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[100] two divisions of infantry at work in each direction. The roads were destroyed for about twelve miles each way. Attempts were made to stop the work but their heavy force made it of no avail.

Ross's brigade arrived at Doleville on the 16th, and skirmished with the enemy on the 17th, near Old Marion. On the evening of the 17th I received an order from the Lieutenant-General to move with my disposable force to join General Forrest, who reported that the enemy's cavalry force, 8,000 men, were moving on him. On the morning of the 18th the four brigades moved towards Starksville, the point indicated by General Forrest, leaving only Colonel Perrin's Mississippi regiment to cover Demopolis and observe the enemy. The command moved as rapidly as the jaded condition of the horses would admit, and at daylight on the 23d arrived at Line Creek, where General Forrest was on the 22d, and found, much to my surprise and regret, that the enemy had commenced to retreat twenty-four hours previously.

On the 19th, Forrest moved from Starkesville, through West Point, towards Aberdeen, and again retired before the enemy, across the Suckatinchie Creek. The enemy, on reaching West Point, heard of my approach on the 21st, and immediately commenced their retreat. Forrest, on the 22d, in the evening, commenced the pursuit, and caught up with their rear-guard, inflicting severe punishment on them, capturing six pieces of artillery and many prisoners. My command was much disappointed at the result of this action, having anticipated a fight with their own arm of the service and with equal numbers. I had been led to believe from General Forrest's reports that the force of the enemy was superior to our combined commands, and that the difficulty was in avoiding a general engagement till my arrival. Not having received General Forrest's report, I am not able to explain his move on the 19th to fight the enemy, and again retiring before him without concentrating and giving battle with his entire force.

I feel confident, however, that this gallant officer acted with judgment and to the best interests of the service. On the 24th I ordered General Jackson, with his own division and Ferguson's brigade, to move towards Canton and harass General Sherman, who was then retiring from Meridian towards Vicksburg. General Jackson encountered the enemy near Sharon, driving in his foraging parties and hastening his march to Vicksburg. His work was well done, capturing about 2C wagons, and killing and capturing about 200 of the enemy, the last of whose forces recrossed the Big Black on the 4th of March. Brigadier-General Ross, with his brigade of Texans, was sent to the

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