Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15, 1863: McClernand wins the race to Bolton Depot

With the advance to Jackson, Grant had managed to place his army between the inferior forces of Pemberton and Johnston, forcing them apart. Johnston was now withdrawing helplessly to the north out of Jackson while Pemberton was pulling back towards the defenses of Vicksburg with much of Grant's army following him. The Confederates were unable to concentrate their forces, and Pemberton was being forced back into a trap.
BOLTON, MISS., May 15, 1863.

Major General U. S. GRANT, Comdg. Dept. of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: Osterhaus seized Bolton this morning at 9 o'clock, taking several prisoners. Soon after, General Hovey arrived by the way of Clinton. Reports were rife that the enemy were moving in strong force upon me by the Edwards Station and Bolton road, and particularly by the Edwards Station and Raymond road. Rapidly disposing my scanty forces to meet him, I pushed forward reconnaissances in every direction toward Edwards Station and Brownsville. Skirmishing at intervals occurred throughout the day, and just before sunset the enemy undertook to feel my position and forced. He was promptly met and repelled. We are now resting on our arms. General Carr came up to Raymond this evening, and I moved him out a mile and a half to the road leading to Edwards Station, in supporting distance of Osterhaus, and to cover the main road to Edwards Station. I will move him in the morning by the middle road. Blair is at Raymond, and I will move him on the road now held by Carr. Smith is probably at or near Dillon's to-night. I will move him, if I can, in immediate co-operation with Blair, Hovey having the right, and resting his right near the railroad, Osterhaus and Carr center, and Blair and Smith the left.

I will move forward by 6 o'clock in the morning, and at least feel the enemy. It is very desirable that McPherson should at the same time move forward upon Edwards Station, on the north side of the railroad, and cut off the enemy if I should drive him from his position. Broken bridges may delay the movement on both sides of the railroad.

I have heard nothing of the general supply train. May I rely on it, or shall I send back the entitled teams of the regiments to Grand Gulf?

If so, will there be troops on the way to protect them?

General Osterhaus has just captured a letter written by a rebel captain in Vicksburg, in which he says that on the 10th instant the rebel force there was 40,000, and estimates our force at 70,000.

JOHN A. McClernand.

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