cept and attempt by Van Dorn's forces on December 24 to destroy the trestle work and break the telegraphic communications near Middleburg, which was frustrated and the injury speedily repaired.
The people at this post and in the vicinity have mostly taken the oath of allegiance a great portion observing its obligations in good faith; a few require wholesome surveillance, and have it. As the elements of mischief are removed and the people have room for a free choice a growing and sincere loyalty is apparent.
It is source of regret that bands of robbers and guerrillas still infest the neighborhood. At this time several hundred are near this post, committing outrages on persons and property. With a battalion of good cavalry they could be expelled; but as this arm of the service is wanting their presence is of necessity tolerated.
It is a mortifying fact, and of which I have heretofore complained, that while I cannot procure means to arm and equip the incipient regiment so long on my hands, these partisan rangers have been permitted to market in the streets of Memphis the cotton stolen from citizens, and with the avails to purchase and bring out in return all kinds of army supplies, including sabers, carbines, and pistols in abundance, and in one instance at least a wagon of powder; all this in so open a manner as to be the subject of notoriety and proof.
On December 18 instant I received your order by telegraph to bring to Jackson all my available force, "picking up all guards at stations on the road except guards at bridges." On the same day I reported to you by railroad with the Forty-third Regiment Illinois Infantry, Colonel A. Engelmann, 275 men; Sixty-first Regiment Illinois Infantry, Major S. P. Ohr, 242 men; First West Tennessee Cavalry (dismounted), Major D. M. Emerson,83 men; four guns, Springfield Artillery, Captain T. F. Vaughn, 70 men, being in all 670 men, exclusive of officers.
On the evening of the same day the Forty-third and Sixty-first Illinois Infantry were detailed to march out in front of the enemy, then menacing Jackson from the east. Colonel A. Engelmann, of the Forty-third, was charged with the command, with general directions to avail himself of the services of our cavalry then in front of him and ascertain the strength and position of the enemy, who was reported in large force, composed of cavalry, infantry, and artillery.
Colonel Meek, of the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry; Major Hayes, of the Fifth Ohio Cavalry, and Sergeant Doss, of the Second West Tennessee Cavalry, reported to Colonel Engelmann with detachments from their commands,numbering some 300 men. This was about 3 1/2 miles from Jackson. Some 1 1/2 miles in front the enemy's camp fires were lighted. Colonel Engelmann was dissuaded from a night attack by want of a knowledge of the ground, and his men, unprepared with blankets and without fires, bivouacked for the night in order of battle.
At daybreak on the morning of the 19th the enemy advanced in heavy force, our cavalry slowly retiring, occasionally checking the enemy by well-directed volleys. The enemy's batteries were brought to bear upon them as they paused, but without marked effect. Colonel Engelmann skillfully disposed of the Forty-third and Sixty-first Illinois, under Lieutenant-Colonel Dengler and Major Ohr, respectively, near Salem Cemetery and in concealed either side of the road, the nature of the ground affording at once a view of the enemy's line of advance and protection from his guns. The enemy fell into the snare thus set for them. Pursuing with overwhelming numbers our little band of cavalry, who warily retired before them, they came within close range of