War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0253 Chapter XLIV. THE MERIDIAN EXPEDITION.

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get it along, though we had ample time to have done so, as we unhitched the horses, destroyed the ammunition, and spiked the guns. They spread confusion everywhere, and the rebels, taking advantage of it, pitched into us and gave us a pretty rough, handling, inflicting a loss upon us of perhaps 300 or 400 men, killed, wounded, and missing. We at last got organized forces enough to the rear to check the enemy again, and continued our running, fight, giving them volley after volley from every line of cover, and then retiring to the next, losing lightly all the while and firing upon the enemy, who were constantly advancing upon positions of our own choosing. This was continued to a good position about 10 miles this side of Okolona, where I disposed a heavy force and let them advance upon us, and gave them a very handsome thrashing after about one hour's hard fighting.

We made some splendid saber charges during this action, and could have cut them to pieces had it not been for the undergrowth to which they fled.

Their loss must have been very large, as we poured a heavy direct and flank fire upon them at close range for the space of an hour, while some my regiments were charging them in flank. One of the prisoners we took said he saw Colonel Forrest, brother to the general, fall killed.

This fight sickened them so that their subsequent attacks were very feeble, though they followed almost to New Albany.

Our total loss in killed, and wounded will reach probably 400, and of stragglers they must have picked up perhaps 200 or 300, possibly more, but this is immaterial. They took very few prisoners from us in actual battle.

And now, general, I can but express my deep regret that I could not get through to you, knowing how greatly you could have been aided by so large a cavalry force, but it was simply impossible, from the following causes: First, the clumsiness of so large a command, encumbered as it was with pack trains and captured stock. Second, the peculiar formation of the country, traversed as it is by an ugly barrier from Grenada to West Point. Third, the number and character of the enemy numerically equal to my available force and better armed for fighting dismounted.

The results of my trip are as follows: First, corn burned, from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 bushels. Second, Confederate cotton burned, 2,000 bales. Third, 30 miles, of railroad destroyed. Fourth, 3,000 horses and mules and 1,500 negroes brought out of the enemy's country. Fifth, losses inflicted on the enemy in killed and wounded, I think not less than 500 or 600, possibly much greater, and prisoners, 100. Sixth, forage and provisions for 7,000 of our troops taken from the enemy during our march.

Then, as to the movement of troops we occasioned from your front, if any, you know better than we do. If I could have been in time I would have made still more strenuous efforts to reach you, but I could not learn whether you were still at Meridian or whether you had retired.

The rebel troops were reported falling back toward Demopolis and Selma, where they were being heavily re-enforced from Dalton and Atlanta.

I will soon write you, referring to my journal for dates.

We left West Point to return on the 22nd instant.