made on my center picket (Benton road), but they stood their ground manfully, and not until the enemy had opened a heavy artillery fire upon the picket and reserves did they fall back to the main body of the regiment.
The engagement had now become extended throughout my entire line. I had instructed Lieutenant-Colonel Peebles, and Major McKee to hold their positions at all hazards, as their redoubts commanded the entire city, and as long as they were held we had the town in our possession.
About 10 o'clock a.m. I discovered a movement on the part of the enemy to flank me on the left, where I had posted a small detachment of the First Mississippi Cavalry. I at once ordered four companies of the Eighth Louisiana Infantry, African descent, stationed over a mile distant, to their support. They came gallantly forward double-quick, but before they arrived within supporting distance General Richardson's entire command had entered the city proper, tow regiments being between my headquarters and Fort McKee.
At this time Major McKee had sent out a portion of Company K, Eleventh Regiment, to open communication to my headquarters, but finding the enemy in too strong force they endeavored to move back to the works, and in doing so the enemy succeeded in capturing 10 of them prisoners. Three of them, however, escaped into the city, informing me that my only piece of artillery (a small howitzer borrowed from the gun-boat Exchange, and which was posted in the redoubt occupied by Major McKee) had become disabled. I immediately sent for another of the same kind, but before I could get it in the redoubt the enemy had gained full possession of the street, and I posted it upon the corners of the principal streets of the city and behind a hastily-constructed breast-work of cotton, and I regret to say at the first fire of the enemy the officer in charge of the gun (Ensign Holmes, U. S. Navy) and his men shamefully deserted it and fled to the boat, but was met by Captain McElroy, commanding gun-boat, who refused them permission to come on board the boat. I succeeded, however, in moving the gun from its position, and procured another squad to man it, and who performed their duty faithfully and with great bravery.
The enemy at this time began to crowd my small force, and I ordered two more companies from the Eighth Louisiana Infantry, African descent, who responded with alacrity.
I now distributed my small force, consisting of A Company, Eleventh Illinois Infantry, and six companies of the Eighth Louisiana Infantry, through the streets, in doorways, houses, &c., and commenced a vigorous and telling fire upon the enemy, the howitzer discharging shell with telling effect into the houses the enemy had taken possession of. During this time the enemy were pouring a heavy discharge of shot and shell from six pieces of artillery, doing little damage, however, except to the buildings.
In the mean time Major McKee in his redoubt, with nine companies of the Eleventh, and Major Cook with his small detachment of 80 men in the rifle-pits (the rifle-pits having been constructed the day before), and Lieutenant-Colonel Peebles, with his four companies on the right, were doing nobly.
Major McKee was for four hours surrounded on three sides by the enemy with six regiments, and three times was he ordered to surrender (orders to surrender and reply of major please find inclosed). During the whole time the enemy had gained his position so as to strike