Submitted by C.J. Johnson
In the early morning of April 24, the 8th day, Grierson and his men
were on the move again. They left the plantation about six miles
south of Philadelphia where they had briefly rested and continued on,
riding during the night, headed to Decatur and Newton Station.
Grierson sent advance scouts into Newton, who reported trains due
that morning. Lt. Col. Blackburn took Newton, captured the hospital,
and controlled the rails before the trains arrived. The arriving
freight train carried ordinance and supplies for troops at
Vicksburg. A second train included fleeing Vicksburg passengers, as
well as troop supplies. Passengers and baggage were removed before
both trains were burned there on the tracks.
A Rebel warehouse stocked with clothing, weapons, and supplies was
burned, after 75 paroled hospital prisoners were first allowed to
take clothing and some food from the warehouse. Also burned were the
depot, telegraph equipment, and railroad locomotives, rails, and ties.
After escaping from Newton and a brief skirmish at Garlandville,
Grierson’s brigade rode more than 12 miles before setting up camp at
Bender Plantation, two miles west of Montrose, Mississippi. After a
full night’s sleep and acquiring fresh horses from the plantation,
the Yankees moved on, finally stopping at Dr. Mackadore’s plantation
after traveling 17 miles that day.
By the end of the day, General Pemberton began to realize the
situation and just how precarious Vicksburg’s position had become.
That same day, the 25th, Captain R. C. Love, leading a Rebel cavalry
at Brandon, received orders from Pemberton to “ascertain where the
enemy is and go in that direction…get on his rear and plant ambush
and annoy him…” Captain Love and his force left immediately, headed
directly toward Grierson, stopped briefly to eat and rest, and
arrived at Raleigh before sunrise.
However, Love’s force had encountered a stranger on the road during
the night, who happened to be one of Grierson’s scouts. By providing
false information, the scout directed the Rebels toward Garlandville,
away from Mackadora plantation. The scout made it back to Grierson’s
camp, informed him of the Love’s cavalry.
Grierson’s men were up early and riding by 6 o’clock. Grierson wanted
to meet up with General Grant, who was said to be attempting a
landing at Grand Gulf shortly. They spent the night at the Williams
Plantation, outside Westville. On the 27th, Grierson’s men got
another early pre-dawn call. After capturing a ferry to cross the
Pearl River, the Union force reached Hazelhurst in a thunderstorm.
After searching the town, they proceeded on through Gallatin and
camped at Thompson’s Plantation, just south of town.
Pemberton’s nightmare continued as he warned Bowen at Grand Gulf that
Grierson was headed that way. Rebel forces were ordered to Clinton,
Woodville, and Jackson. Grierson continued with his devilish
diversions, sending troops to strike the rails at Byhalia, outside
Hazelhurst on the 28th. On the 29th Grierson realized he reached
Grand Gulf too early, and headed toward Baton Rouge capturing
Brookhaven on the way. The next day, depots at Bogue Chitto and
Summit were destroyed.
On the 15th day, May 1st, after a skirmish at Wall’s bridge across
the Tickfaw, Grierson reached Williams’ Bridge over the Amite at
midnight, and the Union force continued riding all night reaching
Greenwell Springs by dawn. They crossed the Comite River, exhausted,
having ridden more than 75 miles without sleep.
Grierson’s men received a hero’s welcome in Baton Rouge on May 2nd,
including a parade. General Grant crossed the Mississippi at
Bruinsburg without opposition, thanks to the Raid.
Submitted by C.J. Johnson