repeat the order. If this is true, then Sherman must be looking to move on Meridian and make a junction with the cavalry force moving on the mobile and Ohio Railroad. I have, until this matter is decided, determined to hold two brigades of General French's force at Meridian. if the information is found to be correct General Lee will throw his force over the railroad in between you and the enemy. Lee was at Garlandville last night. I leave for Meridian in a few minutes.
LAKE STATION, February 11, 1864 - 4 p. m.
I traveled the Hillsborough and Newton road this morning to where it intersects the Decatur and hillsborough road; found a picket stationed there. Then hearing of a force going in the direction of this station I proceeded here and found all the public works destroyed by the enemy. It was a squadron of cavalry, about 100 strong. They came across from the Hillsborough road, and after burning the depot, &c., returned in the same direction. I hear nothing of a force having gone in the direction of Garlandville. I am going from here to forrest; thence to the Hillsborough and Morton road, and will report any important information without delay.
R. H. BAKER,
Lieutenant, Commanding Scout.
NEWTON, February 11, 1864.
In the Field:
Dispatch 25 miles from Garlandville received.* All information up to thins morning led to the belief, in support of your dispatch to General Loring at Morton, that the enemy was moving south of railroad, bearing down on Mobile. having reason to believe that expeditions were planned against that place from other points at the same time, I deemed it inexpedient to risk the detention any longer of that portion of its garrison which I had withdraw to meet this movement of Sherman's, and it was returned. That necessity brought my force to a figure too low to risk a battle, and it has become necessary to fall back toward Meridian. I now believe it is the purpose of the enemy to move on Meridian, with a view to a junction with his cavalry force expected from above via the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. It is possible he may move part of his force on the south side and along the railroad, and from certain information I think that not improbable. I have therefore only to repeat my general instructions - keep your cavalry between the enemy and the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. I have heard from a soldier that the enemy's drums wee heard yesterday morning in the direction of Forrest Station from toward Hillsborough. You will of course take measures to clear up all this obscurity and give me
* See Part I, p. 358.