Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/199

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183
Gen. N. B. Forrest Captures Memphis.

therefore, was rapid. The horses were rested and freshly shod, an ample supply of ammunition for cannon and small arms provided and the morale of the men kept up to the highest point.

Suffering from a slight but painful wound in the foot, Forrest turned over the command to General Chalmers, and the latter wrote to the department commander on Aug. I, as follows: "Our scouts report that the enemy is making preparations to move from Memphis, Vicksburg and north Alabama at the same time, and, if successful, to concentrate at Selma. There are now 14,000 infantry at Lagrange, a brigade moving from Decatur and other troops arranging for departure from Memphis. Some troops, number unknown, have been sent down the river to Vicksburg. If the enemy moves in three columns, as expected, it will be impossible for us to meet him, and after consultation with Major General Forrest, we have concluded to recommend a consolidation of the troops in this department to meet one column. The northern column will be the largest. If we can defeat it, the others may be easily overtaken and crushed. Our effective force is 5,357, but we are very much crippled in officers. My brigade commanders are wounded, also a brigade commander of General Buford's division," etc.

In the meantime orders were issued to distribute ten days' rations, one hundred rounds of ammunition per man and two hundred for each cannon.

On Aug. 2 General Chalmers ordered McCulloch's Brigade from Tupelo to Oxford, and followed the next day with his staff and escort and Thrall's Battery. On the 4th Neely's Brigade was also sent to Oxford. At this time General Forrest resumed command, and wrote to Major General Maury, commanding the department, in part as follows:

"I will do all that can be done to drive the enemy back. At the same time I have not the force to risk a general engagement, but will resort to all other means in my power to harass, annoy and force the enemy back."

It was well known to the federal authorities that the prairies of Mississippi and Alabama furnished bread to the Confederate armies. It is easy, therefore, to understand how anxious they were to lay waste that section, but having repeatedly failed to