops entered the line of fortifications about 3 p. m.
As censure has been cast upon my DIVISION for not having fully maintained their position at the battle of Baker's Creek, it is due to them and myself that I should here record facts connected with other parts of this army which, in my opinion, counting the explanation, in part at least, for this failure.
My DIVISION started early on the morning of the battle, under the supposition that the army was about to retrace its steps to join General Johnston north of the railroad, and with that view was weakened by sending one brigade to the rear in charge of the whole baggage train. Knowing that this movement exposed our flank to the enemy for several miles, I presumed the army would move quickly as soon as the road was free of trains, and accordingly gave my attention (until the engagement commenced)solely to the roads herein referred to, which were the only ones by which the enemy could strike us. At 9. 30 o'clock the road was open, but I was directed to retain my there brigades in line of battle until further orders.
The enemy engaged us at about 10. 30 o'clock. Finding that the main attack was upon me and in vastly superior force, I dispatched that information to the lieutenant-general commanding, and from time to time repeatedly asked for re-enforcements. The three DIVISIONS composing our army occupied a line of not exceeding 2 miles, one of them (Bowen's) at least, being within hearing of the musketry of the enemy in my front.
7 R R-VOL CCIV, PT. II