From captured mails and information obtained by my scouts, I knew that large forces had been sent out to intercept our return, and having instructions from Major-General Hurlbut and Brigadier-General Smith to move in any direction from this point which, in my judgment, would be best for the safety of my command and the success of the expedition, I at once decided to move south, in order to secure the necessary rest and food for men and horses, and then return to LA Grange through Alabama, or make for Baton Rouge, as I might hereafter deem best. Major Starr in the mean time rejoined us, having destroyed most effectually three bridges and several hundred feet of trestle-work, and the telegraph from 8 to 10 miles east of Newton Station.
After resting about three hours, we moved south to Garlandville. At this point we found the citizens, many of them venerable with age, armed with shot-guns and organized to resist our approach. As the advance entered the town, these citizens fired upon them and wounded one of our men. We charged upon them and captured several. After disarming them, we showed them the folly of their actions, and, released them. Without an exception they acknowledged their mistake, and declared that they had been grossly deceived as to our real character. One volunteered his services as guide, and upon leaving us declared that hereafter his prayers should be for the Union Army. I mention this as a sample of the feeling which exists, and the good effect which our presence produced among the people in the country through which we passed. Hundreds who are skulking and hiding out to avoid conscription, only await the presence of our arms to sustain them, when they will rise up and declare their principles; and thousands who have been deceived, upon the vindication of our cause would immediately return to loyalty.
After slight delay at Garlandville, we moved southwest about 10 miles, and camped at night on the plantation of Mr. Bender, 2 miles WEST of Montrose. Our men and horses having become gradually exhausted, I determined on making a very easy march the next day, looking more to the recruiting of my weary little command than to the accomplishment of any important object; consequently I marched at 8 o'clock the next morning, taking a WEST, and varying slightly to a northwest, course. We marched about 5 miles, and halted to feed on the plantation of Elias Nichols.
After resting until about 2 p. m., during which time I sent detachments north to threaten the line of railroad at Lake Station and other points, we moved southwest toward Raleigh, making about 12 miles during the afternoon, and halting at dark on the plantation of Dr. Mackadora.
From this point I sent a single scout, disguised as a citizen, to proceed northward to the line of the Southern Railroad, cut the telegraph, and, if possible, fire a bridge or trestle-work. He started on his journey about midnight, and when within 7 miles of the railroad he came upon a regiment of Southern cavalry from Brandon, MISS., in search of us. He succeeded in misdirecting them as to the place where he had last seen us, and, having seen to camp with the news. When he first met them they were on the direct road to our camp, and had they not been turned from their course would have come up with us before daylight.
From information received through my scouts and other sources, I found that Jackson and the stations east as far as Lake Station had been re-enforced by infantry and artillery; and hearing that a fight was momentarily expected at Grand Gulf, I decided to make a rapid march, cross Pearl River, and strike the New Orleans, Jackson and Great