Report of Maj. Gen. Edward R. S. Canby, U. S. Army, commanding Military Division of West Mississippi.
HDQTRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI
New Orleans, LA, December 9, 1864
On the 25th Ultimo I reported that movements co-operative with General Sherman's operations would be made from Vicksburg and Baton Rouge for the purpose of cutting Hood's communications with Mobile.* The expedition sent from Vicksburg, and consisting of about 2,000 cavalry and 8 pieces of artillery, commanded by Col. E. D. Osband, Third Colored Cavalry, returned on the 4th instant, having met with a complete success. After an admirable executed feint movement on Jackson on the 24th, the expedition started for the Big Black Bridge on the Mississippi Central Railroad, which was reached on the 27th and after a stubborn resistance captured and destroyed. This cuts Hood's army off from the large quantities of supplies and stores accumulated at Jackson, Miss, and makes that railroad, which was his main reliance, unavailable to him for months to come. Besides this important bridge and trestle-work, the following property was completely destroyed: 30 miles of track, wagon bridge over the big Black, Vaughn, Pickett, and Goodman stations (railroad depots and buildings,) 2,600 bales of C. S. cotton, 2 locomotives, 4 cars, 4 stage coaches, 20 barrels salt, 166,000 worth of stores at Vaughn Station. The expedition was considerably harassed on its return by large bodies of the enemy's troops, but suffered no material losses, and brought back more recruits that the entire loss in effective men.
Maj. J. B. Cook, commanding the Third Colored Cavalry, distinguished himself and his regiments greatly by the gallantry with which the force guarding the Big Black Bridge were driven off from behind their strong stockade on the opposite side of the river. Our men had to charge across the bridge dismounted with nothing but railroad ties for a path, and in the face of a sharp fire. I have announced Major Cook, in general stores, as promoted to the vacant lieutenant-colonelcy of the regiment, subject to the approval of the President. General Davidson's expedition, which left Baton Rouge on the 27th, has not yet been heard from directly, but to judge from the meager accounts received through rebel sources, I have reason to believe that he has been successful. He had caused quite a panic in Mobile and was reported as devastated the country generally. After accomplishing the purpose for which he was sent, he will probably come out at Pascagoula or some other point of the gulf. Lieutenant Earl, commanding a special party of scouts, and whom I recently recommended for promotion by brevet, has, I regret to say, fallen into the hands of the enemy. On the 30th of November, while passing through Fayette, Miss, on an expedition to co-operate with Generals Dana and Davidson, he was fired upon from a house in the town and wounded severely in the face and breast. His case was so critical that he would not let his men take him away, and the rebels have since then moved him into the interior. If he survives I shall use every exertion to have him exchanged at an early day.
E. R. S. Canby,
Major-General, Commanding Maj. Gen. G. W. Halleck
Chief of Staff of the Army, Washington, D. C.
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.