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[305] Donelson joined us, and many absentees and stragglers came in. The enemy remained supine, and for more than a month we were encamped about Holly Springs, and actively engaged in reorganizing, refitting and reinforcing our army. A vigorous pursuit immediately after our defeat at Corinth would have prevented all this and eventually destroyed our whole command.

It was late in October before Grant moved upon us at Holly Springs. We retired before him without offering battle, and occupied a strong line we had fortified behind the Tallehatchie, about twenty-five miles south of Holly Springs. Here again Grant delayed in an unaccountable manner his further advance upon us, and it was late in November before he moved from Holly Springs. His army had been largely reinforced, and was now estimated at sixty thousand men; ours numbered about sixteen thousand infantry and artillery, with less than three thousand cavalry.

Sending a strong column around our left flank, Grant came along the main direct road from Holly Springs, which crosses the Tallehatchie by a bridge half a mile below the railroad bridge. Maury's division held these crossings from November 29th to December 2d, and checked the advance of Grant's army until all our trains and troops were well on the march for Grenada, where we would make our next stand. December 2d we fell back to Oxford, where we halted for the night. Next day we marched eight miles beyond Oxford and bivouacked. Next day we crossed the Youghoney, or Yocone, bivouacking near Springdale. On the 4th and 5th December we halted near Coffeeville, where we rested one day. The enemy's cavalry pressed upon us here until it was handsomely repulsed by Tilghman's brigade, after which we marched unmolested to Grenada, and took position behind the Yallobusha to receive battle on December 6th.

But again Grant remained inactive in our front. Pemberton had now taken command of our department, and Van Dorn was in immediate command of our army. Chafing under this deposition from the chief command, which followed his defeat at Corinth, Van Dorn's ardent temper burned for some brilliant achievement which would vindicate his soldiership and restore the prestige of his former high reputation. He ascertained from his outlying pickets that Grant had accumulated vast depots of supplies at Holly Springs, which were guarded by no very large force, and resolved to destroy these depots and thereby compel the retreat of Grant's army, which depended on them. Just before Christmas, therefore, Van Dorn organized a

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