War of the Rebellion: Serial 059 Page 0241 Chapter XLVI. THE MERIDIAN EXPEDITION.

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learned that Sergeant Drom, instead of making for Williams' and thence to Willis', had turned to the east at Lott's and endeavored to reach us at Willis' by a nearer road, and struck the road at a point at or near 12, after we had passed said point in falling back, and had skirmished considerably with the rebels at that point, being the firing that our outlooks had reported having heard. Here Sergeant Drom is said to have been killed or badly wounded, his men being compelled to fall back on the same road that they had advanced on, being followed by a portion of the rebels. There are about 15 men missing unaccounted for as yet.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

I am, sir, with much respect, very obediently, your humble servant,

W. C. B. GILLESPIE,

First Lieutenant and A. A. Q. M., 1st Brigadier, 4th Div., 17th A. C.

Captain WILLIAM WARNER,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Numbers 29. Report of Captain John Potter, Fifty-third Illinois Infantry, of skirmishes on Pearl River.

CAMP 53rd REGIMENT ILLINOIS INFANTRY VOLUNTEERS,

Hebron, Miss., March 6, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to transmit herewith the following report:

On the morning of February 27, 1864, while in camp near Pearl River, Miss., I was detailed to take command of the foraging party from the Fifty-third Illinois Infantry and report them to the headquarters of First Brigade. Upon reporting, I was placed in command of the foraging party from the brigade, consisting of 66 privates and 4 sergeants from the different regiments of the brigade. My instructions from the acting assistant adjutant-general were to forage under the directions of Lieutenant Gillespie. Lieutenant Gillespie took the advance, and I followed with the guard. We started on a cross-road running north, and after traveling about three-quarters of a mile we came out on the Canton road. Taking the Canton road we traveled about 1 mile, and then left the Canton road and took a cross-road running northeast. This we followed about 2 miles, when Lieutenant Gillespie ordered a halt. He then directed me to leave a sergeant and 13 men from the Fifty-third Illinois to guard the road until we returned. I left the guard, as directed, giving the sergeant orders to throw out a picket on each flank and in front. Lieutenant Gillespie then directed me to move forward with the remainder of the party. Here we left the road on which we had been traveling and took a road running through a thick wood and in an easterly direction. When about 1 mile from the road where we left the guard, Lieutenant Gillespie again ordered a halt, and directed me to leave a sergeant and 10 men from the Third Regiment Iowa Infantry. The instructions which he directed me to give this guard were as follows: If they saw the enemy approaching they were to fall back to the guard from the Fifty-third Illinois, which had been left to guard the road. If they encountered no enemy they were to remain where they had been stationed until we returned or sent them orders to follow. We then moved forward until we came to a large swamp. Here Lieutenant

16 R R - VOL XXXII, PT I