his brigade and the First and Third Regiments Mississippi Cavalry to attack Collierville, while the other commands would follow and support him; but for some reason he did not move until two hours later than the time ordered. When once in motion, however, our advance was pushed forward so rapidly by Colonel Richardson that they completely surprised the enemy's pickets, capturing the officer in command and almost the entire picket. The alarm, however, had reached the garrison, and when we arrived in sight of the place, we found them under arms and in the trenches. The garrison proper was composed of the Sixty-sixth Indiana Infantry and detachments of the Sixth and Seventh Illinois Cavalry, but they had been unexpectedly re-enforced a few moments before our arrival by a train from Memphis containing Major-General Sherman and Brigadier-General Smith with their staffs, escorts, and the Thirteenth Regiment U. S. Regulars, on their way to Corinth, who were compelled to stop by the injuries to the road. There were also a few men from other regiments there, who served to strengthen the garrison.
The place was protected by a strong earth-work near the railroad depot, which is itself of brick and loop-holed, and by a line of rifle-pits which cover all the approaches. East and west of the fort there are open woods, which offered some protection to an attacking force. On the east and south of it, and not more than 600 yards distant, is a ridge which overlooks it, while upon the north the hill upon which the town stands also overlooks it, and the houses afforded a protection from its fire. The Seventh and Thirteenth Tennessee and Second Missouri Regiments were ordered to attack on the left (or west), Colonel Richardson's brigade on the right (or east), and the artillery, supported by the Eighteenth Mississippi Battalion, was placed on the ridge in the center and within 600 yards of the fort and depot, and Colonel McGuirk, with his own and First Mississippi Partisans, was sent to gain possession of the town and attack the fort from the rear.
The movements on the right and left were soon successful in driving the enemy to the protection of their rifle-pits, and in dislodging a portion of them and forcing them to take refuge in the fort, and the troops on the left were twice pushed so far forward as to take possession of the train of cars which had been stopped at the depot, and under the protection of the fire from it and the fort; but the movement to reach the rear of the fort was not so successful.
In moving toward the position assigned him, Colonel McGuirk ran into the cavalry camp, which lay northwest of the town. A force of cavalry found in it and the infantry thrown out for its protection were soon driven back; but the delay occasioned by the pursuit of the cavalry, who fled to the swamp, and in collecting the stragglers, who were led from the ranks by the rich booty of the camp, was so great that the opportunity to take the town was lost. Our artillery, which was principally directed against the fort and depot, was badly served and failed to do them any material injury; but notwithstanding this and the arrival of re-enforcements, if the movements to the rear had been successful, the place would probably have been captured.
After fighting for four hours, finding the place could not be taken without undue loss of life, and learning that heavy re-enforcements for the enemy were close at hand, I withdrew my forces and fell back in good order and without molestation to Byhalia Creek, where we encamped for the night. We brought off all our wounded who could bear transportation, 135 prisoners (including 4 officers),