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meantime which had been detached, crossed the Tallahatchie some five miles above New Albany, and discovered the whereabouts of two small forces of rebels, and overtook the raiding party the next day. That morning, Captain Trafton at the head of two companies, rode back to New Albany and drove out a rebel force which had occupied the town, and got back to camp before ten o'clock in the forenoon. Two more companies started off into the woods in another direction and brought away all the horses they could lead. Two more started off in still another direction after a rebel cavalry force, but the enemy had decamped, and our boys returned bringing with them a few prisoners. All these movements were made to distract the enemy and conceal from him the real destination of the expedition. Before noon, the whole force were on the march again in a southerly direction, with the 2d Iowa on the left flank and proceeding to Pontotoc, a small rebel force was found there and pursued through the town by the advance, and their entire camp equipage and a large quantity of salt captured which was destroyed before night. They were now sixty miles from their first night's encampment.
On the next day, the 20th, a detachment of the least effective men from the regiments, under command of Major Love of the 2d Iowa, was sent back to Lagrange with one piece of artillery and the prisoners. Colonel Grierson in doing this, secured a double object. First, relief from all encumbrances, and second, the creation of an impression among the rebels that his expedition was retracing its steps. The raiders then moved on and passing around Houston camped that night at Clear Springs, having gone forty miles during the day.
At daylight the next morning they were off again. Col. Hatch, with his brave command, the 2d Iowa, was ordered to move his regiment towards Columbus and destroy as much of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as possible, attack Columbus, if the rebel force was not too strong, and march thence to Lagrange. Near Okalona, he encountered a large force and a severe fight ensued, in which he himself was wounded and his force badly scattered, but the larger portion of them reached Lagrange. Col. Hatch's movement, although resulting disastrously, had the good effect to mislead tho
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rebel General Chalmers, who was in pursuit of Grierson, and give the latter two or three days' start.
Illinois was now in the field alone, and although the news of the raid had spread over Mississippi like wild fire, and the rebel forces were moving in every direction, trying to intercept the little band, there was no thought of returning. They resolved to escape the toils spread for them on every hand by making a headlong and rapid dash right through the heart of Mississippi to Baton Rouge on the Gulf; and to this end the gallant Colonel gave his clear-headed skill and sagacity, and his troopers their brave hearts and strong hands. To successfully compass this plan it was necessary that the telegraph wires running north along the railroad from Macon should be cut. Col. Prince detailed company B, of the 7th Illinois, under Capt. Forbes, to make the seemingly desperate, if not fatal attempt. He started out with thirty-five men to ride through fifty-miles of the enemy's country and into the vicinity of Macon, one of the most strongly fortified places in the State, and probably occupied by a powerful garrison. Capt. Forbes and his company left the main force, little expecting to return, but good fortune waited upon him at every turn. Macon, the first object of their expedition, was too strong for them to take. Pressing forward, in a southwesterly direction, and seeking for their regiment, they were misled by false information and rode to Enterprise, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, where they found three thousand rebel soldiers just disembarking from a train. Capt. Forbes rescued himself from his awkward position by the utmost coolness and presence of mind. Taking a flag of truce, he rode boldly up alone to the rebel force and demanded their surrender to Col. Grierson. The rebels supposing that Grierson's force was close at hand, and believing the exagge* rated reports of its numerical strength, concluded discretion was the better part of valor. The rebel commander, Capt. Goodwin, wanted an hour in which to think over the matter, to which Capt. Forbes, after some feigned reluctance, assented and rode back to his handful of men. That hour placed a long distance between his company and Enterprise. It is not known whether the rebel Colonel ever returned to give a final answer on the question of surrendering, but it is certain the little troop were not there to receive it. They escaped successfully after accomplishing their mission, and reported to their colonel on the banks of the Pearl River on the 27th.^
Before marching on the 22d, Capt. Graham, with one battalion, was detailed to burn a rebel shoe manufactory near Starkville. He succeeded in destroying several thousand pairs of boots and shoes, a large number of hats and a quantity of leather, besides capturing a rebel quartermaster, who was out foraging for his command at Port Hudson, and then rejoined the main force. During the day of the 22d, and the following night, they made one of the most difficult marches of the raid. At sundown they found themselves in the midst of the overflowed and treacherous swamps of the Okanoxubee River, about seven miles south of Louisville. Eight weary miles they toiled through those swamps. Every stream and creek were swollen by the spring rains, and the swamps were deep lakes without an interval of dry ground. The roads themselves were flooded. Enormous, gloomy trees hung with funeral mosses and parasitic pendants, stood close together three and four feet deep in the water. Every few yards they got into mire holes, in wrhich horses would disappear. They had already marched fifty miles that day and men and beasts alike were jaded and exhausted, but still with brave hearts they pressed on in the darkness, through the raging waters, trusting to Providence to guide and deliver them from the thickly besetting dangers. Not a man was lost, but twenty of the noble animals were drowned. The dismounted men removed their saddles, placed them on some other led beasts, and pushed on. At one o'clock in the morning they emerged and were absolutely compelled to halt for a few hours of rest. At seven o'clock the bugle again sounded the advance. The men were instantly in their saddles and were now pressing forward at top speed for the Pearl River bridge. It was the crisis of the march. Their fate hung trembling in the balance.
The river was too high to be forded and the bridge was the only means of crossing. Rebel scouts had gone before them and given the warning. If they had arrived in time to destroy the bridge, the expedition was over and death or capture was their fate, for the rebel bands were scouring the country in every direction, and delay would have been fatal. They put spurs to their horses and flew A FEARFUL CBISIS. 369
along like the wind. Once on the bridge they might achieve safety. On through the swamps and the forests, on without ceasing. It was a fearful race, but they were bold riders and good steeds. The old flag and brave-hearted Grierson, with his kindling eye and solemn, thoughtful face, were at their head. They would follow him to death itself. During the afternoon they neared the stream. They heard the raging of the swollen waters and suspicious sounds as of men at work upon the bridge. Every horse was put at top speed. The 7th was in the advance and rode with all the fury of a charge into the battle-storm. As they got to the bank they discovered a force of rebels working with superhuman energy, tearing Up the planks of the bridge flooring and hurling them into the river. Now for the love of home and country, brave hearts within and God overhead, they make one last, grand effort. Rising in their stirrups, driving their spurs into the excited horses, who seem to know and feel the danger, they dash down the river bank like the whirlwind. Shouting the old Illinois battle-cry, they draw their sabers and hurl themselves upon the wonder-stricken bridge destroyers like an avalanche. Who can withstand their resistless fury, their almost superhuman ardor and fierceness?
The skirmish was brief. A few strokes of the saber and the rebels fled, and the gallant Illinois men under the guidance of that Providence who had watched over them, who was their cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, under the indomitable will and never doubting ikith of their leader, and the help of their own strong arms and good steeds, reached the other shore in safety. The crisis was over, but even now they must not tarry. On again until night, and all through the night and the next day they rode. They passed through Decatur at four A. M. of the 24th, and captured two trains of cars and two locomotives at Newton Station at eleven. The bridges and trestle work were found burned for six miles each side of the station. Seventy-five prisoners were captured and paroled, two warehouses full of commissary stores were utterly destroyed by fire and four car loads of ammunition for heavy artillery. The If ridges on the east side of the station were destroyed by the 2dr battalion of the 6th Illinois, Major M. H. Starr. The whole com^ map4 left Newton at eleven A. M. of the 24th, and marched through Garlandville to the plantation of a Mr. Bender, where they en* camped. They had performed the almost incredible feat of ^marching eighty miles in two days, after the exhausting and tremendous exertions of the passage through the swamps without rest or halt, except at the place we have mentioned, where they only stayed long enough to destroy such property as would be of benefit to the rebels.
The long march, privations, dangers and exposures began to tell upon the little band. On the 25th, they left camp at 8 A. M., and encamped for the night on Dr. Dore's plantation, eight miles east of Raleigh. At this place they w^ere obliged to leave three of their men, who were utterly exhausted and unable to travel further. Indeed all of the command wrere so jaded and wearied that they marched but twenty miles that day. On the 26th, they left camp at sunrise, in the midst of a drenching rain, crossed Strong river, near Westville, and took supper at Mrs. Smith's plantation near Strong river bridge, having marched forty miles. On the 27th, at one o'clock in the morning, they resumed their march in the darkness, and reached the Pearl River again, which was now even more formidable than when they made their narrow escape at the bridge. This point on the river was called the Georgetown ferry. There was no bridge and the ferry boat was moored on the other side. To call upon the ferryman was hazardous, but delays were dangerous. Some of the troopers tried to swim over to the boat, but the current of the river was too powerful. At this juncture, the ferryman came' along and in the genuine Southern twang, supposing he was addressing the 1st regiment of Alabama cavalry, who were expected in that vicinity about that time, asked them in a careless way if they wanted to cross, to which he got a reply in the same style of twang, that a few of them did want to cross but that it was harder to wake up his negro ferryman than it was to catch conscripts. The ferryman was entirely deceived, woke up his negro, and the whole command were safely ferried over, and did themselves the pleasure of breakfasting at the ferryman's house, the proprietor doing his utmost in lavishing attention upon them, supposing them to be the Alabamians. Not much time was spent over the breakfast, however, and the importance of speed was proven half an hour afterward, when a courier