7th instant in command of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry, with a numerical strength of 419 enlisted men and 20 commissioned officers, with directions to move down the south bank of the Ocmulgee River from 75 to 100 miles, to take possession of all the ferries below Hawkinsville, picket the river as far as the strength of my regiment would permit, and to scout the country on both sides of the river for the purpose of capturing Jefferson Davis and party, who were reported to have left Washington, Ga., on the morning of the 4th instant, traveling southwestward, with an intention of crossing the Ocmulgee River at some point between Hawkinsville and Jacksonville, or to capture any other parties who might be fleeing from Richmond in that direction. I marched the command all night and until 8 a. m. of the 8th instant, having marched thirty-six miles, when I halted five hours, rested, and fed my command, moving on again at 1 p. m. I marched fifteen miles farther and encamped for the night three miles below HawkinSville, having marched a distance of fifty-one miles inside of twenty-four hours, including all halts. At 5 a. m. of the 9th instant I moved my command out in the direction of Abbeville, which place I reached at 3 p. m., and where I discovered the first traces of the object of our search. Here I learned that a train of twelve wagons and two ambulances (as reported) had crossed the Ocmulgee River at Brown's Ferry, one mile and a half above Abbeville, about 12 o'clock on the previous night; had stopped at Abbeville long enough to feed their animals, and moved on again before daylight in the direction of Irwinville. I had met the lieutenant-colonel of the First Wisconsin Cavalry (Hinton [Harnden], I believe), who informed me that he with a force of seventy men was following on the track of the train, and that his men were from one to two hours in advance. As Colonel Hinton [Harnden] had ample force to cope with that supposed to be with the train, I decided not to move on the same road with him, and continued my course three miles farther down the river, where I learned additional facts regarding the character of the train, and which convinced me that if belonged to some of the parties for whom we were looking, and I immediately determined to pursue by another road, believing that if they were hard pressed at any time they would pass from road to road to baffle the efforts of their pursuers, and as they were reported as doing before crossing the river. Accordingly I ordered a detail of 128 enlisted men and 7 commissioned officers, besides myself, of the best mounted men in the command, leaving the rest of the regiment under command of Captain Hathaway, directing him to picket the river, scout the country, &c., in accordance with former orders.
At 4 o'clock I put the column in motion, moving down the river road a distance of twelve miles, to a point known as Wilcox's Mills, thence by a blind-woods road through an almost unbroken waste of pine forest for a distance of eighteen miles in a southwesterly direction to Irwinville, which we reached about 1 o'clock on the morning of the 10th instant. Here, passing my command as Confederates, and inquiring for "our train," representing that we were a rear guard left to fight back the Yankees, &c., I learned from the inhabitants that a train and party meeting the description of the one reported to me at Abbeville had encamped at dark the night previous one mile and a half out on the Abbeville road. I at once turned the head of my column in that direction (impressing a negro for a guide). After moving to within half a mile of the camp, I halted under cover of a slight eminence, dismounted twenty-five men, and sent them, under command of Lieutenant Purinton, to make the circuit of the camp and gain a position in its