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[665] left six miles, to destroy Sanders' Iron Works, which they accomplished, rejoining the column five miles south of Bucksville, and ten from Trion. It was now four o'clock P. M., when I learned from this detachment and from a prisoner, that Forrest's whole command were passing Trion, marching from Tuscaloosa to Montevallo via Centreville.

I moved rapidly on, and at sundown reached Trion, striking the rear of Forrest's column. Here I learned that Lyon's brigade, under Crossland, had passed the evening previous; that Forrest's had passed at daybreak that morning, and Jackson's division, with part of Chalmers', numbering in the aggregate five thousand men, had passed during the day, moving rapidly and expecting to march during the night.

Here a state of case arose not contemplated by my orders, and in view of the great importance of disposing of Forrest's command, which would leave not only Tuscaloosa, but every vital point open to us, I determined to follow him during the night, hoping to be near enough to co-operate with the corps in an attack on the following day.

My advance guard was ordered in pursuit, while the horses were fed, intending, as I did, to follow forthwith.

The information obtained was despatched by three trusty scouts to the Brevet-Major-General commanding the corps, and also a verbal message of my intention to follow Forrest, which I did not deem prudent to incorporate in my written despatch.

While feeding, the officer in command of my advance reported the enemy holding against him the Centreville road, two miles from my camp. Repeated attempts to circumvent them proved failures, until after midnight, when it became very evident that the enemy were in strong force, reconnoitering and moving to envelop my position, preparatory to an attack at daylight. I had but eleven hundred men. The Fourth Kentucky mounted infantry had not been heard from. The enemy held the road already in my rear and front. I determined, therefore, to avoid an engagement with a force of unknown strength, by moving directly west by a road leading from my camp to the “Mud Creek road,” which runs from Jonesboro to Tuscaloosa, parallel to and ten miles west of the road I had travelled.

Two companies of the Sixth Kentucky cavalry were left behind under Captain Penn, to determine and report the strength and movements of the enemy, all of which I relied upon, knowing by the time I struck the “Mud Creek road” I could then determine upon the course to be pursued. Scouts were sent to meet the Fourth Kentucky and bring it to that road. The rear of my column had just left camp at dawn, when the enemy in force attacked, driving in the pickets which had not been relieved. Captain Parrish, with one of the companies left with Captain Penn, charged the enemy's column in a lane, and being deceived by a party of rebels, whom in the early dawn he mistook for our troops, he went too far, was surrounded, and after a gallant attempt to extricate his command, was wounded, and captured with the most of his men, a number of whom were killed and wounded.

The enemy pressed vigorously on, driving the pickets with Captain Penn's detachment through our camp and after the column.

Major Fidler, commanding Sixth Kentucky cavalry, was in the rear, and promptly threw a battalion into line to re-enforce the detachments, and when they came up, relieved them; the enemy following several miles, making several ineffectual attempts to break up this battalion; the whole command losing in this affair two (2) officers and thirty (30) men.

At this time, as I afterward learned, Forrest's entire train, with his field artillery, was at Tuscaloosa, and in apprehension of my approach was ordered to Northport. In view of this Jackson, instead of following directly, took a road striking the Mud creek road four miles nearer Tuscaloosa, and moving rapidly, succeeded in throwing his force there between me and that place upon the only road east of the Black Warrior; he had two brigades, numbering, as I then supposed and have since learned, twenty-six hundred men. I could hardly hope to run over this force and take Tuscaloosa with fifteen hundred men (four hundred of them, the Fourth Kentucky, I had not yet heard from), supported as he was by four hundred militia, and three hundred and fifty cadets, who filled the trenches around the city.

I determined, therefore, to effect by stratagem what I could not hope to accomplish directly.

I therefore turned north, marching ten miles on the Elyton road, halted and fed while the Fourth Kentucky, from which I heard at this point, joined me.

From this point we moved directly west to Johnson's ferry, forty miles above Tuscaloosa, which point we reached at sundown, having travelled during the day over forty miles.

I ordered the Eighth Iowa to begin crossing at once, and at sundown on the next day (April second), the whole command was west of the Black Warrior, the men with their equipments crossing in a single flat boat, and the horses swimming, losing only two or three.

April third. Moved at daylight toward Tuscaloosa, the advance guard capturing all the scouts, and the citizens, thus preventing any knowledge of our approach.

At nine o'clock at night reached the suburbs at Northport, massed the brigade in Cedar grove, and with one hundred and fifty picked men of the Second Michigan moved up near the bridge.

I intended to put this picked force in ambush as near the bridge as I could get it, quietly await daybreak, then seize the bridge by a dash, and throw the whole brigade over mounted, and envelop the city before the cadets and militia could be assembled.

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