OCTOBER 4-17, 1863.-Chalmer's Raid in West Tennessee and North Mississippi.
Report of Major Henry C. Forbes, Seventh Illinois Cavalry, of action at Collierville, Tenn., October 11.
CAMP SEVENTH ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER CAVALRY,
Collierville, Tenn., October 17, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report responsive to orders, that on the morning of the 11th instant at about 11,30 o'clock the camp of the Seventh Illinois Cavalry was attacked by the enemy about 1,100 strong, under General Chalmers. Preceding the attack there had been skirmishing on the infantry pickets south of the station for an hour, of which we had received no intimation. We were accidentally informed of the approach of the enemy, when disposition was immediately made to receive him with our camp force of about 200 men, consisting of men off duty on account of sickness, detail, being dismounted, unarmed, &c. Our line was scarcely formed when the pickets from the east were hastily driven in, and immediately the enemy was attacking. We received his attack with a line of dismounted men, which gallantly repulsing him, was itself repulsed in turn by his reserves, and after a few minutes further contest, and receiving and attack from formations on both flanks of our position, against which we had no reserve to use, we found ourselves compelled to retire from under a cross-fire, becoming intolerable, and rendering further contest on that ground hopeless. We accordingly withdrew, skirmishing through the camp toward the Wolf, sacrificing it in the belief that the preservation of the command had become a duty paramount to all others. A portion of the enemy pursued us to the river, picking up disabled and dismounted men who had been unable to regain their horses, and a portion remained to fire and pillage the camp, which they did in fine style. An hour later after a reconnaissaned of the enemy's position, we repossessed our ground, finding about two-thrids of our camp and garrison equipage destroyed, the entire regimental and the greater part of the company records burned, and the enemy rejoined to the force which meanwhile had engaged the infantry forces at the fort. Our loss in killed (so far as known) was First Lieutenant Charles F. Lee, Company F, who behaved with conspicuous gallantry. Of the number of our wounded we are not apprised, as they were removed by the enemy. Together with other prisoners they aggregate 49 men. We lost about 100 mules and 14 wagons. Of arms, accouterments, and ammunition, there has not as yet been an ispection sufficiently minute to determine that exact loss. Our men killed and wounded, according to the report of escaped prisoners, a sufficient number of the enemy to employ four mule-wagons and two ambulances in their removal from the field. Considering him, nevertheless, our debtor, we await the opportunity to pay him on a field where the disparity of numbers shall not be so hopeless as at Collierville.
I have the honor, sir, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY C. FORBES,
Major, Seventh Illinois Cavalry.
Lieutenant JAMES P. METCALF,
Acting Assistant Inspector-General, Third Brigade.