Friday, May 17, 2013

May 17, 1863 (Sunday): Battle At Big Black River

HDQRS. DEPT. OF Mississippi AND EASTERN LOUISIANA, Vicksburg, MISS., May 17, 1863.
General JOSEPH E. Johnston,
Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: Whilst writing my communication this morning, the enemy attacked me on my right, left, and center. My troops, although strongly posted behind breastworks and protected in rifle-pits, were forced from their positions, owing to the demoralization consequent upon the retreat of yesterday. Every effort is now being made to reorganize the troops, and it is hoped that their numbers, although greatly diminished by incidents narrated, will be speedily increased.
    The army has fallen back to the line of intrenchments around Vicksburg. As stated in my communication of this morning, this retreat will render it necessary to abandon the works at Snyder's Mill, which has accordingly been ordered. All the ammunition possible will be saved. The heavy guns, however, will necessarily be abandoned.
    Two companies will be left at that point for the purpose of making a demonstration, and of spiking the guns and destroying the remaining stores whenever the emergency may arise.
     The works at Fort Pemberton, which may prove essential to a line along the Yalabusha, have not been abandoned. The garrison of 200 men remain there.
     I regret to say that as yet I have received no reliable, information with regard to General Loring's division. It is reported, but I cannot trace the rumor to a reliable source, that he is crossing the Big Black River at some point below the Big Black Bridge.
    In addition to the artillery lost yesterday, I regret to state that most of the artillery of Bowen's division is lost. Yesterday it was all successfully brought off, but to-day was abandoned in the trenches, almost without an effort to save it.
     I greatly regret that I felt compelled to make the advance beyond Big Black, which has proved so disastrous in its results.


Series I., Vol. 24, Part 3, Page 887.

Three divisions of McClernand's Corp advanced from Edwards' Depot and made contact just east of the bridge over the Big Black River.  Panic by inexperienced troops led to the loss of their position, and the Cofederates fell back over the river having lost 1800 men.

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