Ferry before night, but the rear of the supply trains was still stuck in the mud, 4 miles from our starting place. I pressed teams and sent back to lighten loads, but nothing could be done that night, as men and animals were exhausted. The river at the ferry was choked whit floating ice, the rope broken, and the boat filled with ice and water and in very bad condition. It was nearly daylight before we could commence crossing, and on account of the damaged condition of the boat only 8 horses could be crossed at a time.
Afternoon, January 23, the ice accumulated again, blocked up the river, broke the rope and stopped the crossing for over two hours. At night I received information that the supply trains had all got together at Troy,a t which place the seventh Indiana Cavalry (from Hicman) had joined the command as it marched through. I had placed Colonel Karge (Second New Jersey Cavalry) in charge of the ferry, and at 9 p. m. the Second Illinois and Nineteenth Pennsylvania pioneer corps and a portion of the Fourth Missouri having crossed, I crossed myself and came ahead to decide on the road to be taken and to send the pioneers ahead. I found the bottom on this side of the river in a horrible condition, and the river and sloughs rising very fast. Just before striking the highland (2 miles from the ferry) I found a place where the water was from 3 to 4 feet deep for a distance of 60 yards, and was covered with 3 inches of ice. Those who had first crossed had cut their way through, and the ice had been pushed on and packed in the channel near the shore, so that for a distance of 20 feet we had to plunge through a mass of ice and water in which horses and men fell and struggled (sometimes head and all under) until they could get out. Fort he next 3 miles to the ridges more than half of the road is very bad, and it was with the greatest difficulty that we got thought with the three wagons which had been crossed whit the Second Illinois and the pioneers. They had to be unloaded and drawn through the sloughs with picket ropes.
During the night of the 23rd and the day following, the Seventh Indiana crossed whit its ambulances. By this time the river had risen to such an event that the horses had to be landed in 3 feet of water.
During the night of the 24th and until noon of the 25th, we were trying to establish a new ferry farther down the river, but the constant rising of the river rendered this impossible. As Colonel Karge was cut off from all possibility of communicating with me except by Colonel Shanks, of the Seventh Indiana Cavalry, who was the last man to cross, he sent me word by him that he should go back to Jacksonville, and thence by Dresden and Huntington to Jackson, unless he heard from me again. He has taken the best course, and has the energy to get through if any man can. I have now sent Colonel Shanks with the Seventh Indiana and Nineteenth Pennsylvania to hold the crossings at Mount Pinson and Bolivar. The Second Illinois Cavalry is stationed at the bridge at Rodger's Mill, near Spring Creek, and will hold the bridge and run the mill until I come up. I am now going back to Dresden by the best road I can find (probably rebuilding King's Bridge with the pioneer corps). I shall bring my train through as fast as possible, and to this end I am pressing all the train through as fast as possible, and to this end I am pressing all the trains I can find in the country. I have been compelled to disobey the order to take a road west of the Columbus and Corinth road, and I cannot get through within the time specified in your conversation with me.
8 R R-VOL XXXXII, PT I