Report of Col. A. E. Reynolds, Twenty-sixth Mississippi Infantry, commanding First Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, FIRST DIVISION,
Near Jackson, Miss., May 27, 1863.

 

MAJOR: In obedience to orders, I beg leave to submit the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the battle of Baker's Creek on the 16th instant:

At 9 o'clock on the morning of that day, Brigadier-General Tilghman, commanding brigade, received orders to move it from just beyond Ellison's house, where it had bivouacked Friday night, to a ridge about half a mile in our rear. The order was immediately obeyed, and in the formation of the line of battle its proper position (the right of the division) was assigned it.

From this time up to about 12 m., nothing of importance occurred. At that time the whole division changed position by the left flank, Brigadier-General Buford moving to the support of Brigadier-General Bowen, on his left; Brigadier-General Featherston closing up, so as to be in supporting distance, and Brigadier-General Tilghman, with his brigade and two batteries--the [J. J.] Cowan battery (six guns), of Withers' regiment of artillery, and the McLendon battery (four guns), of Ward's battalion--by direction of the major-general commanding division, taking position on the Raymond and Edwards Depot road, to prevent a flank movement of the enemy down it on our right. At the same time he was told to hold himself in readiness to move up to the support of the other brigades of the division should it become necessary.

About 1 o'clock this order was received from Lieutenant-General Pemberton. In anticipation of the movement, Lieutenant [William] McFarland, of the major-general's staff, had some time before been sent to Brigadier-General Tilghman to point out the road by which he should move. Captain [P.] Ellis [jr.], the assistant adjutant-general of General Tilghman, accompanied Lieutenant McFarland far enough to have it shown him. But, upon making the move, and going beyond the point to which Captain Ellis had been carried by Lieutenant McFarland, the route was found to be impracticable for artillery. As soon as this became evident, General Tilghman countermarched the brigade, and, moving down the Raymond and Edwards Depot road about a quarter of a mile, took a new right-hand road, which communicated with our left wing, intending to join Major-General Loring by this route; but after proceeding only a few hundred yards, Lieutenant-General Pemberton met the brigade and ordered it back to a position on the main road we had just left, informing General Tilghman at the same time that an order countermanding the one to move, and directing him to retain his position, had been sent to him nearly an hour before. While conversing with him, Major [S. H.] Lockett, chief engineer of the department, rode up with the order, and informed General Pemberton that, owing to the breaking down of his horse, he had been unable to reach General Tilghman.

At the time of the movement from our first position, on the Raymond and Edwards Depot road, and before the rear of the brigade had crossed that road, a heavy column of the enemy was seen advancing in line of battle out of the woods, immediately around Ellison's house. Col. R. Lowry, of the Sixth Mississippi Regiment, who was in the rear, was at once directed to throw out a heavy line of skirmishers to protect the movement. Upon the brigade countermarching, this line of skirmishers (composing nearly one-half of the regiment), moving too far to the left, became separated from the brigade: and, uniting itself with the left wing of the army, fell back with it--first to Big Black Bridge, and thence to Vicksburg, where it is at present under the command of Major [J. R.] Stevens.

Soon after the formation of the second line of battle (at 1.30 o'clock), Major-General Loring came up with the other two brigades of the division, and formed them immediately on the left of the First Brigade. He informed General Tilghman that the left wing of the army was retreating to the Big Black, and that, in order to cover the movement, General Pemberton had directed him to maintain his position at all hazards until sundown. The enemy having taken possession of the hill abandoned by us, a continuous fire from both artillery and skirmishers was kept up until dusk.

At 5.20 o'clock, Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, who up to that time had commanded the brigade with marked ability, fell, killed by a shell from one of the enemy's guns, and the command devolved upon me as the senior colonel present. I cannot here refrain from paying a slight tribute to the memory of my late commander. As a man, a soldier, and a general, he had few if any superiors. Always at his post, he devoted himself day and night to the interests of his command. Upon the battle-field cool, collected, and observant, he commanded the entire respect and confidence of every officer and soldier under him, and the only censure ever cast upon him was that he always exposed himself too recklessly. At the time he was struck down he was standing in the rear of a battery, directing a change in the elevation of one of the guns. The tears shed by his men on the occasion, and the grief felt by his entire brigade, are the proudest tribute that can be given the gallant dead.

From the time of my assuming command of the brigade until I was ordered off the field, the fire of the enemy was very warm. Cowan's battery had several men wounded, and had nearly used up all its ammunition, and yet from orders received by me had to be kept in position. The McLendon Battery lost several men and horses, and were exposed to such a heavy fire as to render the use of their guns exceedingly hazardous. I sent Capt. T. B. Sykes, the assistant inspector-general, to inform Major-General Loring of the state of affairs, and learned through him, on his return, that both Generals Buford's and Featherston's brigades were moving off to the rear, and that I was directed to bring off my brigade in the rear of General Featherston's. The enemy were pressing us closely at the time, so that I deemed it best to move off by the left flank through the fields rather than by the right down the road, and by so doing induced the enemy to believe that I was moving to the left. I thus deceived the enemy and avoided any serious pursuit. After moving a little more than a mile, I received an order from the major-general to have my artillery, move out of the regular line, and take position in front of General Featherston's brigade. The march was continued in this order for the next twenty-four hours, during which time we made about 40 miles.

It is proper to mention that in assuming the second line of battle, about 1.30 o'clock, one section of the McLendon Battery was ordered to the rear, as there was no position for it, and that Lieutenant [F. W.] Merrin, commanding, made his way with it first across Baker's Creek, and finally with that portion of the army on the left to Vicksburg. The guns of the other section under Capt. Jacob Culbertson, as well as those of Cowan's battery, were abandoned, by order of the major-general commanding, during the first night's march, owing to the impossibility of taking them over the roads we were forced to follow.

Captain Culbertson brought off his horses, harness, and men; Captain [J. J.] Cowan did the same, but on the march he and all his men left the command and have not been heard from since. The forced march from the battle-field to Crystal Springs, to Rimes' Ferry, and thence to Jackson, was over rough, stony roads, and made by men much worn down by fatigue and many of them barefooted.

Under these circumstances it is not at all surprising that many of them broke down, straggled, and some doubtless were picked up by the enemy.

Accompanying this report you will find a paper,(*) marked A, containing a lint of the killed, wounded, and missing.
In closing my report, I cannot omit my commendation of the way in which the officers and troops of this brigade behaved. The officers, one and all, behaved well, so much so that I cannot particularize any without being invidious.

The troops were in fine spirits, and I have never seen any more anxious to meet an enemy.

I am much indebted to Captains Ellis and Sykes, the adjutant and inspector general of General Tilghman's staff, for the prompt and efficient aid given me on the field, who, notwithstanding the gloom cast over them by the death of their chief, promptly reported themselves to me for duty, and by their gallant conduct are entitled to the gratitude of their country.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. E. REYNOLDS,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

Maj. GEORGE McKNIGHT,
Assistant Adjutant-General.


 

Report of Col. A. W. Reynolds, C. S. Army, commanding Fourth Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH BRIGADE,
Demopolis Ala.
July 27, 1863.

 

MAJOR: In compliance with instructions from the headquarters of Major-General Stevenson, commanding division, to report the part taken by my brigade in the action at Baker's Creek and siege of Vicksburg, I have the honor respectfully to report as follows:

My brigade--consisting of the Forty-third Tennessee Regiment, Colonel [J. W.] Gillespie; Thirty-first Tennessee Regiment, Colonel [W. M.] Braford Third Tennessee Regiment [P. A.], Colonel [N. J.] Lillard; Fifty-ninth Tennessee Regiment, Colonel [W. L.] Eakin, and the Third Maryland Battery, Capt. F. O. Claiborne--left Edwards Depot, on the Southern or Jackson Railroad, at 12 o'clock on the night of May 15, as the rear guard of the army commanded by Lieut. Gen. J. C. Pemberton, then marching in the direction of Raymond.

The rear of the train and my command reached the junction of the Clinton and Raymond roads about daylight on the morning of the 16th, at which point the trains and brigade were halted for further orders. At 6 a.m. the train was ordered to move to the rear as rapidly as possible. At 6.30 a.m. I was directed to form my brigade in line of battle on the Clinton road, fronting the road leading in direction of Raymond, which order was promptly obeyed, throwing out a line of skirmishers in my front some 500 or 600 yards. My skirmishers had been posted but a short time when they engaged the skirmishers of the enemy on the Raymond road.

Such was the condition of affairs when I was relieved by Brigadier-General [S D.] Lee's brigade about 8 a.m., orders having been sent to me to take charge of and guard the trains to a point on the Brownsville road, 2 miles from the junction of that road and the road leading to Edwards Depot. I received further directions to so arrange my command as to give the train proper protection, as I would alone be held responsible for its safety. I immediately moved rapidly to the rear, overtook the train, and disposed of my troops as follows: A detachment in front, one regiment on the right flank, and the remainder of the infantry and the battery in rear.

In this order I reached the point designated at 11 a.m., when I parked the train and formed my line of battle, facing toward the enemy and in front of the train. My battery was placed in position to protect my front and flanks.
The position taken by me was held until about 3 o'clock, when a message was received by courier from Brigadier-General Barton, informing me that his line had been broken, and directing me to dispatch the train to the rear across the Big Black, and re-enforce him with all my available force as early as practicable. I immediately put the train in motion, leaving two regiments and a section of artillery to protect it, and moved rapidly with the remainder of my force to the support of General Barton. On arriving at a point near the Baker's Creek Bridge, I observed the troops of General Barton's command had fallen back toward Edwards Depot. I at once sent a courier to General Barton, asking further instructions, who returned with orders to fall back with my command to Edwards Depot. It was now after 4 p.m. By this time the enemy had discovered and opened upon me a fire of artillery, and were moving with a heavy force to cut me off from the depot. I directed my artillery to rejoin the section left on the Brownsville road as quickly as possible, and I moved with the infantry toward the junction of the roads. The enemy (about one division) had already crossed the bridge and had gained a point nearer the depot than my troops had succeeded in reaching. My safety now depended in out-maneuvering him. I marched in parallel lines with him for at least the half of a mile. Taking advantage of a dense wood, I changed my direction to the right, and by a rapid movement joined the other troops of my command, and made for Bridge-port--a point on the Big Black 1 miles above the bridge--where our main army had crossed. At Bridgeport I found a light pontoon bridge, over which I passed two regiments and one piece of artillery. In attempting to throw over a caisson, the bridge gave way, carrying down the caisson. I extricated myself from this dilemma by cutting out one of the boats forming the bridge, and by it I crossed my entire command by 3 o'clock on the morning of the 17th.

I remained at Bridgeport until near daylight, when I destroyed the boats there and at a point 1 mile above, and moved toward Bovina, sending an officer forward to inform the lieutenant-general of my whereabouts. I received instructions from the lieutenant-general to proceed to Vicksburg by the nearest route and there await orders.

I reached Vicksburg at 5 p.m. on the 17th, and encamped in rear of the intrenchments near the Jackson road. The trains which were placed under my charge arrived in safety, with the exception of one ordnance wagon, which broke down crossing the Big Black Swamp.

In conclusion, I beg leave to say that in the arduous marches and perilous positions in which my troops have been placed they performed all their duties with cheerfulness and courage.

All the officers and men behaved well. I would particularly call the attention of the major-general to the universal good conduct and promptness of Colonel Gillespie, of the Forty-third Regiment; Colonel Lillard, of the Third Regiment, and Colonel Bradford, of the Thirty-first Regiment; also to Major [J. C.] Boyd, of the Third Regiment, always active and prompt in the discharge of his duties.

To Lieut. William A.M. Patton, my aide and acting [assistant] adjutant-general, I am under many obligations for meritorious services rendered. Captain Claiborne of the Third Maryland Battery, and his first lieutenant (Lieutenant [J. B.] Rowan), performed their duties admirably and gallantly.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. W. REYNOLDS,
Colonel, Commanding Fourth Brigade.

Maj. J. J. REEVE,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Stevenson's Division, Demopolis, Ala.



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