My command consisted of - officers and 2,672 men armed and equipped. I camped one mile southeast of Collierville at 9 p. m. on the Widow Brown's farm. Distance traveled, nine miles. Second Brigade in advance this day.
March 5, called camp at 5 a. m.; marched at 7, Third Brigade in advance, Second Wisconsin in advance of brigade. Advance and provost guards from this regiment. Fine country, but no farming being done. Detached squads on roads right and left. Forage scarce, but secured enough. Heard of the enemy in our advance giving notice of our approach. At Mount Pleasant their number increased to ten. Soon after passing this place the advance drove this squad hurriedly across Coldwater, swimming their horses after them. Major De Forest led this movement and relieved the command of these advertisers. Camped one mile southeast Lamar Station, on Mississippi Central Railroad, at 6 p. m., on farm of A. C. Treadwell. Distance marched, twenty-four miles.
March 6, called camp at 4 a. m. and marched at 6. Order of march: First Brigade, Second Brigade, Third Brigade, Second Arkansas being in advance, and the advance and provost guard furnished by this regiment. This day bridges gone. Roads continue rough, much washed, and streams and low ground muddy. Reached Salem at 10 a. m. No information of our approach. I here learned that Colonel Crossland, in command of troops from Kentucky on their way to West Point to join Forrest, had reached Ripley two days previous, and with a possibility that they had not moved on, as they were looking for re-enforcements. This command was variously estimated at from 500 to 2,000. I moved promptly to intercept him, and was entering the town of Ripley with my column before noticed by the few soldiers found there. The advance, thrown forward [into] the town, led by Captain Moore, acting aide, caught most of the soldiers there, who were only a conscripting band. Colonel Crossland had marched southward thirty-six hours before my arrival, his command consisting of 300 cavalry. The latter portion of this day's march was through a pine country. Forage very scarce. I camped the First and Second Brigades in an excellent position on southwest side of town, the Third Brigade on northwest, controlling roads on which troops would enter from Kentucky or Tennessee. Command got forage except a portion of the Third Brigade. I distributed the country for scouting and foraging among the several brigades. To the Third Brigade I assigned Salem, Saulsbury, Nubbin Ridge, or Pocahontas, and Ruckersville roads, with territory included; to thee First Brigade (reduced by sending Fifth Illinois to railroad) the Booneville, Guntown, and Baldwyn roads; to the Second Brigade the Cotton Gin (or Kelley's), New Albany, Oxford, and lower Salem roads. I sent scouts on all the roads above mentioned from fifteen to twenty-five miles. On the Oxford road to Holly Springs Crossing, fourteen miles. On Albany road to New Albany - a portion of this scout swam the Tallahatchie at New Albany in pursuit of a squad of rebels. On Cotton Gin road to Kelley's Mills and across and right and left along the banks twelve miles. On Guntown road to junction of Baldwyn road, eighteen miles. On road north of town from eight to ten miles. I had a guard placed at every house in the town. Marched by twos. Traveled forty miles.
March 7, at 5 a. m. I sent Lieutenant-Colonel Seley with his command, and fifty men under Captain Wardlaw, Fourth Illinois, on road leading east to Booneville, on Mobile and Ohio Road, with orders to destroy that road from Booneville to Baldwyn as effectually as possible, and reach camp at Ripley on the 9th at noon; with further instructions