War of the Rebellion: Serial 103 Page 0355 WILSON'S RAID - ALABAMA AND GEORGIA.

Search Civil War Official Records

rest, furnish it a remount of fresh horses, equipments, and arms, and hoped thereby to make it a model in drill, discipline, and equipment, as it had already made itself in dash, constancy, and the cheerful performance of duty. On the 3rd of February the mounted portion of the Seventh Division embarked at Waterloo on transports for Vicksburg. The dismounted portion, with such horses as could be obtained, followed from Nashville under the direct command of General Knipe as soon as transportation could be furnished. Bvt. Brigadier General J. H. Hammond had been relieved by direction of the chief surgeon form the command of a brigade in this division after having earned great credit with it in the battles about Nashville and the pursuit of Hood from Tennessee. These changes left under my immediate command 17,000 men, requiring about 5,000 horses to furnish a complete remount. As the troops arrived at Gravelly Springs they were assigned to camps as close together as the circumstances of ground, water, and contiguity to the landings would permit. The mild climate, rocky soil, and rolling surface of the country rendered this altogether the best locality that could have been found for recuperating and preparing both men and horses for an early spring campaign. The camps were laid out with regularity; comfortable quarters for the men and shelters for the horses were constructed without delay, roads were made to the landings, and supplies of forage, rations, clothing, equipments, and ammunition were furnished in great abundance. A thorough system of instruction for men and officers was instituted, and every necessary effort was made to bring the corps to the highest state of efficiency. I transmit herewith a topographical sketch showing the situations of the camps and their arrangements.* The plan of that constructed by General Hammond, and afterward occupied by a part of General Upton's division, I regard the best arrangement of a cavalry cantonment yet devised. The influence of the system adopted on the subsequent career of the corps cannot be overestimated. The final victory over Forrest and the rebel cavalry was won by patient industry and instruction while in the cantonments of Gravelly Springs and Waterloo. The great fault in our cavalry system had previously been overtook in detachments and the absence of instruction, organization, and uniformity of equipment.

On the 23rd of February General Thomas arrived at Eastport with instructions directing me to fit out an expedition of 5,000 or 6,000 cavalry "for the purpose of making a demonstration upont Tuscaloosa and Selma" in favor of General Canby's operations against Mobile and Central Alabama. After consultation, in which I expressed a belief in the capacity of my command to capture those places and conduct from the latter most important operations, General Thomas gave me permission to move with my entire available mounted force, and authorized me to pursue such a course as I might see proper, keeping in view the general objects of the impending campaign. The instructions of Lieutenant-General Grant, transmitted to me by General Thomas after directing me to be ready to march as soon as General Canby's movement had begun, allowed me the amplest discretion as an independent commander. It was at first intended that the expedition should begin its movement by the 4th of March, but heavy rain-storms setting in, the Tennessee River became very much swollen and the roads impassable. Lieutenant-General Grant having directed all the surplus horses purchased in the West to be sent to General Canby, there were no means left in the cavalry bureau to mount Hatch's division. I therefore directed him


*See Plate LXVIII, Map 9, and Plate LXXII, Map 6, of the Atlas.