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‘ [330] Rodgers fell before Gates called on me to reenforce him on the edge of the ditch of Battery Robbinet.’1 This officer, W. P. Rodgers, was a captain in the First Regiment of Mississippi Rifles in the war with Mexico, and the gallantry which attracted the admiration of the enemy at Corinth was in keeping with the character he acquired in the former service referred to. Of this retreat, that able soldier and military critic, General Dabney H. Maury, in a contribution to the ‘Annals of the War,’ wrote:
Few commanders have ever been so beset as Van Dorn was in the forks of the Hatchie, and very few would have extricated a beaten army as he did then. One, with a force stated at ten thousand men, headed him at the Hatchie Bridge; while Rosecrans, with twenty thousand men, was attacking his rear at the Tuscumbia Bridge, only five miles off. The whole road between was occupied by a train of nearly four hundred wagons, and a defeated army of about eleven thousand muskets. But Van Dorn was never for a moment dismayed. He repulsed Ord, and punished him severely; while he checked Rosecrans at the Tuscumbia, until he could turn his train and army short to the left, and cross the Hatchie by the Boneyard road, without the loss of a wagon.

He then moved near Holly Springs, Mississippi, to await further developments. In the meantime General Grant massed a heavy force, estimated at eighty thousand men, at various points on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Thence he moved south, through the interior of Mississippi, until he encamped near Water Valley. The country was teeming with great quantities of breadstuffs and forage, and he accumulated an immense depot of supplies at Holly Springs, and hastened every preparation necessary to continue his advance southward. Unless his progress was arrested, the interior of the state, its capital, Jackson, Vicksburg, and its railroads, would fall into his possession. As we had no force in front sufficient to offer battle, our only alternative was to attack his communications. For this purpose General Van Dorn, on the night of December 15th, quietly withdrew our cavalry, amounting to less than twenty-five hundred men, from the enemy's front, and marched for Holly Springs. That place was occupied by a brigade of infantry and a portion of the Seventh Illinois Cavalry. The movement of Van Dorn was so rapid that early on the morning of the 19th he surprised and captured the garrison, and before eight o'clock was in quiet possession of the town. The captured property, amounting to millions of dollars, was burned before sunset, with the exception of the small quantity used in arming and equipping his command. General Grant was thus forced to abandon his campaign and to retreat hastily from the state.

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