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heavy force in the direction of Pontotoc, and believing his destination to be the prairies, and from thence a junction with Sherman, I withdrew all my forces from the Tallahatchie and Yazoo rivers and moved rapidly to Starkville, which place I reached on the evening of the 18th ultimo.
On the 19th the enemy were reported at Okalona, but his movements or intended course was not developed; and fearing he might cross the Tombigbee, I ordered Bell's brigade to Columbus, and also dispatched General Ruggles to use all his effective force to prevent them from doing so. At the same time, I ordered Brigadier-General Chalmers, commanding division, to send Forrest's brigade to Aberdeen, or in that direction, to meet and ascertain the movements of the enemy, and also with McCulloch's brigade of his division and Richardson's brigade, under Colonel Neely, to move out to West Point — leaving General Richardson at Starkville in command of all the dismounted men of the command, to protect my wagon tr