Gibson or Natchez, while I quietly took the opposite direction, taking the road leading southeast to Brookhaven, on the railroad.
Before arriving at this place, we ascertained that about 500 citizens and conscripts were organized to resist us. We charged into the town, when they fled, making but little captured over 200 prisoners, a large and beautiful camp of instruction, comprising several hundred tents, and a large quantity of quartermaster's and commissary stores, arms, ammunition, &c. After paroling the prisoners and destroying the railroad, telegraph, and all Government property, about dark we moved southward, and encamped at Mr. Gill's plantation, about 8 miles south of Brookhaven.
On the following morning we moved directly south, along the railroad, destroying all bridges and trestle-work to Bogue Chitto Station, where we burned the depot and FIFTEEN freight cars, and captured a very large secession flag. From thence we still moved along the railroad, destroying every bridge, water-tank, &c., as we passed, to Summit, which place we reached soon after noon. Here we destroyed twenty-five freight cars and a large quantity of Government sugar. We found much Union sentiment in this town, and were kindly welcomed and fed by many of the citizens.
Hearing nothing more of our forces at Grand Gulf, I concluded to make for Baton Rouge to recruit my command, after which I could return to LA Grange, through Southern Mississippi and Western Alabama; or, crossing the Mississippi River, move through Louisiana and Arkansas. Accordingly, after resting about two hours, we started southwest, on the Liberty road, marched about 15 miles, and halted until daylight on the plantation of Dr. Spurlark.
The next morning we left the road and threatened Magnolia and Osyka, where large forces were concentrated to meet us; but, instead of attacking those points, took a course due south, marching through woods, lanes, and by-roads, and striking the road leading from Clinton to Osyka. Scarcely had we touched this road when we came upon the NINTH Tennessee Cavalry [Battalion], posted in a strong defile, guarding the bridges over Tickfaw River. We captured their pickets, and, attacking them, drove them before us, killing, wounding, and capturing a number. Our loss in this engagement was 1 man killed, and Lieutenant Colonel William D. Blackburn and 4 men wounded.
I cannot speak too highly of the bravery of the men upon this occasion, and particularly of Lieutenant-Colonel Blackburn, who, at the head of his men, charged upon the bridge, dashed over, and, by undaunted courage, dislodged the enemy from his strong position. After disposing of the dead and wounded, we immediately moved south, on the Greensburg road, recrossing the Tickfaw River at Edwards' Bridge. At this point we met [W. H.] Garland's rebel cavalry, and, with one battalion of the Sixth Illinois and two guns of the battery, engaged and drove them off without halting the column.
The enemy were now on our track in earnest. We were in the vicinity of their stronghold, and, from couriers and dispatches which we captured, it was evident they were sending forces in all directions to intercept us. The Amite River, a wide and rapid stream, was to be crossed, and there was but one bridge by which it could be crossed, and this was in exceedingly close proximity to Port Hudson. This I determined upon securing before I halted. We crossed it at midnight, about two hours in advance of a heavy column of infantry and artillery, which had been sent there to intercept us. I moved on to Sandy Creek, where Hughes' cavalry [battalion], under Lieutenant-Colonel