I immediately attacked him in the rear, and a fight ensued, which lasted nearly until dark, when I again got in his rear, between the enemy and the railroad. I am now waiting here to join Colonel [James] Cunningham, whose arrival from Okolona is expected. The enemy last night retreated from Palo Alto up the Houston road 2 miles, and was re-enforced by a column which had been sent to Starkville. I do not know whether we can succeed in gobbling up this force, as I desire to do, and would suggest that if Columbus is not threatened from east side of Tombigbee, you immediately mount as much of the force as possible at Columbus, and move to WEST Point, and thence to Palo Alto. We will not, if possible, allow the enemy to reach the railroad.
C. R. BARTEAU,
[General DANIEL RUGGLES.]
OKOLONA, MISS., April 30, 1863.
On the 18th instant, I learned from my scouts that a Federal force, variously estimated in strength, was advancing from the direction of Grand Junction toward New Albany. It reached Cherry Creek, 7 miles north of Pontotoc, the same day, and encamped there that night. Thinking that the movement might be to break up the camp of State troops at Chesterville, I moved my regiment to that place on the 19th instant.
At 10 o'clock that night, I learned that late in the evening the force had moved down to Pontotoc. I then thought the raid would be upon Okolona and Aberdeen; so I moved at 12 o'clock, with Colonel [J. F.] Smith, Major [W. M.] Inge, and Captain [T. W.] Ham, with four companies, to the Verona and Pontotoc road, my object being to intercept the enemy on the Pontotoc and Aberdeen road. For this purpose, at daylight, I left Garman's Mills, 2 miles south of the Pontotoc and Verona road, and at 8. 30 a. m. entered the Pontotoc and Okolona road 8 miles above the latter place. I then moved immediately on to Pontotoc, intending, if the enemy were there, to attack him at once and ascertain his strength. Within 5 miles of Pontotoc, I learned that the enemy had left at 8 o'clock on the Houston road, but that a portion of the force (which I suppose was 300) was sent our on the Oxford road. Arriving at Pontotoc, I learned that this detachment had gone back toward New Albany, and would not accompany the expedition farther south. He was three hours ahead of me, and traveling at a rapid rate. The column which moved toward Houston, after an almost continuous march of 67 1/2 miles. The enemy, however, encamped the same night at Dr. Kilgore's, 11 1/2 miles south of Houston, on the Starkville road.
At 11 a. m. of [April] 22nd, I was at Dr. Kilgore's, and the enemy two hours ahead of me. After moving half an hour longer, my advance guard fired upon a party of 20 of the enemy, supposed to be the rear guard. This party fled, and took the Starkville roaded, 200 going to Starkville and 700 continuing their march on the WEST Point road, and at 2 o'clock (having taken the WEST Point road) I drove in their rear guard 2 miles northwest of Palo Alto. The enemy at once formed and drove back my advance guard; but, as soon as the column arrived, I charged immediately upon the enemy, and