War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0283 Chapter XLIV. THE MERIDIAN EXPEDITION.

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various goods and whisky and propelled by six fine mules. Ordered wagons and stores to be burned, but mules and drivers (colored), with about 100 of their friends, who all were anxious to be, joined to the train. Recrossed the railroad at Egypt Station, and immediately after striking a mere field road to the left I reached, after a few miles' march, the roads leading to Prairie Station and West Point, at which point I found my own brigade and the Third, Colonel McCrillis, drawn up in close column of squadron. Orders were given here to me to take again the advance with my regiment and proceed to Prairie Station, a distance of 6 miles on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, where the long expected and talked of enemy was reported to be. I marched to the indicated point, which I reached at sundown and found, to my astonishment, instead of the enemy a strong picket of Union soldiers, forming the advance of the Second Brigade, coming directly from Aberdeen. Had I delayed ten minutes longer, I might have engaged my own friends, not being able to tell them from foes on account of the darkness. Camped in the vicinity of the station.

Next morning, February 20, at 8 a.m., marched to West Point, occupying the center of the column, the Second Brigade being in advance. At about 2 p.m. heard of some skirmishing going on with our advance and the enemy. Finally, after frequent delays, reached camp 1 mile west of West Point, where I again was ordered to exercise the utmost precaution, as the enemy was occupying both flanks and rear.

The night passed quietly with only occasional firing of pickets, and at dawn next morning, February 21, the firing began to be quite brisk, and when I was anticipating to engage the so-long-sought-for enemy, I was ordered to move my command, and proceed on the road I came toward Okolona. The First Brigade again occupied the center, guarding the mule train and negroes. Heavy skirmishing was going on in our rear with the Second Brigade, and occasional shots of howitzers were heard, but no sings of the enemy in our center. We proceeded unmolested some 20 miles, when at last I perceived, for the first time since I left Collierville, the enemy on my right, 1 mile distant, in an open field, drawn up in line of battle, evidently about 600 strong. By orders of Colonel Waring, my brigade commander, I hastened with my command to take him on the left flank, hiding my men as much as possible in the skirts of the woods, but before I had time to reach the desired spot, where I could attack him, he had left, and night setting in, I rejoined my place in the column. Marched till 2 a.m., February 22, and halted for four hours 3 miles south of Okolona. At 7 a.m. marched on the old Pontotoc road, passed Okolona, leaving it to the right within a short distance. Heard of the enemy's presence but saw none, and when about 6 miles north of the last-named (the First Brigade still holding the center and guarding the train), I was ordered by my brigade commander to countermarch and deploy my regiment within half a mile of the place where I turned on the left side of the road. The position I had taken up was every way a superior one, and I had scarcely made my arrangements when I saw the Fourth Regulars coming from the direction of Okolona in a rather disturbed condition, exhibiting marks of pretty severe handling. This induced me to believe that a general action was close at hand, and as the position which the brigade and especially my regiment occupied was in every