road station, and afterward to push on with my command so as to reach Newton Station before the enemy, and cover the embarkation of General French's division on the cars. Having ascertained that the enemy was not advancing that day on Hillsborough but had fallen back some little distance, I left Lieutenant-Colonel Maxwell, temporarily under my command, at Hillsborough to cover General Loring's rear, and made a forced march for Newton Station, which point I reached early on the following morning (February 10), and in the vicinity of which I remained during that day and until the following afternoon, when, by General Lee's order, I struck across the country to get between General Loring's rear and the enemy's advance, then near Decatur. This I accomplished by a tiresome and difficult night march over roads little traveled and covered up with pine straw, and the next morning (February 12) met the enemy at Chunky River.
From this time until I left vicinity of Old Marion, on the afternoon of February 18, my command was almost continually engaged with the enemy, the skirmishing at times being kept up until after dark.
On the morning of February 20, I left Alamutche to re-enforce General Forrest. On reaching Macon, General Adams' brigade was placed temporarily under my command, thus giving me a division, with which by forced marches I reached Starkville on February 22. On February 24, in obedience to orders from General Lee, I moved my command south to attack General Sherman's retreating column in flank of the east of Pearl River. From information received at Louisville I changed my plan of operations, and having crossed the Yokahockany at La Flore's Ferry, soon encountered the foraging parties of the enemy, which were at once driven in, with a loss to them of 7 killed and 38 captured; to me of 1 officer and 1 man wounded.
On the day following, General Adams' brigade was sent off to operate on the left flank of the enemy and south and west of Canton, and acting under General Jackson's orders, I pushed on directly in the enemy's rear and skirmished with him until he passed beyond Livingston on March 3. The next day I marched my exhausted command to Madison Station and went into camp.
I have thus succinctly given a report of operations extending over a distance of nearly 400 miles and under difficulties that severely taxed the fortitude and patriotism of my men. At all times prompt to respond to every order, they boldly engaged the advance of a large and confident army and unflinchingly held their position until ordered off the field. I regret to say I lost some men by desertion on the route, but with a well-organized court this evil can be corrected in the future.
To the officers and men of my command who remained with me, and to the officers of my staff, my thanks are due for the zeal and ardor displayed in the performance of their several duties.
I append a list of casualties.*
I have the honor, major, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. W. FERGUSON,
Major WILLIAM ELLIOTT,
Asst. Adjt. and Insp. General, Canton, Miss.
*Not found. But see Lee's statement, p. 369.