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[190] resistance was made in the Houlka swamp, and Smith turned off and marched toward Okolona, whence he sent a brigade to Aberdeen to threaten Columbus, and two brigades down the railroad toward West Point.

Meanwhile Forrest, learning of Smith's movement at Oxford, February 14th, moved all his forces rapidly to Starkville, reaching there on the 18th, Lee being notified on the 17th to join him. On the 19th Forrest sent Bell's brigade to Columbus, Forrest's to Aberdeen and Chalmers, with McCulloch's and Richardson's brigades, to West Point to observe the enemy. At the same time Smith concentrated his command at Prairie Station, and advanced on West Point on the 20th. Colonel Forrest met his advance before West Point, and fell back skirmishing until he was joined by General Forrest, with McCulloch's and Richardson's brigades. But Forrest did not at this time desire an engagement until Lee came up, and he withdrew beyond Sakatonchee creek, three miles south of West Point, capturing a detachment that was burning Ellis' mill, and concentrating his force at the bridge at that point.

On Sunday morning, the 21st, Forrest was informed of the advance of the enemy against him, whereupon he ordered General Richardson to take position at the bridge across Line creek in the rear, Colonel Barteau to watch the enemy's flank, and Neely with Richardson's brigade to guard the Tibbe river, with Gholson at Palo Alto. This left him Chalmers' division, his escort and two batteries. Forrest's brigade was dismounted and thrown across in front of the bridge, and McCulloch's brigade took position on the south bank to support. Colonel Forrest threw up a breastwork of rails and logs, and when attacked at 8 o'clock held his position during a two hours attack, repulsing the enemy with considerable loss. Smith then, as he reported afterward, determined to withdraw from the woods and draw the enemy after him into the open country. Forrest, with his escort and a portion of Faulkner's

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J. E. Forrest (10)
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