Report of Brigadier General Cadwalader C. Washburn, U. S. Army, commanding Cavalry Division.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY DIVISION, Mouth of Coldwater River, Miss., December 4, 1862.
At daylight I found myself at Preston, a little town 16 miles from Grenada. When I arrived here I found it would be impossible for me to reach Hardy Station, the first station above Grenada, on the Mississippi and Tennessee Railroad, in time to intercept the up train, which I ascertained usually left at 8 a.m. I detached Captain A. M. Sherman, Second Wisconsin Cavalry, with 200 men of the Second Wisconsin and Fifth Illinois, to cross over to the Mississippi and Tennessee Railroad, at Garner Station, which was only 4 miles distant, and destroy the telegraph and such bridges as he could find, and if possible to capture the train. He burned one bridge over 100 feet long and cut the telegraph. He was also instructed on leaving Garner Station to cross through the woods to the Mississippi Central, a distance of 9 miles, in an air line, and hunt for and destroy bridges and cut the telegraph. This last, from the character of the country to be passed over, be found would be impracticable. The train from Grenada did not come up. With the remainder of the column I passed on down toward Grenada. About 9 a. m., my horses being thoroughly jaded, I found it necessary to stop and feed and rest them, which I did for about two hours. I then passed on to Hardy Station.
About half a mile below the station I found a bridge about 100 feet in length, which I burned, and also destroyed several hundred yards of telegraph wire, and one passenger, one box, and ten platform cars. We here learned that our coming had preceded us by several hours, and that the evening previous 1,100 infantry had come down the road from Panola to Grenada.
At Hardy Station the road we traveled crossed the railroad and passed down between the Mississippi and Tennessee and Mississippi Central. Passing down the road toward Grenada for about 2 miles, and hearing from the negroes that trains of cars were running all night down the Central Railroad toward Grenada, loaded with soldiers, being in a perfect trap between the two railroads, in a low and densely wooded bottom, with no knowledge in regard to roads, and knowing that they had had time to send ample force from Abbeville, I deemed it too hazardous to proceed farther in that direction. I here detached Major Burgh, of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry, with 100 men, armed with carbines, crow-bars, and axes, and directed them to cross the country, through the woods and canebrakes, until they should strike the Central Mississippi Railroad, and then destroy the telegraph and all the bridges they could find. They successfully performed the service, destroying the telegraph, tearing up the railroad track, and burning one small bridge, being the only one they could find, they having an uninterrupted view of the track for a long distance each way. White thus employed a train of cars loaded with soldiers came slowly up the track from toward Grenada, apparently feeling their way to find out where we were. They fell back on discovering Major Burgh and party. Major Burgh, having done all the damage to the railroad he could, fell back to the main column.
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