HEADQUARTERS FORREST'S CAVALRY CORPS,
Verona, Miss., January 12, 1864.
COLONEL: Continued active service in the field for two months has prevented me from reporting at an earlier day the action of my troops on the expedition along the Tennessee River. I avail myself, however, of the first leisure moment, and have the honor of submitting the following report:
On the 16th of October I ordered Colonel Bell to move with his brigade from Corinth and to form a camp at Lavinia. On the 18th Brigadier-General Buford was ordered to move with the Kentucky brigade to Lexington for the purpose of watching General hatch, who was reported to be in that direction. I moved from Corinth on the morning of the 19th, with my escort and Rucker's brigade, to Jackson, Tenn. At this place I was joined by Brigadier-General Chalmers with about 250 men of McCulloch's brigade and 300 of Mabry's brigade, which, with Rucker's brigade, constituted his DIVISION. On the 29th I ordered him to proceed to the Tennessee River and there co-operate with Brigadier-General Buford, who was blockading the river at Fort Heiman and Paris Landing. On arriving at the river I found it most, effectually blockaded by a judicious disposition of the troops and batteries sent for this purpose.
On the morning of the 29th, the steamer Mazeppa, with two barges in tow, made here appearance. As she passed the battery at Fort Heiman, supported by Brigadier-General Lyon, she was fired upon by one section of Morton's battery and two 20-pounder Parrott guns. Every shot must have taken effect, as she made for the shore after the THIRD fire and reached the opposite bank in a disabled condition, where she was abandoned by the crew and passengers, who fled to the woods. A hawser was erected on this side of the river and she was towed over, and on being boarded she was found to be heavily loaded with blankets, shoes, clothing, hard bread, &c. While her cargo was being removed to the shore three gun-boats made their appearance, and commenced shelling the men who were engaged in unloading the Mazeppa. They were forced to retire, and fearing the boat might be captured Brigadier-General Buford ordered her to be burned.
On the 30th the steamer Anna came down the river and succeeded in passing both the upper and lower batteries, but was so disabled that she sunk before she reached Paducah. The Anna was followed by two transports (J. W. Cheeseman, the Venus) and two barges under convoy of gun-boat Undine. In attempting to pass my batteries all the boats were disabled. They landed on the opposite side of the river and were abandoned by the crews, who left their dead and wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Kelley, with two companies of his regiment, was thrown across the river and soon returned to Paris Landing with the boats. The steamer J. W. Cheeseman was so disabled that she was ordered, with the two barges, to be burned; the gun- boat was also burned while moving up the river to Johnsonville. The Venus was recaptured by the enemy on [November 2,] but was destroyed the next day [November 4] at Johnsonville by my batteries.
On the 1st of November I ordered my command to move in the direction of Johnsonville, which place I reached on the 3d. At this point Colonel Mabry joined Colonel Chalmers with Thrall's battery. The wharf at Johnsonville was lined with transports and gun-boats. An immense warehouses presented itself and was represented as being stored with