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[9]

Report of General Forrest of operations against W. Sooy Smith in February, 1864.

headquarters Forrest's cavalry Department, Columbus, Miss., March 8th, 1864.
Colonel — I have the honor to submit the following report of the movements and operations of my command against the Federal forces under command of General Smith, in the engagements of the 20th, 21st and 22d ultimo.

Learning on the 14th ultimo at Oxford that the enemy was moving in heavy force in the direction of Pontotoc, and believing his destination to be the prairies, and from thence a junction with Sherman, I withdrew all my forces from the Tallahatchie and Yazoo rivers and moved rapidly to Starkville, which place I reached on the evening of the 18th ultimo. On the 19th the enemy were reported at Okalona, but his movements or intended course was not developed; and fearing he might cross the Tombigbee, I ordered Bell's brigade to Columbus, and also dispatched General Ruggles to use all his effective force to prevent them from doing so. At the same time, I ordered Brigadier-General Chalmers, commanding division, to send Forrest's brigade to Aberdeen, or in that direction, to meet and ascertain the movements of the enemy, and also with McCulloch's brigade of his division and Richardson's brigade, under Colonel Neely, to move out to West Point — leaving General Richardson at Starkville in command of all the dismounted men of the command, to protect my wagon train, and send out scouts in the direction of Houston in order to give timely notice, should the enemy divide his forces and move in that direction.

On the morning of the 20th, Colonel Forrest met the enemy in force and fell back towards West Point, skirmishing with them, but avoiding an engagement. In repelling their attacks, he lost two men killed and several wounded and captured. I moved over to his assistance with.General Chalmers and his remaining brigade, taking with me also Richardson's brigade and two batteries of artillery, joining Colonel Forrest within three miles of West Point. Finding the enemy in heavy force, and having been informed that General Lee was moving to my assistance, and desiring to delay a general engagement as long as possible, I determined at once to withdraw my forces south of Sookatouchie creek, which I did,


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J. E. Forrest (5)
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W. Sooy Smith (2)
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