March 5, 1864

Yazoo Expedition

Early on Saturday morning the Confederates under Ross and Richardson began a vigorous attack on the Federal picket on the Benton road just outside of Yazoo City. The Union troops were collected in two redoubts, commanded respectedly by Maj. McKee, with the 11th Ill. infantry, and Lieut.-Col. Peebles, with part of the 8th La. Colored infantry, and in the city, where Col. James H. Coates, leader of the expedition, was in command. By 10 a.m. the whole Federal line had become engaged, Coates saw an attempt was being made to outflank him, and before the four companies of the 8th La. Colored infantry which he hurried to the support of the detachment of the 1st Miss. Colored cavalry at that point could reach their destination Richardson's whole command was in the city, between McKee and Coates' headquarters. Several times McKee was called on to surrender, but each time refused, even after he had been entirely surrounded. Coates posted his men in doorways and buildings and opened a telling fire upon the enemy in the streets. Subsequently he brought up a piece of artillery from one of the gunboats and under cover of its fire a charge was made at 2 p.m. The result was the driving out of the Confederates in the town and the force surrounding McKee, on seeing their comrades giving way, fell back in disorder. During the night the Confederates withdrew and the next day transports conveyed the expedition back to Vicksburg. The Federal loss in the expedition, which was a part of the Meridian campaign, was 31 killed, 121 wounded and 31 captured or missing, the larger part of whom fell at Yazoo City. Coates reported the Confederate loss on the 5th as 40 killed, but their own reports place it at 6 killed and 51 wounded.

SOURCE: THE UNION ARMY: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-65 - Records of the Regiments in the Union Army - Cyclopedia of Battles - Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers. Volume VI. Madison, Wisconsin: Federal Publishing Company, 1908.

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