Today in History:

51 Series I Volume XXIV-I Serial 36 - Vicksburg Part I


with a THIRD, and had his fourth DIVISION and Blair's DIVISION, of Sherman's corps, with a wagon train, still in the rear near New Auburn, while McArthur, with one brigade of his DIVISION, of McPherson's corps, was moving toward Raymond on the Utica road. It was not the intention to move these forces any nearer Jackson, but to have them in a position where they would be in supporting distance if the resistance at Jackson should prove more obstinate than there seemed reason to expect.

The enemy marched out the bulk of his force on the Clinton road, and engaged McPherson's corps about 2 1/2 miles from the city. A small force of artillery and infantry took a strong position in front of Sherman, about the same distance out. By a determined advance of our skirmishers, these latter were soon driven within their rifle-pits, just outside the city. It was impossible to ascertain the strength of the enemy at this part of the line in time to justify an immediate assault; consequently McPherson's two DIVISIONS engaged the main bulk of the rebel garrison at Jackson without further aid than the moral support given them by the knowledge the enemy had of the enemy posted there to impede Sherman's progress. Sherman soon discovered the weakness of the enemy by sending a reconnoitering party to his right, which also had the effect of causing the enemy to retreat from this part of his line. A few of the artillerists, however, remained in their places, firing upon Sherman's troops until the last moment, evidently instructed to do so, with the expectation of being captured in the end.

On entering the city it was found that the main body of the enemy had retreated north after a heavy engagement of more than two hours with McPherson's corps, in which he [the enemy] was badly beaten. He was pursued until near night, but without further damage to him.

During that evening I learned that General Johnston, as soon as he had satisfied himself that Jackson was to be attacked, had ordered Pemberton peremptorily to march out from the direction of Vicksburg and attack our rear. Availing myself of this information, I immediately issued orders to McClernand, and Blair of Sherman's corps, to face their troops toward Bolton, with a view to reaching Edwards Station, marching on different roads converging near Bolton. These troops were admirably located for such a move. McPherson was ordered to retrace his steps early in the morning of the 15th on the Clinton road. Sherman was left in Jackson to destroy the railroads, bridges, factories, workshops, arsenals, and everything valuable for the support of the enemy. This was accomplished in the most effectual manner.

On the afternoon of the 15th, I proceeded as far WEST as Clinton, through which place McPherson's corps passed to within supporting distance of Hovey's DIVISION, of McC which had moved that day on the same road to within 1 1/2 miles of Bolton.

On reaching Clinton, at 4. 45 p. m., I ordered McClernand to move his command early the next morning toward Edwards Depot, marching so as to feel the enemy if he encountered him, but not to bring on a general engagement unless he was confident he was able to defeat him; and also to order Blair to move with him.

About 5 o'clock on the morning of the 16th, two men, employees on the Jackson and Vicksburg Railroad, who had passed through Pemberton's army the night before, were brought to my headquarters. They stated Pemberton's force to consist of about eighty regiments, with ten batteries of artillery, and that the whole force was estimated by the