On the 19th, marched southwest, forming a junction with Colonel Grierson 5 miles south of Pontotoc. There Major Love, of my regiment, was detached, with a portion of my regiment, to return to LA Grange, reducing me to about 500 men.
On the morning of the 20th, marched with Colonel Grierson 13 miles southeast of Houston, and camped.
On the morning of the 21st of April, complying with Colonel Grierson's order, was ordered to move in the rear of his column at 3 a. m., leaving Grierson at the junction of the roads leading to Louisville and WEST Point and Columbus, thence to proceed to the railroad at WEST Point, destroying the railroad bridge over the Oktibbeha River; thence move rapidly southward to Macon, destroying the railroad and Government stores; then to find my way north to LA Grange by the most practicable route.
Four some reason unknown to me, the column did not move until 7 a. m. This delay in time in the following report will show it was fatal to carrying out Colonel Grierson's order. At the point Colonel Grierson turned south from the direction I was to travel, a detachment of my regiment moved with him 4 miles, then marched back to this point to obliterate the tracks of Colonel Grierson, going south with the Sixth and Seventh Illinois Cavalry. In this way I was delayed three hours, thus enabling the enemy's cavalry, which had been concentrating for some days in anticipation of a movement on Columbus, to fall upon me. About 12 o'clock, on reaching the town of Palo Alto, I was attacked in rear and on each flank by a force under General [S. J.] Barteau's regiment, and [W. M.] Inge's battalion. In my front, between me and WEST Point, was an Alabama regiment, recently from Pensacola, with artillery, my front being well protected by the Houlka River.
In the attack made by the enemy, a company in the rear was cut off and nearly all taken. The enemy then closed in on my flanks, and advanced in rear, with two flags of truce flying, enabling him to approach very close, my command being at that time in a lane, with high fences and hedges upon either side, my men dismounted and well covered. Changing my front to the rear, I waited until the enemy were close upon me, and opened with my rifles and one 2-pounder from the front and with carbines on the flanks, breaking his lines and driving him back, pushing the enemy about 3 miles, capturing arms and horses, and retaking the company lost in the first attack. From that time until dark it was a constant skirmish, the enemy having taken me for the main column. Believing it was important to divert the enemy's cavalry from Colonel Grierson, I moved slowly northward, fighting by the rear, crossing the Houlka River, and drawing their forces immediately in my rear.
On the 22nd, marched north near the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, the enemy continuing to follow, their forces augmented by all the citizens in the country, armed with shot-guns and hunting rifles, firing constantly on our flanks. At 4 p. m. attacked Okolona, driving out the enemy's cavalry and State forces, burning the barracks for 5,000 men, and destroying stores and ammunition. I then marched northwest 5 miles and camped.
On the 23rd, marched north, and hearing that Chalmers' forces intended cutting me off, I destroyed the bridges over the Chiwapa Creek, to check the forces following me in the rear. Camped that night near Tupelo.