Doc. 153.-the Tennessee expedition.
Cincinnati Commercial account.
camp Shiloh, five miles from Pittsburgh Landing, April 30, 1862.on Sunday morning, twenty-seventh instant, Gen. Grant ordered Gen. Wallace to make a demonstration in the neighborhood of Purdy, a  town of about eight hundred inhabitants, twenty-two miles distant from our camp, deriving a small degree of importance from its location on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. It is about twenty miles from Corinth, on a direct railroad line. It was not known when the expedition started what force the rebels had at the point, but it was supposed they had a pretty strong garrison there, and were prepared to repel such a cavalry “dash” as is ordinarily made for the destruction of railroad bridges. Accordingly it was determined to send a large force, and to make the attack partake of the nature of a surprise. Seven regiments of infantry, from Gen. Wallace's division, including the Seventy-eighth and Twentieth Ohio, two batteries of artillery, and the Fourth and Eleventh Illinois and Fifth Ohio cavalry, were ordered to be in readiness by noon, with three days cooked rations. The preparations in the camp in which I chanced to be at the time the order was received — the destination was of course not stated — were on such an extensive scale that I thought the long-expected movement against Corinth was about to be made, and without further deliberation resolved to proceed with Col. Taylor's regiment. We started at two o'clock P. M., Wallace, with the infantry and artillery, in the advance. Our road lay through woods, swamps, and ravines, over “corduroy” bridges and across swollen creeks, through mud and water of every variety of depth and thickness. The weather when we left camp was very fine, though very warm; the sun pouring his rays down upon us with tropical vigor, made it uncomfortable to ride and fatiguing to march, and we had proceeded but a few miles when the effect became visible in the many returning stragglers from the infantry regiments who lazily dragged their muskets and themselves in a homeward direction. We passed a number of very respectable residences, the first of the kind seen by this army since its occupation of Pittsburgh. They are all owned by wealthy men, every one of whom, we learned, are more or less identified with the rebel cause; some are in the confederate army, others have sons in it, and others have contributed of their means to its support. A couple of officers stopped at one of the houses to ask for a drink of water. The inmates, an elderly woman, two handsome daughters, and a few young contrabands, appeared very much excited at the approach of the Federal warriors. Before the officers had time to state the peaceful object of their visit to the domicil, the old lady eagerly exclaimed: “He didn't want to go, but they told him he must, or he'd be took prisoner.” “We would like to get a drink of water of you, please,” said Capt. H----; “we are very thirsty.” “Oh! Yes, certainly,” replied the agreeably astonished matron. “I thought as how ye come after my son, because he was in the Southern army.” A conversation followed, which resulted in the revelation that a son of the hostess had been drafted for Beauregard's army; that he had fought at Pittsburgh, and was dangerously wounded on the first day of the battle. He was conveyed to Corinth. His mother became apprized of his condition, and immediately sought the confederate military authorities, of whom she obtained a “sick furlough” for him. He is now under the maternal roof, but will not survive his injuries. At about six o'clock we halted in the woods, midway between Pittsburgh and Purdy. After an hour's delay Gen. Wallace ordered the infantry and artillery to bivouac for the night, and the cavalry to proceed to Purdy. The General himself made his headquarters for the night in a neat frame-house in the neighborhood. The woods were soon illuminated with the great fires the soldiers built, and around which they gathered to pass away the night. Strong picket-guards were stationed in every direction, so that the improvised Federal city in the wilderness of Tennessee felt secure from a rebel surprise. The cavalry, numbering in all about two thousand, continued its road to Purdy. Col. Dickey, of the Fourth Illinois, was in command. We had enjoyed a few hours of pleasant riding since five o'clock, but now our prospects changed, and not for the better. As evening changed into night, the sky became thickly clouded, and in less than an hour after our second start, the rain began to fall in torrents. The road grew worse and worse as we advanced, and the night darker and darker every hour. We had a guide, but he was a poor one, and had less confidence in himself than we had in him. We proceeded, however, making our way by the dim outlines of the forest on either side of us. The rain continued; at times it was furious. A great many of our men were unprovided with overcoats or waterproof blankets, but the word was forward! to Purdy! What was hitherto darkness became impenetrable blackness, until we could not discern an object three feet ahead of us. Consider two thousand mounted men now galloping along a narrow road, now wading through a black swamp, and once or twice almost swimming a swiftly-running creek, and all of this in the darkest night that any out of the two thousand men ever saw. The “clashing of arms” was for once a welcome noise, and formed the only guide by which we kept together. At about twelve o'clock we came to a halt about two miles from Purdy, Col. Dickey fearing, and very properly, that the whole party would get lost before morning. As it was, a number of our men had abandoned the hope of being able to keep up with us, and had remained along the road behind us. A whole company at one time declared their inability to proceed, and still it rained harder than ever. After standing still an hour under the “pelting of the pitiless storm,” “about face!” was ordered, and we started for the point where we left the infantry, arriving there just at daylight. Here the men were ordered to dismount and feed their horses. The effect of the night's “tramp” was visible on every countenance. Many of our stoutest and hardiest men “gave out” altogether and were compelled to return to  camp when morning came. Some of them lay down on the road-side, glad to seize the opportunity of an hour's “rest,” even though the rain beat heavily on their closed eyelids. At five o'clock the order was given for us to return — not to camp but to Purdy. Many of us received the order with dissatisfaction, and some obeyed it with reluctance. Col. Taylor, of the Fifth cavalry, was taken seriously ill, (he was quite unwell when he left camp,) and could not command his regiment; the Lieut.-Col. was also compelled from sickness to abandon his intention of returning, so the command devolved upon the senior Major, E. G. Ricker, an officer who has given frequent proofs of his efficiency and valor. The entire cavalry force started back, and in a couple of hours were in Purdy. They were disappointed to learn that about one hundred rebels who had garrisoned the place, had left just in time to save themselves. Col. Dickey sent a small force to skirmish two miles below Purdy, (there were three thousand rebels at Bethel, four miles below,) while another force destroyed the railroad bridge two miles above it. The work was accomplished; the bridge was torn up, and the connection between Purdy and Corinth completely destroyed. While the men were at work a locomotive with four men--two officers, one engineer, and a fireman — came from Bethel to ascertain what was the matter. I should have said that our men had cut their telegraph wires also; this caused the alarm at Bethel. Our skirmishers withdrew, let the locomotive pass by to where the road was torn up, and then issued forth to demand a “surrender.” The four men were taken prisoners, the locomotive destroyed, and thus ended the expedition. None of our men were killed by the enemy, but I fear many of them will die from the exposure to inclement weather and the fatigue of the trip experienced by all. The cavalry returned to camp last night; the infantry and artillery this morning. After what we have gone through, our leaky tents appear to us like metropolitan hotels. I will speak for myself, and say I want no more expedition for several days to come.