No. 97.-report of Lieut. John S. Prather, Second Misissippi and Alabama Cavalry,1 of burning of Cypress Creek Bridge, May 30.
camp Brewer, Near Birmingham, Miss., June 21, 1862.Sir: In obedience to an order, this day received, I have the honor to offer the following report as to the burning of the railroad bridge over Cypress Creek, Tenn.: On the night of May 29 Capt. Jeff. Falkner, commanding at Cypress Bridge, received an order from Col. A. J. Lindsay, commanding at Chewalla, of which the following is a true copy:
headquarters, Chewalla, Tenn., May 29, 1862.Captain Falkner, commanding at Cypress Bridge, will immediately bring his company and Captain Elliott's company of infantry to Chewalla. Captain Falkner will leave Lieutenant Prather and 10 men, with orders to burn the railroad bridge over Cypress at daylight in the morning. Lieutenant Piather will see that the bridge is thoroughly burned, and then proceed to Kossuth, due south of Chewalla.
A. J. Lindsay, Colonel, Commanding.P. S.-Do not burn the bridge until daylight; many trains will pass to-night.
Captain Falkner made the detail in accordance with the above order, at the same time ordering me not to burn the bridge until nearly or quite sunup, another courier having arrived in the mean time with a verbal order from some colonel commanding infantry at Chewalla not to burn the bridge until the train or trains had passed. The captain then left to join his regiment, and at or near sunup a gentleman came down on an engine with another verbal order, this time purporting to be from Colonel Lindsay, ordering me not to burn the bridge until all the trains had passed. The same gentleman proceeded without delay to the officer commanding at the next railroad bridge, a short distance below me, with the same order. He soon returned and reported that the bridge below had already been destroyed, thus presenting an effectual barrier to the further passage and escape of our trains in the direction of Memphis. Hence I could see no good reason why my original and only (then) written order should not be obeyed at once. But in order that no blame should be attached to me, I requested the courier to report to Colonel Lindsay as soon as possible and I would await further orders. An hour or so after I received the following order, by courier, from Colonel Lindsay, the original of which was also inclosed you in a former report made you by Captain Falkner: 
headquarters, Chewalla, Tenn., May 30, 1862.Lieutenant Prather will immediately burn the railroad bridge over the Cypress, and when that is effectually done he will report with his command.
A. J. Lindsay, Colonel, Commanding.
Feeling that I now had no further discretion in the matter, and that it was my duty to obey the order at once, I immediately ordered my men to apply the torch, and soon the bridge was in flames. After the bridge was effectually burned, the last order from Colonel Lindsay leaving me in some doubt as to whom and where I should report, I proceeded with my command to Chewalla; but finding the place evacuated and the colonel gone, I went to join my company at Kossuth, and then and there reported to Captain Falkner, not being able to find Colonel Lindsay. Most respectfully submitted.