drove him back half a mile into a neck of woods near Palo Alto church. After skirmishing for advantage of ground for two hours or more, and finding that the enemy would not come out from his position, I placed Smith's regiment and Ham's four companies immediately in his front, dismounted, and, protected by the church, a small number of trees, and the brow of a slight eminence, I gave instructions that should the enemy advance on them to reserve their fire until he should arrive close enough to make it destructive and deadly, and to hold the position until a charge should be made fully in his rear; that I would move the SECOND Tennessee and Major Inge's battalion around to his rear and make the charge as soon as possible. This movement was being executed, but, before arriving at the proper point from which to make the charge on his rear, the enemy anticipated this, and poured a rapid fire upon Colonel Smith's regiment and Captain Ham's four companies, before which the men retreated in the utmost disorder, although everything was done which could have been by these two officers to make them stand ant at least give the enemy one fire. The enemy immediately rushed upon these two commands, pursuing them back on the Houston road. I of course moved immediately on the WEST Point road, having accomplished a part of my object, which was to get between the enemy and WEST Point; but had not the troops given way so soon in front, I should have cut to pieces or captured the entire force of the enemy. Colonel Smith and Captain Ham, however, acted gallantly, and took the post of danger, endeavoring by their exaconfidence and insure success.
During the night, the enemy turned back his course and crossed on Houlka Creek toward Buena Vista. As I pursued him in the morning following, Lieutenant-Colonel [James] Cunningham joined me 3 miles from Palo Alto; Colonel Smith and Captain [T. W.] Ham with their commands also. The re-enforcement with Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham's command was too late to be of any service. In fact, the tardiness of his movements allowed the enemy to reach Okolona; for had he joined me before reaching Palo Alto, we should have routed and scattered the enemy. Had he remained at Okolona, he could have opposed his progress, and had he early in the morning of the 22nd fallen upon the enemy's rear, when he knew that he was retreating, and was only 3 miles from him, the enemy could not have reached Okolona. He could have marched from Okolona several hours sooner than he did, and have joined me at Houston or at Dr. Kilgore's. Upon his late arrival he desired to assume command, which I declined to grant him, and remained in command of the forces. If I committed an error in this respect, I am subject to such remedy as the case may require.
The enemy marched from Buena Vista to Okolona two hours ahead of us. After following the Pontotoc road from Buena Vista 7 miles, he turned to the right, and crossed Chuckatouche Creek at Cox's Bridge; reached Okolona, I think, at 4 p. m. remained but a short time; burned the hospital building, and went 5 miles out on the Pontotoc road, and encamped for the night. From Buena Vista, Major Inge, Captain Ham, and Colonel Smith moved directly on the Pontotoc road, and encamped on that road. The SECOND Alabama and SECOND Tennessee moved out 2 miles, and attempted to cross Chuckatouche Creek and reach Okolona that night, but there being no bridge, and the water swimming deep, were compelled to remain until daylight in the morning of the 23rd, when they moved to Okolona; thence in pursuit of the enemy on the Pontotoc road, and joined with the three other commands at Bramlett's, 3 miles from Edwards Mills. The enemy had crossed Chiwapa Creek at Garman's Mills at 2 p. m., and destroyed the bridge, having turned