I think he will come in above Okolona and toward Corinth. I have full faint that he can cut through any force they can raise.
Your obedient servant,
S. A. HURLBUT.
Lieutenant Colonel John A. RAWLINS.
HDQRS. SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Memphis, Tenn., May 5, 1863.
COLONEL: I consider it proper to report directly to the General-in-Chief the transactions in this army corps during the latter part of April, because the recent change of headquarters Department of the Tennessee isolates me from my immediate commander.
As the spring opened, I was daily more and more impressed with the feasibility of a plan, long entertained, of pushing a flying column of cavalry through the length of Mississippi, cutting the Southern Railroad. By consent and approval of General Grant, I prepared a system of movements along my entire line from Memphis to Corinth for the purpose of covering this cavalry dash. At the same time General Rosecrans proposed to me to cover a movement of 1,800 cavalry from Tuscumbia down into Alabama and Georgia. This did not interfere with my plan, but simply required extra force to be developed from Corinth. Delays incident to combined movements, especially from separate commands, kept his expeditionary column back for six days.
I commenced the movement from Corinth on the 15th; force as stated in report accompanying.
On the 17th, Colonel B. H. Grierson, Sixth Illinois Cavalry, with his own regiment, the Seventh Illinois, and SECOND Iowa, moved from LA Grange, by way of Pontotoc, with orders, after passing Pontotoc, to proceed straight down, throwing one regiment to the left toward Okolona, and to push for and destroy the Chunkey River Bridge and any others they could reach, and either return, or proceed to Baton Rouge, as might be found advisable.
On the same day, April 17, a column of infantry 1,500 strong, and one battery, moved by railroad from LA Grange to Coldwater, with orders to push rapidly between Coldwater and the Tallahatchee, and take Chalmers in flank and rear while attacked in front by three regiments, a battery, and 200 cavalry from Memphis, which left here on the 18th. I considered that the effect of these movements would be to puzzle the enemy and withdraw his force from the central line, which has proven to be correct.
Chalmers was attacked at Coldwater; the stream found to be unforeld there until Smith's column from his rear approached from LA Grange, when he broke into squads and disappeared. After holding the ground for three days, gathering 400 horses and mules and large supplies of bacon and forage, this force returned with small loss.
Grierson, on the 19th, detached the SECOND Iowa below Pontotoc, which fought its way gallantly back to LA Grange and came home well mounted. The main cavalry column (Sixth and Seventh Illinois) proceeded, without loss or engagement, to Newton, on the Southern Mississippi Railroad, and there destroyed bridges, &c. They then swept around to Hazlehurst, on the New Orleans and Jackson road, and destroyed heavy trestle. I inclose copies of Southern reports of their progress. * I have no doubt they are before this at Baton Rouge, or have joined General Grant at or below Grand Gulf.