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[451] had not turned up a single spadeful of earth to protect the valuables entrusted to his care, and not a solitary officer had been sent from headquarters to watch him. He received Grant's despatch on the evening of the 19th, but this failed to rouse him from his lethargy; he made no preparations for defence, no attempt to barricade the streets with the bales of cotton which filled the warehouses, and did not even put his soldiers under arms. Consequently, on the morning of the 20th, when Van Dorn's cavalry came up at a gallop into the streets of Holly Springs, they only found a few sentinels at the entrance of the village; all the passes were open and the village plunged in profound sleep; they were already masters of the place, and their long columns had penetrated in every direction before a single musket-shot had been fired. And yet there were one thousand eight hundred Federal troops in the place. A detachment of cavalry alone, encamped outside of the village, made any attempt at defence, and amid the confusion opened for itself a passage, sabre in hand, killing or wounding about thirty of the enemy. All the rest were taken prisoners without resistance. Detachments of Confederate soldiers proceeded to search all the houses, and captured most of the Federal officers in their beds. The speculators were imperatively summoned to appear and stripped of their money, after which they were allowed to witness the burning of their cotton without personal restraint. The work of devastation had indeed commenced. The depots of provisions were plundered and destroyed; the stores of the sutlers experienced the same fate. Whisky flowed in streams, causing much disorder. The arsenal was burnt in such haste that the violence of the powder explosions nearly overthrew the whole village and wounded twenty sick persons in the Federal hospital. The railway station was set on fire, together with several trains that were there. Finally, when Van Dorn thought the destruction complete, he called together the Federal officers and soldiers and offered to release them on parole. Murphy committed the error of accepting in their name, thus relieving the enemy from all the trouble which the custody of those prisoners would have entailed upon him. After delivering them up without defence, he had no idea that the enemy, anxious to get away, would he compelled to set most of them at liberty

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