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.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
Editor of the Rebellion Record:
Editor of the Rebellion Record: