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[172] near Guntown, Mississippi, I, an eyewitness and participator in the engagement, with present facilities for full data and information in regard to the object, force, conduct, and management of the expedition, the valor with which our troops fought, and the manner in which the retreat was conducted, cannot refrain from submitting the following truthful narrative of events, just as they occurred, for publication:

General Sturgis was ordered to strike the line of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad at a point south of Corinth, destroy the same, and engage any forces of the enemy in that vicinity. The forces composing his expedition were four thousand seven hundred infantry, with sixteen pieces of artillery, in three brigades, under Colonel McMillen--three thousand three hundred and fifty white troops, and one thousand three hundred and fifty colored; General Grierson's division of cavalry: First brigade, under Colonel Waring, probably one thousand two hundred strong, with two rifled guns and two sections of mountain howitzers (attached to Fourth Missouri cavalry); Second brigade, under Colonel Winslow, numbering one thousand five hundred men, with two rifled guns; Tenth Missouri cavalry and two rifled guns; Seventh Wisconsin light artillery. About two hundred wagons, loaded with supplies and ammunition, composed the train.

The morning of the tenth of June found this little army, complete in organization, in good spirits and undoubted efficiency, encamped together at Stubbs' plantation, on the Ripley road. At 5:30 o'clock A. M., Colonel Waring's brigade took the advance on the Fulton road, Winslow's brigade following, the infantry and trains marching behind. Two miles beyond Stubbs' the army crossed a swamp, known as the Hatchie River, covered with water, and abounding in small creeks meandering the road in great diversity The artillery and train was moved into the swamp without any attempt being made by pioneers to render the crossing better, and before all of the train had made the passage the clearing through which the road ran was so badly cut up as to render a recross-age impossible. Two hours work would have sufficed to construct a road upon which the artillery and train could have been recrossed with ease.

At ten o'clock, A. M., twenty-three miles from Ripley, about eighteen miles from Tupelo, and six miles from Saltillo, at the cross-roads at Brice's plantation, half a mile east of a deep creek, passable only by a bridge, and while the train was but in part across the Hatchie swamp, the advance encountered the enemy, which it immediately engaged.

At twelve o'clock the Second brigade of cavalry moved into position, half a mile in advance of the point of intersection of the Fulton and Pontotoc road, defending this position. The engagement had now assumed a general character, the enemy apparently in great force, pressing with vigor upon the whole line, while the artillery was hotly engaged. At two o'clock P. M. the enemy had succeeded in forcing our cavalry back a quarter of a mile from its first position, but the retirement was made in good order, and the new line was steadily held. At this period the infantry, exhausted by a march of five miles during the heat of the day, at as fast a gait as it was possible to move them, arrived and relieved the cavalry, which was ordered by General Sturgis to fall back across the creek.

The infantry went into the fight with bravery and determination, but exhausted by their forced march, and outnumbered and outflanked by their fresher foe. Fresh batteries were placed in position, and added their thunders to the horrid tumult. The dead and wounded had been carried to the rear for several hours. Now the ghastly throng grew more numerous as the tide of battle surged with greater fierceness along the line. Stragglers, many of them wounded, came in numbers from our right, and from the approaching sounds and rebel cheers, it seemed certain that the rebels had turned that flank. General Sturgis had arrived upon the field at 1:30 o'clock P. M., yet, at the moment of which I write, numbers of our teams were occupying the bridge of the deep creek toward the enemy, and being parked in the field upon its eastern bank. At three o'clock P. M., the rebels made a fierce attack along the whole line, outflanking our troops to the right and left, and driving them back in disorder.

The Fourth cavalry, in the rear of the Second cavalry brigade, had not yet succeeded in crossing their horses over the crowded bridge, and perceiving the retreat of the infantry, they were dismounted and formed upon the crest of the hill upon the eastern bank of the creek. Here, with their carbines, under a deadly fire of musketry and artillery, they fought for thirty minutes, covering the retirement of their horses, and saving the fragments of two infantry regiments threatened with complete annihilation or capture by the victorious rebels, I wish to remark in this place that I was informed by an officer of prominence, that while our entire army was in full retreat, and a great portion had already crossed the creek, General Sturgis told him that Colonel McMillen was driving the enemy.

At four o'clock P. M., that portion of the army not killed, wounded, or captured, was west of the bridge retreating in disorder, the First brigade of cavalry taking the advance of the retreating column. The negro brigade formed first west of the creek, and gave the rebels a check, after which it fell back with the receding masses. General Sturgis now ordered the Second cavalry brigade to endeavor to get ahead of the column and stop the retreat, and it accordingly proceeded to Stubbs', two miles west of the Hatchie, and ten miles from the crossroads, formed line in front and to both flanks, effectually stopping all except the First brigade, which had gone on. In the meantime a remnant of an infantry brigade had made a stand four or


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S. D. Sturgis (5)
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George E. Waring (2)
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