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[171] imminent should we encounter an enemy in force beyond Ripley.

As to the slanderous charges with which the country is being flooded concerning you personally, they are simply false, and beneath your notice or mine.

W. L. Mcmillen, Colonel Ninety-fifth Ohio Infantry, commanding. To Brigadier-General S. D. Sturgis, U. S. V. William C. Ravalle, Captain, Aide-de-Camp, and A. A. A. G., U. S. A.

Colonel Waring's letter.

headquarters First brigade, cavalry division, Sixteenth Army corps, White Station, Tennessee, June 23, 1864.
Brigadier-General S. D. Sturgis:
General: I have received your letter of this date, asking me to state my opinion of the manner in which you conducted yourself in the recent expedition into Mississippi, and of the extent to which the failure of that expedition is to be attributed to your fault.

In reply, I beg to state, that while I was not informed of the precise orders under which you proceeded, and had no means of knowing the full import of the information which you received of the position, strength, and intentions of the enemy, so far as I was able to judge of the objects of the expedition, and of the forces opposed to us, I at no time doubted that it was your duty to go on and to engage the enemy wherever he might be found.

On the day of the battle of Brice's cross-roads, I commanded the head of the column, and found it impossible to get any but the most vague information concerning the rebel force in our front, until we actually reached the field where the battle was fought. Even here it seemed doubtful that we would meet with serious opposition.

It became necessary to send out patrols to procure fuller information. The patrol toward Baldwin almost immediately struck a strong picket of the enemy, and was reinforced before the numbers opposed to us could be known. We were engaged by a force which I thought, as did General Grierson, must be met by my whole brigade, and I at once took up the only good position for more than a mile to our rear.

I think that you were right in desiring to hold this position, and nothing for the first two hours of the battle indicated that it could not be held until the whole infantry force came up. Indeed, it was held until my brigade was relieved by the head of the column. Even when I fell back to a new position, I saw no reason why the battle should not be decided in our favor.

From this time until the retreat I was with you, and I had occasion to observe your management of the battle. Here, certainly, was no cause for the unjust criticisms which have been passed upon you. You were cool and energetic, and certainly did all that lay in your power to make the engagement successful; and, when defeat was evident, you did all that could be done to prevent the disaster which followed. I am confident that, owing to the force and vigor of the enemy's pursuit, it was impossible to save the train, or the artillery which was behind it, on the retreat, and that any decided stand made with the intention of rescuing the infantry, which was last engaged, would have resulted in the capture of the entire force. The only plan by which any of the infantry could be saved, was the one which they instinctively adopted — that of taking to the woods and finding their own way to our lines.

Had you taken the grave responsibility of turning back the expedition at Ripley, you would have avoided the disaster of the battle. Whether or not you ought to have done so, I cannot decide, not knowing what your information was; but I am sure, that if you had, the unfavorable comments of the discontented would have been tenfold more loud and annoying than they now are.

The rude character of the country through which we moved rendered all tactical precautions, except a simple advance guard, impossible, while it was so utterly barren that an immediate advance or retreat was necessary to procure forage for teams and cavalry horses.

Not turning back, you had but one course to pursue; to find the enemy where you could, and to fight him on his own ground and on his own terms.

This you did as well as you could, and I am ready to testify, with a full knowledge of the circumstances of the battle and the defeat, that you acquitted yourself nobly and well, and that you merit the commendation of all who have a right to express an opinion in the matter, as you have already received that of your comrades, who saw you under the trying circumstances of action and defeat.

I wish that any word of mine could arrest the slander that you were under the influence of liquor during the fight, but such calumnies travel too fast for honest refutation to overtake them; and on this score I can only offer you the modified consolation of saying, that I and my staff, who saw much of you before, during and after the battle, are ready to brand that falsehood as it deserves whenever it may appear before us.

Be good enough, General, to accept the assurance of my personal regard, and command my assistance whenever it may be of you.

Very respectfully and truly yours,

Geo. E. Waring, Colonel Fourth Missouri Cavalry, commanding. W. C. Ravalle, A. D. C.

A National account.

Memphis, Tenn., June 15, 1864.
In justice to the brave troops engaged by Brigadier-General Sturgis in the late disastrous battle with the rebel Forrest, at Brice's crossroads,

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