first on Panola and then on Wyatt, and drew Forrest's forces and attention to these points while I threw my whole cavalry force to New Albany, where I crossed the Tallahatchie without opposition.
Forrest then fell back to Grenade, and I moved on by way of Pontotoc to the swamp at the crossing of the Houlka. Here we were met by Gholson's rabble of State troops, to the number of about 600, whom we stampeded and drove pell-mell across the swamp, which we found held in force by the enemy. There was but a corduroy road leading though it, which was impassable by cavalry and could not be turned. So I pressed a saucy attack upon the line of the road as if to force it, and swung my main body over to Okolona and thence threw off a brigade to Aberdeen, threatening Columbus, and moved the other two brigades right down the railroad, destroying it as we went, tearing up the ties, burning and bending the rails.
From Okolona to West Point we found Government corn in immense quantities all along the road, and this we burned until there was a line of fire from place to place. I had no means of ascertaining definitely what was Government corn and what the property of private citizens, and could only burn that which was cribbed near the railroad. This I did to the extent of from 1,000 to 2,000,000 of bushels. We also destroyed 2,000 bales of Confederate cotton; private cotton was not disturbed.
All along this portion of our march negroes came flocking to our lines with horses and mules by the hundreds and thousands.
As we approached West Point, we found about a brigade of the enemy drawn up to meet us. This brigade we drove back across the Sakatouchee Swamp, on our right, after a short, sharp fight.
We advanced to West Point and felt of the enemy, who was posted back of the Sakatonchee on our right and the Oktibbeha in our front, in force fully equal to my own that was available for service, encumbered as we were with our pack-mules and the captured stock, which by this time must have numbered full 3,000 horses and mules. The force consisted of mounted infantry, which was dismounted and in strong position under good over, and beyond obstacles which could only be passed by defiles. To attempt to force my way through under such circumstances would have been the height of folly. I could not cross the Tombigbee, as there were no bridges and the stream could not be forded. To have attempted to turn the position by our right would have carried me all the way round to Houston again, and Forrest could again check me at the Houlka Swamp. I was ten days behind time; could get no communication through to you; did not know but what you were returning, and so determined to make a push at Forrest in front while I retired all my encumbrances and my main body rapidly toward Okolona, just in time to prevent a rebel brigade from getting in my rear, which had been thrown back for that purpose.
We then retired, fighting for over 60 miles day and night, and had the fighting all our own way except at Okolona, where the Second Tennessee Cavalry, the last regiment of a brigade that I had thrown into line to cover the passage of our column by the town, that broke from line into column to move off, stampeded, and galloped over our rear guard, drove a battery of little pop-guns off into a ditch, where it was so badly smashed up that we could not
* Colonel McMillen's First Brigade, First Division, Sixteenth Army Corps.