as they saw him on the morning of the 16th of December--a man apparently about forty years of age, small of stature, dark skinned, dark haired, bright, keen black eyes, clear cut and well defined features, straight as an Indian, sitting his horse like a knight, and looking every inch a soldier.
Such was the man, who, four days later, with less than twenty-five hundred poorly mounted and badly equipped cavalry, dealt Grant
a blow which sent him and his splendidly appointed army of 80,000 reeling back to their transports at Memphis
During the entire day and most of the night of the 16th the command moved steadily forward in the direction of Houston
, which place was reached about noon on the 17th.
Up to this time conjecture had gradually settled down to the opinion that our destination was some point on the Mobile and Ohio railroad, but on leaving the town of Houston
the head of the column was observed to turn north in the direction of Pontotoc
, and again we were at sea. We bivouacked that night about fifteen miles north of Houston
, and fed our horses from the adjacent corn fields.
On the following day, as the rear of the column was leaving Pontotoc
, a regiment of Federal cavalry entered the town from a different direction.
Had we been a few moments later, or they a little earlier, a collision would have been inevitable, and would, probably, have resulted in the loss of valuable time; as it was, only a few shots were exchanged between their advance and some loiterers of our rear guard.
We were now nearer to General Grant
's headquarters than to Holly Springs
, yet it is singularly true that this force failed to notify the Federal
commander that a considerable body of cavalry was moving rapidly in the direction of his depot of supplies.
Their conduct cannot be accounted for on the hypothesis that they were not aware of the presence of a superior force, for their rapid and disorderly flight demonstrated that they fully appreciated the importance of taking care of themselves.
's headquarters were connected with the posts in his rear by telegraph, and any intimation of danger would have been quickly flashed over the wires; but it seems this regiment was too badly scared to think of anything except their own safety, for they strewed the road for miles with property which had been taken from citizens.
Arriving at New Albany at dark on the evening of the 18th, we crossed the Tallahatchie
and slept on the north bank.
Early on the morning of the 19th the column was put in motion on a direct