Cavalry and 5 stragglers of the Third Michigan, driving in others and coming within easy range of the fortifications. I immediately put my command in position and sent out Lieutenant Bull with 20 men to ascertain their position and strength. The party was fired upon and returned the fire, killing 2 of the enemy, but fell back to our lines, reporting them in large force. I immediately moved out upon them on the Brownsville road, skirmishing and driving them for 2 miles. They not heretofore knowing of our presence at Bolivar became somewhat confused. At this point they struck off to the southeast, when not knowing their purposes I sent two companies upon heir trail and fell back to the town with my main force. The companies sent out pursued them closely, crossing the Summerville road and proceeding on the Middleburg road. Having ascertained their intentions I immediately started with my whole force in pursuit.
At Middleburg the enemy attacked the small force stationed there under Colonel Graves, of the Twelfth Michigan Infantry, but were repulsed with loss. We then came upon heir rear and they immediately left, taking a southerly direction, on the Van Buren road. I quickly threw out skirmishers from the advanced battalion,m commanded by Major Wallace, of the Fourth Illinois, and gave them one round from Lieutenant Curtis' battery, attached to the Sixth Illinois Cavalry, killing 1 and wounding 2 of the enemy and unfortunately wounding 1 of our own skirmishers. I here dispatched to you our progress. They still retreated and we again took up the pursuit, following them to Van Buren and thence to Saulsbury, dispatching you from both places. Finding that they had encamped, and it now being dark, and Colonel Lee with his brigade being 5 miles in the rear, to whom I had sent repeated orders to close up on the front and to which he paid no attention, I then sent him a written order, which still found him 5 miles in the rear, with skirmishers dismounted on the flanks and front on ground over which I had passed with all due caution two hours previously. I turned to the right on the Grand Junction road and awaited his arrival, sending out scouts to watch the movements of the enemy, and there encamped for the night. I here received your dispatch acknowledging the receipt of my dispatches from Middleburg and Van Buren, copies of which you had sent Colonel Hatch and the commander of the forces at Salem.
The scouts returned at 2 o'clock a. m. December 25 and reported the enemy to have left after feeding. At 4 o'clock a. m. I again started in pursuit. Colonel Mizner rejoined the column about 8 miles south of Saulsbury and again assumed command. When within 8 miles of Ripley the Third Michigan being in advance, and their horses appearing fatigued, I asked permission of Colonel Mizner to move the Sixth Illinois Cavalry to the front, which with some hesitation was granted. We then moved rapidly on the Ripley, meeting a detachment of the Second Illinois Cavalry, under Major Mudd, who had just arrived from Holly Springs. By order of Colonel Mizner I moved with my brigade through town to select a camp 2 1/2 miles to the south, when 1 encountered the enemy within a mile of the town and pursued them 7 miles, not finding any camp. Three times they formed upon us, but were as often repulsed with considerable loss, we succeeding in capturing a lieutenant and 10 men and scattering their rear in every direction. Here I ordered Major Loomis, Sixth Illinois Cavalry, to change the enemy with one battalion, to which he promptly responded, but had no opportunity, as the enemy fled precipitately. In this engagement Van Dorn commanded in person. It now being after dark we fell back 1 1/2 miles and