parties to pick up the little forage which could be found within a safe distance of the line of march. Moreover, the movement of the column had to conform itself to that of the pioneers, who were working to make the road passable. On the 7th, I think, parties of the enemy began to appear, and quite a number of their pickets were captured during that and the following day. The march had to be carefully conducted, and from that time until we met the enemy I never knew a command to be moved in a better manner or better discipline to be observed. Upon reaching Ripley the animals were much worn out for want of forage, and the men were on less than half rations. I understood that at this time you expressed yourself in favor of returning, believing that an advance would be disastrous and that other officers, holding important commands, were of the same opinion, believing it impracticable to advance through the wilderness without further supplies, but r to return, in consequence of having positive instructions to proceed.
The enemy met us where common sense would naturally lead them to do so, a few miles from the point in advance, where supplies could be obtained, and yet as far as possible from our base and where the greatest difficulties presented themselves in the way of retreat. Through the medium of the citizens along the route they were of course advised of our force and movements, while we could gain no reliable information in regard to theirs. We were obliged to move on one road, the column extending along the road at least five miles, although well closed up. Attacking our front, they being already formed in line on their own ground, it necessarily took time to bring up our whole force and they had to be moved up rapidly. The weather being very warm, many men were obliged to fall out and all came into action more or less fatigued and distressed. If they had marched in the cadence and with the proper length of step required by the tactics for double-quick, which troops seldom do, they would have been in better condition. The battle-ground was covered by heavy timber, an almost impenetrable thicket, so that little could be known of the position or number of the enemy. Troops as they came up had to be placed in position where most needed at the time, so that brigades, of necessity, were divided and scattered and organizations broken up. As to the propriety of forming the infantry in line as soon as the cavalry were attacked, permitting them to fall back and awaiting the enemy, I can scarcely form an opinion. The enemy could undoubtedly have moved around the flanks of any position which we could have taken, without being obliged to cross the open fields in our front and under our fire, or they might have declined to advance, knowing that we could not remain with supplies exhausted. If we could have whipped them where they were we could then advance to Tupelo or Baldwyn, where supplies could be obtained. On the retreat such dispositions were made as to drive back the enemy from their pursuit on the evening of the battle. Owing to the exhaustion of the animals and the nature of the roads, the train and artillery, which had a good start, were unable to get along. When followed and attacked the next morning, our ammunition was nearly exhausted and would soon have given out, leaving the whole command at the mercy of the enemy. It became necessary, therefore, that the retreat of the infantry should be as rapid as possible, while the cavalry covered it as long as their ammunition should hold out. I am of the opinion, however, that the men might in the retreat have been kept more together and better organized. I presume, however, that their scattered condition in a great measure arose from their desire to accommodate their march to that of the cav-
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