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Doc. 170.-Colonel Grierson's raid.

New-York times account.

in obedience to orders of Colonel B. H. Grierson, commanding the First cavalry brigade, Colonel Edward Prince moved with his regiment, the Seventh Illinois cavalry volunteers--five hundred and forty-two officers and men — from La Grange, Tennessee, at ten o'clock A. M., on the seventeenth of April, 1863, on the Ripley road, and camped on the plantation of Dr. Ellis, four miles north-west of Ripley, Mississippi--distance about thirty miles.

The order of march for this day was to be as follows: Sixth Illinois in advance, Lieutenant-Colonel Reuben Loomis commanding; followed by the Seventh Illinois and Second Iowa; but the Sixth Illinois taking the wrong road near La Grange, was thrown to the west, and did not rejoin the command till near camp. As the Seventh Illinois was just going into camp, Col. Prince discovered a party of five or six rebels crossing a field, and immediately sent a party in pursuit, who captured three of the number.

On the eighteenth--the Seventh Illinois moving in advance — they left camp at eight o'clock, passing through Ripley, and moved south toward New-Albany. Our battalion was detailed under command of Captain Graham, who took the direct road to that place, where they arrived in time to save the bridge across the Tallahatchie, and drive away a picket endeavoring to destroy it. They repaired the bridge and crossed into town. The rest of the command crossed three miles east of New-Albany, and arrived in town at half-past 5 P. M., whence the command--Sixth and Seventh Illinois--moved south, and camped on Mr. Sloan's plantation, four miles south of New-Albany.

At Ripley, Mississippi, Colonel Hatch, in command of the Second Iowa, had been detached to [549] move eastwardly, and thence southwardly, to cross the Tallahatchie some five miles above New-Albany, with a view of rejoining the brigade some five or six miles below New-Albany, which Colonel Hatch accomplished the following day with good success. On this day, the eighteenth, the advance of the Seventh Illinois captured four prisoners--two of Barteau's and two of Wetherall's command.

On the morning of the nineteenth two companies were sent, under command of Captain Trafton, back to the Tallahatchie, and he drove a force out of New-Albany, and joined the command at ten A. M. Colonel Prince also sent two companies to the right, to look after Captain Wetherall's company of cavalry, but the latter had retired during the night. This detachment, however, captured three prisoners from Major Chalmers's command, and destroyed some camp and garrison equipage. Two companies were also sent to the left, to look after some horses said to be hid in the woods; and they returned at ten o'clock with very good success. The command left camp at ten o'clock, and passed through Pontotoc at four o'clock P. M. They encamped on the estate of Mr. Wetherall, eight miles south of Pontotoc. The distance marched on the eighteenth and nineteenth was about sixty miles. On the nineteenth the Sixth Illinois marched in advance, and at Pontotoc killed a rebel who persistently continued to fire upon the advance. His name was Re<*>o.

20th.--They left camp at four o'clock A. M. Sixty men and a number of led horses, in charge of Lieutenant Wilt, were sent back to La Grange. About the same number were sent back from the other regiments; all under command of Major Love, of the Second Iowa. They encamped at Clear Springs, Mississippi, having passed around Houston — the Second Iowa in advance. The distance marched was about forty miles.

21st.--They left camp at daylight, the Seventh Illinois in advance. Colonel Hatch and the Second Iowa turned eastward from Clear Springs, with orders to proceed toward Columbus and destroy the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as much as possible. The gallant Colonel has unfortunately not been heard of since, except through the Memphis Appeal, which says that near Okolona he was met by a large confederate force, was himself seriously wounded and lost fifteen men. The remainder, it is to be hoped, got safely back to La Grange. It rained all day on the twenty-first. The two Illinois regiments passed through Starkville, and camped eight miles south of that place. Distance travelled this day, forty-five miles.

22d.--They marched at daylight. Captain Forbes, of company C, Seventh Illinois, was detached ten miles south of Starkville, to proceed to Macon, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, to break up the rails, destroy the wires, and do all the damage in his power to the enemy's transportation.

From the time the command left Starkville, Colonels Grierson and Prince, in consultation, felt thoroughly convinced that it was of the utmost importance that the railroad — or, at all events, the telegraph — should be interrupted between Okolona and Macon, as near Macon as possible; and two volunteer scouts, (private Post, of the Second Iowa, and private Parker, of the Sixth Illinois,) who had offered to do the work, backed out at last from the perilous undertaking. Believing it to be very important that a feint should be made toward Macon, and no one appearing willing to do it, Colonel Prince--soon after starting on this morning of April twenty-second--offered the work to Captain Forbes, of company B, Seventh Illinois.

Captain Forbes, whose command numbered only thirty-five men and officers, gladly accepted it., though knowing that, in order to rejoin his regiment, he would have to repulse any force which might be following, and march at least fifty miles further than the rest of the command; besides running great risk of being captured, as it was not known what force might be at Macon, nor what force might be following. He was instructed that if a free should be at Macon, he was to try and cross the Okanoxubee River, and move toward Decatur, in Newton County, by the shortest route. The gallant Captain proceeded on his perilous journey, and his Colonel says he feared he would never see him again; although he knew that he would accomplish all that could be done by human bravery and prudence.

Before marching this day, (the twenty-second,) Captain Graham, with one battalion, was detailed to burn a confederate shoe-manufactory near Starkville. He succeeded in destroying several thousand pairs of boots and shoes, also hats and a large quantity of leather ; besides capturing a quartermaster from Port Hudson, who was getting supplies for his regiment. The two regiments — the Sixth Illinois in advance — passed through the little village of Louisville at half-past 7 P. M., and camped ten miles below the latter place at one o'clock A. M., of the twenty-third. The distance marched this day was fifty-seven miles, over the most terrible roads that can be imagined.

The march of the twenty-second was terrible, because the swamps of the Okanoxubee river were overflowed. After moving four miles south of Louisville, they marched a distance of eight miles through a swamp. On each side of the road were enormous trees, and the water was, everywhere, from three to four feet deep; with every few hundred yards, a mire-hole in which frequently, for a few moments, man and horse were lost to view. The Seventh Illinois being in the rear, found these holes almost impassable, from the action of the large body of cavalry which had preceded them, and they were compelled to leave drowned some twenty noble animals, whose strength was not equal to such an emergency. The men so dismounted removed their saddles, placed them on some other led beasts, and pushed onward cheerfully. [550]

23d.--They broke camp at seven o'clock A. M., crossed the Pearl River at half-past 4 P. M., and took refreshments at Squire Payne's.

A glance at the map will show the importance of Pearl River. Knowing it to be quite high from heavy rains, and aware also that as rebel scouts had preceded them, it was of the utmost consequence to secure Pearl River bridge, Colonel Prince, who was in advance with the Seventh Illinois, pushed forward with energy, and, by very fast riding, succeeded in getting to the bridge and driving away a picket, before they had time to tear up more than a few planks, which were replaced in a few minutes. The gallant Colonel devoutly speaks of this as one of the many instances in which a divine Providence seemed to be shielding them, during their whole perilous journey; for the destruction of this bridge would have been, in all probability, fatal to the whole expedition.

At ten o'clock P. M. Colonel Blackburn, of the Seventh Illinois, was sent forward with two hundred men to Decatur, which place he passed through at four A. M., (of the twenty-fourth,) and captured two trains of cars and two locomotives at Newton Station, at seven o'clock. The rest of the command arrived at nine o'clock. The bridges and trestles were found burned six miles each side of the station, seventy-five prisoners captured and paroled, two warehouses frill of commissary stores utterly destroyed by fire, and also four carloads of ammunition, mostly for heavy artillery. The bridges, etc., on the east side of the station were destroyed by the Second battalion of the Sixth Illinois, under Major M. H. Starr. The whole command left Newton at eleven A. M. of the twenty-fourth, and marched through Garlandville to the plantation of Mr. Bender, about twelve miles from Newton, where they encamped. The distance traversed on the twenty-third and twenty-fourth was eighty miles, and all this without scarcely halting.

25th.--They left camp at Bender's at eight A. M., and encamped for the night on Dr. Dore's plantation, eight miles east of Raleigh. It was at this place they were unhappily compelled to leave two or three soldiers, who were unable to travel further. The distance marched this day was about twenty miles.

26th.--They left camp at sunrise, passed through Raleigh at eight o'clock A. M., crossed Strong River, near Westville, and fed at Mrs. Smith's plantation, near Strong River bridge. The distance marched was forty-one miles.

27th.--Colonel Prince left Mrs. Smith's with two hundred men at one A. M., and arrived at the Georgetown Ferry at daylight. The rest of the command came up and crossed during the day. Colonel Prince immediately proceeded with two hundred men to Hazlehurst, cut the telegraph wires, destroyed a number of cars, four of them loaded with ammunition.

Although Colonel Prince had marched his regiment forty-one miles--during a large portion of the time through drenching rain — he firmly believed that, as the citizens were arming themselves and the news about them was flying in all directions, it was a matter of life and death that Pearl River should be crossed, and the New-Orleans and Jackson Railroad reached without any delay whatever. He therefore obtained permission from Colonel Grierson to move directly forward with two hundred picked men of his regiment, to secure the ferry across Pearl River before the enemy should be able to destroy it. The distance to the river was thirteen miles, and from there to Hazlehurst's Station was twelve miles. The remainder of the two regiments were to come forward as soon as they were sufficiently rested.

Colonel Prince started with the two hundred at one A. M., and reached the bank of the river before daylight, when contrary to his information, the flat-boat was upon the opposite side of the river. Not daring to call out, he spoke to a volunteer, who, with a powerful horse, undertook to swim the river; but the rapidity of the swollen stream carried him below the landing, where there was a quicksand, and he barely returned to shore with his life.

A few moments later a man came down from the house toward the river, and, in true North-Carolina accent, asked, in a careless way, if we wanted to cross; to which he got a reply — in a very capital imitation of his twang — that a few of them did want to go across, and that it seemed harder to wake up his nigger ferryman than to eatch the d — d conscripts. The proprietor took the bait, apologized for the detention and woke up his ferryman, who immediately brought over the boat, which thenceforward became the property of Uncle Sam--the proprietor all the while believing he was lavishing his attentions on the First regiment of Alabama cavalry, fresh from Mobile! The breakfast given to the Alabama Colonel that morning was highly relished and appreciated, but too much time was riot spent over it, and the importance of speed was clearly proved, only half an hour afterward, when they caught a courier flying to the ferry with the news that the Yankees were coming, and that all the ferries were to be immediately destroyed.

At Hazlehurst Station, Colonel Prince succeeded in capturing a large number of cars, four or five being loaded with shell and ammunition, and others with army stores. The whole of this property was utterly destroyed.

And here comes one of the most amusing episodes of the whole affair. Captain Forbes, who, it will be remembered, had been sent to Macon, from near Starkville, rejoined the command just as they had all crossed Pearl River. Having been unable to take Macon, he followed their trail to Newton, where he was informed that they had gone to Enterprise, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. He followed on to that place, and marched within his little squad into town, where hie found about three thousand rebel troops just getting off the cars. He promptly raised a flag of truce, and boldly rode forward, demanding the surrender of the place, in the name of Colonel Grierson. [551]

The commanding rebel officer--Colonel Goodwin, asked one hour to consider the proposition, and wished to know where Captain Forbes would be at that time. The Captain answered that he would go back with the reply to the reserve — which he did pretty rapidly, after having shrewdly ascertained the strength of the enemy. It is not known whether Enterprise ever surrendered or not, or whether the rebel Colonel is still trying to find the “reserve” to make his penitent bow, but one thing certain is that Captain Forbes, with his little squad of thirty-five men, did not intend to take those three thousand rebels prisoners — that time at least — and was laughing in his sleeve many miles off while those Enterprise-ing people were trembling in their boots — id est, if, at the present fabulous price of leather, they had any boots to tremble in.

The Mobile Register of the twenty-eighth, in the depth of its consternation and chagrin, treats this ridiculous sell with the most absurd and amusing gravity. “The only thing satisfactorily explained,” says the oracular Register, “is that they ran away from Enterprise as soon as they heard that ‘ Old Blizzard’ was about.” The Register little thought that it was only thirty-five brave fellows whom its terrified imagination had converted into “one thousand five hundred Yankees.”

The Sixth and Seventh Illinois, under command of Colonel Grierson, left Hazlehurst at seven P. M., (the Sixth Illinois in advance,) passed through Gallatin and encamped near that place. A thirty-two pounder rifled Parrott gun, with one thousand four hundred pounds of powder, was here captured, en route to Grand Gulf. The distance travelled this day was thirty-seven miles.

28th.--They left camp at seven o'clock. At Hardgrove's, companies A, H, F, and M, were detailed, under command of Captain Trafton, to proceed to Bahala and destroy the railroad and transportation. The Sixth Illinois had a skirmish with some rebel cavalry, near Union Church, in which two of the enemy were wounded, and some prisoners taken. They camped at Union Church. Distance marched that day thirty miles.

They left camp at sunrise. Captain Trafton's battalion had come in at four A. M., having travelled some thirty miles more than the rest of the command, and having had several skirmishes, in which, without any loss, they captured about thirty prisoners. Again directing their course toward the New-Orleans and Jackson Railroad, at Brook-haven, the Seventh Illinois, in advance, charged into the place, burned depot, cars, bridges, etc., and captured and paroled two hundred and one prisoners. They encamped six miles south-west of the town. The people were much terrified by the idea that the whole town would be burned, but when they found all private property perfectly undisturbed, they seemed to entertain a very different opinion of the Yankees to what they did only a few hours previously. This diffusion of light and truth is, in reality, the vital point in which our advancing armies are striking down this rebellion. They marched twenty-five miles this day.

30th.--They left camp at sunrise, the Sixth Illinois in advance. They burned the depot, bridges, and cars in the railroad at Bogue Chito; left that place at ten A. M., burning all bridges and trestles between there and Summit, where they arrived at five P. M., and again burnt several cars and a large amount of government property in the last locality. They encamped south-west of Summit, after marching over a distance of twenty-eight miles.

May 1st.--They left camp at daylight, and proceeding in a south-westerly direction through the woods — without regard to roads — came into the Clinton and Osyka road, near a bridge four miles north-east of Wall's Post-office. About eighty of the enemy were lying in ambush near the bridge. Lieutenant-Colonel Blackburn, unfortunately with more bravery than discretion, proceeded across the bridge at the head of the scouts and of company G, Seventh Illinois. He was seriously wounded in the thigh, and slightly in the head. Colonel Prince immediately caused his men to dismount, to skirmish the enemy out of the bushes, and, with the assistance of Captain Smith's battery, soon put them to flight.

This affair at the bridge detained the column but a few minutes. They marched all night; and crossed the Amite River about ten o'clock P. M., without opposition — the picket being asleep. They had marched forty miles this day.

May 2d.--They marched again early in the morning, and the Sixth Illinois, being in advance, surprised and burned a rebel camp at Sandy Creek Bridge. At this point the Seventh Illinois was ordered in advance, and, at about nine o'clock A. M., as a crowning glory to this most extraordinary series of adventures, captured forty-two of Stewart's Mississippi cavalry on Comite River, including their Colonel.

This noble band of toil-worn heroes arrived at Baton Rouge about noon of May second, where their triumphal entry created a furore of joyful excitement that will not cease till it has thrilled every loyal heart upon this continent — ay, every heart that loves liberty anil human bravery, through the civilized world.

Some idea of the pluck and endurance of these men can be gleaned from the fact that during the last thirty hours--in which they had ridden eighty miles, fought two or three skirmishes, destroyed bridges, camps, equipages, etc. ; swain a river and captured forty-two prisoners and quantities of horses — they had scarcely halted at all, and went through these terrific exertions without food for man or beast! During the last night it was observed that nearly the entire column — worn out almost beyond human endurance — were fast asleep upon horseback; except when the sharp report of a carbine told of the nearness of the enemy. And all this was rendered without one word of murmur or complaint from any lip, either of officers or privates. [552]

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