War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0321 Chapter LI. EXPEDITION TO TUPELO, MISS.

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him in check until I was prepared to give him battle at or near Okolona, where the necessary arrangements were being vigorously made. The enemy was easily held in check, but reached Pontotocof the 11th, but made no further effort to advance during the day. General Chalmers advised me of the disposition he had made of the troops, which was most satisfactory. As all the approaches south were strongly guarded I made no change expect to order Colonel Barteau's regiment to the rear of the enemy.

On the 12th the enemy made an early advance on the Pontotoc and Okolona road, but was promptly met by General Lyon's brigade and easily driven back. He also attempted an advance on the road leading from Pontotoc to Houston, but here he was met by a part of Colonel McCulloch's brigade and forced to make a hasty retreat. Simultaneous with his other movement he threw out a force on the Pontotoc and Tupelo road, but after advancing five miles was met by a part of Rucker's brigade, under the command of Colonel Duff, and driven back.

Everything being in readiness to receive the enemy, I ordered General Chalmers to send Rucker's brigade to his rear, and to offer no further resistance if he desired to advance toward Okolona. The delay of the enemy at Pontotoc produced the impression that he designed to fall back toward Memphis and after a short consultation it was determined to accept battle wherever he offered it and to attack him if he attempted a retreat. Lieutenant-General Lee therefore ordered me to move everything to the front. I immediately dispatched one of my staff officers to General Chalmers, ordering him to resume his former position if he had retired, and to hold it at all hazards until I arrived with the artillery and infantry re- enforcements. I reached the front about 9 o'clock, and found the troops in the position they had occupied during the day.

On the morning of the 13th the enemy was reported retiring from Pontotoc in the direction of Tupelo. Lieutenant-General Lee ordered me, with Mabry's brigade, my escort, and Forrest's old regiment, to attack and press upon the rear of the enemy. At the same time Lieutenant-General Lee moved forward, with Chalmers' and Buford's two DIVISIONS on the right, with the view of attacking the enemy's flanks at every vulnerable point. Accordingly, I advanced upon the enemy and found his rear one mile from Pontotoc, on the Okolona road. I threw forward my escort and Forrest's old regiment, and after a short skirmish he was rapidly driven into town and out on the Tupelo road, along which the main column was retreating. I made a vigorous assault upon the enemy's rear for ten miles. He took advantage of every favorable position and my artillery was kept almost in constant action. Ten miles from Pontotoc he made a formidable stand, as if to contest my farther advance. After a short engagement he was driven from his position and made a rapid retreat across an extended field, while my artillery poured upon him a concentrated fire. I had now driven the enemy ten miles, and as his flanks had not yet been attacked I was fearful that he was driven too rapidly. I therefore halted my command and awaited the attack upon his flanks. After resting about one hour our guns opened upon him about three miles ahead. I resumed the march and hurriedly pressed forward, and on reaching the ground I found General Chalmers had dashed into the road, surprised the enemy, and took possession of his wagon train. The enemy, however, threw back a large force upon General Chalmers and forced him to retire, but not until he had killed and wounded many men and horses, which forced the enemy to burn and abandon several wagons, caissons, and ambulances. About this time heavy firing was heard still further up