former, strengthened force in the field by part of Mobile garrison. Made partial concentration at Morton only in time to meet whole of above force, which had marched rapidly and crossed Pearl River at Jackson. Force concentrated; being far too small to give battle, fell back on Hillsborough. Enemy did not follow, but gave every indication of a purpose to turn to the right and move on Mobile, or at least on Mobile and Ohio Railroad, low down. Having reason to know that movements on Mobile were in progress via Pensacola and Pascagoula as well as by the day, deemed it inexpedient to risk the cutting off or detention of that part of the garrison with me, and returned it. My force all told being too small to give battle, was thus still further reduced; it now consisted of Loring, Ector, and Cockrell; rest in Mobile. Enemy's column since that was followed my retiring forces. He is to-night near Decatur; I am near Meridian. My cavalry under Lee has skirmished with him in front, flank, and rear from the Big Black, and Lee reports, with little effect. He moves very compactly. Sherman commands, with McPherson and Hurlbut. The exact force of the Mobile garrison will be given you to-morrow; it is not short of what General Maury required. I have removed all my stores over the Tombigbee. General Forrest reports column of twelve regiments (cavalry and mounted infantry) to move from Collierville on Columbus to form junction with Sherman. On 4th, Second Brigade, Twelfth Army Corps, passed down river to Vicksburg; reports the whole corps on the way from Chattanooga. Forrest will move on cavalry going to Columbus. I see nothing left me but to fall back on Alabama and take advantage of events.
(This dispatch was repeated to President Davis.)
DALTON, February 13, 1864.
(Via Montgomery, 15th.)
Sherman's army must have a long wagon train. Cannot General Lee strike it? It seems to me that he can destroy it long before it reaches Mobile.
J. E. JOHNSTON.
SIX MILES FROM UNION,
February 13, 1864 - 7 a. m.
I find Captain Rayburn at this place. He saw the enemy's infantry yesterday at 3 p. m., 1 mile from Decatur, moving in the direction of Meridian. Scouts who left Union at 4 a. m. this day say that the enemy has no troops on that route. The road from Enterprise to union crosses the Decatur and Meridian road 8 miles east of Decatur. Captain Rayburn does not know whether the enemy has got to that cross-road yet. At this moment I hear the drums at Decatur, I send out scouts immediately.
A. C. STEEDE,
Major, Commanding Regiment.