Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/694

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203
CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY.

enced brigade commander, Colonel Bell, and in the brigade of the latter the greater part of the field officers were killed or wounded. "Nevertheless, all that can be done shall be done in north Mississippi to drive the enemy back. I have ordered Mabry to Grenada, a brigade to Pontotoc, and General Chalmers, with one of the best brigades I have, has gone to Abbeville. With Buford's division I shall await further developments and move as future indications require. I can take the saddle with one foot in the stirrup, and if I succeed in forcing the column back will be ready to move to your assistance on short notice." He was soon called upon to contest the advance of Smith with three divisions from La Grange, Tenn., upon Oxford, and kept good his word by the stubborn fights on the Tallahatchie, at Oxford, Lamar, Hurricane creek and Abbeville. "When the enemy occupied Oxford, after a severe skirmish with General Chalmers, men, women and children and negroes were robbed and plundered indiscriminately," Capt. C. T. Biser reported. "The main body arrived on the 24th under Gen. A. J. Smith, and burned 34 stores and business houses, the court house. Masonic hall, two hotels, a number of shops and five residences. General Smith superintending the burning and refusing citizens permission to remove articles of value from their houses. "

Forrest's army was now too much depleted to offer battle, but on the 18th, leaving Chalmers to entertain the enemy, which he did with consummate audacity, Forrest demonstrated his wonderful resources by making a counter-raid against Memphis, taking with him parts of the brigades of Bell and Rucker, the latter now under Col. J. J. Neely. With the fragmentary regiments, the Second Missouri, the Twelfth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Tennessee, and the Eighteenth Mississippi battalion, he dashed into Memphis early on the morning of August 21st, and very nearly captured General Washburn, who escaped under cover of the darkness, leaving his clothing.