where the battle was fought. Even here it seemed doubtful that we would meet with serious opposition. It became necessary to send out patrols to procure fuller information. The patrol toward Baldwyn almost immediately struck a strong picket of the enemy, and was re- enforced before the numbers opposed to us could be known. We were engaged by a force which I thought, as did General Grierson, must be met by my whole brigade; and I at once took up the only good position for more than a mile to our rear. I think you were right in desiring to hold this position, and nothing for the first two hours of the battle indicated that it could not be held until the whole infantry force came up; indeed, it was held until my brigade was relieved by the head of the infantry column. Even when I fell back to a new position I saw no time until the retreat I was with you; and I had occasion to observe your management of the battle. Here, certainly, was no cause for the unjust criticism which have been passed upon you. You were cool and energetic, and certainly did all that lay in your power to make the engagement successful; and when defeat was evident you did all that could be done to prevent the disaster which followed. I am confident that, owing to the force and vigor of the enemy's pursuit, it was impossible to save the train, or the artillery which was behind it, on the retreat; and that any decided stand made with the intention of rescuing the infantry, which was last engaged, would have resulted in the capture of your entire force. The only plan by which any of the infantry could be saved was the one which they instinctively adopted, that of taking to the woods and finding their own way to our lines. Had you taken the grave responsibility of hurrying back the expedition at Ripley, you would have avoided the disaster of the battle. Whether or not you ought to have done so I cannot decide, not knowing what your information was; but I am sure that if you had the unfavorable comments of the discontented would have been tenfold more loud and amazing than they now are. The rude character of the country through which we were moving rendered all tactical precautions (except a simple advance guard) impossible; while it was so utterly barren that an immediate advance or retrege for teams and cavalry horses. Not turning back you had but one course to pursue: To find the enemy where you could and to fight him on his own ground and on his own terms. This you did as well as you could, and I am ready to testify, with a full knowledge of the circumstances of the battle and the retreat, that you acquitted yourself nobly and well; that you merit the commendation of all who have a right to express an opinion in the matter, as you have already received that of your comrades, who saw you under the trying circumstances of action and defeat.
I wish that any words of mine could arrest the slander that you were under the influence of liquor during the fight; but such calumnies travel too fast for honest refutation to overtake them; and on this score I can only offer you the modified consolation of saying that I and my staff, who saw much of you before, during, and after the battle, are ready to brand that falsehood as it deserves whenever it may appear before us. Be good enough, general, to accept the assurances of my personal regard, and command my assistance whenever it can be of service to you.
Very respectfully and truly, yours,
GEO. E. WARING, JR.,
Colonel Fourth Missouri Cavalry, Commanding.