War of the Rebellion: Serial 024 Page 0509 Chapter XXIX. MISSISSIPPI CENTRAL RAILROAD.

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6,000 men of the enemy were in sight. Before this I had called on Mr. Nilson, train superintendent of railroad, to furnish me with all the aid he had to barricade with cotton bales around the depot and public stores. At the same time I had ordered the commanding officers of the detachment of the Sixty-second and Twentieth Illinois to concentrate all their available forces at the railroad depot immediately. The two trains nearly ready to move, the one to the south as far as the tank, the other to the north as far as Coldwater, were to carry orders to all commanders of stations to hasten to this point with nothing but their available men and all their ammunition. As all these dispositions were made the enemy made their appearance in the force mentioned (6,000) and charged by two roads, the right led by General Van Dorn, on my small infantry camp; the left and center on the road which led direct to the depot. In attempting to escape by the rear of the depot building in order to non my infantry forces I was captured by a company of cavalry. I was taken to the rear, and found the force of the enemy to be twenty two regiments of cavalry, or about 10,000 men. My own force was less than 500 men, and they scattered to form posts on picket and in general guard duty over the city. I t was impossible for me to concentrate at one given point in the time allowed more than 150 men. The cavalry never reported to me at all, as I had ordered, but I hear from Lieutenant Edinger, ordnance officer, they behaved badly in town when they encountered the enemy, and instead of cutting their way through the force sent into the town to capture me personally (thinking I was not yet up) they received two volleys from the enemy and then cleared out, taking, I am told, the Pigeon Roost road. I have no fault to find with the fighting of the infantry; they did all they could; they were taken in detail, as the posts were of necessity so, and there was no time for concentration. What orders I did give were founded on information for a contraband, which I telegraphed you this morning at 5.30.

My pickets, both cavalry and infantry, were out and faithful, but the force was so large that they were overwhelmed and in every instance killed, wounded, or taken prisoners before daylight.

General Van Dorn burned up all the stores, depot buildings, armory, and ordnance buildings; in fact a large portion of the business part of the town is in ruins. There are no supplies here for the paroled prisoners and the sick, and what shall be done for them? My fate is most mortifying. I have wished a hundred times to-day that I had been killed. I have done all in my power-in truth, my force was inadequate. I have foreseen this and have so advised. No works here, and no force to put in them if they were here, and yet I know General Grant is not to blame; he has done all for the best, and so did I. I have obeyed orders, and have been unfortunate in so doing. The misfortune of war is mine. This railroad line cannot be maintained without an immense force. They make a feint on Jackson and the real attack on Holly Springs. The first depletes the latter and makes the move almost certain. Colonel, I send this by an officer who was here and knows the facts; he can tell you many things I cannot write.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


P. S.-I am not able now to give my loss in killed, wounded, and taken prisoners, but will do so as soon as possible.

Colonel RAWLINS,

Asst. Adjt. General, Thirteenth Army Corps, Oxford.