War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0086 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. Chapter LI.

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were ordered to go in the lightest possible marching order, and to take only wagons for commissary stores and ammunition. They had a supply for twenty days. I saw to it personally that they lacked nothing to insure a successful campaign. The number of troops deemed necessary by General Sherman, as he telegraphed me, was 6,000, but I sent 8,000. Brigadier-General Sturgis was assigned to the command of the expedition. By the order of Major-General Sherman, General Sturgis had commanded an expedition in pursuit of Forrest one month previously. When that expedition was over I ordered him to report back to General Sherman, which he did, and was ordered back to report to me, simultaneously with my preparations for the second expedition. As he was the ranking general here, I regarded his having been ordered back to me at the time of my fitting out an expedition under orders as equivalent to an order to give him the command to which his rank entitled him, and felt that I had no alternative but to do so. He reported to me about three days before the expedition left, and was notified at once that he would command the expedition. The order for him to take command was dated May 31, a copy of which is submitted herewith as an inclosure. * His order of march, and the incidents of the march, engagement, and retreat will appear in the accompanying reports. The troops were ordered to strike the Mobile and Ohio Railroad near Corinth, for the reason that on the previous expedition the route, via Ripley, had been taken, and on their return General Sturgis reported that they could proceed no farther by that route on account of want of forage for animals. Having information entirely reliable that at Corinth there were several thousand bushels of corn that had been sent up on the railroad, I regarded it as important that it should be captured and that what could not be consumed by our animals should be destroyed. This accomplished, I ordered the column to pass south and destroy the railroad as it went. I was satisfied that after our troops struck the railroad near Corinth General Forrest, if he intended to fight at all, would come north to save the road from destruction. I also believed that if the column first struck out for Corinth it would lead General Forrest to believe that the move was one intended to re-enforce General Sherman, and that he would therefore endeavor to interrupt it, thus enabling us to fight the enemy without traveling a long distance to find them. The line of march indicated by me was not taken by General Sturgis, but he took instead the line which he had before abandoned as impracticable. His reasons for the change will appear in his report. The result of the expedition was a serious disaster. The first information I had of this result was by a dispatch I received at 1 o'clock on the morning of the 12th of June, sent to me from Ripley on the morning of the 11th. I immediately sent out by rail, at daylight on the morning of the 12th, 2,000 infantry of General A. J. Smith's command, which had just arrived from below, with instructions to march from the railroad terminus as rapidly as possible to relieve the retreating forces. On arriving at the railroad terminus they found General Sturgis there, with what he supposed to be the entire force that had effected their escape. On the second day after I was advised that Colonel Wilkin, of the Ninth Minnesota Infantry, commanding a brigade, had arrived at Collierville, having fought his way back in good order. I immediately sent out a train to bring in his command, numbering about 1,600. The expedition left the railroad terminus on the 2nd of June and reached Brice's Cross-Roads, a distance of

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*See Special Orders, Numbers 38, Exhibit C, Proceedings of a Board of Investigation, p. 219.

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