Number 4. Report of Brigadier General Daniel Ruggles, C. S. Army, commanding First District. OKOLONA, MISS., May 13, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to state, for the information of the lieutenant-general commanding, that being informed by Brigadier-General [S. a. m.] Wood, from Florence, Ala., that a raid of the enemy was about to be made from Corinth up the valley of the Tennessee River, and requested to harass his movements in every possible way, I, on the 7th ultimo, gave orders for a portion of my troops to be in readiness to march into the Bear Creek country, on the line of the enemy's movement. Information received soon afterward induced the belief that the enemy's force at Corinth and neighboring stations was being greatly reduced, and, to be able to strike him the more effectually upon his base of operations, should opportunity invite, only a scouting party was sent to Bear Creek, and two sections (four guns) of [J. A.] Owens' light battery was ordered from Columbus to Aberdeen on the 13th, and sent thence with the SECOND Alabama Cavalry Regiment to Town Creek, 9 miles east of Okolona. Taking the field at the same time, and proceeding to Verona, I soon ascertained that a large force of the enemy was going through Corinth in the direction of Northern Alabama without reducing his strength at Corinth, and that a considerable force was also accumulating at LA Grange and other places WEST of Corinth. Believing it my special duty to protect, so far as I could, the rich country along the line of the Mississippi and Ohio Railroad, and the road itself, I deemed it unsafe to move so far to the north and east as would have been necessary to enable me to harass the enemy on his march toward Northern Alabama, and contented myself by requesting General Gholson to send 100 of the best men from his State troops to break up the Memphis and Cincinnati Railroad between Grand Junction and Corinth.
Having visited all my troops, as well as the State troops, at Chesterville, established lines of communication, and put everything in the best possible state of readiness for whatever might occur, I returned toward Columbus; but when within 14 miles of that place, on the 20th, was informed that a force of the enemy, rated at from FIFTEEN hundred tnd men, with artillery, was at Pontotoc. The most active measures were taken to resist his progress by the concentration of all my mounted troops to the WEST of the railroad. Captain L. D. Sandidge, assistant adjutant and inspector general, with two guns upon platform cars, and Colonel [Thomas A.] Burgin, with a part of the State troops at Columbus, were sent to reconnoiter the road and to protect the railroad bridges across the Tibbee and Noxubee, and the public stores at Macon; and Brigadier-General [John V.] Harris was instructed to order all the militia at and in the vicinity of Macon to unite with them, and to invite the citizens generally along the railroad line to organize for the defense of the towns and railroad bridges. The rapid progress of the enemy from Pontotoc by way of Houston led me to suppose that the first and principal purpose was to destroy our railroad communication by burning the bridges over the Tibbee and Noxubee, and it was not until he had been thwarted in his, and was retreating northward after the attack upon him at Palo Alto, did I learn that whilst we were confronting the enemy at one point, another column, marching to the westward, had proceeded to the Southern Railroad, between Meridian and Jackson.
This information was obtained by me at WEST Point, about 5 p. m.