Number 10. Report of Brigadier General Robert B. Potter, U. S. Army, Commanding SECOND DIVISION. Headquarters SECOND DIVISION, NINTH ARMY CORPS, Near Jackson, MISS., July 16, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with verbal orders from Major-General Parke, I directed an advance of my skirmishers, at 11 a. m. To-day, on the right and left on my line, my center being to much exposed to admit of such a movement until covered by the wings.
My line, nearly a mile in length, commences of the Jackson and Canton road, at a point where rest the left of General Smith's line; it runs thence along the crest a hill and thought the woods in a south-easterly direction. At the end of the wood in takes an easterly course, running for nearly a third of the distance along a crest wholly free from timber or brushwood; it then turns again to the southeast, and, the ground becoming more broken, it runs trough woods, and, as far as practicable, on the crest of the hill to our extreme left, which rests in an extremely thick wood. Rifle-pits have been dug in all the cleared parts of the line, and in the open wood. The force on this line is 1,700 muskets, exclusive of details for water,&c., and the usual complement of officers. They are detailed from the SECOND and THIRD Brigades, of this DIVISION, and are under the immediate command of General Ferrero. The First Brigade, 730 muskets, was held in reserve at the DIVISION camp. Six hundred men are of the line of skirmishers, and 1,100 held in reserve.
On our advance, the enemy's skirmishers were, without much difficulty, driven into their rifle-pits, which were well filled, and a strong resistance offered. Behind these intrenchments troops could be seen drawn up in line. The resistance was as pertinacious as could be expected on the advance of a strong line of skirmishers, and was sufficient, when they reached the rifle-pits, and repel a very considerable force. At this point some shell ans case-shot were thrown into my men from the batteries to the right of the road. Finding that any further attempt to advance would be attended with severe loss, and the position not being tenable, the force retired to its former position.
On my right are two forts-one an earthwork and the other made of cotton bales-which throw shot and shell into my lines, causing some loss. In front of my center a six-gun fort can be distinctly seen; this fort did not fire, but the guns were manned, and a large number of troops could be seen over the parapet. On the left are indications of an earthwork, intended for a battery, and connected with rifle-pits, but we could not get near enough to make this out, as the wood is thick. All these forts seem to be on the same line, and are inclosed in a line of rifle-pits.
When the advance was made, a noise as of a movement of a battery was reported on the left.
The enemy appear fully as strong in my front as at any time since we have occupied this line.
My loss was 2 killed and 6 wounded.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBERT B. POTTER,
Lieutenant Colonel N. BOWEN.