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[275] several stragglers from the rebel force by the wayside. Passing down this road, the rebel column was, for the space of a mile, in full view, moving north on the Ripley road, and about three fourths of a mile to the west of us. Arriving at Pontotoc, it was found that the rear of the enemy had left town, but could still be seen in the distance moving north.

Couriers were here detailed, and a despatch put into their hands to advise the general commanding that this force was moving north, and an escort ordered to conduct the couriers eight miles on the Oxford road. My command left Pontotoc at once, about sundown, on the Rocky Ford road, bearing a little west of north, and running near the Ripley road, making a demonstration of attack on the enemy's left flank. Following this road about three miles, when daylight was disappearing, we turned south-west and passed on by-ways through the country across to the road from Pontotoc to Oxford, and, following this a few miles, we turned again south, and crossed the Yockna, on a bridge, where we camped for the night. I here found, to my surprise, that the escort and couriers, by a fatal misapprehension of my orders, had not left the column. Other couriers were at once sent forward for Oxford, but lost their way in the Yockna bottom, and, travelling all night, found themselves farther from Oxford than when they left camp, and did not arrive until this morning.

Early yesterday morning, the nineteenth, we took up the line of march, and Colonel Hatch was sent with the command to the cavalry camp on the Yockna River, and with my escort, after a long day's march, I reached Oxford at half-past 5 P. M. last evening, and reported to you the fact that on the evening of the eighteenth a large rebel cavalry force passed from Pontotoc north on the Ripley road, and notice was at once telegraphed to every point on the railroad north of this.

The expedition to Okolona has been most laborious, and the men and horses are completely worn down, and wholly unfit for service for a few days. Men and horses were subsisted upon the country through which we passed. The day's march usually began before day and closed after night, halting to feed but once a day, usually from ten A. M. to one P. M. The men lived chiefly on fresh meat, sweet potatoes, and corn bread roasted in corn husks, and often without salt. Men and officers, however, were cheerful and prompt in every duty.

In six days we marched about two hundred miles, worked two days at the railroad, captured about one hundred and fifty prisoners, destroyed thirty-four miles of important railroad and a large amount of public stores of the enemy, and returned, passing round an enemy of nine to our one, and reached camp without having a man killed, wounded, or captured.

Col. Hatch, of the Second Iowa, commanding the Second brigade, Lieut. Cregs, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General of my division, and Lieut. Davis, my Division Quartermaster, deserve special notice for their untiring and effective aid in accomplishing the results attained. Mr. Toffing, Topographical Engineer, accompanied the expedition, and collected matters for a very correct map of the roads over which we passed.

T. Lyle Dickey, Colonel and Chief of Cavalry, Commanding Division.

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