War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0259 Chapter XLVI. THE MERIDIAN EXPEDITION.

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Regulars, under Captain Bowman, charged a whole rebel brigade three times, and routed it at every charge.

Captain Bowman and Lieutenant Davis were particularly distinguished for their gallantry. Lieutenant W. H. Ingerton, who acted as my assistant adjutant-general, led the charge of the Third Tennessee most brilliantly, and was uniformly distinguished by his skill and dashing bravery.

[All the officers here referred to deserve promotion, and the interests of the service, would be promoted by their advancement to higher rank. They are brave, skillful, and valuable cavalry officers.*]

General Grierson's conduct was worthy of all praise. [Whenever there was anything to be done he was sure to be found. His skill in managing cavalry movements and in handling commands in action was obvious and admirable.*]

Information since obtained fully justifies the decision to retire before Forrest's force from West Point. General Sherman's expeditionary force had withdrawn from Meridian before my arrival at West Point, on a line that could not have been known to me, cut off as I was from any communication with him. Forrest's force is ascertained to have been rather above than below my estimate. Chalmers was moving with two brigades by way of Houston to my rear, while Lee, with from 3,000 to 4,000 men, was ordered up to join Forrest in my front.

The country south of West Point and Houston abounds in swamps and streams, extremely difficult to cross when the defiles leading to and over them were held by an enemy. The circumstances which already overburdened me would [have] increased and it was impossible to shake them off, and, involved in an exceedingly intricate and obstructed country, I would have been compelled to contend thus encumbered with a force numerically largely superior to my own; and, looking back upon the movement, I would in no way have been justifiable in moving at the time appointed without the whole force which I was ordered to take. [By an unexpected contingency the requirements of my orders became incompatible, and I was compelled to adopt the wiser alternative+.] Had I moved the Second and Third Brigades only, I would have had less than 5,000 men instead of full 7,000 and would have had the odds largely against me from the moment I dropped the infantry brigade and crossed the Tallahatchie River, and, meeting with disaster, would have been subjected to deserved censure.

The brigade moved from Columbus under orders not my own, and for its delay I am in nowise responsible.

This much I feel constrained to write in the nature of a defense for the state of my command, as it must participate in the mortification of a supposed failure, when we bear with us the consciousness of success and duty well performed.

I have the honor to inclose herewith the report of Brigadier General B. H. Grierson, second in command, as also those of the brigade and regimental commanders, to which I beg leave to refer for lists of casualties from which the following recapitulation is prepared: Killed, 47; wounded, 152; missing, 120; total casualties, 319.++


* Not in report of April 3.

+ According to report of April 3.

++ But see revised statement, p.194.