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[278] Langworthy, from Iowa, was in the house; we heard every word, and having all our arrangements made except breakfast, we went down, Wing ahead. ‘Good morning, gentlemen,’ said I; ‘you favor us with rather an early call this morning.’ ‘Rayther,’ said he, with a grin like a crocodile. ‘Where is the officer of Gen. Grant's staff, who boards here?’ (Col. Hilyer.) ‘He went to Oxford yesterday with his wife and Mrs. Grant.’ He looked at me very sharply and said: ‘Is that true, sir?’ Lough says: ‘Yes, sir, when we tell you lies it will be for ourselves and not for others.’ ‘We'll take your word, gentlemen; fall in! you must go to headquarters.’ We ‘fell in’ at a brisk walk, not exactly knowing whether we should find headquarters at Vicksburgh, Mobile, or Charleston.

They took us out about a mile from town, where we found two long lines of long-haired, long-legged, sallow-looking butternut cavalry, drawn up about ten yards apart, between which we marched and halted. Brisk firing was heard on the other side of town for two hours, when it ceased. Little squads of prisoners kept coming for two or three hours longer; meantime the rebels set fire to the depot, engine-house, government stores, and a train of forty-three cars on the track, Immense piles of hay, corn, oats, barrels of beef, pork, rice, molasses, whisky, boxes of clothing, hospital stores, every thing went up in one grand conflagration. While this was going on, parties of soldiers were rolling cotton together in the public square and putting the torch to that. Every sutler's store was broken into and plundered of every thing in it by the soldiers. What they could not carry off nor destroy they gave to the negroes and secesh citizens. The army post-office was turned inside out, and letters too, and those from the North were opened, and all that were not carried off were put in a pile and burned in the street.

A large brick building on the square had been filled by our people with shot, shell and ammunition. Another building on the next block had been filled with post commissary stores. It was said by citizens that Van Dorn's orders were that these stores should be taken out and burned, but the soldiers having got hold of some whisky, and the carrying out business becoming a little tedious, put fire to the commissary's store, and in half an hour the whole side of the square was in flames. At three o'clock the arsenal was fired, and blew up with a most awful explosion.

While this was going on before our eyes, the rebels commenced at one end of the long line taking the parole of the soldiers. ‘We know,’ said they, ‘that we cannot hold this place. We have accomplished all we came for. We have destroyed your stores and taken your men. We can't take them with us, as we are mounted, therefore we will take your parole not to serve during the war unless exchanged, and let you go.’ The cotton-buyers, traders and citizens were then separated from the soldiers and questioned as to their business, etc., by one of General Van Dorn's staff. The questions asked me will serve as a sample: ‘Where do you live?’ ‘In Newark, Ohio.’ ‘Are you connected with the army?’ ‘No, sir.’ ‘What are you doing here, sir?’ ‘Well, sir, I am at the house of a friend, Mrs. Capt. Barney, who formerly lived at the North, and whose husband is an engineer, and is now with your people in Alabama.’ ‘Are you not a cotton buyer, sir?’ ‘Yes, sir, I (a-hem) have invested all my spare money in cotton, and to-day it has ‘gone up the spout.’’ ‘All right, not a good speculation. I presume, sir, the Southern cavalry do unexpected things sometimes, sir; I advise you to stay at home, sir, where there is less risk, sir. Let me see your money and papers.’ I pulled out my wallet, he took it, counted the money, (some $70 in greenbacks) and returned it to me again. He noticed a gold dollar in it, and said: ‘That little button is worth all the balance.’ I took the pocket-book without remark, not caring to argue with him just then, for fear I should convince him it was very valuable, and he should take a notion to keep it. He then passed on to the next man.

A friend of mine, Mr. Groat, conductor on the railroad, was examined, and had all his money taken, some $700. His papers and letters were all torn up. Every body suspected of being connected with the railroad, was robbed of every thing he had, and many others where the soldiers could get them out a little.

Col. Murphy was in command here. He was at the telegraph office telegraphing to Gen. Grant for reenforcements, when the rebels came upon the town, and took him prisoner the very first. If he had used the men he had, he might have prevented all.

To judge from the results of the rebel raid into Holly Springs, one would naturally suppose it was a surprise; such, however, was not the case. Gen. Grant knew the whereabouts of Van Dorn's force, during every day of the three days previous to the attack upon Holly Springs, and had taken what seemed to be all the necessary precautions to prevent so great a disaster as occurred there. To explain this, I must go back and relate what I had already related in my last letter, in relation to the movements of our own cavalry under Col. Dickey, but which letter, I have every reason to suppose, was lost with the mail at Holly Springs.

On Tuesday, the sixteenth, Col. Dickey, with about twenty-five hundred cavalry, arrived at Pontotoc, a small town about twelve miles southeast of this place, and learned that it was occupied by the enemy in great force, but that they were moving out of it toward the north. Col. Dickey immediately sent couriers back to Gen. Grant, and from that time until they entered Holly Springs, scouts were kept upon Van Dorn's track, and informed Gen. Grant every day of his whereabouts. So well had Gen. Grant divined Van Dorn's purpose, and so well had he timed his march, that on the evening before the attack he telegraphed from Oxford to Col. Murphy at Holly Springs that the enemy would attack him about seven next morning, but that he had sent him sufficient reenforcements to drive them off


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