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[334] pistols pointed at their heads, they piled their guns and accoutrements on the road. At this moment, as I turned to place them under guard, I found that I had only three men, and the prisoners seeing the same, and no sign of any more, made for their guns. We opened fire on them, and they speedily ran into the swamp, where pursuit was impossible. I at once fell back into a clump of heavy timber with the three men, where we commanded the bridge, or had a fair aim at any one who might attempt to approach, and waited the approach of assistance, which arrived in five or ten minutes, with Capt. Kendrick in command. We pushed on at full gallop, scattering several small parties of armed men, but intent on the piece of cannon, which was less than two hundred yards off, and the road being a broken, rough and rather narrow causeway, which made progress for any thing on wheels, or even a poor rider, rather hazardous.

At a point from four to five miles from Corinth we came on a large bridge which was on fire at the end nearest us, and had twenty feet of the middle torn up. I discovered it when within twenty feet, the fire being under the bridge and only bursting through the floor. At the same time Captain Kendrick discovered a considerable number of the enemy in the brush at the other end of the bridge, and at once opened fire on them. They returned it with musketry and grape and canister. The man next me on the right, and between me and Capt. Kendrick, was severely wounded, and the two horses immediately behind us shot. There was no possibility of reaching the cannon unless by fording the creek, and as our small force of twenty-six men was entirely alone, and without a support to act on either side of the causeway, we could not get at the enemy. We therefore fell back for about two hundred yards to a point where a bend in the road, with heavy timber, placed us out of range. I requested Captain Kendrick with most of his men to go back and bring up any troops he could find, to prevent the return of the enemy to the three bridges we had chased them from.

Soon after the Captain left me, all the men scattered, and, as the position was very much exposed, I did not do more than ask them to remain. One only, private Henry Pine, company G, Third Kentucky cavalry, remained, and posting ourselves about twenty yards from the second bridge from Corinth, where no one could come to the bridge at all, unless under fire of the soldier's carbine and my double-barrel and revolver, we waited, expecting every second the return of a large force of our own men to occupy the bridges and adjoining woods, which were full of fugitives.

In this position we remained, perhaps, fifteen minutes, when Pine warned me to get off the edge of the road, which I did promptly. The next instant a shower of grape, fired from some distance, swept the road, and a sound followed, indicating the approach of cavalry. We at once entered the swamp and made our way back to the high ground, half a mile to the rear, where I found Capt. Kendrick, who could obtain no support to bring to us. I felt sure that they had returned to burn the bridge I had been watching, and with Captain Kendrick, one or two more officers and ten men of the body-guard returned to ascertain the fact. The bridge was enveloped in flames.

In making this report I beg to say that while a pursuit by so small a number may seem rash, the circumstances justify it.

The enemy were scattered in small parties of from ten to fifty, and ran at the sight of horse-men. Every moment the number became larger, and a piece of artillery, if not two, were almost within our grasp. From the best information I could obtain, Gen. Price was not far off. It was perfectly reasonable to expect that our forces were within call, and I supposed (up to the time I returned to the cavalry and found it drawn up on the hill) that they were immediately in the rear and coming on. By driving away the bridge-burners a way was kept open for them.

To Capt. Kendrick I return sincere thanks for his kindness. He had only twenty-six men in all, and one who joined from the Third Kentucky cavalry, yet he sent in more than fifty prisoners, and dispersed a large number of armed parties. Private Hass, of the body-guard, and private Henry Glenn, company G, Third Kentucky cavalry, showed great courage both in saving the bridges and under fire close to the enemy. I commend them to the notice of their officers.

The enemy had evidently sacrificed the large body of men composing their pickets — principally Tennesseeans, and the first notice many of them had of the flight of the rebel army was our approach. Bodies of men were placed at each bridge with the means of burning it, and the road itself, although very much cut and broken, was either recently built, or recently repaired, and was so arranged as to assist a retreat and obstruct a pursuit. It has a general south-west direction, and crosses Tuscumbia Creek four times in less than two miles.

We crossed three well-built bridges and were driven away from the fourth, which is, I believe, nearly five miles from Corinth. The ground is very wet, and almost if not entirely impassable on both sides of the last two miles of the road.

I have the honor to be, with very great respect,

J. H. Hammond,
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff, Fifth Division.

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