War of the Rebellion: Serial 103 Page 0377 WILSON'S RAID - ALABAMA AND GEORGIA.

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roads in that region. He had not gone more than three miles before he obtained such additional information in regard to the party as convinced him that it was his duty to join in the pursuit. In this he was clearly right, and had he done otherwise would have been censurable for negligence and want of enterprise. Colonel Harnden having informed him that he had force enough to cope with Davis, Colonel Pritchard determined to march another road, leading to Irwinville by a more circuitous route. Why he did not send a courier on the trail pursued by Colonel Harnden, to notify the latter of his intentions, has not been explained. This would probably have prevented the collision which afterward occurred between his regiment and that of Colonel Harnden, and would not have rendered the capture of Davis less certain. This is not intended to reflect upon the conduct of Colonel Pritchard, for it is believed that this omission was simply an oversight which might have occurred to any confident and zealous officer. In carrying out the plan which he had adopted, Colonel Pritchard selected from his regiment 7 officers and 128 men, and at 4 o'clock began the pursuit, leaving the balance of his regiment under the command of Captain Hathaway, with orders to picket the river and scout the country in accordance with previous instructions. The route pursued by Colonel Pritchard led down the river nearly twelve miles to a point opposite Wilcox's Mill, and thence southwest for a distance of eighteen miles, through the pine forest to Irwinville. He reached this place at 1 a.m. of the 10th, and by representing his command as the rear guard of Davis' party, he succeeded in learning from the citizens that the party which he was searching for had encamped that night at dusk about a mile and a half out on the road toward Abbeville. Having secured a negro guide he turned the head of his column toward that place, and after moving out to within half a mile of the camp, halted, and dismounted twenty-five men under Lieutenant Purinton. This party was directed to move noiselessly through the woods to the north side of the camp, for the purpose of gaining a position in its rear, and preventing the possibility of escape. In case of discovery by the enemy they were directed to begin the attack, from wherever they might be, while Colonel Pritchard would charge upon the camp along the main road. Lieutenant Purinton having reached the point assigned him without an alarm, the attack was delayed till the first appearance of dawn, at which time Colonel Pritchard put his troops in motion, and continued his march to within a few rods of the camp, undiscovered. Having assured himself of his position he dashed upont the camp without delay, and in a few movements was secured its occupants and effects, and placed a guard of mounted men around the camp, with dismounted sentries at the tents and wagons. No resistance was offered, because the enemy had posted no sentries, and were, therefore, taken completely by surprise. Almost simultaneously with this dash of Colonel Pritchard and his detachment, sharp firing began in the direction of Abbeville and only a short distance from the camp. This turned out to be an engagement between the party under Lieutenant Purinton and the detachment of the First Wisconsin Cavalry, which, it seems, had followed the rebel trail the night before till it was no longer distinguishable in the dark, had gone into camp only two or three miles behind the party they had been pursuing so long, and had renewed the pursuit as soon as they could see to march. Both Colonel Pritchard and Colonel Harnden were informed that Davis had been reported as having with him a well-armed body guard of picked men, variously estimated at from ten to fifty. They therefore expected desperate resistance, and hence in the collision which occurred the men of both detachments seemed