Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/334
328 Southern Historical Society Papers.
The ground was admirably adapted to a defense of infantry against cavalry, being miry and covered with fallen timber. As the regi- ment of infantry broke, Dickey's cavalry began to discharge their carbines, and fell into disorder."
A couple of months after the battle of Shiloh, Forrest was sent to command a cavalry brigade at Chattanooga, and bidding good by to his old regiment, set out in June, 1862, for this new sphere of action. Within a month of entering upon this new command he had taken Murfreesboro in Tennessee. It was one of the most remarkable achievements of his life. His force consisted of not more than about two thousand badly- armed men on horseback. A five days' march brought him before that place at early dawn the enemy being in entire ignorance of his presence. Surprised in their camp, and charged in the streets of the town, the place was soon taken. It was Forrest's birthday, and the evening before, when he told his men this, he begged they would celebrate it by their courage. His appeal was not in vain, for they never fought better against greater odds.
After the town had fallen, there remained two camps outside in which the Federals still showed fight. Before setting out to attack them many who did not know Forrest regarded this enterprise as rash and doomed to failure; and now several of his officers urged the propriety of being content with what he had already achieved, and begged him to fall back at once with the stores and prisoners he had taken before his retreat could be interfered with. They little realized the fiery temper or the military genius of their new com- mander, upon whom they pressed this advice. This was the first time his new force, demoralized by previous failures, had seen him in action. They were not yet infected with the fire which burned within him, and he had not yet had time or opportunity to catch hold of their inauguration or their spirit. They had no enthusiasm for this stranger, nor any great confidence in his ability as a general.
He was, however, determined they should believe in him before 'lie day was out, as his own regiment had long done. His further operations that day showed a rare mixture of military skill and of what is known by our American cousins as " bluft," and led to the surrender of the camps attacked. The general in command and one thousand seven hundred infantry were made prisoners, a vast amount of stores were burned, and four field-guns, six hundred horses, many wagons, and a large quantity of arms, ammunition, clothing and food were taken. It was a brilliant success, and as it was his first great