Numbers 42. Report of Colonel Charles R. Woods, Seventy-sixth Ohio Infantry, commanding SECOND Brigade, First DIVISION, Fifteenth Army Corps. HDQRS. SECOND Brigadier, FIRST DIV., Fifteenth A. C., Near Jackson, MISS., July 20, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that, pursuant to Special Orders, Number 14, Headquarters Expeditionary Corps, July 14, 1863, and written instructions from the major-general commanding, of date of July 15, 1863, I started with my command at daylight on the 16th instant toward the Canton road. Having struck that road, I advanced about 10 miles, to near Grant's Ferry, on Pearl River, where Colonel Bussey, with his cavalry, overtook me. On the east side of the river, at this ferry, the enemy had a picket post of 20 or 30 men, with an outpost on the WEST side. After a little firing, the outpost withdrew to the east side of the river. I advanced some skirmishers to the ferry, who soon drove off the enemy; whereupon I caused the ferry-boat and two canoes to be destroyed. The troops then proceeded to Calhoun Station, on the Jackson and New Orleans Railroad, about 16 miles from Jackson, having first struck the railroad at that place. Here I caused about 1 mile of track and a bridge, situated 1 1/2 miles south, to be destroyed, piling up a good portion of the iron on the ties, and setting fire to them. Although the men were tired and worn out, I worked them until 9 p. m., and next morning from the earliest dawn until 6 a. m.
On the morning of the 17th, we advanced on the Canton road to a point about 3 miles from Canton. A small cavalry force was here seen on our left, near a road leading to Livingston, observing our movements; and at the same time clouds of dust on our front indicated the vicinity of a large body of cavalry. In connection with Colonel Bussey, I made disposition in a good position on a hill the enemy, to meet an attack which was then threatened on our right. While this was doing, there was a rapid movement of the enemy's cavalry in the direction of the Livingston road toward our left and rear, with the apparent intention of attacking and cutting off our train. This was met by the prompt advance of the Seventy-sixth Ohio Volunteers(Lieutenant Colonel W. B. Woods commanding), then guarding the rear, and of the Twenty-FIFTH Iowa Volunteers, by the shifting of a piece from the first Missouri Horse Artillery(Lieutenant Louis Voelkner commanding), and by a flank movement of part of Colonel Bussey's command. A few shell turned the enemy's advance to the right-about. In the mean time skirmishing commenced on our right and center, and continued till the enemy withdrew. Thereupon I advanced skirmishers of Thirty-first Iowa Volunteers(Major Theodore Stimming commanding) to the Canton road, on our right, who took possession of buildings of a plantation near the junction of the Beatty's Bluff and Canton road. Surmising that the enemy had withdraw the greater part of his force toward Canton, the Twenty Missouri Volunteers(Colonel Hugo Wangelin) and a cavalry force were sent forward to reconnoiter. They advanced less than a mile to near Bear creek, where they were met by musketry from the opposite side of the creek and severe fire of two cannon, one a rifle 6-pounder and the other a 12-pounder smooth-bore, posted on the opposite bank, near the end of the bridge. The infantry advanced to the creek bank, but could not cross, because of the destruction of the bridge and obstruction of the crossing. Owing to the steep banks and the mud of the creek,