Report of Brigadier General Thomas A. Davies, U. S. Army, commanding District of Columbus, of operations December 18, 1862-January 3, 1863.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF COLUMBUS, January 9, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of transactions in this district since December 18, 1862:
I received telegram from General Sullivan, at Jackson, stating that the enemy had crossed the Tennessee River at Clifton in force and were menacing Jackson, and asking for troops. I had none to spare him, and as answered. I understood he withdrew most of the troops from Union City into Jackson. News came that Humboldt, Trenton, and Dyer had fallen into the hands of the enemy. I immediately ordered the withdrawal of the force at Kenton (two companies) if Rutherford should also fall. It fell, and I ordered the two companies to fall back on Columbus and also the one company at Union City. I subsequently, on bearing that the enemy were falling back, sent the company back to Union City, and they had no more than arrived and train left when a flag of truce was sent in with paroled prisoners, and while the officer in command was arranging for the flag of truce to be sent in they were surrounded by a large force and surrendered without firing a gun.
Upon the cutting off of communication with General Grant I telegraphed to General Halleck the state of things, and he immediately ordered General Curtis to send General Fisk's brigade to re-enforce me, giving me orders in three separate telegrams "to hold Columbus at all hazards and make no movement of troops that would endanger it." Having no reliable information but such as I could gather from scouts and countrymen I was compelled to do all to the maximum for the defense of Columbus and the public property at the place. I had what I supposed was reliable information that Forrest had a force of 7,000 and ten pieces of artillery and was backed by a heavy infantry force. Under these circumstances I ordered the loading of all the commissary and quartermaster's stores on the boats that brought troops and forwarded the stores to Memphis, in accordance with orders from the commissary department. This helped my defenses very much and placed Columbus at once beyond all danger, even though the forces came here that were reported. I got some navy howitzers from Cairo and the mosquito gunboat Fair Play to aid along the river. A portion of Forrest's force having been reported as moving toward Hickman, which had been evacuated to re-enforce Columbus (their having but 63 infantry and 73 cavalry for duty), and the additional fact that Van Dorn was also moving in the same direction, and from information I received concluded their design was to gain some point on the Mississippi to interfere with the navigation. This conclusion proved true. The same evening I gained the information I dispatched the gunboat Fair Play to Hickman, to be there at daylight. The steamer Duke coming up was being brought to when the gunboat hove in sight. She sheered off and came on up and the rebels disappeared.
They endeavored to mount during the day two 64-pounder condemned guns on the bank, left by the Navy. Hearing of it I dispatched a regiment to roll the guns into the river and burn the carriages, which was done.
Island Numbers 10, with all its armament in position and with plenty of ammunition, was the greatest danger. I had 71 men there for duty, and