JUNE 1-13, 1864.--Expedition from Memphis, Tenn., into Mississippi.
Report of Brigadier-General S. D. STURGIS, Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS U.S. FORCES,
Collierville, Tenn., June 12, 1864.
Maj. Gen. C. C. WASHBURN,
Commanding District of West Tennessee:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that we met the enemy in position and in heavy force, about 10 a.m. on the 10th instant, at Brice's Cross-Roads, on the Ripley and Fulton road, and about six miles northwest of Guntown, Miss. A severe battle ensued, which lasted until about 4 p.m., when, I regret to say, my lines were compelled to give way before the overwhelming numbers by which they were assailed at every point. To fall back at this point was more than ordinarily difficult as there was a narrow valley in our rear, through which runs a small creek, crossed by a single narrow bridge. The road was almost impassable by reason of the heavy rains which had fallen for the previous ten days, and the consequence was that the road soon became jammed by the artillery and ordnance wagons. This gradually led to confusion and disorder. In a few minutes, however, I succeeded in establishing two colored regiments in line of battle in a wood on this side of the little valley. These troops stood their ground well and checked the enemy for a time. The check, however, was only temporary, and this line in turn gave way; my troops were seized with a panic and became absolutely uncontrollable. One mile and a half in rear, by dint of great exertion and with pistol in hand, I again succeeded in checking up the flying column and placing it in line of battle. This line checked the enemy for ten or fifteen minutes only, when it again gave way, and my whole army became literally an uncontrollable mob. Nothing now remained to do but allow the retreat to continue and endeavor to force it gradually into some kind of shape. The night was exceeding dark, the roads almost impassable, and the hope of saving my artillery and wagons altogether futile, so I ordered the artillery and wagons to be destroyed. The latter were burned and the former dismantled and spiked--that is, all but six pieces, which we succeeded in bringing off in safety. By 7 o'clock next morning we reached Ripley, nineteen miles. Here we reorganized and got into very respectable shape. The retreat was continued, pressed rapidly by the enemy. Our ammunition soon gave out; this the enemy soon discovered and pressed the harder. Our only hope now lay in continuing the retreat, which we did, to this place, where we arrived about 7 o'clock this morning.
My losses in material of war were severe, being 16 guns and some 130 wagons. The horses of the artillery and mules of the train we brought away.
As my troops became very greatly scattered and axe constantly coming in in small parties, I am unable to estimate my loss in killed and wounded; I fear, however, it will prove severe, probably 1,000 or 1,200.
While the battle lasted it was well conducted, and I think the enemy's loss in killed and wounded will not fall short of our own.
This, general, is a painful record, and yet it was the result of a series of unfortunate circumstances over which human ingenuity could have no control. The unprecedented rains so delayed our march across a desert country that the enemy had ample time to accumulate an overwhelming force in our front, and kept us so long in an exhausted region as to so starve and weaken our animals that they were unable to extricate the wagons and artillery from the mud.
So far as I know every one did his duty well, and while they fought no troops ever fought better. The colored troops deserve great credit for the manner in which they stood to their work.
This is a hasty and incoherent outline of our operations, but I will forward a more minute account as soon as the official reports can be received from division commanders.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. D. STURGIS,
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