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troops. Our right was forced to give ground, and General Bowen was reluctantly compelled to fall back. The order was given and executed without confusion. The enemy attempted no pursuit.
Though unsuccessful, the bloody encounter in front of Port Gibson nobly illustrated the valor and constancy of our troops, and shed additional lustre upon the Confederate arms. In his official report, General Bowen declared that the enemy's force engaged exceeded twenty thousand, wbile his own did not number over fifty-five hundred.
It was the first mistake with which Pemberton had opened his chapter of disasters. On the 28th of April he ascertained that the enemy was landing troops at Hard Times, on the west bank of the river; he became satisfied that neither the front nor right (north) of Vicksburg would be attacked, and he turned his attention to the left (south) of Vicksburg; but unfortunately he did not concentrate "all” his troops on that side of Vicksburg. On the 29th of April he telegraphed General Johnston that the enemy were at Hard Times, and “can cross to Brainsburg;” and on the 1st of May that " a furions battle has been going on all day below Port Gibson.” On the 2d of May General Johnston replied: “If General Grant crosses nnite all yonr troops to beat him. Success will give back what was abandoned to win it." Unfortunately it was not done. His explanation why it was not done, was, that to havo marched an army across Big Black of sufficient strength to warrant a reasonable hope of successfully encountering his very superior forces, would have stripped Vicksburg and its essentially flank defences of their garrisons, and the city itself might have fallen an easy prey into the eager hands of the enemy. His apprehensions for the safety of Vicksburg were morbid. While he was gazing at Vicksburg, Grant was turning towards Jackson.
The battle of Port Gibson won, Grant pushed his columns directly towards Jackson. Pemberton's want of cavalry did not permit the interruption of Grant's communications, and he moved forward unmolested to Clinton. General Peinberton anticipated "a raid on Jackson," and ordered the removal of “the staff department and all valuable stores to the east;" but he regarded Edwards' Depot and the Big Black Bridge as the objects of Grant's movement to the eastward.
The movement of the enemy was one of extreme peril On one flank was General Joseph E. Johnston with a force whose strength was unknown to General Grant; and on the other was Lieutenant-general Pemberton. To have remained at Grand Gulf would have ruined the Federal army, and, with this knowledge, Grant determined to make certain movements on the west bank of the Big Black, while he marched rapidly on Jackson, Mississippi, with his main force. The object of the Yankee commander was to make sure of no enemy being in his rear when he marched on Vicksburg.
By glancing at a map it will be seen that the country included between Grand Gulf, Jackson and Big Black river, at the railroad crossing, forms a triangle. In moving forward, Grant's forces kept upon the line which leads from Grand Gult to Jackson ; but, instead of all going to Jackson, as might have been expected, the advance only continued toward that point, while the remainder of the army turned off to the left, at intervals, and proceeded along lines which converged until they met in the angle of the triangle located at the Big Black railroad crossing.
Many persons have doubtless been astonished at the ease with which Grant's forces advanced upon and took possessior. of Jackson. Its importance as a railroad centre and a depot for Confederate supplies warranted the anticipation that the place would be vigorously defended and only surrendered in the last extremity,
Unfortunately such a resistance could not be made. General Johnston had arrived too late to prepare a defence of the capital of Mississippi. On reaching Jackson, on the night of the 13th of May, he found there but two brigades numbering not more than six thousand men ; and, with the utmost that could be relied upon from the reinforcements on the way, he could not expect to confront the enemy with more than eleven thousand
But he comprehended the situation with instant and decisive sagacity. He ascertained that General Pemberton's forces, except the garrison of Port Hudson (five thousand) and of Vicksburg, were at Edwards' Depot-the general's headquarter's at Bovina; and that four divisions of the enemy, under Sherman, occupied Clinton, ten miles west of Jackson, between Edwards' Depot and ourselves.
Not a moment was to be lost. A despatch was hurried to Pemberton on the same night (13th), informing him of Johnston's arrival, and of the occnpation of Clinton by a portion of Grant's army, urging the importance of re-establishing com munications, and ordering him to come up, if practicable, on Sherman's rear at once, and adding, “to beat such a detachment would be of immense value.” “ The troops here," wrote Johnston, “could co-operate. All the strength you can quickly assemble should be bronght. Time is all-important."
It appears from General Pemberton's official report that he had preconceived a plan of battle; that he expected to fight at Edwards' Depot; and that he was unwilling to separate himself further from Vicksburg, which he regarded as his base. He had the choice of disobeying Johnston's orders, and falling back upon his own matured plan, or of obeying them, and taking the brilliant hazard of crushing an important detachment of the enemy. He did neither. He attempted a middle conrse--a compromise between his superior's orders and his own plans, the weak shift and fatal expedient of military incompetency. He telegraphed to Johnston, “I comply at once with your order." Yet he did not move for twenty-eight hours. A council of war had been called, and a majority of officers approved the movement indicated by General Johnston. Pemberton opposed it; but he says, “I did not, however, see fit to put my own judgment and opinion so far in opposition as to prevent a movement altogether.” So he determined upon an advance, not to risk an attack on Sherman, but, as he says, to cut the enemy's communications. He abandoned his own former plans; he disobeyed Johnston's order, and invented a compra mise eqnally reprehensible for the vacillation of his purpose and the equivocation of his despatch. He moved, not on Sherman's rear at Clinton, but in another direction toward Raymond. The purpose of General Johnston's order was to unite the two armies and attack a detachment of the enemy. The result of General Pemberton's movement towards Raymond was to prevent this union, and to widen the distance between the two armies.
In a moral view, it is difficult to find any term but that of the harshest censure for this trifling compromise of General Pemberton between the orders of his superior and the prefer
ences of his own mind. In a military view it was equally res prehensible. When the several corps of the enemy were separated into two or more distinct coluinns, separated by twelve or fifteen miles, it would be naturally supposed that the true opportunity of Pemberton would have been to strike at one separately, rather than to wait until all the enemy's forces concentrated, and attacked him on his uncertain march.
The error was irretrievable. While General Pemberton was in" council of war," on the 14th, the enemy, from Clinton and Raymond, marched on Jackson and compelled its evacuation. Had General Pemberton promptly obeyed General Johnston's order, and boldly marched on Clinton, the enemy could not have marched to Jackson, as that would have been to facilitate the union of Johnston and Pemberton and to have encountered their concentrated armies. The audacity of Johnston's order, if executed, might have reversed the fate of Vicksburg. The vacillation of General Pemberton, and his loss of a day and a half, caused the evacuation of Jackson, and opened the way to Vicksburg.
The occupation of Jackson was the occasion of the usual scenes of Yankee outrage. The watchword of McPherson's corps, which first entered it, was plunder. The negroes were invited to assist and share in the pillage. Supposing that the year of jubilee had finally come, the blacks determined to enjoy it, and, with this end in view, they stole everything they could carry off. “Nothing,” says a Yankee spectator, “ came amiss to these rejoicing Africans; they went around the streets displaying aggregate miles of double-rowed ivory, and bend. ing under a monstrous load of French mirrors, boots, shoes, pieces of calico, wash-stands and towels, hoop-skirts, bags of tobacco, parasols, umbrellas, and fifty other articles equally incongruous."
McPherson left Jackson on the afternoon of the 15th, and, in the morning of the next day, Sherman's corps took up its line-the whole moving westward along the south side of the railroad to Vicksburg. As the é..emy left Jackson it resembled more the infernal regions than the abode of civilization. Vast volumes of smoke lay over it, through which, here and there, rolled fiercely up great mountains of flame, that made jufernal music over their work of destruction. The Confederate State-honse---a large new wooden building-the Penitentiary, several private house and several government buildings were all in flames. It was the first step of that catalogue of horrors of invasion in which Mississippi was to rival Virginia, and the Big Black was to be associated with the Potomac in the ghastly romances of ruin and desolation.
We return to Pemberton and his ill-starred march. On the 15th, at the head of a column of seventeen thousand men, he had taken the direction of Raymond. On the morning of the 16th, at about six and a half o'clock, he ascertained that his pickets were skirmishing with the enemy on the Raymond road, some distance in his front. At the same moment a courrier arrived and handed him a despatch from General Johnston announcing the evacuation of Jackson, and indicating that the only means by which a union could now be effected between the two forces was that Pemberton should move directly to Clinton, whither Johnston was retiring. The order of countermarch was given by Pemberton. It was too late. Just as this reverse movement commenced, the enemy drove in his cavalry pickets, and opened with artillery, at long range, on the head of his column on the Raymond road. The demonstrations of the enemy soon becoming more serious, orders were sent by General Pemberton to the division commanders to form in line of battle on the cross-road from the Clinton to the Raymond road-Loring on the right, Bowen in the centre, and Stevenson on the left. The enemy had forced the Confederates to give battle on the ground of his own selection, under the disadvantages of inferior numbers and in circum stances which had all the moral effect of a surprise.
THE BATTLE OF BAKER'S CREEK, ETC.
But the ground itself was not unfavorable to onr troops. The line of battle was quickly formed, in a bend of what is known as Baker's creek, without any interference on the part of the enemy; the position selected was naturally a strong one, and all approaches from the front well covered. The enemy made his first demonstration on our right, but, after a lively artillery duel for an hour or more, this attack was relinquished