CUNNINGHAM'S FARM, 3 1/2 Miles N. W. of Prairie Station, February 19, 1864-10 p.m.
Chief of Cavalry, Department of the Tennessee:
SIR: I am much gratified that you are so near. The reports I now get are quite conflicting. An escaped prisoner of ours, belonging to the Seventh Indiana Cavalry, who was brought over from Grenada with Chalmers' command, got away from it yesterday morning at a point 12 miles from West Point, on the Houston road. He says that Forrest's whole force was reported to be in the vicinity of West Point, said to be 8,000 or 9,000 strong. Confirmatory of this is the report of Major Prosser, who was sent out on the road from Okolona to Houston. Near Buena Vista he ran upon the rear guard of what was reported to him to be a very heavy column of rebel cavalry, said to have been passing at a rapid pace from early in the morning until 11 a.m. in the direction of West Point. On the other hand, a negro from West Point yesterday morning says that there were not over 1,000 troops at that point, and the citizens in this neighborhood pretend to know nothing of the arrival of any large force at West Point. The Oktibbeha is said not to be bridged and to be very difficult to cross. Defeat to the enemy in such case would be most disastrous. Be on the qui vive and get scouts out, if possible, to get accurate information to-night. The direction of the roads will make a concentration of our forces this side of Prairie Station necessary in the morning, unless my information may render a change in our present plan necessary. You may therefore bring in Hepburn's brigade on the left of Waring early to-morrow morning unless otherwise ordered. We have captured some stock, destroyed a large amount of Government corn, injured the railroad all we can, and I am deeply pained to say it has been disgraced by incendiarism of the most shocking kind. I have ordered the first man caught in the act to be shot, and I have offered $500 reward for his detection,
WM. SOOY SMITH,
Brigadier General, Chief of Cavalry, Mil. Div. of the Mississippi.
CUNNINGHAM'S FARM, MISS., February 19, 1864.
SIR: General Smith directs you promulgate an order to your brigade that any one caught in setting fire to property of any kind without orders shall be arrested and sent to these headquarters, and announce to your command that he will pay a reward of $500 for the first person detected in such act. Send outposts of one battalion at least 2 miles out on each of the roads leading to West Point. This should be done as early as 2 o'clock to-morrow morning. Hold your command well in hand, as the enemy is reported concentrated within an easy night's march of your position.
WM. H. INGERTON,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.