War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0373 Chapter XLIV. THE MERIDIAN EXPEDITION.

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just relinquished. The enemy advanced in four lines of battle across the field I had just left, but did not advance beyond Baker's Creek that evening. Throwing out a strong picket and numerous scouts on my front and flanks, I withdrew my command 1 mile to Mr. Thomas' plantation, where I fed my horses and encamped for the night.

Before daylight on the morning of February 5, I resumed my position, directing Captain King to train his rifled pieces on the bridge over Baker's Creek, 800 yards in my front, and posted Colonel Griffith's [Eleventh] Arkansas Regiment on the right and Major Stockdale's battalion on the left, both dismounted as supports for the artillery. I held Colonels Wood and Dumonteil in reserve, the former dismounted and forming a second line; the latter mounted and in column in the road.

At 7 a.m. the enemy advanced in column across the bridge in my front, when I directed Captain King to open fire with hiss two rifled pieces, which did not, however, check the enemy. He pressed steadily forward, deploying to the right and left in the open field. A rapid artillery fire was maintained for some time, and when within range Colonel Griffith and Major Stockdale engaged his whole line, offering the most determined and stubborn resistance and maintaining their position to the last moment, Colonel Griffith and Major Stockdale, as usual, distinguishing themselves by their gallant and fearless bearing. After offering all the resistance possible to the largely superior force of the enemy, I withdrew Colonel Griffith's and Major Stockdale's commands, ordering Colonel Wood to cover the movement. Colonel Wood was relieved by Colonel Dumonteil and Major Akin successively as the command retired in perfect order along the Clinton road. When near Clinton I was ordered by the major-general commanding to hold the enemy in check until Colonel Starke's brigade, coming in on the Queen's Hill road, could pass through the town. After the passage of this command I moved through Clinton, taking the Jackson road beyond. Two miles east of Clinton I again took position on the eastern limit of an extended, open field, and was joined by a section of Croft's and a section of Waties' (South Carolina) battery. The enemy soon showed himself in my front, but advanced cautiously. His line of skirmishers was promptly driven back by the artillery, the practice of which was excellent.

After the lapse of two hours and a careful reconnaissance he moved an infantry column out of view by a road 1 mile to my right and falling into the Jackson road 2 miles in my rear. Advancing a 6-gun battery at the same time with a strong infantry support to a commanding elevation on my front and left and two 20-pounder Parrotts in my front, he opened a rapid and vigorous fire of artillery, pushing forward at the same time a strong line of skirmishers under cover of a wood from the column moving past my right. As the enemy showed no inclination to advance in my front, and my artillery was seriously endangered by the column turning my position, I ordered the artillery and supports to withdraw, following with the remainder of the command. In passing the point where the road on my right entered the Jackson road, the enemy poured a severe volley into Major Stockdale's battalion, acting as rear guard. Colonel Wood's regiment was immediately moved back to his support, but the enemy was so posted as to prevent any effective movement against him.