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The Expedition: Memphis Tennessee to Vicksburg, Mississippi

Report of:

Capt. Anthony T. Search, Fourth Illinois Cavalry

Vicksburg, Mississippi., January 10, 1865

COLONEL: I have the honor to report, in obedience to your order, the part taken by my command, consisting of five companies and numbering 260 effective men, in the recent cavalry raid through Northern Mississippi.

At Ripley, fourteen miles cast of Lamar, on the Mississippi Central Railroad, on the 24th ultimo, by your order, I left the main column with 200 of my best mounted men and march twenty-fives east to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, striking it about midnight between Baldwyn and Guntown Stations. After setting to two bridges, tearing up as much of the track as was possible with the tools in our possession, and cutting the telegraph wire, I took up my line of march of Ellstown, sixteen miles distant, where I rejoined the brigade at noon on the 25th. During this trip, which was unusually hard on the horses on account of the excessively bad roads and the darkness of the night, we captured 7 prisoners and destroyed 21 stands of arms. At Verona, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, on the 26h, I destroyed a train of 29 abandoned wagons loaded with provisions and clothing, and captured and Ohio Railroad, in the forenoon of the 28th, and found the First Brigade, Colonel Karge, commanding, engaged in a sharp fight with the enemy, who were well protected behind stockades and the railroad embankment, and were severely punished our forces without loss themselves. In obedience to your order I moved my regiment and formed three companies E, Captain Smith commanding; B, Captain Merriman; and A, Lieutenant Donica commanding-in line on the extreme right of the line formed by the First Brigade, supporting them by the two other companies- D, Lieutenant Taylor commanding, and C, First Sergeant Arnold commanding. See at once that the enemy was securely posted out of sight and danger behind the railroad embankment; I ordered a charge for the purpose of dislodging them and turning their left. Notwithstanding the soft condition of the ground (a cultivated field), the charge was entirely successful. The enemy were driven a distance of about 100 rods to the timber, where a deep ditch checked our pursuit and enabled a majority of them to escape. We, however, captured fifteen, including a lieutenant colonel and several line officers. Several were also killed and wounded, among them Brigadier General Gholson, mortally wounded. My loss has very light-2 men slightly wound and 17 horses killed and disabled.

On the morning of the 1st instant 1 sent Captain Smith with 100 men, dismounted, from near Winona Station, on the Mississippi Central Railroad, to destroy the railroad between that point and Vaiden Station, a distance of twelve miles. This work was performed by Captain Smith with his usual energy. He burned nine bridges and six trestle-works, and tore up much of the track, rejoining the command a light after noon near Vaiden. In the engagement at Franklin, on the 2d instant, my regiment being in the rear did not reach the field until some time after the first began between the enemy and the Third United States. On reaching the scene of action one company (E. Captain Smith commanding) was ordered to go to the relief of Major Main, of the Third United States, was with a detachment of his regiment was holding the enemy in check at the bridge. Two other companies (A and B) under Captain Merriman were ordered to move into the field to the right, to intercept flank movement from the enemy’s left. Companies C and D remained to guard the pack train. After getting near the timber to the right, Captain Merriman ordered Companies A and B, under a sharp fire from the enemy, to a position opposite the houses and posted his men behind trees and logs. Lieutenant Donica took position a little farther to the right and across the creek. In this position, these two companies engaged the enemy for near thirty minutes. The number of the enemy seemed so greatly superior to my own, and the firing, become so severe, that I dispatched Lieutenant Hitt to ask for re-enforcements. He soon returned, however, with an order from you to withdraw my men and protect the left flank of Major Main’s command, which was ordered back from the bridge. Fortunately, just after the order was received, the enemy retreated from the log-houses and fences in my front, or I could not have extricated my command from the position we occupied without severe loss. In this engagement I regret to record the loss of 2 men killed and l wounded, not seriously. Captain Smith reports that from this position at the bridge he saw 9 of the enemy lying dead. My regiment continued in the year during the day, and apprehending that we might be followed, I order Captain Smith to take companies C and E and form a strong extreme rear guard-a precaution that proved unnecessary, as the enemy did not make his appearance, doubtless having been too severely punished in the fight to be in a condition to follow us.

From the time until our arrival at Vicksburg, on the evening of the 5th instant, my regiment had no special duty to perform.

The total number of animals captured during the raid, besides the 60 mules captured at Verona, was 38 horses and 25 mules; making a total of 125 head.

In consequence of the rapid marching in the early part of the raid some 75 or 80 of my horses became used up and had to be abandoned.

I cannot conclude, colonel, without remarking that the conduct of the officers and men of my regiment, both at Egypt and Franklin, was unexceptionable, and characterized by their usual bravery and willing uses to meet the foe.

I remain, colonel with sentiments at high esteem, very truly and respectfully,

Yours,

A. T. SEARCH

Captain, Commanding Fourth Regiment Illinois Cavalry

Col. E. D. Osband

Commander, Third Brig, Cavalry Div., Dept of the Mississippi