Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/170

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

have supposed that if any considerable portion of the enemy's cavalry were withdrawn from General Grant's front, and moved in the suspicious direction taken by Van Dorn, that some intimation of the fact would reach him. The truth is, that if Colonel Murphy was censurable at all, it was for sharing in the feeling which seemed to pervade the whole army from General Grant down, that the march through the State was simply to be a walk over the track.

Leaving Holly Springs, General Van Dorn moved north and crossed the Memphis and Charleston railroad at Moscow, for the purpose of making a diversion in favor of General Forrest, who was at the time engaged on an expedition in Middle and West Tennessee. After succeeding in monopolizing the attention of the enemy at various points for a day or two, we moved across to Bolivar, cut off and captured the pickets, and turned south just in time to avoid a heavy force of cavalry and artillery which Grant had sent in pursuit. We were now moving by the same route which the Federal cavalry had just followed going north, and astonished many of their stragglers by gobbling them up when they least expected it. The railroad south of Bolivar was guarded by small detachments of infantry, the most of whom were picked up and paroled. The cavalry which we had eluded early in the morning turned about and pursued, and came up with our rear at Salisbury late in the evening. Prisoners represented that the force consisted of about 4,000 picked troops, accompanied by light artillery; and as they manifested a disposition to push matters, it became necessary to outwit them. General Van Dorn moved out rapidly on the road leading to Corinth, the enemy pursuing. As soon as it became dark enough to conceal his movements, he turned the head of the column to the right through the woods and gained the Ripley road, leaving a portion of his rear guard and some scouts, with orders to continue to move forward on the Corinth road, just in advance of the enemy. The ruse succeeded, and soon after reaching the Ripley road we were ordered to camp without fires. The march was resumed early the next morning, and continued without interruption until the afternoon, when the enemy again made their appearance in our rear, and indulged in a little harmless shelling. We crossed to the south bank of the Tallahatchie, and went into camp, but they manifested no disposition to follow. The command arrived at Grenada about the 1st of January, having been absent two weeks. During that two weeks General Van Dorn had marched nearly 400