itzers. We found no force of the enemy in Austin, but learned that 4 horsemen had left Dr. Owens, 1 1/2 miles east of Austin, on our approach and half fled on the Senatobia road. Leaving the infantry and howitzers, I followed 2 miles, where I found the camp of 30 rebels, who had their breakfast already prepared, but had left ten minutes before without eating it. I also learned that the party was headed by General M. Jeff. Thompson, and that they were expecting a large train of arms and ammunition to cross the river at Austin for General Hindman. I immediately sent an order for the infantry and howitzers, and pushed on 7 miles, but failed to overtake them.
A force of from 500 to 15,000 being reported at Hudson's Bridge, on Coldwater, only 15 miles from Austin, I deemed it prudent to wait for the howitzers and infantry, which consumed nearly an hour. Being joined by them, we pushed on, and 2 miles ahead, at White Oak Bayou, found the enemy in position in a canebrake, on the left and east side of the bridge. They opened fire on my advance guard, to which, with my adjutant, F. J. Cole, I had ridden forward. I immediately ordered Sergeant Moody to shell them. Three or four shells were thrown in quick succession, when they fled precipitately. I attempted to charge them, but found the bridge torn up, and was compelled to halt and repair it. We, however, captured 2 prisoners. After repairing the bridge and leaving a small guard of tired infantry we pushed on 2 miles farther, where we found their ammunition train had turned back. Indications were that they had a force of at least 500 with it, and numbering 40 wagons. A mile farther we came to another bridge, where we found a small force, who fled upon our approach. We succeeded, however, in firing a round at them and capturing 1 prisoner. We then proceeded to Coldwater, where we found the enemy had succeeded in crossing their train with their whole force. Their rear guard was yet in sight, but they had thrown the planks off the bridge and into the river, making it impossible to cross my command. A force of nearly 100 crossed over on foot and followed for some distance. Being now 15 miles from Austin, no provisions, with a large rebel force at Senatobia and Coldwater, only 2 miles off, and a mere handful of men, I determined to return of the rebels over the bridge they had partially succeeded in destroying, I set fire to it.
Whether we succeeded in killing or wounding any I know not, as I took no time to examine. We took in all 6 prisoners. Three or four of my men are slightly wounded. Adjutant Cole's horse was hit with a ball, but not injured. There is another crossing on Coldwater, known as Brown's Ferry, the road from which comes into the Senatobia and Austin roads jus east of Beaver Dam Lake, and I feel confident there must be a road from Helena, south of Beaver Dam Lake, to that ferry.
On our return from Coldwater, within half a mile of Austin one of my men, of the Eighth Indiana, was fired upon from a corn field, and a mule killed under him. I regret very much our inability to capture their ammunition train, and especially the swamp fox, General Thompson. Has we been acquainted with the country and had an idea of their movements they could not have escaped us. As it was, had my whole battalion been with me, so that I could have followed at once, without waiting for the infantry, their train, claimed by them to be of $200,000 value, could never have recrossed Coldwater. The enemy are in some force at Senatobia; also at Coldwater.
If allowed to cross the river with my battalion for three or four days I will undertake to make a thorough reconnaissance of the whole