It was a great disappointment to Generals Lee
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
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.
's army recrossed Big Black river
, March 6th, on its way to Vicksburg
The official reports show that in the three columns, Sherman
'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
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
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