arrive there about February 10, distance 250 miles; to disregard all minor objects, to destroy railroads, bridges, corn not wanted, and strike quick and well every enemy that should offer opposition, while I with four good divisions of infantry and artillery would at the same time move from Vicksburg on the same objective points, 150 miles distant. When met at Meridian, being present in person, I could then order anew according to the then circumstances, condition of roads, and time left at my disposal.
I knew full well what would be the effect of this move, and in all my orders and instructions I dwelt particularly on the point of making no detachments, but to go straight to the one sole object, leaving the minor matters to the future.
I inclose herewith my instructions to General Smith with a copy of his report, and must say it is unsatisfactory. the delay in his start to the 11th of February, when his orders contemplated his being at Meridian on the 10th, and when he knew I was marching from Vicksburg, is unpardonable, and the mode and manner of his return to Memphis was not what I expected for man intended bold cavalry movement. I know that from February 1st to the 17th all of Lee's cavalry was to my front. We took daily prisoners from each brigade, so that General Smith had nothing to deal with except Forrest and the militia. I hope General Smith will make these points more clear to the general-in-chief, to whom he has returned at Nashville, as noted in his report.
My own movement was successful in an eminent degree. We left Vicksburg February 3 in two columns, General Hurlbut's by Messinger's and General McPherson's by the railroad bridge. We met no opposition till General Hurlbut's head of column reached Joe Davis' plantation, and General McPherson's the Champion Hiis.
The 5th was one continued skirmish for 18 miles, but we did not allow the enemy's cavalry to impede our march, but got into Jackson that night on his heels, whipping his handsomely and utterly disconcerting his plans. Loring and French were marching at the time to concentrate with the cavalry at Jackson. but were too late. We got into Jackson first, secured their pontoon bridge, repaired it, and commenced crossing Pearl River on the 6th, and on the 7th marched into Brandon.
Next day, the 8th, the head of column reached Line Creek, 5 miles from Morton, and on the 9th we entered Morton, General McPheerson leading. I halted him there for the balance of the day to break railroads, and gave General Hurlbut the lead, and he kept it all the way into Meridian. Our march was steady and easy by Hillsborough and Decatur. Though cavalry moved on our flanks they gave us little concern, save in scaring in our stragglers and foraging parties. At the Tallahatta, 20 miles from Meridian, we found the road obstructed with fallen timber, and, satisfied the enemy was trying to save time to cover the removal of railroad property from Meridian, I dropped our trains with good escorts and pushed on over all obstructions straight for the Oktibbeha, where we found the bridge burning. A large cotton gin, however, close by gave us good material, and a couple of hours sufficed for a new bridge, and we entered Meridian at 3.30 p. m. of the 14th with little opposition, and that was soon overcome by a battalion of colonel Winslow's cavalry fighting on foot.
French's division had gone the night before and Loring's before day that morning, Lee's cavalry covering their retreat. General