life and liberty, and if any were saved we should be of the number. I had very little doubt myself but I should “live to fight another day,” if not “to run away.” About the middle of the afternoon we came in sight of our picket lines, and truly glad were we. It had, however, all along been a troublesome question to me as to the reason I should assign for having left the wounded behind, and, in fact, everybody else. The truth is, my friend, I couldn't repress the feeling that I had acted very cowardly, and I almost wished myself back again, even at the price of my liberty. But on arriving at the station at Collierville, what was my astonishment and relief to see hundreds of infantry and thousands of cavalry, who had arrived before us; and to settle all questions of cowardice, here were two Brigadiers, a score of Colonels and Lieutenant-Colonels, including my own, and other commissioned officers without number, all of whom had eclipsed us in this extraordinary race. You know, Chaplain, I keep a fast horse, and am a pretty fast man, but I am compelled to admit that both horse and rider were distanced this time. I am, dear sir, Very truly yours,
L. Dyer, Surgeon Eighty-first Illinois.
Colonel McMillen's letter.
headquarters, First brigade, First division, Sixteenth Army corps, Moscow, Tenn., June 24, 1864.General: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the twenty-second instant, requesting me to give you a statement in writing, setting forth my views of the causes of our defeat at Brice's cross-roads, my knowledge of your general management of the campaign, and whether or not, in my opinion, you were to blame for the failure of the expedition, and if so, to what extent. I respectfully submit the following statement: First--As to the causes of the defeat. In my opinion, they are to be sought in the nature of the campaign you were charged with conducting. The expedition consisted of five thousand infantry and three thousand cavalry, with a train of more than two hundred wagons, making some four thousand six hundred animals to be subsisted. Rations for the same were transported in the wagons; but, after leaving Lafayette, you were entirely dependent on the country for forage. The line of march was through a country devastated by the war, and containing little or no forage, rendering it extremely difficult, and for the greater portion of the time impossible, to maintain the animals in a serviceable condition. The roads were narrow, leading through dense forests, and over streams rendered almost impassable by the heavy rains which fell daily, from the time we left Memphis until our return. The country was new to you, and I know the difficulty you constantly encountered in obtaining information concerning roads and the crossing of streams. Almost every man and woman along the line of march is an enemy, eager to communicate information of our force and movements, but professing entire ignorance as to the position or number of the enemy. Laboring under all these disadvantages, you moved against an enemy who possessed long lines of railroad with which to concentrate troops and supplies at any point you might threaten. It only had to await your arrival near the railroad, and, with a superior force, overpower your army, and drive it back with a heavy loss in men and material. Either you were obliged to abandon the object of the expedition before reaching the immediate presence of the enemy, or overpower him with that portion of your army which could be spared from guarding the long line of wagons. The latter you attempted, but failed in, from the simple fact that the enemy developed a heavier force than you could bring into action. The engagement itself was, as far as I know, managed as well as circumstances would permit; was fought with spirit, even desperation, and and with no loss of consequence in material or men (except the killed and wounded). You were, however, defeated and obliged to retreat over an impassable road, during a dark night and with exhausted animals and men. Under these circumstances, trains and artillery were abandoned in order to save a heavier loss in men. Second--As to your management of the campaign. I have never known greater efforts to be made by any commanding officer to conduct a column of troops in an orderly and compact manner, than were made by you. I know that you were extremely anxious that the troops should be kept well in hand, ready for any emergency, and that every precaution was taken to prevent surprise. I also know that every means was taken by you to obtain information as to the movements of the enemy and its strength, and that your efforts in this line were extremely unsatisfactory. On the day of the battle, the column was as well closed up as the nature of the road over which we were moving would permit, and the troops were put into position as fast as they could come up. Before closing, General, I desire to bear testimony to the important fact, that, when we reached Ripley, your judgment and the judgment of officers high in command, would have turned you back, had it not been that your orders to proceed were positive, and for the reason that only a short time before you had conducted another expedition to near the same point, and had returned because you considered further progress extremely hazardous, if not impracticable. In the face of this decision, you were sent through the same country, encumbered with a heavy train, without, so far as I know, discretionary powers, and you went on to meet the disaster your better judgment told you was