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[50] thence north on the road to Columbus to Weston's, five miles, and returning by Elliott's Mills to Fort Jefferson, nine miles. This reconnoissance was made by Capt. Stewart, in command of his own cavalry, and Company B, Capt. Collins, of the Fourth cavalry. No armed enemy was encountered, but captures of L. T. Polk and David Frazer, supposed to be couriers from Columbus, were made. No United States forces having previously approached so near Columbus, the inhabitants uniformly mistook our cavalry for rebel troops.

On the thirteenth, I ordered a demonstration to be made in the direction of Columbus, by six companies of cavalry, commanded by Capt. Stewart, supported by the Tenth and Eighteenth regiments of infantry, commanded. respectively by Colonels Morgan and Lawler.

The infantry, crossing Mayfield Creek, at Elliott's Mills, took position there, while the cavalry advanced until they came within a mile and a half of the enemy's defences, driving his pickets into camp and bringing away several prisoners and their horses.

It was discovered that an abbatis of fallen timber, a mile and a half in width, surrounded the enemy's intrenchments. The rigor of the weather and the non-appearance of any considerable rebel force, led to the belief that they were closely collected around camp-fires within the intrenchments, and indisposed to take the field. It is believed, that with suitable preparation on our part, a favorable time was thus afforded for successful attack and capture of Columbus.

From this near approach, the cavalry returned by “Putney's Bend” and Elliott's Mills, to Fort Jefferson, communicating with and being joined by the infantry who formed their support.

On the thirteenth, Lieut. H. C. Freeman, engineer, with an escort of cavalry explored the different roads leading from Fort Jefferson to Blandville, and selected a strong position for encampment half a mile north of Blandville, on the road to Columbus.

On the fourteenth, the whole force proceeded, flanked and followed by a strong guard, moved in two columns, by different roads, toward Blandville, and encamped in such a manner as to command the approaches from Columbus by both bridges across Mayfield Creek, in that vicinity. One of these is known as O'Neill's Bridge, and the other as Blandville Bridge.

The distance of this day's march was eight and a half miles, over difficult roads covered with sleet. To guard against surprise, strong mounted pickets were thrown forward toward Columbus and to the bridge across Mayfield Creek, at Hayworth's Mill, three miles above Blandville.

On the fifteenth, we advanced to Weston's — the Fourth cavalry and Dollin's company, under command of Lieut.-Col. McCulloch, making an early movement southwest, in the direction of Columbus, and repeating a near approach to that place, while Capt. Stewart, with his company, pushed a reconnoissance, eight miles, quite to Milburn, taking the town by surprise and picking up a man just from Columbus, from whom he derived much valuable information respecting the condition of the rebel force at that point.

He learned from this source that our demonstrations toward Columbus had excited alarm, and induced the enemy to call in his forces at Jackson, Beauregard, New — Madrid and other places. Milburn is reproached as a Union town by the rebels.

Joined at Weston's by the Seventh Illinois, (Col. Cook,) our whole force encamped for the night, in line of battle, ten miles from Columbus, taking a strong position, commanding the approaches to that place by two roads which intersect the road leading to Putney's Bend and Elliott's Mills to Milburn. Brig.-Gen. Grant, commanding the various forces in the field, came up with us at this point, and expressed his approval of the manner in which the disposition of the forces had been made. To prevent surprise, strong guards were again thrown forward.

At seven o'clock A. M., of the sixteenth, the entire column, except the Seventh Illinois volunteers, moved forward over icy roads toward Milburn, a small town southeast from Weston's, and eight miles distant, reaching Milburn about twelve M. The head of the column passed through the town on the road to Mayfield, about two miles, and halted — a portion of the column resting in the town. Looking to the object of the expedition, so far as it had been previously explained to me, I here manoeuvred my forces so as to leave the enemy in doubt whether my purpose was to attack Columbus, march upon Camp Beauregard, or to destroy the railroad leading from Columbus to Union City, and to awaken apprehensions for the safety of each.

While the rear of the column was still resting in Milburn, I countermarched the portion of it advanced beyond that place, taking the road beyond Milburn, leading north toward Lovelaceville, and followed in proper order the rear of the column, pushed on some four miles on that road, and encamped. Giving out that the object of the march was to encamp for the night on favorable ground near water in the vicinity of Milburn, the latent purpose of a change of the direction of my march was completely concealed.

In the mean time, to increase the deception, in pursuance of my order, Lieut.-Col. McChesney, with the Fourth cavalry, made a demonstration some five miles in a westerly dircection, on the road from Milburn to Columbus, and there again learned that Camp Beauregard was broken up, and that the enemy had retired within his intrenchments at Columbus. And, soon after, I learned that he had destroyed the railroad bridge across the Obion, which if true, must be attributed to a fear that it was my intention to seize and control the railroad in the rear of Columbus.

Sending forward Captain Wemple with his company of the Fourth cavalry to Mayfield, I communicated with General Smith, commanding the columns that marched from Paducah, placing him in possession of a dispatch from Brig.-Gen. Grant, and giving him information of the report that Camp


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