strongly intrenched; that Vicksburg
was strongly fortified and held by about 6,000 men under General Smith
; while he had confronting Grant
, including cavalry and artillery, about 22,000 effectives.
On December 1st he felt compelled to abandon the Tallahatchie
and fall back on Grenada
, making the Yallabusha
his line of defense.
, following up, made his headquarters at Oxford
, and his cavalry advanced as far as Coffeeville
, where they were defeated on December 5th by troops under command of Gen. Lloyd Tilghman
; the Twenty-third Mississippi, Lieut.-Col. Moses McCarley
; the Twenty-sixth, Maj. T. F. Parker
; and the Fourteenth, Major Doss
, being the principal Confederate forces engaged.
In the meantime Hovey
was taken care of by Colonel Starke
's cavalry and the various outposts, and after skirmishes at the mouth of the Coldwater
on the Yockhapatalfa, at Mitchell's Cross-roads
, he retreated to the Mississippi river
, having done little damage except burning some bridges and sinking the steamer New Moon
on the Tallahatchie
waited at Oxford
to make his way down the river, but the latter did not reach Friar's Point
with his advance until December 21st, and meanwhile a great change in the situation had been wrought by the Confederate cavalry.
On the 19th Nathan B. Forrest
, then a brigadier-general, a brilliant soldier in whose exploits Mississippi
felt a motherly pride, as his youth had been spent in this State, drove the strong Federal garrison from Jackson, Tenn.
, and then made a clean sweep of the enemy and their stores and the railroads north of Jackson
, drawing 20,000 Federals from Corinth
, Grand Junction
and La Grange
On December 20th, General Van Dorn
, in command of the cavalry of Pemberton
's army, advanced by way of Pontotoc
, and struck an equally effective blow at Holly Springs
, surprising the garrison and burning up all the supplies and trains collected at that place, the value of