War of the Rebellion: Serial 086 Page 0902 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter LIII.

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to bar progress on account of the bad condition of the roads and the overflowing of the streams. The First Brigade marched at the appointed time in a flood of rain, but reaching the crossing at Wolf River they found it over its banks for a long distance, and after spoiling a quantity of their ammunition they were compelled to return. The plan was changed and the whole cavalry column marched this morning via Ripley without a wheel to cumber their difficult and dangerous march. and with orders to let nothing but an evident impossibility prevent the accomplishment of their mission. The weather for ten days has been intolerably rainy, and the whole country is overflowed, the roads knee-deep in mud. Nothing but the peremptory order received and the appreciation of the vital importance of the undertaking would have induced me to venture such a risk. To enable me to obey orders from the chief of the staff of the army, I have been compelled to assume some responsibilities which I feel place me in a delicate situation, and I trust the sincerity of my motive will be self-evident. If I can accomplish the end at which I am, I shall be content with suffering and personal mortification. I have been compelled, in order to make the matter possible, to detain the fragments of Winslow's cavalry brigade which I found here, although they were under order to join General Thomas. They could not have reached Nashville in time to have engaged in any operations there, and the service they were to render here was of the most vital importance to him. I was also, in consequence of the breaking down of the Vicksburg cavalry by their arduous service and the severe weather, compelled to take from Colonel R. E. Clary, depot quartermaster, Memphis, horses which were in transitu to the Department of the Gulf. In addition to this, it was necessary for me to order Brigadier General M. K. Lawler, commanding First Brigade, Reserve Corps, Military Division of West Mississippi, to move toward Corinth with nine regiments and two batteries of his own and of the Second Brigade, Brigadier General E. S. Dennis commanding, and to put the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in repair as far as he went. This was to mask our cavalry move, and by threatening Corinth compel its garrison to remain at home for defense. Brigadier-General Lawler marched this morning, and after making visible demonstrations to rebuild the Moscow bridge, he will probably return in eight days. I herewith inclose a copy of my instructions to him. I am greatly chagrined at the delay which has been imposed upon me in starting this expedition. The weather has been and still is such as I can hardly give you an idea of - ruinous to both men and horses. My cavalry from Vicksburg has been slow in reaching here owing to dense fogs, and when it arrived both men and horses were used up by their last expedition and pinched by cold weather. I find myself now reduced from a force of 4,500, which I reckoned on, to a cavalry force of 3,500 effectives. It is out of the question to take artillery in the present condition of the roads. I have notified Major-General Reynolds of the appropriation of the Reserve Corps here. In giving my order to Brigadier-General Lawler, I gave it as by authority of Major-General Halleck.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

N. J. T. DANA,

Major-General.

P. S.- Since writing the above your favor of the 15th instant, 4 p. m., is received. I will at once prepare to receive what is coming.

N. J. T. D.