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Rebel accounts.


General Polk's address.

General orders, no. 22.

headquarters, Demopolis, Ala., Feb. 26, 1861.
The Lieutenant-General Commanding offers his congratulations to the army on the successful termination of the campaign just closed.

The cheerfulness with which the troops have borne the fatigues and inconveniences of the march, and their ready acquiescence in the orders directing their movements, have entitled them to the highest commendation.

To the firmness and good conduct of the men, and the skill and judgment of their officers in checking the enemy's march, the Commanding General is indebted for securing the public stores and depriving the enemy of the use of the railroads and other facilities for foraging and subsistence.

The concentration of our cavalry on his column of cavalry from West-Tennessee formed the turning-point of the campaign.

That concentration broke down the only means of subsisting his infantry. His column was defeated and routed, and his whole force compelled to make a hasty retreat. Never did a grand campaign, inaugurated with such pretensions, terminate more ingloriously. With a force three times that which was opposed to its advance, they have been defeated and forced to leave the field with a loss of men, small arms, and artillery.

Both their columns are retreating before, the squadrons of our pursuing cavalry.

The Lieutenant-General commanding offers his grateful thanks to the whole army, and trusts that this opening campaign of the new year may be an earnest of the successes which await us in the future.

By command of



Mobile register account.

Demopolis, March 1, 1864.
The great campaign under General Sherman, announced in the Yankee papers of several weeks past, to consist of seventy thousand men, to move in three columns, successively, from Vicksburgh, West-Tennessee, and Huntsville, Alabama, to sweep through the States of Mississippi and Alabama, break up their railroads, destroy their grain and manufactures, and capture and reduce their capitals, has been brought to grief.

The Commanding General of this department, while deficient in troops, seems not to have been wanting in tact, energy, skill, or judgment. The plans of the astute Sherman seem to have been comprehended and baffled, his movements broken down, and his army forced to retreat. General Sherman left Vicksburgh with forty-five thousand men, ten thousand of whom were sent up the Yazoo. The rest marched in one column through Jackson, into the heart of Mississippi. This was composed of infantry and artillery. This column was first confronted by the cavalry [486] commanded by General S. D. Lee; then by the small infantry force at the disposal of the Commanding General. After crossing Pearl River, Lee's cavalry was thrown upon its flanks and rear, and with such success as to prevent all foraging.

The stores in depots of all the railroads between Pearl River and the Tombigbee were sent east, and the whole of the rolling stock of those roads was placed beyond the enemy's reach. This being accomplished, the Commanding General placed the infantry on the east side of the Tombigbee, to defend the crossings, and concentrate the whole of his cavalry on the enemy's second column, from West-Tennessee, which he now moved.



Description by a Southern woman.

Meridian, February 22, 1864.
my dear mother: As one of our neighbors go down to Mobile to-morrow, I will send you a few lines to let you know how we came out in this “terrible raid.” My husband left here at ten o'clock A. M., as guide to General Polk. The Yankees came in at four P. M., in full force. They skirmished a little in our yard, which frightened us very much. The small portion of our servants went away with my husband, so no one remained with me but Violetta, Louisa, Lucinda, my mother-in-law, and three children.

After the skirmishing stopped, the mob ran around, going into the houses, breaking open doors, trunks, locks, etc., tearing up and destroying every thing they could. Caught all the chickens in the place in half an hour. I begged for my things and saved nearly every thing; for while I was talking to the part of the mob who had entered my house, I sent mother off to look up some of the Generals, and to try to get a guard, telling them that I was being run over. General Hurlbut gave us the guard. Only five men entered my house, and demanded my keys. I took some time to get them, showing a great willingness; told them I hoped that they would not take my clothes. They said no; they only wanted all arms and gold and silver I had. I told them they could have all of both which they could find, but I had none. They searched the bureau-drawers and trunks before the guard arrived. One man ran up the stairs and took three sacks of flour, and three or four blankets, and was moving off with them just as the guard came, who made him return the blankets, and pretended to go off for the flour; but that was never returned. The guard staid all night, Sunday, and Monday.

General Leggett and staff came and asked me for all the house-room I could give them. I knew that it was only a demand, and granted it; so that I only occupied two rooms, and mother kept her own room. I did my cooking in one of my rooms; as I had already moved into the house all the cooking utensils, coffee-mill — in fact, even to an ax. I by that means saved them all. I met the General and told him that I, three little children, and an old mother-in-law claimed his protection. He answered: “I will take care of you, madam, as long as I am here.” I said: “I hear that all Meridian is to be burned down; will my house be burned, too?” We then passed a few more words, when I took my children back into my room.

I did not see the General any more till the next day, when I met him in the passage. He was very pleasant. One of his officers asked me where my husband was. I told him that he left on Sunday. He asked if I was a Southerner. I replied: “Yes; a genuine Southerner, as I have never been in a Northern State.” He said: “You take every thing very coolly.” I said: “I try to, but I find it very hard to do, as I am frightened all the time.” He said: “You need not be, as you shall not be disturbed.”

All of the children were questioned very closely, but got on finely. Mary said just what she pleased. Told them she did not, like Yankees. One of the captains told her that if she would only go home with him, she would not be in any more war. She replied: “No; I am a rebel, and I don't want to be with the Yankees.”

Our store was burned to the ground, and so was another one of our new houses. My two milch-cows were killed, and every one in the town; and for eight or ten miles around, all cattle and horses. Our horse was not at home. The printing-office and all the public buildings were burnt up, and Mr. Ragsdale's Hotel, Cullen's, Terrill's, and the Burton House.

All the railroad is torn up, both up and down, for miles, and all the ties burned, and the iron bent and destroyed. Oh! such destruction! I do not believe that you or any one would know the place. There is not a fence in Meridian. I have not one rail left. Some of the ladies about town have but one bed left, and but one or two quilts. Mrs. McElroy (her son is colonel in the rebel army) has not one thing left, except what she and her daughter ran out of the house with on their backs — just one dress. The soldiers told me, when I asked them the reason she was done so, that Mrs. McElroy and daughter had insulted an officer and a private the day her house was burned down. Ragsdale, her son-in-law, brought her here, and asked me to take care of them. I went out in the passage and encountered the General, and told him what Ragsdale had asked of me. He said: “If you do, your house will be burned in an hour, for I cannot prevent it.” So I had to tell them that I could not take them.

I could not write you of every thing, if I were to consume the whole day; but I can tell you that I got on better than any other lady in Meridian, and I will say that the General and officers who staid at my house acted the gentleman to me; but I could not, would not go through what I have again, for all that is in Meridian.

Mrs.----was grossly insulted. Mrs. D. was cursed blue; but you must send her folks down there word that she is still alive. Mr. Taylor, her uncle, has not a second change, nor any of his family. I did not lose a particle of [487] clothing, and only those things that I have mentioned. My grown girl, Violetta, got ready to go, but as good fortune would have it, I had heard an officer express himself on slavery, so I went to him and got him to scare it out of her. I was lucky, so many negroes went from about here; all of Mr. McElmore's, Semmes's, and Dr. Johnston's — he had but two old ones, all are gone.

I do not think that you have any idea how bad the Yankees are. I thought I knew, but I did not know the half. They took old Mrs.----'s teeth, all her spoons and knives, and destroyed all provisions and corn which they could not use.

Two army corps were here — with Generals Sherman, Hurlbut, McPherson, and Leggett. Mother has been sick ever since the Yankees left. How glad I am that I did not get sick! No one need want to be with the Yankees, even for a few days. They staid here from Sunday until Saturday morning, and it appeared like a month.

I have no time to write more; will write again soon. Love to all.

Your daughter,

S. E. P. B.


Operations of the cavalry under Generals Smith and Grierson.

Memphis, Tenn., February 27.
From an officer attached to General Grierson's column of the cavalry expedition, which returned yesterday, the following memoranda of the march of that command was obtained.

February 11th, marched from Germantown, Tennessee, crossed the Cold Water, and camped for the night three miles south of Byhalia, Mississippi, making twenty-five miles.

Twelfth, marched toward Waterford, one battalion making a feint on Wyatt, where Forrest was in position with artillery. We passed through Waterford, and camped three miles south-east of the railroad. We destroyed a considerable portion of the telegraph line. Very little skirmishing.

Thirteenth, marched at daylight; built a bridge at Tippah Creek; crossed at four P. M., and camped for the night ten miles south; considerable skirmishing.

Fourteenth, marched at daylight; crossed the Tallahatchie at New-Albany at noon, and camped four miles south of that place; raining.

Fifteenth, marched four miles and encamped. Skirmishing on the extreme right.

Sixteenth, marched six miles and encamped, waiting for Waring's brigade to come up. Captured several prisoners, one of them General Forrest's chief of scouts.

Seventeenth, marched at eight A. M. Passed through Pontotoc at one P. M., and camped four miles south.

Eighteenth, passed through Red Land, burning a large amount of confederate corn and wheat. In the afternoon passed through Okolona, capturing some prisoners, arms, and a large amount of confederate government supplies. Camped five miles south.

Nineteenth, marched at eight A. M. toward Aberdeen, capturing forty-five prisoners and a large amount of government supplies, etc. Crossed the Tombigbee River, and encamped five miles south of that river on an abandoned plantation.

Twentieth, destroyed a number of cars and culverts, and a large amount of corn and cotton along the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. At three P. M., had a hard fight with the enemy in front, driving them back.

Twenty-first, marched at eight A. M.; attacked the enemy in their intrenchments at West-Point, driving them out, our loss forty killed and wounded; destroyed the railroad track, culverts, and depot. At dark we drew the enemy into an ambuscade, when they retreated in confusion, with considerable loss. We marched due west until one A. M., and encamped.

Twenty-second, the rebels under Forrest attacked our rear and flank at Okolona. They charged upon the Third brigade. The Third Tennessee cavalry broke at the first volley, running five of our small guns off of the road into the ditch, breaking their carriages. The guns were spiked and abandoned.

The Second brigade, with the Fourth regulars, charged the enemy at four P. M., driving them back, and our mules, prisoners, and negroes were placed in the advance, guarded by the First brigade, under Colonel Waring. The Second and Third brigades dismounted, and a general fight ensued, which lasted until dark. Our loss was about one hundred, mostly prisoners.

Twenty-third, the enemy followed up our rear, but no general engagement ensued. We re-crossed the Tallahatchie at noon, and marched until midnight.

Twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth, we marched leisurely; nothing of note occurred, and arrived at Germantown.

Our loss during the expedition will reach about one hundred and fifty killed, wounded, and prisoners.

This column burned about three thousand bales of confederate cotton, over one million bushels of corn; captured over one hundred prisoners, over one thousand mules, and a multitude of negroes.

Owing to so large a portion of our force being required to guard our trains, captured property, and negroes, General Smith was greatly outnumbered by the enemy — Forrest's effective force being over five thousand strong.

Our loss is trifling compared with the results of the expedition.



A national account.

Memphis, Tenn., March 2.
On the eleventh of February, the First brigade of the cavalry division of the Sixteenth army corps, composed of the Fourth Missouri cavalry, Second New-Jersey cavalry, Seventh Indiana, Nineteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, and [488] a battery of the Second Illinois cavalry, all under the command of Colonel George E. Waring, Jr., of the Fourth Missouri, left Colliersville, Tennessee, destined to cooperate with General Smith. On the seventeenth we formed a junction at New-Albany, on the Tallahatchie River, with the Second brigade, commanded by General Grierson, and the Third, commanded by Colonel McCrellis. On the nineteenth we reached Egypt, a station on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, in the midst of the finest and most fertile country I ever saw. In no part of the South, outside of the cities, is there found more wealth than here. One man owns eight miles square of this land, and a poor fellow who owns but one thousand acres of this land is considered by his neighbors as almost an object of charity. Of course they are the most inveterate rebels. We here, and at other points in this vicinity, destroyed about three million bushels of corn, two thousand or three thousand bales of cotton, a tannery containing two thousand sides of leather, all belonging to the rebel government, and capturing about two thousand negroes, and three thousand mules and horses, tearing up about thirty miles of the railroad, burning the bridges and culverts, and rendering the rails unserviceable by being heated, thus cutting off their communications with Mobile. All this was done without any interruption, although the rebel General Forrest, with a large cavalry force, was near us. On the twentieth we, for the first time, encountered the enemy in the neighborhood of West-Point, where they had taken a strong position, and after a little sharp fighting they were driven back, we encamping on the battle-field. On the morning of the twenty-first, having accomplished fully the object of the expedition, we commenced our return, the Second Iowa cavalry and a battalion of the Sixth Illinois cavalry guarding the rear. Several times during the day the rebels charged furiously upon the rear, but were as often repulsed by the brave boys of the Second Iowa, assisted by detachments from the Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Illinois, the rebels suffering great loss, we but little. At ten o'clock at night we encamped two miles south-west of Okolona, with almost a certain prospect of a battle the next day. On the morning of the twenty-second we moved out of camp, the First brigade being charged with guarding the train, the Seventh Indiana cavalry being in the rear, and the other regiments of the brigade preceding it, the Third brigade occupying the rear of the expedition for the day. As we passed through the town of Okolona, the rebels were discovered drawn up in line of battle about three fourths of a mile on our right, having passed us in the night, but not in sufficient force to attack us. About ten the o'clock, having been largely reeforced, they made a furious attack upon our rear, and the Second Iowa, having become panic-stricken, stampeded the whole of Colonel McCrellis's brigade. Here followed the wildest scene of disorder that I ever witnessed. Men who had conducted themselves with coolness and bravery the day before in the face of the most furious attacks of the rebels, were now so panic-stricken as to be beyond all control. The Second brigade and the Seventh Indiana rallied and held the rebels in check, falling back from time to time, and taking new positions, both sides suffering considerably. At three o'clock, the third battalion of the Seventh Indiana formed across the road in line of battle, to stop, if possible, the wild flight of the Seventh brigade. This was done in good order, under the command of Major Febbs, and succeeded in stopping, in a measure, the wild flight of our men, and restoring comparative order. Lieutenant-Colonel Brown now arrived and assumed command, and we were ordered in force back, and to take a new position. Here we were assailed furiously by the rebels, and, after holding the position firmly for a short time, we were ordered to fall back, which was done in good order. Just at night a position was taken by the First brigade, the battery of the Fourth Missouri occupying the road, supported by the Fourth Missouri, Second New-Jersey, Sixth and Seventh Illinois, and Seventh Indiana. This line was formed in the immediate rear of the train, and if broken the train would be captured and we hopelessly defeated. Twilight was fast settling down, making every thing indistinct. On rushed the rebels with the most determined bravery and coolness. The battery opened with spirit. The Sixth and Seventh Illinois delivered a few volleys and fell back, and were soon followed by the Fourth Missouri and Second New-Jersey. The sharp flash of the enemy's carbines could be seen in the deepening twilight within twenty feet of the guns of the battery; if they should be taken, all would be lost. The command was now given by General Smith: “Seventh Indiana, charge the enemy!” Quick as thought the brave boys of the Seventh drew their sabres, and, with a shout, charged down the slope of the hill, full in the face of the enemy, driving them like sheep, and inflicting the most dreadful slaughter. The enemy for the first time were completely checked and driven back; the day was won, and we were safe. It was not accomplished without loss. Companies I and A, the right and left companies of the regiment, lost largely, company A losing their captain (Parmlee) and their first lieutenant (Donaho) and twenty men, and company I lost ten men. We were ordered to fall back so rapidly that we were forced to leave our dead and wounded on the field. At ten o'clock we halted and fed our tired and worn-out horses, and cooked supper for our fatigued and famished men, and rested till about four o'clock A. M., when we again resumed our march; passed through town of Pontotoc just at daylight, and moved on rapidly during the day. The rebels followed us, and several times during the day made furious attacks on our rear, but were as often repulsed. Just at night, we crossed the Tallahatchie at New-Albany, destroying the bridge behind us, and we were safe. From here we [489] marched on rapidly, night and day, without further interruption, and reached Colliersville on the evening of the twenty-seventh, and again went into camp. The expedition accomplished all that was intended, and inflicted great damage to the most fertile and productive portion of the Confederacy. We, however, sustained a good deal of loss. It is estimated that we lost in killed and missing about two hundred and fifty, but I think it larger. There was too much of a disposition to get away, and too little to fight. Whenever we did fight, it was done to protect our rear rather than to whip the rebels. A little more determination on the part of all the brigades would have annihilated the army of Forrest, and made us the complete victors. It was a dreadful alternative to leave our wounded on the field in the hands of the enemy. Our experience with rebel surgeons after the battle of Gettysburgh shows us that they have but little humanity when treating their own wounded — they of course will have less when treating ours. The expedition, on the whole, can be considered a success, but one that has cost us dearly.



Account by a participant.

Memphis, March 12, 1864.
Editor of the Rebellion Record:
While General Sherman was collecting and organizing part of his forces.at Vicksburgh, for the expedition through Mississippi to Meridian, orders had issued for that part of the cavalry, which was then scattered through West and Middle Tennessee and North-Mississippi, to concentrate at Colliersville, a point on the Charleston and Memphis Railroad, twenty-four miles from Memphis, and to proceed from that place through Mississippi and along the Mobile and Ohio Railroad to Meridian, there joining the army of General Sherman, and affording that officer the means necessary to carry out his designs. Accordingly, three brigades of cavalry were ordered to meet at Colliersville early in February. The Second brigade, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hepburn, of Second Iowa cavalry, and the Third brigade, under the command of Colonel McCrellis, of Third Illinois cavalry, composed of regiments comparatively near the point of concentration, arrived at Colliersville before the First brigade, commanded by Colonel G. E. Waring, Jr., of the Fourth Missouri cavalry. This brigade was stationed at Union City, Tennessee, on the north-western boundary of West-Tennessee, when orders reached it to march southward. Without delay, the command was put in motion, through a district of country rendered barren of forage and provisions by two years of campaigning, in which not a bridge was standing over the many deep streams which crossed the line of march, and where the rains, snow, and ice of the preceding month had swollen the river, overflowing the low lands and bottoms, and rendering the roads through them heavy, and in places impassable for the artillery and trains. These rivers were crossed by rope ferry-boats, carrying but ten horses at a time. In several instances, it was necessary to build the boats, and in others, a path through the ice in the rivers, (which was in layers, separated by six inches to a foot of water,) had to be chopped by axes before the boats could be used. In places, owing to the rise of the water over the swamp-lands, and cane ridges as well, the brigade and train were forced to make long detours to avoid miles of low-lying ground, covered with melting ice and water; or to reach some point where a bottom could be found, to be used to cross the command over a slough or river. Even with this necessary selection of the route, the men were at times dismounted, and the horses harnessed to the artillery carriages or ammunition-wagons, to draw them for miles through the half-frozen mud and water. On the eighth of February, the First brigade, having marched two hundred and fifteen miles since leaving Union City on the twenty-third of January, 1864, arrived at Colliersville.

The force thus assembled was under the command of Brigadier-General W. S. Smith, then the Chief of Cavalry in the Division of the Mississippi. Under the orders of General Smith, was Brigadier-General Grierson. Prior to setting out, the commanders of regiments and brigades met at the headquarters of General Smith, where so much of the plan of march as was deemed proper was explained, advice in the management of it given, and contentment expressed at the duty before them, and satisfaction with the state of the command and affairs up to that time.

On the eleventh of February, the whole force began its march in a south-easterly direction, and on the sixteenth of February, the last of the command had crossed the Tallahatchie River at New-Albany, without interruption. The attention of the enemy, who was in small force on the south bank of the river, had been successfully diverted to Wyatt, a point west, by the presence there of a brigade of infantry, under Colonel McMillen, and by the march in that direction of the advanced troops of the cavalry, and by attempts to throw a bridge across the river at that place. After the river was crossed, the march south-eastwardly was continued, and late in the day of the eighteenth February, the command arrived at Okolona, a village and station on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, and the northern point of the succession of very fertile plains, which continue southward for nearly sixty miles, intersected by the railroad, and known as the Prairie. Within a short distance from Okolona, Hepburn's and Waring's brigades encamped, a part of the latter having fallen in with and driven a small patrol of the enemy. During the night, a detachment of the First brigade was sent to Egypt Station, distant about five miles, to destroy the stores of corn and provisions belonging to the Confederacy, the railroad, bridges, and station-house; this was done, and on the morning of the nineteenth, Waring's brigade was moved southward along the line of the railroad; MeCrellis's a few miles to the west, and in the same direction; and Hepburn's to the east, toward [490] and through Aberdeen, at Prairie Station, where a number of cars and penis of corn were destroyed on the night of the day the command was united. At three P. M. on the twentieth of February, the whole force arrived near West-Point Station. Hepburn's brigade, which was in the advance, skirmished with the enemy, and with but little effort drove him over the Octibbeha River. The division encamped in line of battle; the men were in excellent spirits, and the horses had been improving in condition during the past two days, on the unlimited supply of forage which the plains through which they marched contained. Through much of this region the United States troops had never passed; the plantations had been undisturbed, and the slaves hitherto had not been interrupted in their tillage. As the troops moved by cluster after cluster of huts, the young and able-bodied negroes joined the rear of the column on horses and mules, to the number of about one thousand eight hundred. These, with the long train of pack animals and led-horses, were now in rear of the division. On the morning of the twenty-first, the whole force was ordered by General Smith to return to Okolona, McCrellis's brigade leading, followed by the negroes and pack train, after which was Waring's brigade, and in the rear Hepburn's. This movement at once became the object of constant inquiry. on the part of the troops; this was followed by an uneasy feeling, increased as came first news of constant skirmishing, and then the sound of small arms and cannon in the rear. The enemy, on finding a retreat had begun, pressed forward with great vigor, but were constantly checked by Hepburn's brigade, in which the Second Iowa cavalry and Ninth Illinois cavalry were manoevred with great bravery and skill. About three P. M., a column of the enemy was seen moving parallel with the retreating force, about a mile on the right flank, and near the railroad. A portion of Waring's brigade was at once moved to that flank, and after the exchange of a few shots, the enemy moved forward and to the right of the railroad. General Grierson, with Hepburn's brigade, had now closed up to the column, and the whole encamped three miles south from Okolona. At nine o'clock on the morning of the twenty-second of February, the entire force was placed on the narrow, hilly road leading to Pontotoc, Hepburn's brigade leading, followed by the train, and Waring's and McCrellis's brigades. In passing Okolona, the Seventh Indiana cavalry, of Waring's brigade, was ordered by General Grierson to the support of the Fourth United States cavalry, which was protecting the right flank and confronting the enemy, who soon advanced, and heavy skirmishing began with these two regiments. This was kept up for several miles, when the Fourth United States and Seventh Indiana cavalry were obliged to retreat, in some disorder, upon the Third brigade, which was at once broken, and retreated to the main column in great confusion, losing a battery of six howitzers. The First brigade was immediately formed in line, through which came the routed troops, without control and in great disorder. The enemy were held in check for a time, and the First brigade ordered to take up another position. This was done, the Second New-Jersey cavalry and a battalion of the Second Illinois cavalry checking the enemy with loss as he advanced. From this, the First brigade was ordered to retire within the lines of the Second brigade, which had taken advantage of some defiles and ridges to hold the enemy, until the negroes and train, that had been in great confusion, could be parked in an open field on the left of the road. About a mile to the rear of this point, Colonel Waring formed his brigade on a hill known as Ivy Farm, and while so doing, the pack animals, negroes, and many stragglers moved to the rear, in a solid body and with irresistible force, over the road and through part of the field, carrying with them the largest portion of the Second New-Jersey cavalry and Second Illinois cavalry, which were moving to their several positions. Shortly after the Second brigade began to retire in the direction of Ivy Hill, the enemy appeared at a turn in the road commanded by a battery of howitzers belonging to the Fourth Missouri cavalry, and firing at once began. The enemy dismounted, and in large force, as skirmishers, pressed forward and on the flank, toward the road, which, like all the surrounding country, excepting the field where the brigade was formed, was heavily wooded. In the wood, on the side toward the road, dismounted skirmishers had been placed; and these, with the firing of the battery, caused the enemy to halt. Soon after, a body of their skirmishers commenced moving from the thickets which bounded the southern edge of Ivy Farm, threatening the right flank of Waring's brigade. Under cover of this, a large force was massed opposite the battery, which force, preceded by a line of skirmishers, moved rapidly forward, and at once seized a gully running in front of and somewhat obliquely to the line formed by the brigade. General Smith, who had arrived on the field a short time before, at once assumed command, and ordered the Fourth Missouri cavalry, which was on the left of and supporting its battery, to dismount, and prevent the enemy's further advance. The order was scarcely executed, when the enemy's skirmishers in the wood skirting the road, began to gain on those thrown forward by the brigade, rendering the position of the battery, as well as of its dismounted support, dangerous. The General at once ordered the Fourth Missouri cavalry to mount and charge the advancing force. Quickly the three squadrons of that regiment were formed in double ranks and under fire, Colonel Waring commanding, and leading the charge in person. With tactical precision, the squadrons moved forward, with drawn sabres, at a trot. As they moved down that slope and came under the closer fire from the wood and fence on the left, and from the gully in front, the wounded drifted after the advancing line. The squadrons, however, now galloping, and preserving their front and alignment with the precision of troops [491] on review, rushed forward in solid charge. The enemy's skirmishers fell hastily back, although it was impossible to reach him either in front, owing to the gully, or in the road, bounded as it was by a high worm-fence. At this charge, loud hurrahs came fiom the troops in line, and the skirmishers again advanced. The Fourth Missouri cavalry wheeled and retreated toward the left, to their original position near the battery. The enemy now brought a section of artillery into action, and moved forward as before. Slowly and doggedly the skirmish-line of the brigade was forced back, the enemy gaining tree after tree on the left, and nearing the battery, which was ordered to fall back; as it did so, the enemy moved forward, but were met by two charges from a squadron of the Fourth Missouri cavalry, and an impetuous rush from the Seventh Indiana cavalry, which fell upon them, and, fighting hand to hand with great bravery, stopped their advance until the battery could be removed. In this movement the shaft of one of the gun-carriages broke, three of the four horses attached to it were killed, and the gun was spiked and abandoned; the rest of the battery was safely withdrawn. The sun had now set; the firing had become less heavy, and the brigade was ordered to retire, which it did in good order, passing through the lines of part of the Third brigade, having been in action over two hours, and having checked the enemy, who stopped the pursuit for that night, and encamped on the battlefield.

The whole force marched forward during the night, until it reached a large open space near Poutotoc, where several hours were spent in arranging, as far as possible, the disorganized regiments. Hepburn's brigade was placed in the rear and the march toward New-Albany continued, skirmishing going on with a body of the enemy who continued the pursuit. On arriving at New-Albany, General Grierson ordered Waring's brigade to hold the enemy in check and cover the crossing of the Tallahatchie River. This was successfully done. The Second and Third brigades then moved on the Holly Spring road, and the First brigade, with the entire train and the negroes, marched on the Beck Spring road. On the twenty-fourth February the entire force had crossed the Tippah River. McCrellis's and Hepburn's brigades marched to Germantown, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, fourteen miles from Memphis, and Waring's brigade crossed the Wolf River near Colliersville, and moved slowly toward Memphis, where it arrived on twenty-seventh February, again crossing the Wolf River at Shelby's Ferry. The loss of the entire command in men killed, wounded, and missing was about three hundred and fifty; in horses, nearly three thousand.

By this retreat General Sherman was deprived of the large force of cavalry, without which his expedition was unable to follow the army of Lieutenant-General Polk, which was retreating from Meridian, or to move eastward into Alabama and destroy the arms, arsenals, and stores at or near Selma. Up to the morning when General W. S. Smith's command was bivouacked near West-Point Station. It had been both fortunate and successful in the advance. The dreary barrens of North-Mississippi had been passed, the marching had not been severe, the horses were improving on the abundant forage found on the rich plains bordering the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, the men were in excellent spirits, and when the enemy had been met it was in very small force and he had been easily repulsed, with scarce any loss to the United States troops. The determination on the part of the General to retreat was reached and acted upon without resort to the usual and proper means of finding the numbers and disposition of the enemy. No scouting party or reconnaissance was thrown across the Octibbeha River; no attempt to divert his attention at one point while the command was crossed elsewhere; and no movement with a view to cover the main column. The whole force was placed for retreat on the one road on which the advance had been made, and which was now waste and desolate from the supplies legitimately taken a few days before, and the criminal and wanton destruction of every species of property which had been permitted, without punishment and almost without rebuke, from the General Commanding

The troops could ill understand the reason for a movement so disheartening, and which every hour became less a retreat and more nearly a rout, without any information or apparent cause for it. They imagined the pursuers to be in overwhelming force, to be on both flanks as well as in advance. This feeling grew, and on the second day, when Okolona was passed, and its great open plain, so well suited to the movements of cavalry, was left behind, the hope that here a stand would be made and a battle fought, (which had been the wish of all on the previous day,) passed, and the undisciplined and more timid thought only of flight toward Memphis. From the twenty-second February, excepting the halt for the battle of Ivy Farm, the column was steadily hurried northward over the long reach of barren oak and pine hills which lay between Okolona and the Tennessee boundary. Sleep was not allowed the men, and the horses was without rest or forage. The line of retreat became marked by great numbers of the lame and broken-down horses, and the sides of the road by long files of dismounted troopers, plodding wearily forward, and striving to keep pace with their mounted comrades.

When at length the vicinity of Memphis was reached, the seven thousand men who two weeks before had set out with brave hopes, were now worn down, one third dismounted, many without arms, most with scanty clothing, and, saddest of all, the daring spirit, the morale of the command, was impaired, and gloom and despondency in its place, which was not relieved when it became known that at West-Point the enemy had but three thousand men, and that his whole force, which was commanded by Major-General Forrest, [492] did not exceed six thousand, many of whom were State militiamen.



Another account.

Cairo, Feb. 29, 1864.
Some particulars of the late expedition of General William S. Smith, lately returned to Memphis, have already been published. General Smith, in person, arrived here last evening. His official report to the military authorities will set forth the following facts:

The expedition moved from Memphis on Thursday, the eleventh instant, some seven thousand strong, Brigadier-General William S. Smith in command, the purpose being to clear the country of straggling rebel forces, and, if possible, create a diversion in favor of General Sherman, with whose rear it was thought the cavalry expedition might in due season communicate. It was stated that the enemy were posted in force beyond the Tallahatchie, and that they would determinedly resist the Federal advance. After two days heavy marching, the expedition reached the Tallahatchie. A brigade of infantry, temporarily attached to the expedition, under command of Colonel McMillen, was sent forward and threatened Panola, and afterward to Wyatt, for a similar purpose. The move was successful. The infantry attracted the attention and the forces of the enemy to these points, when General Smith swung his cavalry around and to New-Albany, whence he crossed without firing a shot. He then pushed boldly forward to a point near the Pontotoc, in the vicinity of Houston, where he encountered some State confederate troops, under the command of Gholson, numbering near six thousand. They stampeded at his approach, throwing away their arms as they ran. General Smith pursued them hotly and until he reached Houlka Swamp, where he found the enemy concentrated in heavy force, holding a corduroy road, the only one across the swamp. This could not be turned either to the right or to the left, so Smith's whole force was moved rapidly to the eastward, while a heavy demonstration was made on the front, as though he intended to force a passage over the road. The enemy were again deceived, and our forces fell back upon Okolona. This was on Monday, the fifteenth instant. The attack upon Okolona was so little expected that several confederate officers, at home on visit to their families, were captured. Some of them were finely mounted. The Ninth Illinois regiment of cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Burgh commanding, was then sent out to Sheridan, to endeavor to secure a crossing of the Tombigbee. On the next morning, Hepburn's brigade, commanded by General Grierson in person, was sent out to support the Ninth regiment, and at Aberdeen, with directions to threaten Columbus strongly. With the remaining two brigades, General Smith swept down the railroad toward West-Point, tearing up the railroad completely as he advanced, and also burning all the corn he found. There were vast quantities of this, cribbed and ready for transportation. The amount destroyed could not be much less than two million bushels, and was possibly much greater. Two thousand bales of cotton were also devoted to the flames. During this portion of the march negroes flocked to General Smith by hundreds and thousands, mounted on their masters' horses and mules, with briddles and saddles of the most primitive description. They welcomed General Smith as their deliverer whenever he met them. “God bless ye! Has yer come at last? We've been lookina for you for a long time, and had almost done gone give it up!” was the cry of many. They bade farewell to their wives and children, and marched in the van.

Hearing that the enemy was concentrated in heavy force at West-Point, the brigade of Aberdeen was called over by a forced march to the line on the railroad, at a station fifteen miles north of West-Point, while the main force moved down upon West-Point. Two miles north of that place, Smith came upon a brigade of the enemy, drawn up in line of battle, to receive him. This was on Wednesday, the seventeenth instant, at about three P. Mi. Our forces charged it in a gallant style, and after a sharp engagement of some fifteen minutes duration, drove the enemy back through the town into the Suchatoncha Swamp, on the right. Skirmishing continued on the border of the swamp during the remainder of the evening, until dark. Meanwhile the whole Federal force was being brought forward into position. Through his scouts, General Smith ascertained that the enemy was upon his front in powerful force, that he held every one of the crossings of the swamp on his right, and on the line of the Octibbeha in the front. He was confined on the left by the Tombigbee, which it was impossible to cross. His force was heavily encumbered with the pack-trains, horses, mules captured, to the number of full three thousand, and an equal number of negroes. These he felt obliged to protect, and it took such a heavy guard force, as to reduce the effective fighting force nearly one half, leaving him powerless to drive the enemy, so strong in numbers, before him, and who had taken up a strong position, that he could better defend with musketry and riflemen, than Smith could attack with only light carbines, his horses being useless on the marshy ground occupied. There was little time for speculation. The position was imminent. General Smith did the best He could under the circumstances. He made a strong demonstration upon the rebel centre, and while sharp fighting was going on, drew all his. incumbrances and the main portion of his force rapidly back toward Okolona, covering his rear with a well-organized force, which fought the enemy from every line of concealment that offered on their backward march. The enemy pursued in force, and made desperate attempts to overwhelm the rear-guard, but without success. They also failed in attacking the main force in flank, which they several times essayed, but were as often foiled. All their best manoeuvres were thus handsomely checkmated, and General, Smith soon had the fighting all in [493] his own way, until he reached Okolona. At this place, after the pursuing force had been three times repulsed in a most brilliant manner by the Fourth United States regular infantry alone, a whole brigade was sent to support the Fourth, and was thrown into confusion by a stampede of the Second Tennessee cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Cook, who had fifty men killed in all, and was himself mortally wounded. In the precipitate flight from the field of this force, a battery of small howitzers--six guns of Perkins's Illinois battery--were run off of the road into a ditch, where the. carriages were so badly smashed up that they were unable to get them off, and they fell into the enemy's hands. All the ammunition of the battery was destroyed, all the harness cut, carriages destroyed, guns spiked, and horses saved.

It was with the greatest difficulty that this uncalled — for panic could be broken and order restored. Organized forces were thrown to the rear as quickly as possible, and the advance of the enemy handsomely checked. From crest to crest of the hills the fighting was resumed and continued for over ten miles with the utmost determination on both sides. Having reached Ivy Farm, a splendid place, it was immediately taken possession of, and a large force deployed, a battery placed in position, and the whole field cleared for action. The enemy advanced into the open field, and the whole strength of our artillery was opened upon them at short-range with killing effect, supported by a full line of carbines firing upon the dismounted troops. When their line was shaken, a gallant charge was made upon their centre and on the right, by mounted men. This manoeuvre was performed in handsome style, the enemy were swept backward at every point, and so completely scared, that they made no further attack, in force, upon Smith's men, though they followed up at a respectful distance, until he crossed the Tallahatchie.

General Smith succeeded in bringing off all his captured stock, pack-trains, negroes, and other spoils, having performed a march of over sixty miles without rest. Our loss is reported as having been light, the heaviest being in the Fourth regulars, which lost thirty-five. There were quite a number of our men captured while straggling, catching chickens, and performing acts not legitimately in the line of their duty.

In summing up, General Smith speaks in the highest terms of the conduct of General Grierson. Where danger was most imminent, there was Grierson. The fighting of the whole Second brigade, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hepburn, of the Second Iowa cavalry, was excellent. Theirs, with that of the Fourth regulars, under Captain Bowman, was beyond all praise. The Second brigade is composed of the Second Iowa, the Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Illinois cavalry. General Smith mentions with gratitude the bravery of the Seventy-second Indiana, (mounted infantry,) Fifth Kentucky cavalry, and Fourth Missouri cavalry, all of which commands behaved themselves nobly on all occasions.

Forrest, in this fight, or series of fights, had four brigades of cavalry and mounted infantry, reenforced by Gholson's State troops, six hundred strong, and, it is said, a portion of Lee's command. His total force, when at West-Point, was over five thousand. This did not include the troops stretched along the Octibbeha, on the left and front, and the troops back of the Suchatoncha Swamp on the right.

Forrest boasted that he had General Smith just where he wanted him, and that the people had no need to fear that he would ever advance any further South. The latter part of his boast for the present only holds good.

General Smith's expedition returned to Memphis after just fourteen days absence, having made a march out and back of about three hundred and fifty miles, with the results above set forth.


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Okolona (Mississippi, United States) (15)
West Point (Virginia, United States) (8)
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New Albany (Indiana, United States) (7)
Colliersville (New York, United States) (7)
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Germantown (Tennessee, United States) (3)
Aberdeen (Mississippi, United States) (3)
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Tippah River (Mississippi, United States) (2)
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