War of the Rebellion: Serial 034 Page 0257 Chapter XXXV. EXPEDITIONS TO COURTLAND, ALA., ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

body, we moved toward Corinth. That night we encamped at Little Bear Creek.

Thursday and Friday, the 30th of April and 1st of May, were occupied in marching as far as Burnsville, where I received orders to take ten days' rations and march the following day from that point toward Tupelo, for the purpose of forming a junction with Colonel Hatch, who, it was supposed, would meet us at that point. Here four companies of the Ninth Illinois Mounted Infantry were added to my command, which, with the addition, amounted to about 900 effective men. On Saturday we started on the march to Tupelo, which place we reached on the following Tuesday, passing through Jacinto, Booneville, Cartersville, Baldwyn, and Guntown, frequently skirmishing with the enemy's scouting parties.

As already stated, we arrived at Tupelo on Tuesday, May 5, and here we fought the best contested fight of the whole expedition. Just before entering the town of Tupelo, and to the east of the railroad, it is necessary to cross a dense and almost impassable swamp, on the western edge of which runs Old Town Creek. We had almost reached the western edge, and were approaching, as well as the nature of the swamp would permit, the bridge over this creek, when the enemy, entirely unseen by us, opened upon us with musketry. I immediately threw out to my right and left several squadrons of the Tenth Missouri, who succeeded in dislodging the enemy, and securing an easy passage of the bridge for the balance of the command. Still keeping my skirmishers out to my right and left, and an advance guard in the front, I moved down a lane to the left and south of the town, and massed my command in an open field, about 600 yards from the southern border of Tupelo. Here word was brought me from one of my skirmishing squadrons that the enemy were drawn up in line on their front, to the number of 600. I ordered two squadrons of the Seventh Kansas, that were armed with Colt's revolving rifles, to dismount and attack them on foot, supporting them with two squadrons of the Tenth Missouri (mounted), under Lieutenant-Colonel Bowen, with orders to charge with the saber as soon as the enemy's line should break. This order, I am proud to say, was well obeyed and gallantly executed by both the mounted and dismounted soldiers, for the enemy retired, and for a few minutes all was silent along the lines. In about half an hour from the first attack, sharp firing was heard on my front, and the enemy was advancing toward us with yells. I immediately moved my whole force to the rear and west of the village, and, placing my mountain howitzers upon the brow of a hill, I sent forward all the cavalry except one squadron of the Fifteenth Illinois, which I ordered to dismount and support the battery. Lieutenant-Colonel Phillips, commanding the Ninth Illinois Mounted Infantry, having been detailed for that purpose early in the morning, acted as the rear guard and guard for the train, and, knowing that the rear was in such good hands, I felt no anxiety on that account; and this important trust was well sustained. As soon as my front had become fully engaged with the enemy, who fought with considerable determination, I ordered the battery to shell the woods from which the enemy was emerging. This fire was effective, and from that moment the battle became general. At one time two regiments of mounted infantry, commanded by the rebel General Ruggles, forced their way between my fighting column and my reserve, but were suddenly induced to retire much more rapidly than they came. My left at one time fell back toward the battery, which then poured charge after charge of canister into the rebel ranks, with considerable effect, forcing them to retreat, rapidly followed by the cavalry.

17 R R - VOL XXIII, PT I