War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0323 Chapter XLIV. THE MERIDIAN EXPEDITION.

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as much cotton, &c., as possible during the time), when I received orders from Brigadier General John McArthur, commanding at Vicksburg, to return to Yazoo City hold that position until further orders (please find a copy of order inclosed). I immediately moved down the river, taking cotton, corn, &c., when found on plantations of disloyal parties, making my descent necessarily slow (report of cotton, stock, &c., please find inclosed*). I arrived, however, without interruption further than the tearing off the upper works of the transports by overhanging trees to within 6 miles of Yazoo City, Sunday, February 28, where I disembarked my whole force of cavalry, with instructions to move in rear of Yazoo City and take possession of all the roads leading afternoon. I then moved down leisurely with the gun-boats and transports (giving the cavalry ample time to secure all the outlets from the city), and commenced disembarking my infantry. Before, however, I had my force moved from the boats, I received information that the enemy had attacked my cavalry picket force. I immediately ordered Major Cook, First Mississippi Cavalry, African descent, with a detachment of his command to move out on the Benton road and reconnoiter. I then disembarked my infantry and formed in line, moving the Eleventh Regiment double-quick to the works commanding the Benton road and the Eighth Louisiana, African descent, to the ridge road on the right and commanding the bluff, and stationed two companies of cavalry on the extreme left.

About 3 p.m. Major Cook returned, followed closely by a much superior force of the enemy until within range of my line of skirmishers, who drove them back and skirmished with them nearly 3 miles.

Major Cook reported having run in General Ross' entire command about 6 miles out from the city, and who were evidently endeavoring to gain possession of the works on the heights before our arrival.

The loss in this affairs to the cavalry was rather heavy, considering the numbers engaged.

I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Peebles and Major McKee to hold the positions they then occupied, the men of their command to lie on their arms and ready for any emergency. The enemy, however, made no attack in force, but annoyed our picket line continually.

About noon on the 29th of February, my camp and garrison equipage arrived, and I ordered the commandants of each regiment to select a suitable camp-ground as near their positions as possible, which was accordingly done, and on the 1st instant we were in very comfortable quarters.

The enemy would every day make a dash on my advance picket-posts and vedettes, but would retire upon any demonstration being made by the reserves, and, being well mounted, could not be overtaken.

Upon the night of the 4th instant, I ascertained that General Ross had been re-enforced by the command of Brigadier-General Richardson (reported to have 800 Tennessee troops). I gave orders to have my picket reserves strengthened by two companies of the Eleventh Illinois Infantry and two companies of the Eighth Louisiana, African descent.

Upon the morning of Saturday, 5th instant, a heavy attack was


*See his report of March 2, 1864, p.320.