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[318] Smith not retreated. It was a great disappointment to Generals Lee and Forrest. Their united forces numbered a little less than 7,000 effectives, while Smith had that number. With a soldier's pride the Confederate commanders looked forward to the greatest cavalry battle of the war, where 14,000 cavalry were to meet in deadly conflict on one field. It was arranged that as soon as General Lee arrived, Forrest was to take his entire force to the rear of Smith and cut off his retreat, while Lee was to battle in front, and in front and rear the battle was to be fought to a final issue. It was a great disappointment when it was found that the Federal general not only declined battle, but made one of the most headlong, hasty retreats during the war, before an inferior force in pursuit, not numbering over 2,500 men.

General Stephen D. Lee, as soon as he learned from dispatches from General Forrest of the rapid and headlong retreat of General W. S. Smith and his cavalry back towards Memphis, put his cavalry command again in motion to overtake General Sherman's command on its way to Vicksburg. General W. H. Jackson overtook the enemy in the vicinity of Sharon, Madison county. He found the enemy desolating and destroying the country in every direction. He soon drove in all foraging parties and confined their movements to one or two roads and a limited area. General Sherman's army recrossed Big Black river, March 6th, on its way to Vicksburg. The official reports show that in the three columns, Sherman's, Smith's and the Yazoo river expedition, the Federals lost in killed, wounded and missing, 912 men, and that General Forrest lost 144 men, and General Stephen D. Lee 279 men, or only 423 men in all. These reports also show that Gen. Lee's cavalry was in the saddle actively engaged from February 1st to March 4th, and that the command marched from 600 to 800 miles during that time.

It is difficult to understand the military object of Sherman's campaign. He says it was ‘to strike the roads inland, so as to paralyze the Rebel forces, that we could take from the defense of of the Mississippi river the equivalent of a corps of 20,000 men to be used in the next Georgia campaign, at the same time I wanted to destroy General Forrest, etc.’ He did destroy over fifty miles of railroads, but he did not destroy Forrest, although his column of 7,000 men was the best equipped veteran cavalry that ever went into the field, and outnumbered Forrest's freshly raised men two to one. The railroads in twenty-six working days were thoroughly repaired and in as good running order as they were before

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