Numbers 26. Report of Captain Charles T. Biser, C. S. Army.
POST COMMANDANT'S OFFICE,
Oxford, Miss., August 31, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on the 7th instant I assumed command of this post, by order of Major-General Maury, and on the evening of the same day commenced the evacuation of said post by reason of the close proximity of the enemy, they having arrived at Abbeville, fourteen miles distant. During the night following and succeeding day succeeded in having removed to Grenada a large quantity of quartermaster's and commissary supplies. No property belonging to the Government was lost except fourteen bales of cotton taken from men captured running the blockade. This lot of cotton was at railroad depot ready for shipment, but owing to a stampede among some of the cavalry, who caused the train to leave without loading it, I ordered it burned.
Late in the evening of 9th instant the enemy's cavalry, under General Grierson, after a severe skirmish with General Chalmers, commanding, occupied the town, robbing and plundering indiscriminately men, women, children, and negroes. After twenty- four hours' occupation they retired to Abbeville.
From that time until 22nd Major-General Forrest occupied the place with his command, skirmishing every day within a few miles of the town; consequently, but little business done belonging to my department, save a few orders for transportation.
On the morning of the 22nd instant Major General A. J. Smith, U. S. Army, commanding, occupied the town with a large force of white and black troops. They retired the same day after burning 34 stores and business houses, court-house, Masonic Hall, 2 fine large hotels, besides carpenter, blacksmith, and other shops; also 5 fine dwelling-houses, among the latter that of Honorable Jacob Thompson. General Smith in person superintended the burning. He refused to allow the citizens to remove anything of value from their burning dwellings. General Smith's conduct, also his staff and men, was brutal in the extreme, they having been made mad with whisky for the occasion. The soldiers were licensed for any crime, such as robbery, rapine, theft, and arson. Since the reoccupation I have had no guards or supporting force, as the troops used mandant of reserves to furnish me with men necessary to do the duty of this post. The country is swarming with deserters, and without a force of regular troops I fear little can be done to break up these clans of tories.
As soon as my force arrives be assured I will either make them leave the country or return to their commands. Blockade-running and intercourse with the enemy has been quite common here, and the severest punishment will have to be meted out to these law-breakers to compel them to cease this corrupting practice.
At present I cannot comply with paragraph III, General Orders, Numbers 102, department headquarters, calling attention of post commanders to General Orders, Numbers 48, Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, Richmond, May 27, 1864, as the last-named order has not been received