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Doc. 119.-General Wirt Adams's expedition.

Natchez, Miss., December 11, 1863.
Mr. Editor: It has been so long since you have had any warlike news from this military division, that you and the country have probably regarded this, the garden of Dixie, as neutral ground, and but for the restless spirits that are now in command of our forces, we would in all probability have sunk into the quiet and obscurity of good old Union times. Our military commanders [467] appear to have also, taken this view. General Crocker and his brigade were withdrawn, leaving only two regiments under Colonel Johnson, and the Second and Sixth Mississippi, of African descent, as a garrison. But hardly had the forces been disposed off by the Colonel, so as to meet any probable contingency, or the last echoes of the steamer bearing off General Crocker fairly died away, when the first mutterings of a coming storm aroused us from our fancied security.

A couple of scouts, captured by Colonel Farrar, Thirtieth Missouri, told of a secret expedition then on the move from Clinton, in a southerly direction. Three days after, General Wirt Adams, with a cavalry command of two thousand five hundred men and ten pieces of artillery, passed through Washington, seven miles out, moving to the south of Natchez, as was reported. Colonel Farrar was sent out with a mounted force of fifty men, to feel the enemy, and obtain some reliable information of their movements. That same night, General Gersham arrived on steamers from Vicksburgh, with cavalry, infantry, and artillery, and moved out on the Palestine Road. The cavalry, six hundred strong, joined Colonel Farrar at Washington, who, assuming command, by order of General Gersham, pushed on in pursuit of the enemy, known to have been near Ellis's Cliffs, on the Woodville Road, twelve miles south of Natchez, the evening previous. The Colonel, by debouching to the left, and taking cross-roads through plantations, and aided by the darkness of the night, succeeded in bringing his command directly in the rear of the enemy, drove in their pickets, and forming his men in line of battle, held his position during the night. At daybreak, the enemy opened vigorously with artillery, and finding that the infantry could not possibly arrive in time to support him, the Colonel determined to fall back. The column was put in motion, the rear-guard skirmishing briskly with the enemy over three miles of the road, yielding foot by foot to the overwhelming foe, until at eight A. M., when General Gersham, with his infantry supports, came up. A line was formed, and their advance checked. Seeing that they would now have to fight on nearly equal terms, the chivalry drew back, and probably thinking that they were well out of their own trap, retreated with all speed on the Kingston Road. All being well mounted, pursuit would have been useless, and by nightfall they were far from Natchez.

As usual, great excitement and alarm existed in the threatened city. The ladies, those inveterate secesh, thronged the streets, asking the few officers they met “if they were not scared?”

It was worth a visit to their camps to see the behavior of our colored troops. The Second Mississippi artillery had just been armed, and the desire to get a shot at ole massastuck out very plainly. They are getting to look very soldierly, and a funny little episode which occurred a few days previously, on the Louisiana side, evinced their mettle, and the spirit and dash which characterize their commanding officers.

Colonel Farrar, commanding at Vidalia, learned one afternoon, through a lady, that a military ball was to be given that night at a Mr. Johnson's plantation, on Black River, thirty-three miles distant. Unfortunately, the Colonel's mounted force was on the Natchez side, having been scouting, and it was then too late to cross them to the Louisiana side. Determined not to let such an opportunity slip, he hastily mounted ten men of the Thirtieth Missouri and twenty-five of the Second Mississippi artillery, A. D., then on duty at that post, and with them, though not an invited guest, started for the scene of festivity. The route pursued led directly through the swamp, which being partially covered with water, rendered a rapid movement almost impossible. Nothing daunted, the little band pushed on, and by four o'clock A. M., had approached within half a mile of the house. Here dismounting, they moved cautiously along the unguarded road to within a few rods of the scene of mirth and merriment. The brilliant lights which gleamed from the windows, and the sweet cadence of the music, told that all went merry within. To rush through the gate-way and surround the mansion was the work of a moment. Colonel Farrar and Captain Orgue dashing into the house, pistol in hand, demanded the surrender of every confederate officer and soldier there. They did this, will you believe it, O reader! followed by a squad of the rebels' own countrymen and brothers from the Second Mississippi heavy artillery of African descent! Of course the confederacy surrendered. Now, the Colonel, who is reputed to be as gallant as he is brave, not wishing to mar entirely so festive an occasion, kindly requested the guests to continue the dance. The music once more struck up; and not yet being too old for such enjoyment, the Colonel himself led upon the floor a fair and blushing daughter of the South, and with her was soon lost in the dizzy mazes of the waltz. Daybreak warned the little party of the danger of delay. The prisoners were hastily mounted on their own good steeds, adieus were given to their sorrowing friends, and each, with a sable guard by his side, commenced their northern journey. At eleven A. M., the little party had safely returned to Vidalia, accomplishing a march of sixty-six miles in fifteen hours. This is a good joke on the confederacy, and pays them for a similar trick played on some of our boys a year or so since, back of Memphis. Not the most agreeable part of the joke, so far as the secesh were concerned, was marching them through the city of Natchez between a dozen negro guards. Said one of them: “Can't we have a white guard, Colonel?” “No;” said he, “the negroes took you, and it is right that they should guard you.”

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B. G. Farrar (5)
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Andrew Johnson (2)
Crocker (2)
Wirt Adams (2)
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J. D. Ellis (1)
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