River at Messinger's Ford, on Sunday, 27th ultimo, at 4 p. m., and bivouacked at Clark's, 4 miles from Brownsville, until 4 o'clock next morning, when the column moved toward that place, driving out about 50 of Whitfield's cavalry. Pushing direct for Vernon, we reached General Whitfield's camp at the church, 3 miles south of Vernon, only to find he had moved before daylight toward Livingston and Jackson.
Surrounding Vernon, we entered that place at 10 a. m. and moved forward to Beatty's Bluffs, where the command was halted until 6 o'clock and fed. Having ascertained that there was no ford or ferry at that point, and that I could in no way cross the command, I marched to Moore's Ford and encamped 1 1/2 miles toward Benton, leaving one regiment and one howitzer to guard the crossing.
At 4 o'clock next morning, the enemy vigorously attacked this detachment with four pieces of artillery, supported by dismounted cavalry. The howitzer was speedily disabled, and after feeling the enemy for an hour, I directed the column toward Benton and encamped at short Creek, 2 1/2 miles below Yazoo City, having halted to feed at Benton. Marched next day to Satartia, communicating with the infantry near Mechanicsburg, and to-day reached camp at 2 p. m.
From Brownsville to Beattly's Bluffs I assumed the offensive, and vigorously attacked every force we met, pushing the various parties toward Livingston and Canton, running down and capturing 8 of the enemy.
Upon learning I could cross at Beatty's Bluffs, I deemed it prudent to gain the ford at Moore's, and the result proved my conclusions to be correct, for the enemy had ample time to concentrate all his force.
From Moore's Bluffs I moved leisurely to camp, bringing in 100 horses, 50 mules, 8 prisoners of war, and 1 ambulance, having destroyed 50 stand of arms taken from the enemy in the different skirmishes. My loss was 2 men taken prisoners while out of ranks.
Brigadier-Generals Whitfield and Cosby were hovering on my right flank all day on Monday, but because their forces were somewhat scattered, dared not attack, and continually retreated from every attempt at following, moving toward Livingston and canton. I estimate their combined force, from information deemed reliable, at 2,000 cavalry and ten pieces of artillery, while their horse are in fine condition.
The command marched 14 miles Sunday, 42 Monday, 25 Tuesday, 23 Wednesday, and 22 Thursday; total in ninety-six hours, 126 miles. There is a bridge at scott's Crossing, 6 miles west of Vernon, but no ford between that point and Moore's Bluffs, northwest of Canton 7 miles.
The whole command acted with vigor and gallantry, crowding the enemy impulsively whenever found, driving him continually, the column not halting from Brownsville to Vernon.
Trusting this report of operations will be satisfactory, inasmuch as I have obeyed my instructions to the best of my ability, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
E. F. WINSLOW,
Colonel Fourth Iowa Cavalry, Commanding.
Captain R. M. SAWYER,
Asst. Adjt. General 15th Army Corps, Iuka, Miss.