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[99]

Sent Ferguson's brigade to Morton to cover Major-General Loring's front, and ordered Jackson, with his two brigades (Adams's and Starke's), to move on the flank of the enemy at Brandon and Pelahatchee stations; at the same time ordered Ross to abandon the Yazoo country and join his division, as the enemy were moving on Meridian. Jackson's two brigades did their work handsomely, driving in the enemy's foraging parties and compelling them to march on one road. It was impossible to damage the enemy much as he marched in perfect order, his trains being divided between the brigades and kept in close order. On the night of the 9th I received an order, while in rear of the enemy at Pelahatchee Station, from the Lieutenant General to cover the M. and O. R. R. south of Meridian, to enable him to return to Mobile its garrison, which he had withdrawn, as he then believed the enemy would move on Mobile and not on Meridian. On the 11th, four miles south of Newton Station, I met General Ferguson, who had been ordered to the same position as myself by the Lieutenant General, and for the same object. I at once ordered him to the Decatur and Meridian road to place himself in front of the enemy, as it was then evident that he was moving on Meridian and not Mobile. On the 12th, with a part of Adams's brigade, a dash was made on the flank of the enemy at Decatur, disabling a train of about thirty wagons. The infantry of the enemy advanced in line of battle in a few moments after the dash, showing that they marched with every precaution.

The proximity of the infantry of the enemy would not allow the wagons to be brought over. On the 13th an order was received from the Lieutenant-General to cover the M. and O. R. R. above Meridian. At the time of the receipt of this order the position of the enemy and his advance rendered it impossible to comply with the order in time to effect the object desired, and, with Jackson's two brigades, I moved to Chunky Station, and during the night received an order to move to Meridian to cover the retreat of the army from that point to Demopolis. Only one brigade could reach Meridian owing to the rapid advance of the enemy, the other being compelled to make a detour to the right. The enemy occupied Meridian about 3 P. M. on the 14th of February, Starke and Ferguson's brigades skirmishing heavily with them at Meridian. By an order of the Lieutenant-General commanding, on the 14th, I was placed in command of all the cavalry west of Alabama, and at once put myself in communication with Major-General Forrest. In retiring from Meridian my command moved towards Old Marion. On the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th the enemy engaged himself destroying the railroad north, south and east from Meridian, putting


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L. W. Ferguson (3)
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