The Mississippi Brigade’s Dec. 11, 1862, stand in the town against the advancing Union army was only a sideshow to the approaching big show.
The 13th Regiment withdrew with the rest of the brigade that night to the Telegraph Road beneath Marye’s Heights, a half mile from their old camp, and settled in. All night Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s Union army crossed the river and formed up south of the town.
“The enemy opened fire on the town again early this morning,” Spartan Band quartermaster clerk William H. Hill recorded on Dec. 12, a Friday. “and continued firing occasionally all day. The enemy posted the main body of their army in a large field south of the town and along the river. I could see all of their movements very plain….”
17th Regiment Private Robert A. Moore wrote:
“We formed our line of battle early this morning in the right of our division—have been felling timbers and building breastworks of logs & dirt. Have had an occasional shot from the batteries on the North side of the river. Had to get behind our breastworks occasionally. The enemy have crossed over in large force & we are expecting the ball to open tomorrow.”
The Confederates, Hill continued, “opened on the enemy this evening with Artillery.”
Minutemen of Attala Private Mike Hubbert apparently was writing in his diary in the midst of what fighting there was:
“There is a very heavy artillery duel going on. Our Troops are protected by a very good Breast work at the foot of the hill. The Pickets have been firing all day. The two grand armies are not more than 1/2 mile apart.”
According to Jess N. McLean Private William A. Little of the Winston Guards later wrote home: “Our position was a beautiful one, naturally strong, etc. A few hundred yards in the rear was planted batteries all along the line, who now and then threw a friendly message into the midst of the enemy. Nothing was done on Friday but a little skirmishing on a small scale. The enemy was putting his forces into position.”