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Rebel reports and Narratives.

General S. D. Lee's report.

Demopolis, February 24. Headquarters, Starkville, Miss., February 22.
Lieutenant-General Polk:
Major-General Forrest reports, at nine A. M., yesterday evening, two miles south of Pontotoc, we have had severe fighting all day with the enemy. The engagement closed about dark. We have killed about forty of the enemy and captured about one hundred prisoners. Our loss is not known, but is not so heavy as that of the enemy. The prisoners captured report that two of their colonels and one lieutenant-colonel was killed this evening. Colonel Forrest was killed this evening. Colonel Barksdale was badly wounded in the breast. Colonel McCollock was wounded in the head. We have captured four or five pieces of artillery. General Gholson came up this evening, and will follow after them, and drive them as far as possible. The fight commenced near Okolona late this evening, and was obstinate, as the enemy were forced to make repeated stands to hold us in check, and to save their pack-mules, etc., from a stampede. The fight closed with a grand cavalry charge of the enemy's whole force. We repulsed them with heavy loss, and completely routed them.

S. D. Lee. Leonidas Polk, Lieutenant-General.

Atlanta Confederacy account.

Demopolis, February 22, 1864.
News from the front grows stale. The enemy having prospected as far south as De Soto, on the Mobile road, seem to be hesitating as to their future movements. It seems the Yankees are by no means sanguine of their future success, and many report that the subordinate officers and men are extremely nervous and apprehensive, and swear that Sherman is crazy and doomed to destruction.

There is no doubt but that Sherman expected material aid and full cooperation from a column that was to come down through North-Mississippi. [494] So entirely was this support relied upon, that the Federal commander has openly boasted that “General Smith would be in Columbus by the fifteenth.” It is confidently believed here, that the Federal force now moving in that direction will fall in with some obstacles little dreamed of in their philosophy, which will very seriously interfere with their arrangements.

General Forrest, who is already confronting them, has been amply reenforced, and strong hopes are entertained that very few will reach General Sherman, and those will hardly improve his already partially demoralized army. This Northern Mississippi raid, it seems, consists of from seven to ten thousand men, cavalry and infantry combined, with six pieces of artillery. This raid is abundantly provided for. Our cavalry have been doing splendid work. I have heard Wirt Adams's old regiment more particularly mentioned. I had begun to fear the “forty wagons” affair was a “reliable contraband” story, but to-day I learned the particulars from a participant in the affair.

Two squadrons from Wirt Adams's old regiment, led by Colonel Wood, (now commanding that gallant corps,) and supported by a small force of dismounted men under Colonel Dumontielle, charged across a small field, along the opposite side of which the enemy's wagon train was passing, heavily guarded by a line of infantry on either side.

The charge was so sudden, so wild, so gallant, that the wretches felt their doom was sealed and fled in wild confusion. On dashed the avenging “rebels,” and while the mules and drivers struggled in confusion and dismay, they shot drivers and mules as they swept like whirlwind down the line of struggling, crushed, and disorderly Yankees, and poured a perfect shower of balls into them, and then, coming to a heavy line of infantry drawn up to receive them, they wheeled off and dashed again out of sight and reach. We lost six men and some few horses in the affair; and among them a very gallant fellow, Sergeant Gibson, who Was wounded, and afterward killed in cold blood by the cowardly wretches who had fled on the first sight of our men.

It is of course not prudent to mention what is now transpiring hereabouts, but all weak-kneed people had as well take heart, and not cry “Wolf!” too soon.

There is no little probability that the adventurous Yankees will pay dearly for their grand raid. All apprehensions of an attack on Mobile or Selma are now dissipated. It turns out that there is no considerable force at Pascagoula, or in that vicinity, and if General Polk had only been reenforced at the critical point, at Meridian, for instance, the whole Yankee force would have been incontinently “gobbled up.”

Richmond despatch account.

Richmond, Va., March 9, 1864.
The recent victory of General Forrest in Northern Mississippi, by which the grand plan of the Yankees in the West was so effectually defeated, was one of the most remarkable achievements of this war. We have conversed with gentlemen recently from that section, whose accounts all concur in the main facts of that almost marvellous exploit. The enemy's reports fully confirm these accounts, but they do not state the exact force by which these results were accomplished. Owing to the exhaustion of his horses, the want of arms and munitions and other causes, Forrest could array a force of only two thousand four hundred men to confront Smith and Grierson's column of seven thousand of the best equipped cavalry the Yankees have ever put in the field. Forrest's men, too, were mostly new and untried, especially in the cavalry service. He had recently recruited them them in West-Tennessee. It seemed the extreme of rashness and recklessness to attempt with such a force to arrest the march of a column of seven thousand splendidly mounted and equipped men, led by experienced officers, whose march thus far had been uninterrupted, who were buoyant and confident, and were charged with such an important mission. The junction of this cavalry force with Sherman at Meridian was the key of the whole scheme of the Yankee plan for the occupation and subjugation of the South-West. If successful, Sherman would have been in a condition to advance upon Demopolis and Selma, or Mobile; and these important points, as well as the rich countries adjacent, would have been at the mercy of the enemy. They could have been driven back only at the enormous risk of weakening Johnston's army, so as to open Northern Georgia and Rome and Atlanta to Grant's army. General Polk, with his scant infantry force, quickly perceived the momentous issue which depended upon the result of the cavalry movement from Memphis, and after securing his small army on the east side of the Tombigbee, and removing all his supplies and munitions, and returning to Mobile the troops he had borrowed from General Maury, sent imperative orders to Lee and Forrest to unite their forces, and at every cost to crush and drive back Smith and Grierson's cavalry.

Lee did not receive these orders in time to reach Forrest with his force, which was already greatly exhausted by the continual skirmishing with Sherman's column. Forrest was therefore left alone with his two thousand four hundred men to perform this immense undertaking. Confronting the enemy on the broad prairies near West-Point, on the Tibbee River, he prepared for action. The enemy formed in a long and most imposing line, outflanking Forrest, and threatening the instant demolition of his small and imperfectly organized force. The charge was given, and the Yankees advanced with great boldness and an air of certain victory. Great was their surprise when, as they approached Forrest's line, they observed his men slip from their horses, and converting themselves into infantry, each man taking the most favorable position, availing themselves of every advantage the ground afforded, and awaiting with the utmost coolness the impetuous charge of the Yankee chivalry. On came the splendidly mounted-dragoons, [495] goons, under those far-famed Yankee chiefs, Smith and Grierson, with such fierce displays of valor and determination as argued badly for Forrest's infantry scouts, scattered through the bushes and over the prairie in rather an irregular and unmilitary style. But these valorous horsemen did not advance far before the balls of two thousand riflemen began to rattle through their ranks with fearful effect. Scores of men and horses fell at the first fire, and their onward movement was checked, and before they could recover and re-form, the volley was repeated — again and again — until dismay and terror began to prevail in their ranks, and they soon broke into confusion and fled.

Forrest then mounted his mein and began his pursuit, which he kept up with great vigor for nearly twenty miles, the enemy leaving behind many of his wounded and exhausted men, all his dead, his horses, prisoners, five pieces of artillery, burning his packs and turning loose his mules. Having discovered the small force of Forrest, several attempts were made by Smith and Grierson to rally their men and resume the offensive. Their efforts were successful on the hills just beyond Okolona, when the last grand charge was made by them. It was met in the same way as their previous attempts, but even with more vigor and determination by Forrest's men, who had in a few hours become veterans. Several crushing volleys from their rifles quickly arrested the impetuous valor of the Yankees, and sent them to the rear in the wildest confusion and dismay. By this time Forrest had exhausted his ammunition and the strength of his horses. He could not follow up the enemy.

Fortunately, however, General Gholson arrived with some fresh State troops, new levies hastily gathered, and took the place of Forrest's men, following up the Yankees for a great distance, harassing them, capturing and killing and wounding many, and picking up arms, wagons, horses, and a great variety of other valuable property thrown away by the enemy in his wild flight. The enemy never halted for a moment in his retreat, and when last heard from, the remnant of his splendid force was hastening fast to Memphis in far different plight from that in which they had so recently emerged from their fortifications. As soon as the news of this disaster reached Sherman, he began his retrograde movement toward the Mississippi, Lee following him up and hanging on his flanks, and harassing him continually. When last heard from, he was dragging his wearied, broken-down column back to Vicksburgh, in a demoralized state, the most mortified, disappointed, and disgusted chief who ever led ten thousand men up the hill and then marched them down again.

To increase this feeling of mortification and disgust, Sherman's conscience was burdened with a load of infamy which, even upon a Yankee General, could not have pressed lightly, in the recollection of the dastardly outrages upon private property, in the destruction of mills, of the houses of poor, inoffensive people living near his line of march, and in the shameful excess of his wretched mercenaries. We could hardly wish our bitterest enemy a larger portion of misery than must have fallen upon this ambitious aspirant on his return to the fortifications to Vicksburgh. An educated soldier, who had long associated with gentlemen, who had received the highest favors and unbounded kindness and hospitality from the Southern people, during his residence in Louisiana, Sherman has, by the license extended to his brutal hirelings, in their march through Mississippi, and by his own acts of outrage and cruelty, shown a degree of infamy that entitles him to take rank with Butler, McNeil, Hunter, and other Federal chiefs whose only achievements in this war have been those of the ruffian, the pirate, the plunderer and highwayman.

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