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[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

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