Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

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And this victory, snatched from the
jaws of defeat, i^ords one of the very
few instances in which an anny,
thoroughly beaten in the morning, is
even more thoroughly victorious in
the evening, thon^ it has meantime
been reenforoed by but a single




DtJBma the Autumn, "Winter, and
Spring of 1863-4, and the ensuing
Summer, a great number of desulto-
ry, indecisive expeditions were im-
pelled by one side or the other, which,
though they exerted no considerable
influence over the issue of the strug-
gle, will be rapidly summed up, pre-
liminary to the narration of Gen.
Sherman's memorable Atlanta cam-

Several detachments of cavalry or
mounted infantry, about 1,600 strong,
sent out by Gen. Hurlbut, command-
ing in "West Tennessee, under Lt.-Ool.
J. J. Phillips, 9th Illinois (infantry),
Lt..CoL W. R M. Wallace, 4th HL
cavalry, and Maj. D. K Coon, 2d
Iowa cavalry, raided through north-

em Mississippi to Grenada; where
they captured and destroyed' over
50 locomotives and about 500 cars of
all kinds. At 9i p. m,. Col. Winslow
arrived firom Gen. Sherman's army
near Vicksburg, with orders not to
destroy but save the rolling stock;
and, he being the ranking officer,
some effort was made to obey those
orders ; but fire had abeady done its
work pretty effectually. Each party
returned the way it came. They en-
countered little resistance, and their
losses were inconsiderable.

Gen. McHierson, with Tuttle's
and Logan's divisions of infantry and
Winslow's cavalry, 8,000 in all, was
pushed out from Vicksburg" nearly
to Canton, skirmishing with and push-

•• Early came down the Vallej in November,
croBsing Cedar creek; but be was not in force to
fight a battle, and, being pressed, retreated; his
cavalr7(nnder Lomaz) being defeated and chased

bj QeiL Powell up the Luray valley, wi^ a loss
of 2 guns and 160 prisoners. On our side, CoL
Hull, 2d, and Oapt Prendergast, 1st N. Y. cav-
ahy, were lolled. > Aug. 16) 1863. * Oct 14

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ing back Wirt Adams's cavalry and
Cosby's, Logan's, and Whitman's bri-
gades of infantry, nntil, finally, Mc-
Pherson found himself confronted by
a superior force, comprising Loring's
division and other forces hurried
down from Grenada and up from
points so distant as Mobile; when
he retreated without a battle, via
Clinton, to Vicksburg.*

Under cover of demonstrations at
CoUiersville and other points by
Chalmers, Lee, and Bichardson,
against our lines covering the Mem-
phis and Charleston raiboad, For-
rest, with 4,000 mounted men, slipped
through* them near Salisbury, and
advanced to Jackson, West Tennes-
see ; which had ceased to be held in
force on our side since the depart-
ment headquarters had been trans-
ferred to Memphis. Drawing re-
cruits from the sympathizers and
supplies from the plantations and
farms of all that region, he was soon
emboldened to impel raiding parties
in every direction ; while Brig.-Gen.
A. L. Smith — directed against him
from Columbus, Ky., by Hurlbut,
with 6,000 men, of whom 2,000 were
mounted — was brought to a ftiU stop
by the execrable badness of the roads,
and finally retraced his steps to Co-
lumbus. Hence, a cooperating force
dispatched from Corinth on the south,
consisting of Gen. Mower's brigade
of infantry and Col. Mizener's caval-
ry, found nothing to cooperate with ;
while the 7th Illinois cavalry. Col.
Prince, which had moved out from
Memphis to Bolivar, was compelled
to fall back* to Somerville; near
which, it was surrounded next day by
Eichardson's mounted force — 1,000

against 500 — and routed with con-
siderable loss.

, Forrest had by this time taken the
alarm, as well he might — the forces
at Hurlbut's command being three
times his own — and had started south-
ward to make his escape. Much of
the country in this quarter being flat
and swampy, and the rivers being
bank-frill, while Forrest was notori-
ously short of pontoons, he was
obliged, after passing the Hatchie,
to bear westward nearly to Memphis
to find roads which even horsemen
could traverse. Hurlbut was aware
of this, and had ordered the burning
of every bridge over Wolf river. His
orders were obeyed everywhere but
at the bridge near Lafayette ; and it
was for that bridge that Forrest, ac-
cordingly, struck ; crossing over his
army and his plunder, including a
large drove of cattle, and pushing
rapidly southward. This movement
was covered by a fresh feint by Rich-
ardson on CoUiersville ; so that Gen.
Grierson, who was watching for For-
rest at Lagrange, was misled ; and,
when the pursuit was actually com-
menced, tie scent was too cold.
Grierson followed to Holly Springs,
and then desisted; Forrest getting
safely away with more men and bet-
ter horses than he led into Tennessee.

Gen. Sherman, with four divisions
of Hurlbut's and McPherson's corps,
and a brigade of cavalry under Wins-
low, moved* eastward from Vicks-
burg through Jackson, crossing Pearl
river on pontoons, and advancing
through Brandon, Morton, Hillsbo-
ro', and Decatur, across the Octib-
beha and Tallahaha, to Meridian ^ —
a railroad junction on the eastern

» Oct. 21.

* Early in Deoomber.

» Deo. 24. ■ Feb. 3, 1864. ' Feb. 14-16.

Digitized by




border of the State — destroying a
vast amount of railroad property,
bridges, trestles, track, locomotives,
cars, &c., &c. Lt.-Gen. Polk, with
Frenches and Loring's divisions and
Lee's cavalry, fell back before our
army ; skirmishing occasionally, but
making no serious resistance; re-
treating at last behind the Tombig-


Yet the expedition, thoujgh scarcely
resisted, and doing vast damage to
the Kebels, was essentially a failure,
because too weak in cavalry. This
deficiency was to have been supplied
by a strong division sent by Hurlbut,
under Gen. Wm. Sovy Smith ; but
that officer, who was to have been
here on the 10th, did not leave Mem-
phis till the 11th, and failed to reach
even West Point, nearly 100 miles
north of Meridian ; whence he turned
back,* and made all speed to Mem-
phis. Sherman was therefore obliged
to retrace his steps ; leaving Meridian
on the 20th, and sending Winslow's
cavalry so far north as Louisville to
feel for Smith, but without success :
60 our army slowly returned unmo-
lested to Canton.* Its total loss dur-
ing the expedition was but 171;
while it brought away 400 prisoners,
1,000 White refugees, with 5,000 ne-
groes, and returned in better condi-
tion for seiVice than when it started.

Gen. W. S. Smith, with about 7,000
men, including a brigade of infantry,
had advanced by New Albany and
Okolona nearly to West Point ; when
lie found himself confronted by For-
rest, Lee, and Chalmers, with more
Rebels than he felt able to master ;
and, turning a very short comer, he
made his way back to Memphis in
the best time on record — his van

reaching that city at 11 p. m. on the
25th. Attacked at Okolona," he had
lost 5 guns in making good his escape ;
but it was claimed on his return that
he had devoured or otherwise de-
stroyed a large amount of Rebel
property, mainly com, and had lost
but 200 men. Still, it is not re-
corded that he was ever again put
in conunand of an important expedi-

Simultaneously with his advance
from Vicksburg, Sherman sent some
gunboats and a detachment up the
Yazoo agamst Yazoo City; which did
not succeed in again capturing that
city, but claimed to have done con-
siderable damage, with a loss of but
50 men.

Yazoo City was taken and occu-
pied soon afterward by a Union force
consisting of the 11th Illinois, Col.
Schofield, 8th Louisiana (Black), Col.
Coates, and 200 of the 1st Mississippi
cavalry (Black). Col. Osband, who
had dropped down the river from
above, was here attacked " by a far
superior Rebel force under Ross and
Richardson, and a desperate street-
fight ensued, in which our loss was
130 ; that of the enemy reported by
them at 50, and by our side at 300.
They carried a good part of the town,
but could not take the fort, and were
finally repelled by reenforcements
from below. The place was evacu-
ated, by order from Yicksburg, soon

Gen. Jo. Johnston, conmianding
in northern Georgia, having dis-
patched two divisions of Hardee's
corps, under Stewart and Anderson,
to the aid of Polk in Mississippi,
Gen. Grant, still commanding at
Chattanooga, sent forward " the 14th

■ Feb. 21.

• Feb. 26.

«» Feb. 22.

' March 5.

"Feb. 22.

Digitized by




corps, under Geru Palmer, to coun-
teract this diversion. The divisions
of Jeff. C. Davis, Johnson, and
Baird, moved on the direct road to
Dalton; Stanley's division, under
Gen. Crufts, moving from Cleveland
on our left, and forming a junction
-with Palmer just below ^^nggold.
The advance was resisted, but not
seriously, at Tunnel Hill and at
Rocky-Face ridge; whence Palmer
pressed forward, against continually
increasing resistance, to within two
miles of Dalton ; where, hearing that
the two Eebel divisions which were
sent south had been brought back,
and that all Johnston's (late Bragg's)
army was on his hands, he fell back
to Tunnel Hill, and ultimately to
Einggold;" having lost 850 Idlled
and wounded. The Bebel killed and
wounded were but 200.

Various inconsiderable collisions
and raids on frontier posts occurred
in southern Tennessee during the
Winter and Spring ; in one of which,
a steamboat on the T^messee was
captured and burnt by the enemy ;
but nothing of moment occTurod
unta Forrest, at the head of 5,000
cavalry, advanced** rapidly from
northern Mississippi through West
Tennessee, after a brief halt at Jack-
son, to Union City, a fortified rail-
road junction near the Kentucky
line, held by the 11th Tenn. cavalry.
Col. Hawkins, who tamely surrender-
ed," after repelling an assault with-
out loss. The spoils were 460 pri-
soners, 200 horses, and 500 small
arms. Gen. Brayman, with a reliev-
ing force from Cairo, was but 6 miles
distant when Hawkins gave up.

Forrest now occupied Hickman
without resistance, and next day ap-
peared before Paducah at the head
of a division of his force which had
moved thither directly from Jackson.
He foxmd here the 40th Illinois, CoL
Hicks, 655 strong; who pnnnptly
withdrew into Fort Anderson, where
he could be aided by the gunboats
Piosta and Paw-Paw, Capt. Shirk,
and whence he answered Forrest's
summons with quiet firmness. Two
assaults were made and repelled:
the enemy at length occupying the
town and firing from behind the
houses at the garrison, but to no pur-
pose. At 11 p. M., after burning a
steamboat on the marine ways and
some houses, Forrest drew off; our
loss in the siege having been 14
killed and 46 wounded. Forrest re-
ports his loss here and at Union CSty,
"as far as known," at 25;" but
names OoL A. P. Thompson and Lt-
Col. TAuhum, killed, and CoL Cross-
lin and Lt.-CoL Morton, "slightiy
wounded." His loss was doubtless
far heavier than he admitted.

Buford, with a part of Pillow's
men, next summoned" Columbus,
held by CoL Lawrence, 34th New
Jersey; who refused to surrender,
and could not be taken. Moving
thence to Paducah, Buford summon-
ed that post; but, a surrender being
declined, he retired without assaulting.

Forrest, with the larger portion of
his command, had meantime fallen
back into Tennessee, where he sud-
denly appeared** before Foet Pel-
low, some 40 miles above Memphis,
held byMjg. L. F. Booth, with a
garrison of 657 men, 262 of whom
were Blacks (6th TJ. S. heavy ar-

»" March 10.

"March 24.

^ March 16. ** He afterward makes it lOJdUed, 40 woonded

"April 13. ••April 12.

Digitized by




10107); ihe other battalion was
White, under Maj. Bradford, 18tii
Tennessee cavahrj. Maj. Booth had
six guns.

The attack was made before snn-
rise, and the fighting was sharp nndl
9 A. M., when Maj. Booth was killed.
Hitherto, onr men had de&nded an
outer line of intrenchments; but
Major Bradford now drew the garri-
son back into the fort, sitnated on
the high, steep, bnt partially timber-
ed blnff of tibe Mississippi, with a
ravine on either hand, also partially
wooded. The gunboat New Era,
Gapt. Marshall, cdoperated in the
defense ; but to little purpose, be-
cause of the height of the bank, and
because the Bebels, if shelled xtp one
rayine, shifted their operations to the

The fightrog went on till consider-
ablj after noon, without material ad-
vantage to the enemy ; when the fire
on bodi sides slackened to allow the
guns to cool, while the New Era,
nearly out of cartridges, moved back
into the channel to dean her guns.
Forrest improved the opportunity to
send a summons, and soon after a
second, demanding a surrender wi&-
in 20 minutes ; which Bradford de-

WhOe these negotiations were in
progress, the Bebels were stealing
down both ravines and gaining ehel-
tered positions whence they could
rush upon the fort whenever the sig-
nal should be given*

Bradford's answer having been re-
ceived, their rush was instantaneous,
and in a moment the fort was in their
hands; while the garrison, throwing
down their arms, fled down the steep

> See pegea 106, 623-4.

"Forrest's official report speaks of his mat'

bank, trying to hide bdiind trees or
logs, or skulk in bushes, or find com-
parative safety in the river ; while
the Bebels followed, butchering Black
and White, soldiers and non-combat-
ants, men, women, and children, with
no more discrimination than human-
ily. Disabled men were made to
stand up and be shot ; others were
burned witii the tents wherein they
had been nailed to the floor. This
carnival of murder continued till
dark, and was even renewed the next
morning. Major Bradford was not
murderod tin they had taken him asa
prisoner several miles on their retreat
to MiflsiflRippL

It was in.vain tiiat Forrest and his
superior, Lt.-Gen. S. D. Lee, under-
took to palliate Ihis infernal atrocity,
in defianceoftheir own record. Apart
ttom the general threats (hitherto
cited) of the Bebel authorities ** that
tiiey would reftise to treat Black sol-
diers or tiieir White officers as prison-
ers of war, Forrest, not three weeks
before, had seen fit to summon Pa-
duoah in these terms :

"H'DQir^Bs FoBBBST^B Oavalbt Cobps, )
Paditoah, March 25, 1864. f
*' T0 Col. Steki^ camma/hMng Federal fotct$
at Fadueah :
" Having a force amply sufficient to carry
yonr works and reduce the place, in order
to avoid the nnneceasary effosion of blood,
I demand the surrender of the fort and
troops, with all the public stores. If you
surrender, you shall be treated as prisoners
of war ; but, if I haw U storm yowrtBorhi^
you may expect no quarter.

'* N. B. FoBBBSx, l£<d.-Gen. Oom'ding."

Both Booth and Bradford having
be^i killed, the precise terms in
which he summoned FortPIQowdo
not appear ;•• but Buford's demand
for the surrender of Oolumbus, the
next day after the massacre, was

inonses Na 1 and Na 2, as **hereto impended ;"
but the report^ as printec^ does not give them.

Digitized by




conched in this nnequivocal lan-

" To the Commander of the United Statee
foreesy CohwiluSy Ky. :
** Fully capable of taking Colnmbiis and
its garrison hj force, I desire to avoid shed-
ding blood. I therefore demand the nncon-
ditional surrender of the forces under your
command. Should yon surrender, the ne-
groes now in arms will be returned to their
masters. Should I be compelled to take the
place by force, no quarter foiU he ehoton
negro troops whatever ; White troops will be
treated as prisoners of war.
"I am, Sir, yours,

** A. BuFOBD, Brig.-Gen."

It is in vain, in the face of tlieee

docnments, that Forrest — giving his

loss at 20 killed and 60 wounded,

and claiming to have buried 228 of

our men on the evening of the assault,

beside " quite a number^ next day —

pretends that all these were killed in

fair fight, or " by a destructive fire

into the rear of the retreating and

panic-stricken garrison ;" and that his

superior, Lee, thus pettifogs the case

of the subordinate assassin :

"The garrison was summoned in the
usual manner, and its commanding officer
assumed the responsibility of refusing to
surrender, after haying been informed by
Gen. Forrest of his ability to take the fort,
and of his fears as to what the result would
be in case the demand was not complied
with. The assault was made under a heavy
fire, and with considerable loss to the at-
tacking party. Your colors were never
lowered, and your garrison never surren-
dered, but retreated under cover of a gun-
boat, with arms in their hands and con-
stantly using them. This was true particu-
larly of your colored troops, who had been
firmly convinced by your teachings of the
certainty of slaughter in case of capture.
Even under these circumstances, many of
your men— White and Black— were taken
prisoners. I respectfully refer you to his-
tory for numerous cases of indiscriminate
slaughter after successful assault, even un-
der less aggravated circumstances. It is
generally conceded, by all military prece-
dent, that where the issue had been feirly
presented and the ability displayed, fearful
results are expected to follow a refusal to

surrender. The case under consideration b
almost an extreme one. You had a serrile
race armed against their masters, and in a
country which had been desolated by almost
unprecedented outrages.

'* I assert that our officers, with all the
circumstances against them, endeavored to
prevent the effhsion of blood ; and, as an
evidence of this, I refer yon to the fact that
both White and CJolored prisoners were
taken, and are now in our hands. '^

All this can not weigh against the
solemn oaths of scores of unimpeached
witnesses, several of whom were them-
selves shot and lefk for dead long after
the fighting had utterly ceased, when
they were known to have surrendered,
and several of whom testify tiiiat they
saw prisoners thus butchered next
day. And the evidence" of Whites
and Blacks proves that the murder-
ers a hundred times declared that
they shot the Blacks because they
were " niggers," and the Whites for
" fighting with niggers." If human
testimony ever did or can establish
any thing, then this is proved a case
of deliberate, wholesale massacre of
prisoners of war after they had sur-
rendered — many of them long after
— and for the naked reason that some
of them were Black, and others were
fighting in Black company.

Forrest retreated rapidly from the
scene of this achievement into Hisr
sissippi, and was not eflEectively pur-
sued ; there being no adequate cav-
alry force at hand for the purpose.

Gen. S. D. Stui^is, with 12,000
men, was sent after" Forrest; ad-
vancing from Memphis to Bolivar;
but of course did not come near him:
in fact, there was no chance of ove^
taking him after he had passed Wolf
river and the forces guarding our
lines in that quarter.

"Special Report of the Oommittee on the
CJonduct of the War (House No. 66), 38th Con-

gress, let eession. The testimoiijis there giTen
in fun. " April SO.

Digitized by




Some weeks later, a similar and in
goodpartthe sameforce,butineluding
most of A. J. Smith's corps, now re-
tmned from the luckless Bed river
campaign, was sent from Memphis af-
ter Forrest, with instructions to push
on till he was fomid and beaten, so as
to prevent the transfer of a large part
of his force to Jo. Johnston, then re-
sisting Sherman in northern Georgia.
Maj.-Gton« S. D. Stnrgis — ^in spite of
overwhelming proofs of his aggrava-
ted unfitness — ^was again intrusted
with the oonunand^ His force con-
sisted of 9,000 infantry and artillery,
with 3,000 cavalry led by Gen. Grier-
son. Sturgis had advanced E. S. E.
nearly 100 miles, through West Ten-
nessee and northern Mississippi, meet-
ing little opposition till near Gun-
town, on the Mobile railroad ; where
Grierson's troopers found" Forrest's
cavalry, and pushed it vigorously
back on his infSantry, which was
strongly posted on a semi-circular
ridge or crest, with a naked slope in
front, and a small creek at its foot,
which could with difficulty be forded
by infantry at a few points only.
Word was sent back to the infantry,
now 5 or 6 miles behind ; and, in an
intensely hot day, they were pushed
forward at double-quick to the scene
of action, arriving thoroughly blown
and incapable of exertion. As if this
were not folly enough, the train of
more than 200 wagons came rushing
up with them, filling the road and
impeding the movement of the troops ;
being hurried over the bridge and
parked within sight and range of the
enemy's lines. jAjid now, without rest
or proper formation, without an at-
tempt to flank the enemy's strong
position, or exhibit any common sense

whatever, our exhausted infantry was
sent in to the support of the already
engaged cavalry ; and both, of course,
were speedily, thoroughly routed, and
in most disorderly fi^ht, over a bad,
narrow road, with their train utterly
lost at once, and no supplies, no place
of refuge, no reenforcements, within
three days' march. The 1st cavahy
brigade, CoL Q^o. E. Waring, had
been carved up to give an escort to
the commanding General, and for
various details^ until not enough was
left to present an imposing front ; but
the 2d brigade, CoL E. F. Winslow,'
was disposed as a rear-guard, and did
what it coxdd to cover the retreat of
the hungry mob of fugitives on foot.
After crossing a stream at Bipley,*^
a stand was made and a sharp fight
ensued, whereby the pursuit was
checked, but witix a considerable loss
in prisoners on our side. Thencefor-
ward, the pursuit was less eager ; but
it was continued nearly to Memphis:
no attempt being made by Sturgis to
reorganize his infiEkntry or do any
thing effective to mitigate the se-
verity of the disaster. Our loss,
mainly in captives, was variously
stated at 3,000 to 4,000; but it is
probable that the force that Sturgis
brought back to Memphis, counting
guns, wagons, and supplies (all lost),
was not half so efficient as that with
which he set out. Among our killed
were Col. T. W. Humphrey, 95th,
and Col. Geo. W. McKeag, 120th
Illinois ; the former f<^ months act-
ing Brigadier, and both excellent

Another expedition, also number-
ing 12,000, was promptly organized to
wipe out tiie recollection of this most
needless disgrace ; Gen. A. J. Smith

* June 10.

•* June 11.

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being placed in conunand. It was
fnllj equipped at Salifibary, 60 miles
east of Memphis, advancing'* thence,
skirmishing incessantly wil^ Forrest's
cavalry, to Tupelo, where the Bebel
chief had conc^itrated his command,
estimated by our officers at 14,000,
and where he had decided to fight
Thrice his infantry assaulted** our
lines, and were eadi time repulsed
with heavy loss ; being finally driven
fit)m the field, leaving on it as many
of his men killed or desp^titely
wounded as the whole numbar of
our killed, wounded, and missing.

Oen. Smith made no ferther ad-
vance ; but there was a sharp, inde-
cisive cavalry skirmish next day at
Old Town creek; after which our
army was withdrawn to the vicinity
of Memphis; whence Smith once
more advanced," with 10,000 men,
by Holly Springs to the Talla-
hatchie;^* but found no enemy to
fight, save a very small body of cav-
alry. Forrest's main body had been
drawn off for service elsewhere.
Smith remidned in this region seve-
ral days, and then returned to Mem-
phis ; whence he was soon called to
the aid of Bosecrans in Missouri, as
has already been stated.

But while Smith was vainly hunt-
ing for Forrest in Mississippi, that
chieftain reported himself in person
at Memphis. Taking 3,000 of his
best-mounted men, Forrest flanked '*
our army by night, and made a
forced march to Memphis, which he
charged into at dawn ; " making di-
rectly for the Qayoso house and other
hotels, where his spies had assured
him that Gens. Hurlbut, Washbume,
and Buckland, were quartered. He
Mled to clutch either of them, but

captured several staff and other olB*
cers, with soldi^is enough to make a

Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 88 of 113)