War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0481 Chapter LI. ATTACK ON MEMPHIS, TENN.

Search Civil War Official Records

collect all the cavalry I could and pursue the enemy, supposed to be retreating on Hernando road, I immediately moved on to Hernando road and collected all the detachments of cavalry available from the different roads on which they had been sent, amounting to 650 men. Moved out on the Hernando road until near Nonconnah Creek, where the column was halted and delayed by a flag-of-truce party then in conference with the enemy; was ordered to fall back within the picket-lines, and there remained until the flag-of-truce party returned, and was then ordered to pursue. This caused a delay until between 4 and 5 p. m. I here received notice that rations and forage would be forwarded, the men or horses having had nothing to eat for near twenty-four hours. I moved forward on Hernando road until near dark, when I received a dispatch from headquarters district, ordering me to "withdraw my force from sight of enemy," and stating that "forage and rations would be forwarded at once. " This determined me to halt and await the rations, and resume the pursuit as soon as the moon arose, supposing by this time my men and animals would be fed. About 11 p. m. Lieutenant-Colonel Hepburn passed with flag of truce, and informed me that rations and forage for my men and horses were not coming forward, but had ben sent back, and would not come forward to me unless I sent back an escort. I immediately sent back an escort, with instructions to bring up the rations and forage at once, expecting to find them at the picket-lines; instead, the party had to proceed six miles farther to camp and found the wagons unloaded. I remained here until 7 a. m. August 22, and determined to move forward without either. Just as I was starting I was informed that 500 rations and a load of forage were on the road. I ordered these to follow me, and after proceeding five miles halted and awaited the arrival of the rations and forage, and fed the men and horses, there being about one meal for the men and one feed for the horses. I then pushed forward to Hernando, arriving there between 1 and 2 o'clock, finding no enemy, excepting some scouts who had been seen in our front frequently in the morning and forenoon. I there learned that the rebel force had commenced crossing the Coldwater, ont eh Panola road, the evening before, and that the rear guard, one regiment, with General Forrest in person, had left at 9 a. m., proceeding on the same road. Their men had had no subsistence for days and were being hurried back where supplies could be obtained. From all the information I could obtain I am of opinion that their column of attack that moved on Memphis on the morning of the 21st of August numbered about 2,500 men. I think not more. The country being worse than destitute of subsistence for men, and hearing nothing of rations being forwarded, I determined to return from this point; moved back about midway between Hernando and Memphis, halted, fed the horses, and remained until near daylight this morning, and moved back to camp.

The detachment composing the command were from the THIRD Iowa Cavalry, Fourth Iowa Cavalry, Tenth Missouri Cavalry, and Seventh Illinois Cavalry.

I have to regret the circumstances which rendered the attempted pursuit so barren of results.

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant Colonel THIRD Iowa Cavalry, Commanding Detachments Cavalry.

Lieutenant C. H. TOWNSEND,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Dist. of WEST Tennessee.