to Hard Times by 8 p. m., I will endeavor to cross you over to this side. You might leave a picket detachment to stay with Major Harrison until sunset, provided with two good flats, and let them come down the lake, making arrangements to put their flats into the river on their arrival at Hard Times. Major Harrison, if pressed, can fall back, destroying bridges, &c., and save his command, but with a force the size of yours subsistence may prove a grave question, if cut off from the main body. If you are prevented from crossing, try and hold the country from the boat bridge to Hard Times, and collect all the supplies you can by flats, &c., in the direction of Tensas.
JNO. S. BOWEN.
GRAND GULF, April 17, 1863.
Have ordered Cockrell to Hard Times. Have boats in Big Black to cross entire force, if enemy's gunboats remain above till 10 p. m.
Trenches manned. Batteries ready for action.
JNO. S. BOWEN.
HEADQUARTERS, Grand Gulf, MISS., April 17, 1863.
Major R. W. MEMMINGER, Assistant Adjutant-GENERAL:
SIR: I have the honor to report that I visited in person the command of Colonel Cockrell on take WEST bank of the river yesterday, finding him strongly posted in a position which cannot be turned or taken by assault; the enemy in a similar position immediately in his front, with pickets in sight. The passage of the gunboats by the Vicksburg batteries, rendering his position untenable, will compel him to fall back on the WEST shore of Lake Saint Joseph, about 4 miles. He can then hold a point equally as strong from a land attack and removed from the river sufficiently far to be safe from gunboats. He can maintain himself in this position without any supplies from this side for three or four weeks. He cannot be cut off unless a large force of the enemy move down and occupy Hard Times Landing, and even then he could not be captured until starved out. Pending a reply to my last telegram, I have made arrangements to cross him force to-night, of the enemy's gunboats do not come down, and shall do so unless otherwise ordered from your headquarters.
The prisoners captured in the skirmish at Fisk's plantation, 4 in number, I have confined in the country jail at Port Gibson. They can be convicted by civil process for tampering with slaves, stealing negroes, amalgamation, or any similar charge that may be brought against them, and I therefore respectfully suggest that Governor Moore, of Louisiana, be notified that he can have them on proper requisition. I inclose descriptive lists. * The horses and arms captured are in my camp, and will be turned over to-day to the proper officers.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. S BOWEN.