1863 CSA Battle Report written at Deer Creek, Mississippi from (then) Colonel Samuel W. Ferguson.
Please see the scans below this description.
Five legal sized handwritten pages concerning the "Report of the operations of the command of Col S. W. Ferguson in the 'Deer Creek' Country."
In fine condition, I have repaired very minor fold splits with professional archival tape.
Here is a transcript:
Camp on Deer Creek
30th of March 1863
I have the honor to report on the 17th inst a battalion of Sharp Shooters about 250 strong under Capt. Morgan reported to me on Deer Creek at my camp about forty miles above rolling fork. In the course of that night I received a dispatch from some citizens informing me that about thirty Yankees were at Watsons place on Deer Creek about fifteen miles below Rolling Fork.
I at once ordered thirty of the Cavalry to oppose them but the party had but just started when another express from the citizens informed me that five gunboats had entered Deer Creek from Black Bayou and were rapidly making their way to Rolling Fork. I instantly ordered the rest of the Cavalry by forced march to the latter place to obstruct the creek and keep the enemy in check as long as possible. I hurried the artillery and infantry on the steamer which had brought the latter and proceeded with all dispatch to the mouth of Rolling Fork which I fortunately reached before the enemy on the afternoon of the 19th. Here the prospect was gloomy enough, a pile of sawdust the only landing place and the first half mile of the road was overflowed with two bridges afloat. By the morning of the 20th I succeeded in getting one section of artillery to the dry land and at once attacked the enemy and drove them in on their gun boats at that time detained in Deer Creek about one quarter of a mile
below Rolling Fork by some trees that had been cut by the Cavalry. The attack was pushed with success until the ammunition failed when the forces were withdrawn from range of the gunboats shells.
As soon as the rest of the guns could be brought up and the limbers replenished the attack was renewed with the same result and discontinued for the same cause. Just at this time Major Bridges reported to take command of the sharpshooters and informed me that General Featherston was near with reinforcements. Turning over the command of the field to him I hastened to meet Genl Featherston to inform him of the condition of things and to urge him to hurry up and attack. On his arrival on the field it was agreed that the artillery should open on the boats and keep up a brisk fire until his infantry should debouch from the woods on our left and rather in rear of the enemy when a rush should be made for the boats.
The artillery opened fire as directed my sharpshooters drove in the enemy and one section of my artillery from an enfilading position drove their howitzers and men in confusion to the boats still none of Genl Featherston's infantry appeared and the artillery fire was continued until darkness put an end to the conflict.
During the night I was informed by Genl Featherston that his Regiments were in rear of the enemy close to the creek bank and that in case the enemy attempted to retreat during the night they would attack at once otherwise that we would all attack at daylight. In compliance with this I made an attack early on the 21st drove the enemy back and after exhausting all my artillery ammunition continued to
pursue and harass him was sharp shooters expecting that every moment to hear Genl Featherstons Regts open but after I had been engaged for three hours or more and had driven the boats back about two miles- I saw the forces of Genl Featherston in rear of the position they had held the previous afternoon entering the woods.
My sharpshooters continued to harass the enemy until dark. The latter after reaching a position on the plantation of Dr. Moore halted till after dark and during the day burned every building on the place except one small stable. On the following day it was discovered that they had during the night continued their retreat although reinforced by one regiment and they were still getting out of the way as rapidly as possible Genl Fetherston ordered my sharpshooters to press them on the right bank two regiments to gain their rear and then attack while the artillery and the 40th Ala press'd them on the left bank.
As soon as the enemy discovered that their rear had been gained they halted in an open country and fired furiously at every thing which could be seen but without effect.
Our artillery returned the fire as long as their ammunition held out the Regiments in the rear encountered reinforcements coming up and immediately fell back after slight skirmishing.
The reinforcements arrived deployed run in our skirmishers and marched back to the fleet we remained in position until dark then fell back. My command having been engaged for three successive days constantly was then held in reserve and the enemy was followed at too great a distance for them to be again used except the cavalry under
Capt. Barnes to whose untiring energy and gallant conduct on this as on every other occasion since he reported to me much praise is due.
The artillery under Lt. Wood behaved as I expected men who fought as they did on the 23rd ult, their cool calm courage and good shooting was a glad site to a soldiers eye. I would include in this favorable notice the section under Lt. St. Johns temporarily attached to the command of Lieut Wood.
The sharpshooters under skillful guidance of Maj Bridges and Capt Morgan exhibited that reckless disregard for shell and grape which made the furious cannonade of the Yankees seem an amusing display of pyrotechnics.
The expenditure of all kinds of missiles from a thirteen inch shell to a minnie ball on every point where it was thought they might be hid showed the estimation the enemy had of them.
Except private Ruben Welburne of Co H 3d Miss Vols; who fell gallantly fighting from a grape shot wound in the head none of my command was touched by their artillery though subjected to a constant fire for three days.
I regret to have to report Privates W A Swazy Co C McBreecher Co H & Saml Devereau Co E all of 3d Miss Vols wounded by minnie balls and actg Sergt. Major John Poindexter Co B & Private McKnight Co E same regt captured the two latter had particularly attracted my attention by skill & bravery. There is just subject for congratulation that this formidable expedition commanded by Admiral Porter and consisting of
some of the best ironclads & mortar boats was successfully repulsed with such trifling lost but I must express the belief that all the boats should have been captured or destroyed by a vigorous attack and the infantry reinforcements destroyed in detail as he came up.
I would call attention to the burning of houses & cotton & pillaging done by Admiral Porter in direct contradiction of the notice published by himself an official copy of which I forwarded to the Dept.
One of the shells from this valiant hero exploded in the chamber of an invalid woman in which ten women & children had taken refuge, providentially but one Negro woman was wounded by it, she now lies at the point of death. A child two years old was greviously burned. This was the most effective shell thrown by them. We caused to be destroyed one large coal barge, & captured nine launches & yawls & several small arms & two flags, besides cooking utensils etc. etc.
Yr obt servant
(Signed) S. W. Ferguson
Col. comd'g Detachments
Maj. D. W. Floweree
A. A. Gen.
Truly a one of a kind confederate battle report!
$1275.00 plus shipping
"HEADQUARTERS MAURY'S DIVISION,
Vicksburg, March 18, 1863.
GENERAL: Please move your whole command at once to Snyder's Bluff. You will proceed as soon as possible with two regiments and with a section of light artillery to the junction of the Rolling Fork with Deer Creek in order to check the enemy now advancing by Steele's Bayou and by Black Bayou. You will use every means to procure and forward information of the movements of the enemy.
Lieutenant Colonel Ferguson has been for several weeks operating in the vicinity of Deer Creek. He has under his command a squadron of cavalry, six guns, and a battalion of infantry 250 strong. General Stevenson desires that you will assume command, if necessary, of his forces. You will be further re-enforced, if necessary, from Snyder's Bluff. On account of their proximity and of the strength of the regiments, it is suggested that you take with you in the morning the Thirty-third Mississippi and the Fortieth Alabama Regiments, now at Chickasaw Bridge. The information on which these orders are based is that the enemy has sent five or more gun-boats, with transports carrying infantry and cavalry, up Steele's Bayou and by Big Black Bayou. Leave at Snyder's, under proper care, all heavy baggage of the troops you take with you to Deer Creek which is not necessary for active field service.
By order of Major-General Maury:
D. W. FLOWERREE,
OR LII/2, p. 436
In March 1861 Ferguson joined the provisional army of South Carolina, receiving the rank of captain. He was then appointed as an aide-de-camp to General P. G. T. Beauregard.
He was one of those who received the formal surrender of Maj. Robert Anderson at Fort Sumter, raised the first Confederate flag, and posted the first guards at Fort Sumter. After the battle at Fort Sumter Ferguson was sent to deliver the first Confederate standard flown that was struck by an enemy shot to the Provisional Confederate Congress in Montgomery.
He was still on Beauregard's staff during the Battle of Shiloh, where he was given his first command of a small brigade. During the Battle of Farmington, he was a lieutenant colonel in the 28th Mississippi Cavalry regiment. He also commanded this unit while defending Vicksburg, Mississippi, and helped stop the attacks made by William T. Sherman and Admiral David Dixon Porter.
In 1863 Ferguson was promoted to brigadier general. Subsequently, he was suggested for promotion to major general, but Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler quickly objected.
During Sherman's March to the Sea, Ferguson and his cavalrymen harassed the flank of the Union army. When Sherman got close to Savannah Ferguson's men left their horses and covered the Confederate retreat. He was then ordered to Danville, Virginia, but before arriving was ordered to go to Charlotte, North Carolina. From Charlotte he escorted Jefferson Davis into Georgia where his unit was disbanded.