HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, FIRST DIV., 16TH ARMY CORPS,
Moscow, Tenn., June 24, 1864.
Brigadier General S. D. STURGIS, U. S. Volunteers:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 22nd instant, requesting me to give you a statement, in writing setting forth my views of the causes of our defeat at Brice's Cross-Roads; my knowledge of your general management of the campaign; and whether or not, in my opinion, you were to blame for the failure of the expedition; and if so, to what extent. I respectfully submit the following statement:
First, as to the causes of the defeat: In my opinion they are to be sought in the nature of the expedition you were charged with conducting. The expedition consisted of 5,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry, with a train of more than 200 wagons, making some 4,600 animals to be subsisted. Rations for the men were transported in the wagons, but after leaving La Fayette you were entirely dependent upon the country for forage. The line of march was through a country devastated by the war, and containing little or no forage, rendering it extremely difficult, and for the greater portion of the time impossible, to maintain the animals in a serviceable condition. The roads were narrow, leading through dense forests, and over streams rendered almost impassable by the heavy rains which fell daily from the time we left Memphis until our return. The country was new to you, and I know the difficulty you constantly encountered in obtaining information concerning roads and crossings of streams. Almost every man and woman along the line of march is an enemy, eager to communicate information of our force and movements, but professing entire ignorance as to the position or number of the enemy. Laboring under all these disadvantages, you moved against an enemy who possessed long lines of railroad with which to concentrate troops and supplies at any point you might threaten. He only had to await your arrival near the railroad, and with a superior force overpower your army and drive it back with heavy loss in men and material. Either you were obliged to abandon the object of the expedition before reaching the immediate presence of the enemy, or overpower him with that portion of your army which could be spared from guarding the long line of wagons. The latter you attempted but failed in, from tveloped a heavier force than you could bring into action. The engagement itself was, so far as I know, managed as well as circumstances would permit, was fought with spirit, even desperation, and with no loss of consequence, in material or men (except the killed and wounded). You were, however, defeated and obliged to retreat over an impassable road during a dark night, and with exhausted animals and men. Under these circumstances teams and artillery were abandoned, in order to save a heavier loss in men.
Second, as to your management of the campaign: I have never known greater efforts to be made by any commanding officer to conduct a column of troops in an orderly and compact manner than were made by you. I known that you were extremely anxious that the troops should be kept well in hand, ready for any emergency, and that every precaution was taken to prevent surprise. I also know that every means was taken by you to obtain information as to the movements of the enemy and his strength; and that your efforts in this line were extremely unsatisfactory. On the day of the battle the column was as well closed up as the nature of the road over which we were moving would permit, and the troops were put into position as fast as they could come up.