28 miles, mostly through a dense swamp, the Noxubee River bottom. This was for miles belly-deep in water, so that no road was discernible. The inhabitants through this part of the country generally did not know of our coming, and would not believe us to be anything but Confederates. We arrived at Louisville soon after dark. I sent a battalion of the Sixth Illinois, under Major Starr, in advance, to picket the town and remain until the column had passed, when they were relived by a battalion of the Seventh Illinois, under Major Graham, who was ordered to remain until we should have been gone an hour, to prevent persons leaving with information of the course we were taking, to drive out stragglers, preserve order, and quiet the fears of the people. They had heard of our coming a short time before we arrived, and many had left, taking only what they could hurriedly move. The column moved quietly through the town without halting, and not a thing was disturbed. Those who remained at home acknowledged that they were surprised. They had expected to be robbed, outraged, and have their houses burned. On the contrary, they were protected in their persons and property.
After leaving the town, we struck another swamp, in which, crossing it, as we were obliged to, in the dark, we lost several animals drowned, and the men narrowly escaped the same fate. Marching until midnight, we halted until daylight at the plantation of Mr. Estes, about 10 miles south of Louisville.
The next morning, April 23, at daylight we took the road for Philadelphia, crossing Pearl River on a bridge about 6 miles north of the town. This bridge we were fearful would be destroyed by the citizens to prevent our crossing, and upon arriving at Philadelphia we found that they had met and organized for that purpose; but hearing of our near approach, their hearts failed, and they fled to the woods. We moved through Philadelphia about 3 p. m. without interruption, and halted to feed about 5 miles southeast, on the Enterprise road. Here we rested until 10 o'clock at night, when I sent two battalions of the Seventh, under Lieutenant-Colonel Blackburn, to proceed immediately to Decatur, thence to the railroad at Newton Station. With the main force I followed about an hour later. The advance passed through Decatur about daylight, and struck the railroad about 6 a. m. I arrived about an hour afterward with the column. Lieutenant-Colonel Blackburn dashed into the town, took possession of the railroad and telegraph, and succeeded in capturing two trains in less than half an hour after his arrival. One of these, 25 cars, was loaded with ties and machinery, and the other 13 cars were loaded with commissary stores and ammunition, among the latter several thousand loaded shells. These, together with a large quantity of commissary and quartermaster's stores and about five hundred stand of arms stored in the town, were destroyed. Seventy-five prisoners captured at this point were paroled. The locomotives were exploded and otherwise rendered completely unserviceable. Here the track was torn up, and a bridge half a mile WEST of the station destroyed. I detached a battalion of the Sixth Illinois Cavalry, under Major Starr, to proceed eastward and destroy such bridges, &c., as he might find over Chunkey River. Having damaged as much as possible the railroad and telegraph, and destroyed all Government property in the vicinity of Newton, I moved about 4 miles south of the road and fed men and horses. The forced marches which I was compelled to make, in order to reach this point successfully, necessarily very much fatigued and exhausted my command, and rest and food were absolutely necessary for its safety.