Numbers 13. Report of Colonel Edward Bouton, FIFTY- ninth. S. Colored Infantry, commanding THIRD Brigade.
HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, U. S. COLORED TROOPS,
Memphis, Tenn., June 17, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report that in compliance with orders I moved my command from Memphis June 1, 1864, consisting of the FIFTY- fifth and FIFTY- ninth Regiments U. S. Colored Infantry, an done section of Battery F, Second U. S. Artillery (colored), which troops constituted the THIRD Brigade of Infantry DIVISION, under command of Colonel W. L. McMillen.
The strength of my brigade was as follows: FIFTY- fifth. U S. Colored Infantry, Major E. M. Lowe commanding- commissioned officers, 19; enlisted men, 685. FIFTY- ninth U. S. Colored Infantry, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cowden commanding - commissioned officers, 27; enlisted men, 580. Battery F, Second U. S. Artillery (colored), Captain Carl A. Lamberg commanding- commissioned officers, 2; enlisted men, 37. Total, commissioned officers, 48; enlisted men, 1,302. Total aggregate, exclusive of staff, 1,350.
On leaving camp, some thirteen miles from Ripley, the morning of June 10, I had the FIFTY- fifth U. S. Colored Infantry, Major E. M. Lowe commanding, distributed through the supply train, some three or four men to each wagon; the train followed by Battery F, Second U. S. Artillery (colored), Captain C. A. Lamberg commanding; FIFTY- ninth U. S. Colored Infantry, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cowden commanding, in rear. I had marched my brigade in this way less than two miles, when I discovered a column of the enemy's cavalry moving parallel with my right flank on a ridge road, bearing, generally, three- quarters to one mile and a half from the one on which I was moving. I moved with the utmost caution and vigilance, guarding every avenue of approach to the column from that flank. I heard artillery firing in front at about 11 a. m., but continued moving in the order above described till the head of the column reached the old house near the train. I had at this time just sent back orders to close up the troops an bring them forward at double- quick to this point. Many of them double- quicked two or three miles. I had as yet received no orders, but getting a partial view of the field, and seeing our cavalry falling back, soon followed by infantry and artillery, and judging somewhat of the enemy's strength and position by the fire he was delivering, I saw that my brigade must be thrown forward into action at once to save a total defeat. I immediately gathered two companies from the head of the column, under Captain Ewing, of the FIFTY- fifth, and threw them forward into what seemed to be a gap in the First Brigade, near the right and rear of what seemed to be the left battalion. These two companies held this position with great firmness until they were much reduced by loss and virtually crushed back by overwhelming numbers. I next threw forward seven companies of the FIFTY- fifth Regiment, under Major Lowe, which I put into position a little to the rear and to the right of the first two companies, so as to cover as well as possible the retreat of the brigade on left of the road. This line gave way to allow the troops in front to pass through to the rear, when they immediately closed up and opened a steady and well- directed fire on the enemy, which for a time seemed to hold in check his right and center. Major Lowe being se-