The night becoming very dark, those of my command became separated, and many of them, going into the enemy's lines, were taken prisoners. I was not able, during the night and amid the swamp upon the border of Reelfoot Lake, to get them together, or even to find any of them, and had to content myself with the several companies of heavy artillery, which were so fortunate as to have a guide.
The next morning (the 8th), after a long and fatiguing march, we arrived at the ferry across the lake, where many were already before us. Here we found, as means of transportation across, three ferry across the lake, where many were already before us. Here we found, as means of transportation across, three ferry-flats and a number of canoes and skiffs, but the boats were in the hands of Captain Hudson's cavalry, under Lieutenant
. They persistently continued to cross their horses, while a great number of footmen were standing in the water, some to their arm-pits, waiting an opportunity to cross. I ordered the horses to be left until the men could all be crossed over, yet the boats were stopped far out in the water, where horses were taken abroad. One of the company (officer or soldier) seized an ax, threatening to sink the boat if men other than the company should take possession or go abroad. One of these boats soon sank, being injured by the horses, and thus were those on the other side the lake greatly retarded in crossing.
During the day my regiment came up, as well as about 130 of the First Alabama Regiment. I drew up such of these as had saved their arms to oppose the enemy, should he be in pursuit, as we were informed he then was.
Obtaining the boats that were fit for use, we labored vigorously crossing the men. Some had hastily constructed rafts of timbers, upon which they crossed in great peril, the water being more than a mile wide, the current rapid, and amid a dense cypress brake. Night setting in dark and stormy, with a driving wind and rain, the boats could no longer cross, though many of the soldiers were still on the other side, in the water, without shelter or food; many recently from the hospital, some with measles, mumps, and other disease still upon them.
In the morning we were still in the water, the snow falling fast. With the most vigorous exertions on the part of those already over, by noon or soon after my whole command was over, though many of them almost lifeless with cold.
With but little rest or sleep, after five days of almost unparalleled suffering and exposure, we arrived at Bell's Station, and are now here. To the credit of those under my immediate command I must be permitted to say that, although worn down with the fatigues of the march, their feet all blistered, without means of transportation most of the way-for the road was cleared of wagons or horses by those before us--though their knapsacks and blankets had to be abandoned, they have saved, most of them, their arms. In fact my men, except the sick and those just from the hospital, are better armed to-day than ever before, having secured better arms abandoned by others. We are not able to use these arms now. We are without clothing, tents, and other comforts, but hope soon to able to take the field again.
About 300 of the Twelfth Arkansas, 150 of the First Alabama, and a few of the Eleventh Arkansas are with me. A few men from the several commands of Colonels Henderson, Brown, Baker, and Clark escaped with me, but I have lost sight of them.
I am under obligations to the officers for the aid they gave on the march and to the men for the propriety of their conduct; but am particularly indebted to Captain J. R. White, of Company C, for his untir-
12 R R-VOL VIII