War of the Rebellion: Serial 024 Page 0538 WEST TENN. AND NORTHERN MISS. Chapter XXIX.

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belonged is censurable. The conduct of Captain Walker throughout is worthy of all praise.

When at Oakland I was 15 miles from Coffeeville. From prisoners captured and from citizens I learned that the rebel army had fled from Abbeville and were falling back rapidly via Water Valley and Coffeeville. I also learned that the cavalry force which we encountered at Oakland were Texas troops and about 1,500 strong, and were part of a force which left Coffeeville that morning in pursuit of me; that it was divided into three different parties, each of about that number, and left on as many different routes. Concluding that they would all fall back on Coffeeville, and being satisfied that more or less force from Price's army was at Coffeeville, I deemed it highly imprudent to proceed farther, as my whole force of infantry and cavalry did not exceed 2,500 men. I bivouacked for the night on the public square at Oakland. Though near the enemy in large force, with the precautions I had taken I felt perfectly secure. I knew that the enemy was retreating on the road not 10 miles in an air line from me, but I felt confident that he was in too great a hurry to turn aside to fight me, particularly as they had received such exaggerated reports of the forces under General Hovey's command. I determined to remain here and send back for a portion of the remaining infantry to be sent up to my support, that I might proceed on to their line of retreat and harass them as they passed; but about 12 o'clock at night I received a dispatch from General Hovey transmitting a dispatch from General Steele stating that the object of the expedition had been fully accomplished and ordering the entire force to return to Helena immediately. I allowed my men to rest quietly at Oakland until morning, when I quietly and deliberately, but reluctantly, returned.

The day I returned from Oakland it rained hard all day, and with the previous rains was calculated to excite just apprehensions that we could not get back with our artillery to the Mississippi across the low alluvial bottom which we had passed over in going out. No person that has not passed over this road can have a just estimate of it in a wet time. For 50 miles from the Mississippi or 10 miles beyond the Tallahatchie the land is an alluvial formation filled with ponds, sloughs, and bayous, and subject to annual overflow, and the roads are impassable as soon as the fall rains begin.

In conclusion I beg to say that the result of the expedition has on the whole been eminently successful. Had I possessed in advance the knowledge I now have I could have done some things I left undone; but my main object, which was to stampede the rebel army, could not have been more effectually accomplished. At no time, except at Oakland, had I over 1,925 men, and then I had 600 infantry and two field pieces, which came up just at night. The impression prevailed wherever we went that we were the advance of a force of 30,000 that was to cut off Price. The infantry sent forward to my support at Mitchell's Cross Roads consisted of the Eleventh Indiana, Colonel Macauley, 400; Twenty-fourth Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Barter, 370; Twenty-eighth and Thirtieth Iowa, Lieutenant-Colonel Torrence, 600, and an Iowa battery, Captain Griffiths, all under the command of Colonel Spicely, of Indiana, an able and efficient officer.

Of the temper of both officers and men under my command I cannot speak in too high terms of praise. From the time of my landing at Delta to this time my command has marched over 200 miles. The weather for two days out of six has been most inclement, raining incessantly.