Beauregard had been abandoned. Capt. Wemple, with his command, joined me the next day. On the next day our whole force advanced north eight miles to Lovelaceville, throwing forward strong pickets to guard the approach from Columbus by Hayworth's bridge. On the eighteenth my command was marched in two columns, by different roads, in a westerly direction, and encamped for the night about a mile from Blandville, except the Twenty-ninth regiment and part of the baggage train, which, in consequence of the heavy rains of the previous night and the miry roads, were unable to come up. Riding back, I disposed of the regiment and train so as to secure them against danger. On the nineteenth, the Twenty-ninth and the remainder of the train came up, the march of the former continuing as far as O'Neill's Mills, (before mentioned,) where, with a section of Schwartz's battery, they encamped for the night, disposing the force so as to command the approach from Columbus by the bridge at that place. During the same day I also sent forward the Tenth regiment and another section of Schwartz's battery to occupy another approach to Columbus, by the Blandville bridge. Those dispositions were made anticipatory of our advance by the enemy, of which I had heard a report. And still further to insure our safety, I placed strong pickets above, at Hayworth's bridge, instructing the officer in command to remove some of its plank, so as to render it temporarily impassable. Admonished by the reported advance of the enemy and the exposure of my left flank for its whole length, during the march next day, I despatched a courier, during the night of the nineteenth, to communicate with our forces at Fort Jefferson, and to suggest that the pass at Elliott's Mill should be occupied by an adequate force, to prevent my return to Fort Jefferson from being cut off. The courier returned with a message from Colonel Marsh, commanding the Twentieth Illinois, informing me that all our forces, except mine and his own, had embarked for Cairo; but that he would remain and hold the pass until I came up, unless otherwise ordered. At seven o'clock in the morning of the twentieth, the main body of my forces moved forward on the direct road to Fort Jefferson, the Twenty-ninth, with a section of Schwartz's battery, and the Tenth, with another section of the same battery, after having rendered the bridges near their encampment impassable, falling in the rear of the column and moving on with it to Fort Jefferson. During the exposure of this day's march, which was considered eminently critical, the column was guarded against surprise by strong guards of infantry and cavalry moving in front, rear, and on the left flank. The Eighteenth and Thirty-first regiments, together with three pieces of Dresser's battery, having arrived at Fort Jefferson by one o'clock, were immediately embarked for Cairo; the remainder of the column following the next day to the same place. The unavoidable deficiency of transportation with which my command set out, aggravated by the bad condition of the roads, prevented me from taking, on leaving Cairo, the five days supply of rations and forage directed by the commanding officer of the district. Hence the necessity of an early resort to other sources of supply. None other presented but to quarter on the enemy or to purchase from loyal citizens. I accordingly resorted to both expedients as I had opportunity In some cases finding live-stock, provisions, forage, etc., the owners of which had abandoned it and gone into the rebel camp, I took and appropriated it to the use of the United States without hesitation. In other cases I purchased from loyal citizens such supplies as were indispensable, and caused certificates to be issued, charging the Government for the purchase of the articles thus obtained. By these means of supply, resorted to from the necessities of the case, substantial economy was practised, in saving to the Government, in supplies and transportation, more than the full value for the five days named. The reconnaissance thus made completed a march of one hundred and forty miles by the cavalry, and seventy-five miles by the infantry, over icy and miry roads, during a most inclement season, and has led to the discovery of several important roads which did not appear on our maps. Besides the immediate effect of so formidable a demonstration, other beneficial results, perhaps of little less importance, have flown from it. Without doubt it has exploded many false reports studiously and sedulously circulated by the enemy to our detriment. It has forcibly and deeply impressed the inhabitants of the district through which we passed with the superiority of our military preparations and of our ultimate ability to conquer the rebellion. It inspired hope among many loyal citizens who hailed us as deliverers, whom I regret our unexpected withdrawal will probably leave victims of rebel persecution and proscription. Although disappointed by the recal from their advance, I am happy to state that the officers and men under my command, from first to last, performed the duties incident to the expedition with ability, fidelity, and rare patience under the most trying circumstances. Your obedient servant,
John A. Mcclernand, Brig.-Gen. Commanding District of Cairo.