I ordered the post commander at La Grange to send this dispatch through with an escort of 100 men. The escort started at 1 p. m., but before it left I had sent two other dispatches in the following order, to wit:
Numbers 2. Major General A. J. SMITH:
The enemy has retired on the Hernando road. He has 500 prisoners, I think, but failed to take the battery, as I before said. I am at a loss to know whether he means to cross at Panola, or go via Holly Springs. With a force to dispute the panola crossing, and another force crossing at Abbeville, and moving toward him until they strike his trail, and then following him until overtaken, he may be captured. His men his trail, and then following him until overtaken, he may be captured. His men and horses will be so much worn down that they will be an easy prey. They left Oxford six days' rations. They started with four guns, but left two on the way in the mud.
C. C. WASHBURN,
Numbers 3. Major-General SMITH:
Captured prisoners report three brigades here under Bell, McCulloch, and Neely, and they think the enemy will retire via Holly Springs. You had better send 1,500 cavalry to hold the crossings at and above Panola, and send the rest of your cavalry across at Abbeville. If vigorously pressed, they can be caught. They left Oxford Friday p. m. and made a forced march.
C. C. WASHBURN,
All these dispatches reached General Smith at Oxford between 10 and 11 a. m. on the 22d. As soon as it became absolutely certain that Forrest would cross at Panola (he having passed Hernando with his whole force on his way thither), I sent from La Grange the following dispatch, which reached General Smith early on Tuesday morning at Abbeville:
Numbers 4. AUGUST 22, 1864. Major General A. J. SMITH, Commanding Forces in the Field:
Forrest left Hernando this morning and will cross the tallahatchie at Panola. They are retreating as fast as their jaded horses will allow. He will probably cross during the night. If not intercepted at Panola he should be caught between Yocona and Tallahatchie. Supposing that you have sent part of your cavalry up to Holly Springs, I order them back south of the river by the bearer of this. I hope to have the cars running to Holly Springs by the time you are out of rations.
C. C . WASHBURN,
General Smith failed to move to Panola, as all my dispatches ordered him to do, but sent me the following dispatch, to wit:
ABBEVILLE, MISS., August 24, 1864.
Major General C. C. WASHBURN:
On arriving at Oxford yesterday morning, Brigadier-General Hatch was detailed to proceed to Panola and destroy the railroad from that point south along the line. Then we heard of Forrest's raid to Memphis, but could not believe it. I soon received your dispatches of the 21st, and was induced o believe from your last telegram and information received at Oxford that Forrest would retreat through Holly Springs. I at once ordered the Second DIVISION of Cavalry to this point, with instructions to Hatch to return to Abbeville and join the Second DIVISION, and proceed as once toward new Albany and intercept Forrest. I arrived with the infantry command about 10 a. m. to-day, and find the river booming and our bridge broken down. There is no forage between here and Oxford, and I have to send on the north side of the river for it. Recent rains in this region have made the roads almost impassable. I hope to communicate by telegraph by 12 m.
A. J. SMITH,