On coming up with the column, I immediately dismounted Captain Sherman and 25 men of my regiment, and Lieutenant Smith and 25 men of the Fourth Illinois Cavalry, to flank the enemy's left. Almost immediately, however, I discovered that the enemy was escaping by a rear gate, and that already his main force was in a flying column, half a mile to my left, on the road to Port Gibson.
I instantly reorganized my column, giving Captain Beach with his squadron the advance, and renewed the chase. At a mile distant I found him in position, again behind a wood on the brow of a hill, but increasing my pace, I rushed at him from front and flank, and scattered him like spray, a considerable squad taking the wood down a steep ravine. Leaving a rear guard of equal proportions, I continued the pursuit at a most rapid rate for 5 miles.
The enemy fought with skill and determination, wheeling into position on the head of his column, at every available cover, and disputing my passage of every difficult defile, but failing to injure me, or to stay a moment after seeing my determination not to be checked.
Once only I found it necessary to dismount to dislodge them. He had taken a position behind a convenient embankment, at a sharp angle of the road, which afforded him shelter for nearly his whole force, and completely commanded my approach. Had it not been that his shots were almost invariably over our heads, my advance must have suffered severely at this point.
I dismounted two-thirds of my force, sending the horses to the rear, and, fighting them from such cover as was available, routed them again in less than ten minutes.
Finding that the delay necessary to remount and fall into column had given the enemy the advantage of perhaps a mile's distance, and being already rather unpleasantly near Port Gibson-3 miles-with exhausted horses, and an inadequate supply of ammunition, I concluded to pursue no farther, and immediately countermarched.
Captain Wallace's command, Fourth Illinois, had the front for the last 2 miles. Lieutenant Chapin's horse fell with him, while at a high rate of speed, and the lieutenant was severely hurt.
Returning over the 6 miles of road, fought over at a Tam-O'Shanter-like rate of speed, I found the track strewn with most convincing evidences of the enemy's severe punishment-dead and mortally wounded men, dead and disabled horses, cartridge boxes, arms of every description, saddle-bags, blankets, hats, coats, everything that could be lost off, or cast off, or kicked off. Of the enemy's dead I found 9, and 2 mortally wounded. Judging from the fact that the most and the best of our fighting was done in the enemy's chosen cover, I consider it fair to estimate that his killed amounted to at least 75. I estimate his wounded at 40 more.
I justify this estimate by the known facts, and by the declarations of the prisoners taken.
I am informed by them that they had their orders to cast away their arms when no longer able to hold them by reason of wounds, and that up to the time when they were captured, 15 or 16 had been wounded, and, leaving their arms, sped to the front.
Of abandoned arms, I found more than 45 stand. Many of the lighter kind had already been picked up. Of the enemy's dead horses I found 3; disabled 3. I took 6 prisoners, 4 of whom I sent forward; 2 mortally wounded I left at the plantation of Mr.