Saturday Evening, May 16, 1863

Marching from Jackson to Bolton

McPherson was able to handle the enemy and beat them without my divisions. The enemy are in retreat and I am to push forward my corp to rout the enemy all the way to Vicksburg. I am to cross the Big Black to the North and try to take Vicksburg or Haynes Bluff and a position along the Yazoo so we can get supplies by river.

Near Bolton, Mississippi

About dark we met General Grant’s staff-officer near Bolton Station, who turned us to the right, with orders to push on to Vicksburg by the upper Jackson Road, which crosses the Big Black at Bridgeport. We learned that earlier today, the battle of Champion Hills was fought and won by McClernand’s and McPherson’s corps, aided by one division of mine (Blairs), under the immediate command of General Grant. McPherson is following the mass of Pemberton’s army, disordered and retreating toward Vicksburg by the Edwards’s Ferry road. General Blair’s division had come up from the rear, was temporarily attached to McClernand’s corps, taking part with it in the battle of Champion Hills. General Grant will order Blair to join me tomorrow at Bridgeport.

Just beyond Bolton there was a small hewn-log house, standing back in a yard, in which was a well. At this some of our soldiers were drawing water. I rode in to get a drink, and, seeing a book on the ground, asked some soldier to hand it to me. It was a volume of the Constitution of the United States, and on the title-page was written the name of Jefferson Davis. On inquiry of a negro, I learned that the place belonged to the Confederate President. His brother Joe Davis’s plantation was not far off; one of my staff-officers went there, with a few soldiers, and took a pair of carriage-horses. He found Joe Davis at home, an old man, attended by a young and affectionate niece. They were overwhelmed with grief to see their country overran and swarming with Federal troops.

I gave my orders to cross the Big Black River Tomorrow:

GENERAL ORDERS, 
HEADQUARTERS, Fifteenth ARMY CORPS. Numbers 36. 

Bolton, MISSISSIPPI. May 16, 1863
The movement at daylight will be as follows:

I. All the effective cavalry will constitute the advance, and will move as soon as day breaks by a road that will be explained to them by the general commanding. All the non-effectives will be put under an officer, and ordered to accompany the wagon-train, to protect it.

II. General Steele’s DIVISION will lead and General Tuttle’s follow. Each DIVISION commander will designate a good officer to take charge of the tired and foot-sore, to remain with the wagon train, composed of all the wagons of this corps, which will follow the troops, and as soon as firing is heard in the front, the wagons will be parked, and all wagon guards will prepare to defend it.

III. The troops will march Light, followed only by ammunition wagons and ambulances, which will follow brigades.

IV. The occasion calls for the utmost energy of all the troops. One determined effort and the opportunity for which we have all labored so hard and patiently will not be lost. Our destination is now the Big Black River, 13 miles distant, beyond which lies Vicksburg. The commanding general announces that the other corps with which we are acting have today signally repulsed the enemy, and our part is to make that repulse a complete defeat.

V. The artillery of each DIVISION will be massed and kept near the front of each DIVISION.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
R. M. SAWYER, Assistant Adjutant-General

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