Forrest's Victory in Mississippi--history of the affair.
The recent victory of Gen. Forrest
in Northern Mississippi
, by which the grand plan of the Yankees
in the West
was so effectually defeated, was one of the most remarkable achievements of this war. We have conversed with gentlemen recently from that section, whose accounts all concur in the main facts of that almost marvellous exploit.
The enemy's reports fully confirm these accounts, but they do not state the exact force by which these results were accomplished.
Owing to the exhaustion of his horses, the want of arms and munitions, and other causes, Forrest
could array a force of only 2,400 men to confront Smith
's column of 7,000 of the best equipped cavalry the Yankees
have ever put in the field.
's men, too, were mostly new and untried, especially in the cavalry service.
He had recently recruited them in West Tennessee
It seemed the extreme of rashness and recklessness, to attempt with such a force to arrest the march of a column of seven thousand splendidly mounted and equipped men, led by experienced officers, whose march thus far had been uninterrupted, who were buoyant and confident, and were charged with such an important mission.
The junction of this cavalry force with Sherman
, was the key of the whole scheme of the Yankee
plan for the occupation and subjugation of the Southwest
If successful, Sherman
would have been in a condition to advance upon Demopolis
, or Mobile
; and these important points, as well as the rich countries adjacent, would have been at the mercy of the enemy.
They could only have been driven back at the enormous risk of weakening Johnston
's army, so as to open Northern Georgia
, to Grant
, with his scant infantry force, quickly perceived the momentous issue, which depended upon the result of the cavalry movement from Memphis
, and after securing his small army on the east side of the Tombigbee
, and removing all his supplies and munitions and returning to Mobile
the troops he had borrowed from General Maury
, sent imperative orders to Lee
to unite their forces, and at every cost to crush and drive back Smith
did not receive these orders in time to reach Forrest
with his force, which was already greatly exhausted by the continual skirmishing with Sherman
was, therefore, left alone with his 2,400 men
to perform this immense undertaking.
Confronting the enemy on the broad prairies near West Point
, on the Tibbie river, he prepared for action.
The enemy formed in a long and most imposing line, outflanking Forrest
, and threatening the instant demolition of his small and imperfectly organized force.
The charge was given, and the Yankees
advanced with great boldness and an air of certain victory.
Great was their surprise when, as they approached Forrest
's line, they observed his men slip from their horses, and converting themselves into infantry, each man taking the most favorable position, availing themselves of every advantage the ground afforded, and awaiting with the utmost coolness the impetuous charge of the Yankee
On came the splendidly mounted dragoons, under those far-famed Yankee chiefs, Smith
, with such fierce displays of valor and determination as augured badly for Forrest
's infantry scouts, scattered through the bushes and over the prairie in rather an irregular and unmilitary style.
But these valorous horsemen did not advance far before the balls of two thousand riflemen began to rattle through their ranks with fearful effect.
Scores of men and horses fell at the first fire, and their onward movement was checked, and before they could recover and reform the volley was repeated — again and again — until dismay and terror began to prevail in their ranks, and they soon broke into confusion and fled.
then mounted his men and began his pursuit, which he kept up with great vigor for nearly twenty miles, the enemy leaving behind many of his wounded and exhausted men, all his dead, his horses, prisoners, five pieces of artillery, burning his to rally their men and resume the offensive.
Their efforts were successful on the hills just beyond Okolona
, when the last grand charge was made by them.
It was met in the same way as their previous attempts, but even with more vigor and determination by Forrest
's men, who had in a few hours become veterans.
Several crushing volleys from their rifles quickly arrested the impetuous valor of the Yankees
, and sent them to the rear in the wildest confusion and dismay.
By this time Forrest
had exhausted his ammunition and the strength of his horses.--He could not follow up the enemy.
Fortunately, however, Gen. Gholson
arrived with some fresh State troops, new levies hastily gathered, and took the place of Forrest
's men — following up the Yankees
for a great distance, harassing them, capturing and killing and wounding many, and picking up arms, wagons, horses, and a great variety of other valuable property thrown away by the enemy in his wild flight.
The enemy never halted for a moment in his retreat, and when last heard from the remnant of this splendid force was hastening fast to Memphis
in far different plight from that in which they had so recently emerged from their fortifications.
As soon as the news of this disaster reached Sherman
he began his retrograde movement towards the Mississippi
following him up and hanging on his flanks and harassing him continually.--When last heard from he was dragging his wearied broken-down column back to Vicksburg
, in a demoralized state, the most mortified, disappointed and disgusted chief who ever led ten thousand men up the hill and then marched them down again.
To increase this feeling of mortification and disgust, Sherman
's conscience was burdened with a load of infamy which, even upon a Yankee General, could not have pressed lightly, in the recollection of the dastardly outrages upon private property, in the destruction of mills, of the houses of poor, inoffensive people living near his line of march, and in the shameful excesses of his wretched mercenaries.
We could hardly wish our bitterest enemy a larger portion of misery than must have fallen upon this ambitions aspirant on his return to the fortifications of Vicksburg
An educated soldier, who had long associated with gentlemen, who had received the highest favors and unbounded kindness and hospitality from the Southern
people, during his residence in Louisiana
has, by the license extended to his brutal hirelings, in their march through Mississippi
, and by his own acts of outrage and cruelty, shown a degree of infamy that entitles him to take rank with Butler
, and the other Federal chiefs whose only achievements in this war have been those of the ruffian, the pirate, the plunderer, and highway man.