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[452] Colonel Wood sent forward a party of infantry, drove the enemy from their position on the bank of the river, and destroyed the ferry-boat. Our forces proceeded on to Calhoun Station, on the New-Orleans and Jackson Railroad, where Colonel Bussy burned two locomotives, twenty-five cars, the depot building, and a large quantity of cotton, while Colonel Wood's forces tore up and burned two miles of the railroad track. This is done by marching a regiment in line along the road, and with crowbars and handspikes raise the ties and iron on one side, throwing it over, which breaks the ties loose from the rails. The ties are then piled up, the iron laid across, and the whole fired; the ties burn up, heating the iron bars in the centre, the ends fall down and the rail is effectually destroyed. Here the expedition camped.

The next day at an early hour the troops were in motion, and when within two miles of Canton, Jackson's forces were discovered in position ready to meet an attack. He occupied the west side of Bear Creek, and his line extended from the creek along the road, and circling round to the woods on our left. Colonel Stephens, with the Second Wisconsin cavalry, was deployed to the right of the road in the open field, while a regiment of infantry of Colonel Wood's brigade was moved to the front as skirmishers. Two pieces of artillery were ordered forward and preparations made for attacking the enemy. Our forces took with them a large wagon train, numbering seventy-five wagons that were not yet parked. As they were in plain view from the enemy a movement was soon made by him to get possession of the train. While they made a demonstration front a large force was seen moving around our left flank toward the train. Colonel Bussy discovering the intention of the enemy, ordered one piece of artillery to the point threatened, and sent forward a battalion of the Fifth Illinois cavalry, under command of Major Farnan, who encountered the enemy within four hundred yards of the train. The Major moved into the field and opened fire on the enemy at short-range, while our artillery sent a few shells into his ranks, which caused them to fall back. Our gun was now sent forward into the field to a better position, supported by the Seventy-sixth Ohio and Twenty-fifth Iowa infantry, and the Fourth Iowa cavalry, Colonel Winslow, and the Third Iowa cavalry, Major Scott, were formed in line on the left, the Fifth Illinois cavalry, Major Seley, on the right of the infantry. This disposition had hardly been made before the enemy came pouring out of the woods with the evident intention of charging the train. Our artillery opened a fire while the skirmishers from the Seventh-sixth Ohio pushed forward, causing the enemy to fall back in great disorder. It was impossible to pursue, as the fences are heavy hedges of Osage orange, which makes it difficult to get man or beast through them.

While these operations were going on under the immediate direction of Colonel Bussy, Colonel Woods, with the Third, Thirteenth, and Seventeenth Missouri and Thirty-first Iowa, were gaining ground to the front. The enemy now fell back along the whole line, and disappeared behind the thick brush on Bear Creek. Colonel Woods moved his forces into the thick brush, where the enemy, from his cover, opened a severe fire, which was returned by our skirmishers. The enemy's position was very strong. He posted his artillery--one six-pound and one twelve-pound gun — in position, raking the road, and being covered by the dense underbrush, it was impossible to discover his position. He kept up a vigorous shelling, which, however, did no injury. Colonel Wood finally dislodged the enemy, reached the bridge over Bear Creek, which the enemy had destroyed, and soon erected a crossing sufficient to cross our forces, when it was discovered the enemy were in full retreat. His loss is known to have been severe; his ambulances were seen moving about on the field collecting the wounded. The expedition camped here for the night.

At five o'clock next morning the forces moved into the town, which is one of the most beautiful places in the South--a town of about one thousand five hundred inhabitants. The junction of the Mississippi Central with the New-Orleans and Jackson Railroad makes it a place of considerable importance. At this place were located the “Dixie works,” containing twenty-four forges and machinery for the construction of gun-carriages and materials of war. This establishment has been in successful operation for the confederate government. It was completely destroyed by our forces. They tore up and burned six miles of railroad track in the vicinity of Canton. They also burned thirteen large machines-shops and railroad buildings, with all their contents, five locomotives, fifty cars, and one hundred thousand feet of lumber belonging to the Confederacy. Jackson burned the railroad depot and six hundred bales of cotton as he was leaving the town. Not a dollar's worth of public property was left in Canton.

Colonel Bussy also sent a force of cavalry and destroyed a pontoon-bridge over Pearl River. He also burned the railroad bridge over Big Black, twenty miles north of Canton, with one mile of trestle work, and the depot at Ways Bluff. The expedition returned to Jackson last night, having lost about twenty men. They captured seventy--two prisoners, and lost none. Our whole force did not exceed two thousand men. Several regiments were represented, but they were very small ones, the Fifty-first Iowa numbering less than sixty men. The enemy's force consisted of two brigades, and two regiments of another brigade. They claimed to have four to five thousand men, with two pieces of artillery. General Jackson commanded, with General Whitfield, of Kansas notoriety, commanding one brigade, General Crosby and General Adams the others. The whole expedition was a most brilliant success. The railroad has been completely destroyed for forty miles. It cannot be repaired while the war lasts, and therefore cannot be used to transport supplies to support an army within striking distance of the Mississippi River.


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A. G. H. Wood (4)
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