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“ [483] him who did not feel strengthened and invigorated, as if he had heard of a reinforcement coming to our relief.” General Forrest was by unanimous consent selected to cover the retreat from Columbia, and to assist his cavalry, now reduced to three thousand, he was assigned a division of selected infantry, numbering only fifteen hundred, but composed of as brave men and gallant officers as ever lived — not the least of whom was that gallant Mississippian, General Featherstone, whose subsequent conduct at Sugar creek deserves to be long remembered.

The advance of the enemy crossed Duck river on the night of the 21st December, and on the 22d Forrest fell back slowly until he reached a gorge between two hills, three miles from Columbia. Here he had slight skirmishing, but held his position easily for the night. On the 24th Wilson's cavalry corps, ten thousand strong, and Wood's division of infantry, crossed, and the pursuit began in earnest. There was heavy fighting during the day, in which both infantry and cavalry were engaged, and at night he camped at Pulaski. On the morning of the 25th he fell back to a strong position on Anthony's hill, seven miles beyond Pulaski. The situation now seemed desperate. It was only forty miles to the Tennessee river, where Hood was crossing, and the infantry had not all reached there, while the trains were some distance behind. Wilson, with ten thousand cavalry, and Wood's division of infantry, were close on him, while A. J. Smith and Schofield were moving on from Columbia. Forrest, with his forty-five hundred, as undaunted as Zenophon with his celebrated ten thousand, calmly awaited their approach, and his men gathered courage from their leader. Wilson came on, and, as General Thomas says, “Wood kept well closed up on the cavalry” ; and I give the result in the language of General Thomas' report: “During the afternoon Harrison's brigade found the enemy strongly entrenched at the head of a heavily wooded and deep ravine, through which ran the road and into which Colonel Harrison drove the enemy's skirmishers. He then waited for the remainder of the cavalry to close up before attacking; but before this could be accomplished the enemy, with something of his former boldness, sallied from his breastworks and drove back Harrison's skirmishers.” In this fight, which General Thomas treats as a mere skirmish, the Confederates captured fifty prisoners, three hundred cavalry horses, one gun of Company I, Fourth United States artillery, with eight horses, and the killed and wounded were estimated at one hundred and fifty, while the brilliancy and vim of the Confederate charge astonished the Federals so much that they attacked no more that day. Forrest then retired to Sugar creek and halted for another fight. Having selected an excellent position for his infantry and artillery, and thrown up temporary breastworks of rails, he ordered Colonel Dillon, with the Second Mssissippi cavalry, to cross the creek above, mounted ready for a flank attack, and again quietly waited their coming. About daylight on the 26th they were heard crossing the

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Jefferson Forrest (4)
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