Walker throughout was worthy of all praise. When at Oakland I was fifteen miles from Coffeeville. From prisoners captured, and from citizens, I learned that the rebel army had fled from Abbeville, and were falling back rapidly via Water Valley and Coffeeville. I also learned that the cavalry force, which we encountered at Oakland, were Texas troops, about one thousand five hundred strong, and were part of a force which left Coffeeville that morning in pursuit of me; that it was divided into three different parties, each of about that number, and left on as many different routes. Concluding that they would all fall back on Coffeeville, and being satisfied that more or less force from Price's army was at Coffeeville, I deemed it highly important not to proceed further, as my whole force of infantry and cavalry did not exceed two thousand five hundred men. I bivouacked for the night on the public square at Oakland. Though near the enemy in large force, with the precaution I had taken I felt perfectly secure. I knew that the enemy was retreating on the road, not ten miles in an air-line from me, but I felt confident that he was in too great a hurry to move aside to fight me, particularly as they had received such exaggerated reports of my strength. I determined to remain here, and sent back for a portion of the remaining infantry to be sent up to my support, that I might proceed on to their line of retreat, and harass them as they passed, but about twelve o'clock at night I received a despatch from Gen. Hovey informing me that he had received despatches from Gen. Steele, stating that the object of the exhibition had been fully accomplished, and ordering us to return to Helena. I allowed my men to rest quietly at Oakland until morning, when I quietly and deliberately, but reluctantly, retired. The day I retired from Oakland it rained hard all day, and with the previous rains was calculated to excite just apprehensions that we could not get back to the Mississippi across the low alluvial bottom which we had passed over in going out. No person that has not passed over this road can have a just estimate of it in a wet time. For fifty miles from the Mississippi, or ten miles beyond the Tallahatchie, the land is an alluvial formation, filled with ponds, sloughs, and bayous, subject to annual overflow, and the roads are impassable as soon as the fall rains begin. In conclusion, I beg to say that the result of the expedition has, on the whole, been eminently successful. Had I possessed in advance the knowledge I now have, I could have done some things that I left undone; but my main object, which was to stampede the rebel army, could not have been more effectually accomplished. At no time except at Oakland, had I over one thousand nine hundred and twenty-five men, and then I had six hundred infantry and two field-pieces, which came up just at night. The impression prevailed wherever we went that we were the advance of a force of thirty thousand who were to cut off Price. The infantry, sent forward to my support, to Mitchell's Cross-Roads, consisted of the Eleventh Indiana, four hundred, Lieut.-Col. McCauley; Twenty-fourth Indiana, three hundred and seventy, Lieut.-Col. Barton; Twenty-eighth and Thirtieth Iowa, six hundred, Lieut.-Col. Torrence; Iowa battery, Captain Griffith; all under the command of Colonel Spicely of Indiana, an able and efficient officer. Of the temper of both officers and men under my command I cannot speak in too high terms of praise. From the time of my landing at Delta to this time, my command has marched over two hundred miles. The weather for two days out of six has been most inclement, raining incessantly, without tents of any kind and not a too plentiful supply of rations. I have never heard a word of complaint or dissatisfaction. The health of the command has continued excellent. To my personal staff, who accompanied me on the expedition, Captain W. H. Morgan, A. A. General, Capt. John Whytuck and Captain G. W. Ring, I am under many obligations for efficient services. Respectfully yours,
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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