Doc. 39.-Colonel Lee's reconnoissance.
Missouri Democrat account.
South of Grand Junction, Monday, November 10, 1862.I write in great haste to give you an account of the reconnoissance just completed, to Cold-water, Miss. On the eighth instant, Gen. Grant ordered a strong force upon this errand, consisting of part of the cavalry division and two divisions of infantry and artillery. The cavalry, about one thousand five hundred strong, was under command of Col. Lee, of the Seventh Kansas, who now leads the division during Colonel Mizner's absence, and the infantry, numbering some ten thousand, was commanded by Major-General McPherson, and Brig.-Generals Quimby and Sullivan. The object of the expedition was, of course, to harry and observe the enemy; but the directions were positive not to bring on a general engagement. Colonel Lee started on the advance from this point at seven o'clock on the eighth, and soon drove in the enemy's pickets just this side of Lamar, a little village which lies about twelve miles south of La Grange. Three miles further on we encountered a force of rebel cavalry, perhaps five hundred strong, whom, after a short skirmish, we scattered and drove into the hills. Rushing on about three miles more, down the same main road, we learned that the enemy's cavalry and artillery were hurrying up past us on a parallel road lying to the west, in such a way as to throw themselves in our rear, and between us and our infantry support. Col. Lee immediately divided his column, ordering Col Hatch to keep on down toward Hudsonville, while he himself, with about seven hundred troopers, turned back and across to attack the hostile column on the flank. He hurried through the woods by a blind by-road, and fairly surprised the enemy. They were three regiments of rebel cavalry, and numbered about one thousand seven hundred; but our approach was masked by a grove, and we had the vast advantage of a sudden, sharp, and stunning attack. While they were filing through a long lane, the Kansas boys, shouting like devils, rushed right up to the fence on one side, and poured in a torrent of lead from their revolving rifles and navy pistols. Volleys of buckshot were returned — indeed, a horse was shot within a few feet of the Colonel — but in a few moments the rebels broke and fled, and we pursued them till their retreat became a rout. They left sixteen dead, and we captured one hundred and seventy-five prisoners, one hundred horses, and a stack of shot-guns. Among the prisoners were nine commissioned officers. The enemy had with them two field-pieces, and not a shot was fired from them. With all the agility of the most flying artillery, they were whisked away in the retreat. We then hastened back to the road whence we had thus been diverted, and advanced to Hudsonville about nine P. M., when we came up with Col. Hatch, who had finished a considerable skirmish, and captured thirty-five prisoners. Falling back a mile, we camped for the night, and next morning, with three hundred men, dismounted, we crossed the Coldwater, and soon found the enemy drawn up in line of battle, on a range of hills, and apparently about ten thousand strong. As they very rudely opened upon us a fire of canister and shell, we concluded to retire. And so ended what seemed to me one of the most dashing and successful reconnoissances of the war — especially if you remember that it was mainly achieved by our cavalry division, our infantry force remaining near Lamar. The information we obtained may be briefly summed up. On November second, Gen. Mansfield Lovell, in command at Coldwater, fell back through Holly Springs. Gen. Pemberton coming up from the capital of Mississippi, on the fifth, stopped him, and ordered that Coldwater should be again occupied. Since then Lovell has been there with his division; and also Tilghman, with a division composed chiefly of exchanged prisoners from Island No.10 and Donelson. Attached to this force are six four-gun batteries. Price lay with twelve thousand men seven miles below Holly Springs, on the Salem road, while twenty-two miles further south, at Abbeysville, were some thirteen thousand militia, or conscripts. This constitutes all the rebel force in this vicinity at the date of this letter, though others may be crossing at Vicksburgh, thanks to those who permit crossing to be done at that point. Three weeks ago Gen. Armstrong left Holly Springs with seven thousand men on his way to Port Hudson, a point above Baton Rouge, which is being strongly fortified. He has since resigned. Van Dorn is now at Holly Springs under arrest, and is succeeded, as you know, by Pemberton.