Doc. 49.-Colonel Elliott's expedition.
General Pope's despatch.
Halleck's headquarters, Department of the Mississippi, camp near Corinth, June 1, 1862.the following despatch has been received from Gen. Pope to Major-Gen. Halleck: It gives me pleasure to report the brilliant success of the expedition sent out on the twenty-eighth inst., under Col. Elliott, with the Second Iowa cavalry. After forced marches, day and night, through a very difficult country, and obstructed by the enemy, he finally succeeded in reaching the Mobile and Ohio Railroad at Boonesville, Miss., at two o'clock A. M. on the thirtieth. He destroyed the track in many places, both south and north of the town, blew up one culvert, destroyed the switch and track, burned up the depot and locomotives and a train of twenty-six cars, loaded with supplies of every kind, destroyed ten thousand stand of small-arms, three pieces of artillery, and a great quantity of clothing and ammunition, and paroled two thousand prisoners, whom he could not keep with his cavalry. The enemy had heard of his movements, and had a train of box-cars and flat cars, with flying artillery and five thousand infantry, running up and down the road to prevent him from reaching it. The whole road was lined with pickets for several days. Col. Elliott's command subsisted upon meat alone, such as they could find in the country. For daring and despatch, this expedition has been successful in the highest degree, and entitles Col. Elliott and his command to high distinction. Its results will be embarrassing to the enemy and contribute greatly to their loss and demoralization. He reports the road full of small parties of the retreating enemy, scattering in all directions. (Signed)
To Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
To Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
A National account.
on the Tuscumbia, Miss., June 1, 1862.Col. Elliott, with his cavalry, has returned, and given us such news as to justify a large portion of this army to advance with hot haste on the fleeing rebels. The battery over the swamp of Tuscumbia has been evacuated during the night. Our men sawed down trees above the road, out of range of the battery, and would have captured the whole crew at daylight. Perhaps they will get them between this and night. We had half a dozen wounded yesterday among the sharp-shooters. Our men are on a little rest now from their fatiguing duties of the last two weeks, and are eager for a consummation of their work. The labors of the Army of the Mississippi, for the last ten days, have been herculean. You would not believe that as many men could make such splendid intrenchments, make as many bridges, and build as much corduroy road — fighting over every foot of the ground — as our little army has done. We have not taken a camp, or built a bridge, or occupied a field or wood, for ten days, without fighting for it. Gradually intrenching each day nearer and nearer, until we planted our Parrott shells in the rebel camps two miles in the rear of Corinth. But in this letter I wish to give you a history of the doings of Col. Elliott's cavalry, which Gen. Pope sent, two days before the evacuation of Corinth, to cut the Mobile Railroad, and cut off communication southward. His mission was eminently successful, and he returned to us last night without losing a single man. It will almost read like a fable, but the history I give you is true, as taken from his report, and the officers who were with him. He left at midnight on the twenty-eighth. with nine hundred chosen horsemen, splendidly equipped for fighting or running. The two battalions were composed of the Second Michigan and Second Iowa. His first point, by a very circuitous route, was Iuka — a beautiful town, looking “like a New-England village,” containing one thousand inhabitants, and is a resort for invalids, on account of its splendid chalybeate springs. From Iuka he crossed to Eastport and Fulton, thence by the Tuscumbia and Jacinto road to Cartersville, to Padens, and from there struck the head-waters of the Tombigbee River, and crossed to Boonville, on the Mobile Railroad. His movements were made with such boldness and celerity, that they were supposed by the people to be rebel cavalry. Upon approaching the place, a large train of cars containing three thousand infantry were on the track. The Colonel wisely kept in the bushes until they moved off — only sent his men above and clipped the telegraph-wires, that “tell tales.” As soon as the soldiery had moved on, he deployed one half of each battalion as skirmishers above and below the town, took possession of a train of twenty-six cars and locomotive. Five were loaded with small-arms in boxes, five were heavily laden with ammunition for artillery and small-arms, one platform-car with one brass and two iron field-pieces. The rest of the train was filled with provisions and clothing in boxes belonging to quartermaster's stores. Not far distant was a large depot stored with provisions and quartermaster's goods. While his men were taking possession of the town, his  skirmishers were tearing up the track both above and below the town. He found in the place two thousand five hundred convalescent sick, and the town guarded by two hundred and fifty rebel cavalry. The sick were said to be in a most deplorable and loathsome condition. Two thousand had been brought down on the cars the night before, and dumped out without medicine or help. They were scattered in houses, under trees, and every where; many of them bad erysipelas in its worst form. Col. Elliott immediately ordered the sick removed to a safe distance, and run the train down opposite the depot, and set fire to it and every car. The explosions soon began, and from six o'clock until ten they were continuous as a bombardment. While the Colonel was making these arrangements for the destruction of army-stores, the rebel cavalry had returned, dismounted, and drawn up in line to make a charge on our men. Captain Campbell, who was in command of the skirmishers, saw the movements of these gentlemen, and dismounting his men, had approached them upon the flank; and as the order was given to the rebels to charge cavalry, Capt. Campbell sent a bullet at them from behind every tree, speedily following it with a second from their revolving rifles, and so they didn't “charge cavalry” much — but charged in a different direction. The Colonel will do full justice to the brave officers and men who accompanied him, in his official report. There is a good joke attached to the rebel cavalry who ran from the Colonel at Boonville. They left behind a splendid silk flag, which showed them to be the “Forest cavalry.” Now about one week ago our cavalry moved their camp to the rear of the army, and this same Forest cavalry came into their deserted camp. The commanding officer wrote a note to his Yankee friends, boasting that he had visited their camp, and that in a few days he would call again and perform several little things. These same Iowa and Michigan boys found him, and captured his colors, away down where he was looking as much for Gabriel as for them; and I may add, solemnly, that several of them heard the horn, and went to their final settlement. Col. Elliott, not having any wagons with him for provisions, had difficulty in getting food and forage. Found a few sheep, which were of necessity confiscated, but poor and tough; found a few hogs, the breed was so bad and the running-gears so finely developed, that they were allowed to live. No fat cattle or lean left, except a few for milk. Provision of every kind very scarce. Corn was hoarded like silver. The Southern Confederacy, I tell you, will beg bread before six months. The wheat is ready for the sickle here now; but there will not be three bushels to the acre in any field I have seen. Oats in the same condition. The corn looks better. The Colonel took a large number of prisoners; but as they were infantry, disarmed them, destroyed their guns, and told them to go home. Most of them were glad to obey. He had no time to lose in bringing them off. Many amusing incidents occurred on the trip. While destroying some rebel quartermaster's stores at one place a Texan came up, and said: “My friend, what are you destroying this property for? are the Yankees coming?” He was answered they were, by Col. Hatch. Says he: “How near?” “Very close; <*>t you see them?” “Heavens! An't you confederates?” “Not much.” Before they arrived at Boonville, the advanced guard met two lieutenants of Tennessee rebel cavalry. They rode up to our boys, most happy to see them, until they awoke to a realizing sense of their huge sell. Going on, they came upon a lot of rebel deserters being escorted back to Corinth by rebel cavalry, bagged both, dismounted the cavalry, and let the deserters ride. Then it was the joke on the cavalry, who had been pushing the poor fleeing conscripts hard, and they made use of the opportunity to twit their walking friends upon the sudden changes that sometimes occur in this lower world. Our boys lost hats and caps and coats, and it is not much wonder that they were taken for secesh. We hardly would have known them ourselves, as they had gathered hats and coats of confederate stock, and looked the rebel all over. I consider this feat of the cavalry as a feather in the cap of every man in the army that rides a horse; for heretofore I have never seen any very remarkably brave and daring movements from this arm of the service. Col. Elliott did not know Corinth was evacuated until he was a long way on his journey back. A large force was sent out by Beauregard to intercept and cut him off; but General Pope looked ahead, and ordered him to return by a widely different route. So winding our forces through woods and deep ravines, or daringly dashing through villages and over hedges of astonished planters, by the black harems of mass and massa's sons, the people generally, and the astonished negroes particularly, looked on, and saw and wondered, and rubbed their eyes, and as the horsemen vanished, believed it almost a dream. Now, to the readers of the Commercial (who are, no doubt, friends) I bid a kind adieu. For the year past I have often appeared before you, at the earnest request of many of you, who looked anxiously for news from “a reliable gentleman,” of the fathers and sons and brothers whose lives you have offered upon the altar of our common country. If my hurried letters have quieted the anxiety of wife or friend, or bettered the condition of our sometimes neglected soldiers, I am repaid, and ask no other reward.
O. W. N.P. S.--Since writing the above, I find a little error. Col. Elliott informs me that he lost one sergeant killed, two wounded, and six prisoners. They got on a car. and ran up the road to cut a water-tank, and w<*>re ambushed.