Doc. 56. expedition of General Grierson.
General Dana's report.
headquarters Department of Mississippi, Memphis, Tenn., January 8, 1865.I have the gratifying opportunity of reporting the result of another very successful expedition to the Major-General commanding. The cavalry expedition sent by me from this point against the Mobile and Ohio railroad has reached Vicksburg in safety and in good condition, with about five hundred and fifty prisoners, one thousand negroes, and eight hundred horses and mules. General Grierson has just arrived here, and his force will follow as fast as transportation can be procured. When his brigade commanders arrive and I receive his report, I will forward it to you. Meanwhile I give you the following outline of the work done: The expedition left here on the twenty-first of December, in wretched weather, and moved directly east, threatening Corinth. Detachments were sent out which cut the telegraph from Grand Junction to Corinth, and also cut it and destroyed four bridges between Booneville and Guntown, on the Mobile and Ohio road. The main column then moved rapidly on Tupelo, and on Christmas night surprised, captured, and dispersed Forrest's dismounted camp at Verona. Here they captured six officers and twenty men, destroyed two trains of sixteen cars each, loaded with new wagons, pontoons, supplies, &c., for good, burnt three hundred army wagons, most of which had been captured from Sturgis, destroyed four thousand, new Engliah carbines which were for Forrest's command, and large amounts of ordnance stores and ammunition, with quartermaster's stores and commissary stores for Hood's army. From Verona the command moved south along the line of the road, destroying it thoroughly to a point between Egypt and Prairie stations. At Okolono telegrams were taken from the wires from Lieutenant-General Taylor and Major-General Gardner, ordering Egypt to be held at all hazards, and promising reinforcements from Mobile and other points. On the morning of the twenty-eighth the enemy was attacked at Egypt. General Grierson reports them about twelve hundred strong, with infantry, cavalry, and four guns on platform cars. Two trains loaded with infantry, under Gardner, were in sight when the attack was made. A force was thrown between them and the garrison, and Gardner had the mortification to see his friends dispersed after a fight of two hours, and the stockade carried by assault, and its defenders, to the amount of about five hundred, captured. The rebel Brigadier Gholson was among the killed. Another train of fourteen cars was destroyed here. The command was now incumbered with so many prisoners and animals that, with the hostile force in front, it was useless to think longer of going to Cahaba. Accordingly the column turned west and south-west, through Houston and Bellefontaine, to the Mississippi Central railroad, striking it at Winona. A detachment was sent to Bankston, which destroyed the large and valuable factories which worked five hundred hands to supply the rebel army with cloth, clothing, and shoes. Large quantities of wool, cloth and leather were destroyed. A detachment was sent to Grenada, which destroyed the new machine-shops and all public property in the place. A brigade was sent south from Grenada, under Colonel Osband, which destroyed the road and telegraph for thirty-five miles, and then met a brigade of the enemy under Wirt Adams at Franklin; charged and drove them from the field, leaving twenty-five of their dead on the ground. The troops arrived at Vicksburg on the fifth of January. About forty miles on each road is destroyed, including a large number of bridges, telegraph, depots, switches, turn-tables, and water-tanks, four serviceable locomotives, and ten which were undergoing repairs, about one hundred cars, a pile-driver and engine, seven hundred fat hogs, very large amounts of corn and wheat, and a thousand stand of new arms at Egypt, in addition to the four thousand destroyed at Verona. I believe this expedition, in its damaging results to the enemy, is second, in importance, to none during the war. I have the honor to remain, very respectfully,
Lieutenant-Colonel C. T. Christensen, Assistant-Adjutant-General Military Division, West Mississippi:
Lieutenant-Colonel C. T. Christensen, Assistant-Adjutant-General Military Division, West Mississippi:
N. J. T. Dana, Major-General.
headquarters military division West Mississippi, New Orleans, La., January 18, 1865.sir: Your communication of the eighth instant, giving a detailed account of the highly successful expedition led by Brigadier-General Grierson, and which resulted in the complete interruption of the enemy's communications by the Mobile and Ohio and the Mississippi Central railroads, has been received. The Major-General commanding desires to express to you his gratification at this glorious, and, I might say, almost unexpected success. The expedition was planned and started under very great disadvantages, and with anything but promising prospects; and but for the high degree of skill, bravery and good conduct, which was evinced throughout, such magnificent results could never have been accomplished. He desires me to convey to you, and through you to the officers and men composing this expedition, his warmest congratulations and thanks. We all feel that such blows are indeed deathblows to the rebellion. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
General Grierson's report.
headquarters cavalry division, Department of Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, January 14, 1865.Colonel: In obedience to instructions from the Major-General commanding, I ordered Colonel James Karge, commanding First brigade cavalry division, to proceed, on the nineteenth of December, north-east from this point; cross Wolf river at Raleigh, demonstrate strongly toward the crossing of the Hatchie at Bolivar and Estenola; thence swinging south, destroy the telegraph between Grand Junction and Corinth, and join the main column, which was to move the following day at or near Ripley. Owing to heavy rains for several days, the roads were almost impassable, and, as a crossing of Wolf river could not be effected, Colonel Karge returned to Memphis. On the morning of December twenty-one I moved with the effective force of my command, consisting of detachments of the Second New Jersey, Seventh Indiana, First Mississippi rifles, Fourth and Tenth Wisconsin, Third and Fourth Iowa, Second Wisconsin, Fourth and Eleventh Illinois, and Third United States colored cavalry, in all about three thousand five hundred men, organized into three brigades, and commanded respectively by Colonels Karge, Winslow, and Osband; also, company E, Second Iowa cavalry, numbering forty men, Lieutenant A. Sherer, commanding, as provost-guard and escort, and a pioneer corps of fifty negroes, commanded by Lieutenant Luvis, of the Seventh Indiana cavalry, without artillery or wagons, and with twenty days light rations carried on pack-mules. The whole command moved east, along the Memphis and Charleston railroad, threatening Corinth, to a point three miles west of Moscow, from thence south-east through Early Grove, Lamar, and Salem, to Ripley. From Early Grove the Tenth Missouri cavalry, under Captain F. K. Neet, was sent to La Grange and Grand Junction, and destroyed the telegraph and stations at those points, rejoining the column near Salem. From Ripley a detachment of one hundred and fifty men of the Second New Jersey, under Major Van Rensselaer, was sent to destroy the Mobile and Ohio railroad and the telegraph at or near Boonville. At the same time the Fourth Illinois, under Captain A. F. Search, was sent to destroy the same road near Guntown. These detachments rejoined the main column, one at Ellistown, the other at Shannon's station, having destroyed four bridges, eight or ten culverts, several miles of the track and telegraph, and a large quantity of army supplies. With the main column I moved on Tupelo. Upon arriving at Old Town creek, five miles north of Tupelo, hearing of the existence of a rebel camp and large quantity of army stores at Verona, I ordered Colonel Karge to leave his pack train and proceed rapidly toward that point, and if his information would justify it, to make a night attack upon the place. Our movements thus far had been rapid, and the indications were that the enemy had no knowledge of our presence, as our appearance was a complete surprise to citizens on the line of march. When within two miles of Verona Colonel Karge struck the enemy's pickets. Notwithstanding the darkness of the night, his advance regiment, the Seventh Indiana, charged into the camp, dispersing the garrison, and destroying two trains, thirty-two cars, and eight warehouses filled with ordnance, commissary and quartermasters' stores; also two hundred army wagons, most of which were marked U. S., having been captured from General Sturgis in June last, and which were about being sent, loaded with supplies, to the army of General Hood. The bursting of shells which were contained in this immense depot continued until afternoon of the next day. Colonel Karge fell back five miles to Harrisburg, and encamped with the balance of my command on the same night. I encamped be tween Old Town creek and Tupelo. From this point I sent the Eleventh Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Otto Funk, commanding, with the pioneer corps, to destroy the extensive railroad bridge over Old Town creek, and the track between that point and Tupelo. The night was very dark and rainy, notwithstanding which Lieutenant-Colonel Funk and his command responded to my orders with alacrity, and before morning had rendered the railroad from Old Town creek to Tupelo a complete wreck. From this point I moved my entire command south along the railroad, destroying thoroughly to a point between Egypt and Prairie station,  fifty-six miles from Boonville, where it was first struck. The enemy had concentrated a considerable force at Okolono, which, upon our approach, fell back to Egypt. Having tapped the wire at Okolono and intercepted despatches from Lieutenant-General Taylor and others, indicating that reinforcements would be sent from Mobile and other points, and learning from deserters who came in on the night of the twenty seventh, that the reinforcements would not be likely to arrive before eleven o'clock A. M. the next day, I accordingly, on the morning of the twenty-eighth, attacked the enemy, variously estimated at from twelve hundred to two thousand strong, consisting of cavalry, infantry, and one battery of four guns on platform cars, at Egypt. While the fight was in progress two trains with reinforcements, said to be under command of General Gardner, came in sight, but I threw a force between them and Egypt, which succeeded in capturing a train of cars, tearing up the track two and a half miles south of that point, and engaged the trains with reinforcements, preventing them from joining the garrison at Egypt. After an engagement of two hours, we killed, captured, and dispersed the enemy. Among the rebel killed were Brigadier-General Gholson and several other officers. Having secured about five hundred prisoners, cared for the dead and wounded, and destroyed all government property, I moved due west to Houston, crossing the Sookatanuchie and Houlka rivers, to both of which streams I sent detachments in advance to secure the bridges. Here the Second Wisconsin, Major Woods commanding, was detailed to take charge of the prisoners; and the officers and men of this regiment deserve much praise for the cheerfulness with which they performed this arduous duty during the balance of the march. From Houston demonstrations were made to the north toward Pontotoc, and south-east toward West Point, while the column moved south-west via Bellefontaine to the Mississippi Central road, striking it at Winona. From Bellefontaine a demonstration was made southeast toward Starksville, threatening again the Mobile and Ohio railroad. At the same time a detachment of one hundred and twenty men of the Fourth Iowa, under Captain Beckwith, was sent south via Greenboro to Bankston, to destroy large cloth and shoe factories at that point, which employed five hundred hands for the manufacture of those articles of prime necessity to the army. From Winona Colonel Noble, with detachment of three hundred men of Colonel Winslow's brigade, was sent north to destroy the railroad and all government property between that point and Grenada. Colonel Osband's brigade was sent south on the line of the railroad to destroy it as far as practicable. With the main column I moved south-west, via Lexington and Benton, to Vicksburg. At Benton Colonels Osband and Noble rejoined us, having been highly successful; Colonel Osband met and engaged a detachment of Wirt Adams' command, about five hundred strong, under Colonel Woods, in which the enemy were defeated, with a reported loss of fifty killed and wounded. I reached Vicksburg with my entire command in good condition, with about six hundred prisoners, eight hundred head of captured stock, and one thousand negroes, who joined the column during the march. For particulars I refer you to the report of the brigade commanders herewith enclosed. The average distance marched was four hundred and fifty miles. The entire loss in the command during the expedition was four officers and twenty-three enlisted men killed, four officers and eighty-nine enlisted men wounded, and seven enlisted men missing. The destruction of property may be summed up as follows: Twenty-thousand feet of bridges and trestle-work cut down and burned. Ten miles of track, (rails bent and ties burned.) Twenty miles of telegraph, (poles cut down and wires destroyed.) Four serviceable locomotives and tenders, and ten in process of repair. Ninety-five railroad cars. Over three hundred army wagons and two caissons. Thirty warehouses filled with commissary, quartermasters' and ordnance stores. Large cloth and shoe factory, employing five hundred hands. Several tanneries and machine shops. A steam pile-driver. Twelve new forges. Seven depot buildings. Five thousand stand of new arms. Seven hundred head of fat hogs. Five hundred bales of cotton, marked C. S. A. Immense amount of grain, leather, wool, and other government property, the value and quantity of which cannot be estimated. Over one hundred of the prisoners captured at Egypt formerly belonged to our army, and were recruited from Southern prisons into the rebel service, and most of whom, I believe, were induced to join their ranks from a desire to escape a loathsome confinement. I commend them to the leniency of the government. I take pleasure in bearing testimony to the uniform good conduct of the officers and men of my command, and desire to express my thanks to Colonels Karge, Winslow and Osband, for their cheerful support. I also take occasion to make honorable mention of Major M. H. Williams and Captain S. L. Woodward of my staff, for their untiring energy and gallantry in the discharge of their duties. This, one of the most successful expeditions of the war, undertaken as it was, at a period when roads and streams were considered almost impassable, could not have met with such extraordinary success without the patient  endurance and hearty cooperation which were evinced by my entire command; and all those who participated richly deserve the lasting gratitude of the Government and remembrance of their countrymen. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,