Forrest`s Battle of Okolona... S. D. Lee`s rebuke of Chalmers and support of Polk (20 Dec 1879)

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I just found this very informational article in the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 8 (pages 49 - 61), which adds a lot of color to Forrest`s fight against Sooy Smith on 22 Feb 1864. It really goes into great detail regarding S. D. Lee`s part in that battle and gives insight into the defeat of Smith`s 7,000 man Federal cavalry at the hands of Forrest`s 3,500 man command during the battle of Okolona. Basically Lt. General S. D. Lee, after reading an account regarding Sherman`s Great Mississippi Expedition (Meridian Campaign) written by Chalmers, where he was praising Forrest but putting down Polk, provoked S. D. Lee to respond in rebuking Chalmers and coming to the defense of Polk. It is a very interesting read, I personally found it fascinating.

Here is what Lee was specifically responding to, written by Chalmers circa 1879:

"Thus ended Sherman's effort to crush Forrest and set free the large number of men required to hold him in check. Mississippi, with its immense stores of corn and beef, was still held, and the railroads soon repaired to feed our army in Georgia. But the student of military operations will be puzzled to understand how Sherman, with four divisions of infantry and a small force of cavalry, crossed such streams as the Big Black and Pearl rivers, and passed through the centre of Mississippi, in the face of two divisions of infantry and four splendid brigades of well-equipped and well-drilled cavalry, under West Point officers, almost without firing a shot, while a man who could not well drill a company, with three thousand (3,000) cavalry, one-half raw troops, saved the State by defeating General Grant's Chief of Cavalry with seven thousand (7,000) picked troops.”

Regarding his remarks; "In the face of two divisions of infantry and four splendid brigades of well-equipped and well-drilled cavalry, under West Point officers, almost without firing a shot," He was making reference to Lt. General Polk and Maj. General S. D. Lee and the four brigades of cavalry under them, which were Brig. General`s Samuel Wragg Ferguson, Wirt Adams, Lawrence S. Ross and Col. Peter B. Starke, all under the command of Brig. General William Hicks Jackson. Regarding his remarks; "while a man who could not well drill a company, with three thousand (3,000) cavalry, one-half raw troops, saved the State by defeating General Grant's Chief of Cavalry with seven thousand (7,000) picked troops.” He was making reference to Maj. General Nathan B. Forrest fighting and routing Brig. General Sooy Smith.

So Lt. General S. D. Lee felt compelled to respond and defend both his actions during that campaign as well as Lt. General Leonidas Polk, in addition to defending the reputations of both. Below is how he began his response to Chalmers:

"In the October number of the Southern Historical Society Papers of 1879 is the address of General Chalmers before the Society at the White Sulphur Springs in August, his theme being Forrest and his campaigns. This address is a valuable contribution, and paints, with a comrade's partiality, the character and deeds of Forrest. General Chalmers, however, makes some statements and draws certain conclusions from which I feel compelled to dissent, and I think I am sustained by the facts of the case.

Lieutenant-General Polk was killed in battle. Forrest is dead. Is it necessary, when General Chalmers desires to eulogize Forrest, that he should censure Polk? I think it a duty to give my version of Sherman's Meridian expedition to do General Polk justice. General Chalmers dwells almost entirely on the operations in which he personally took an active part. He forgets that while Forrest was encountering seven thousand (7,000) Federal troops another cavalry command, in the same State, at the same time, no larger than his own, was encountering twenty-six thousand (26,000) infantry; and that possibly General Polk, commanding the Department, and directing both bodies of troops, could see and comprehend more than was within the scope of his vision. General Polk being cognizant of all the surroundings, and General Chalmers having only a limited field of observation. The prominent position of General Chalmers will pass his utterances into history unless controverted."


What I found interesting in reading the article from S. D. Lee was his vantage point on the battle of Okolona and his affect on the outcome, even though he arrived too late to fight, just a scant few hours after Sooy Smith had been routed by Forrest and in the process of being chased back into Tennessee. S. D. Lee, along with the 4 cavalry brigades belonging to Samuel Wragg Ferguson, Wirt Adams, Lawrence S. Ross and Col. Peter B. Starke, all under the command of Brig. General William Hicks Jackson, had left Meridian on 18 Feb 1864, while Sherman was tearing up the place, to reinforce Forrest regarding his upcoming fight against Sooy Smith.

Below is what S. D. Lee wrote:

"On February 20th, at West Point, Forrest received a dispatch from Lee, saying he would arrive on the 22d. Smith, at West Point, the same day heard of this dispatch, and also had it confirmed from prisoners and deserters taken in the evening of that day, when Forrest was retiring across the Sookatouchie stream. He (General Smith) determined at once to retreat rapidly before Lee joined his forces with Forrest, and to draw Forrest after him. Forrest, with his usual perception and vigor, at once comprehended a change of program in Smith's plans, and commenced one of his headlong pursuits, following Smith to vicinity of Pontotoc. Considerable skirmishing took place in the pursuit, and at Okolona Forrest captured six guns."

S. D. Lee suggested that the whole reason that Sooy Smith fled from his strong position at West Point and was soon pursued by Forrest, which led to the rout on the 22nd, was because after hearing (20th) that S. D. Lee was coming up from Meridian with his 4 brigades of cavalry (3,500 troopers) to join with Forrest`s 3,500 troopers, that Smith would be trapped in-between Lee`s forces from the south and Forrest`s forces from the north and west of him at West Point. To add to Smith`s confusion and uncertainty, he also heard at the same time that Sherman was pulling out of Meridian on that day (20th) and returning to Vicksburg, since he had not heard from Smith who was supposed to meet him in Meridian and make up the entire left flank of Sherman`s 23,500 man army to move on from there to Selma and then possibly move on Mobile soon there after. So with the appearance of a "trap" and Sherman returning to Vicksburg from Meridian, that action countermanded Smiths orders to meet him at Meridian, so there was no need for him to continue in that direction.

Smith commenced his retreat before Forrest offered him any serious resistance, and because he knew of Lee's near approach and junction with Forrest. Below, in his official report, Smith says, of his retreating from West Point:

“Exaggerated reports of Forrest's strength reached me constantly, and it was reported that Lee was about to reinforce him with a portion or the whole of his command.” He also says: “Under these circumstances, I determined not to move my encumbered command into the trap set for me by the Rebels.” Again: “I would have lost my entire command, and of course could have rendered him (Sherman) no assistance.” Again: “Information since obtained fully justifies the decision to retire before Forrest's force from West Point. General Sherman's expeditionary force had withdrawn from Meridian before my arrival at West Point, on a line that could not have been known to me, cut off, as I was, from any communication with him. Forrest's force is ascertained to have been rather above than below my estimate. Chalmers was moving with two brigades by way of Houston to my rear, while Lee, with from three to four thousand men, was ordered up to join Forrest in front.” Again: “Our march [retreat] was so rapid that the enemy could not outstrip and intercept us, which he constantly endeavored to do.”

To substantiate this, Major S. L. Woodward, United States army, who was Adjutant-General on General Grierson's staff in this expedition, the General being second in command to General Smith, under date of March 20th, 1879, from Fort Davis, Texas, writes:

“When in the vicinity of West Point, Mississippi, or in the pocket formed by the junction of the Tombigbee, Houlka and Sookatouchie rivers, this brigade being in advance, met, engaged and repulsed a force which we supposed to be under General Forrest, driving them across Sookatouchie, when, being considerably ahead of General Smith and the rest of the command, and it being nearly dark, General Grierson halted, and immediately prepared a crossing of the stream to be used in the advance. General Smith soon arrived, and placed the whole command in camp. During the night considerable movement was heard in the enemy's camp on the opposite side of the river, and a number of prisoners and deserters were brought in. These were taken to General Smith, who questioned them. He (General Smith) was very sick during the night, his mind at times bordering on delirium, and he sent for General Grierson, and told him he was very sick, and that he (Grierson) would have to take command. He then asked General Grierson what he would do in the morning. The reply was that he would proceed towards Meridian. General Smith then said, ‘No! that will never do. General Stephen D. Lee is in front of us with his whole force, including infantry and artillery.’ He (Smith) immediately reassumed the direction of affairs, gave orders for a retrogade movement at dawn, and directed General Grierson to hold the rear with this brigade heretofore mentioned. There is no doubt that General Smith learned from the deserters, whom he interviewed, that you (S. D. Lee) had reinforced Forrest, and that his orders for the retreat were on that account. The engagement of the first day was but a sharp skirmish, in which only a part of one brigade was engaged; the opposing force was easily repulsed, and there was no reason whatever why we should have retreated before the force which was then in front of us. General Grierson's recollection of the affair coincides with mine, and I have from his own lips the report of the conversation herein related between himself and General Smith.”

In the official report of General S. D. Lee, dated Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 18th, 1864, is the following, viz:

“The enemy, on reaching West Point, heard of my approach on the 21st, and immediately commenced their retreat. Forrest on the 22d, in the evening, commenced the pursuit, and caught up with the rear guard, inflicting severe punishment on them, capturing six pieces of artillery and many prisoners. My command was much disappointed at the result of this action, having anticipated a fight with their own arm of the service and with equal numbers.”

These extracts are given to show that Smith's retreat was caused by the movement of Lee to reinforce Forrest, in obedience to the orders of Lieutenant-General Polk, Department commander.

S. D. Lee then goes on further in responding to Chalmers claims that he (S. D. Lee) and his 4 brigades of cavalry "almost without firing a shot" during the whole Meridian Campaign in opposing Sherman`s march from Vicksburg to Meridian. When in fact while the two infantry divisions of Loring and French were in a constant state of general retreat back to Meridian, S. D. Lee`s 3,500 cavalry troopers alone opposed, fought and skirmished heavily every day against Sherman`s 23,500 man army being heavily comprised of infantry. They fought and skirmished against Sherman`s much larger army, day and night, along the roads and in every town and community that Sherman went through from the Big Black river to Meridian (4-14 Feb 1864), even though heavily out-numbered, out-manned and out-gunned the whole distance.

I felt that the article answered several key questions that I had about this campaign and specifically Lee`s role in the battle of Okolona. The article / letter is found in the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 8 (pages 49 - 61). It is entitled; "Sherman`s Meridian Expedition and Sooy Smith`s Raid to West Point." If anyone is interested in reading it follow the link below:

 
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DixieRifles

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BTW, are some of these quotes taken from a publication that Lee wrote? He published "Sherman's Meridian Expedition and Sooy Smith's Raid to West Point" in 1880. I searched for it on Google Books and it pulled up the Southern Historical Society Papers----but I don't see Lee's paper. Do you have a link?

This link has it listed in the CONTENTS as being on page 122 but I can't find it.
Southern Historical Society Papers
 
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S. D. Lee responded to the Southern Historical Society with his letter on 20 Dec 1879, so the one that shows up in their publication, the one that I linked to above in post #1, is the letter.
 
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Interesting thread Thank you... So Much to learn
I agree... I have extensively studied Sherman`s Great Mississippi Expedition (Meridian Campaign) for a couple of decades now and there is always more to learn. I had several of my direct ancestors fight in this campaign, one of whom being my 3rd Great Grandfather with the 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry under Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade who was directly in front of Sherman fighting and skirmishing against his army from Jackson all the way to Meridian. In addition to skirmishing against a much larger army the entire distance to Meridian with the fighting going well into some nights, Ferguson was also felling trees across the roads and creeks, burning bridges and tearing up the roads with spades and pick axes in an attempt to slow Sherman`s march enough to give Polk, Loring and French adequate time to retreat back to Meridian and then evacuate Meridian and move on to Demopolis, AL. I knew, through my research, that after opposing Sherman`s army from Bolton, Ms. to Meridian, Ms. from 4-14 Feb 1864, Maj. General S. D. Lee along with Brig. General`s William H. Jackson, Samuel W. Ferguson, Wirt Adams, Lawrence S. Ross and Col. Peter B. Starke, continued to oppose Sherman as he destroyed Meridian for 20 miles in every direction from 14-18 Feb 1864 and was then ordered by Polk to head north on 18 Feb 1864 to assist and reinforce Forrest during his upcoming fight against Sooy Smith at West Point and Okolona, albeit they arrived a few hours too late to get in on the fight, as by the time that they arrived Forrest had already routed Smith and had him on the run.

What I did not realize, until I saw this account, was that even though S. D. Lee with his 4 brigades of cavalry did not actually make it in time to fight they played a pivotal role in Smiths defeat at West Point and then Okolona, as the report of S. D. Lee heading north from Meridian with 3,500 cavalry troopers (and possibly some infantry) to join with Forrest`s 3,500 troopers made Smith rethink his next move, which resulted in him deciding to return to Tennessee instead of continuing south towards Meridian and fall into what he considered to be a trap. This enabled Forrest to jump all over him in a much more vulnerable position and rout Smith`s Federal Cavalry which was twice the size of Forrest`s cavalry. Then to find the substantiating accounts in the OR regarding both Confederate and Federal accounts of this was just icing on the cake for me.

There is always something new to find for those that are persistent and continue to search, if only gaining a different vantage point or new perspective, giving credence to the saying; "when you change the way that you look at things the things that you look at also change." I am always in search of new sources and information, in addition to a different vantage point and perspective regarding my research.
 
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DixieRifles

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I knew, through my research, that after opposing Sherman`s army from Bolton, Ms. to Meridian, Ms. from 4-14 Feb 1864, Maj. General S. D. Lee along with Brig. General`s William H. Jackson, Samuel W. Ferguson, Wirt Adams, Lawrence S. Ross and Col. Peter B. Starke, continued to oppose Sherman as he destroyed Meridian for 20 miles in every direction from 14-18 Feb 1864 and was then ordered by Polk to head north on 18 Feb 1864 to assist and reinforce Forrest during his upcoming fight against Sooy Smith at West Point and Okolona, albeit they arrived a few hours too late to get in on the fight, as by the time that they arrived Forrest had already routed Smith and had him on the run.

What I did not realize, until I saw this account, was that even though S. D. Lee with his 4 brigades of cavalry did not actually make it in time to fight they played a pivotal role in Smiths defeat at West Point and then Okolona, as the report of S. D. Lee heading north from Meridian with 3,500 cavalry troopers (and possibly some infantry) to join with Forrest`s 3,500 troopers made Smith rethink his next move, which resulted in him deciding to return to Tennessee instead of continuing south towards Meridian and fall into what he considered to be a trap.
I'm interested in the time line of General Lee and his brigades. Forrest was moving his units to get into position to intercept Sooy Smith's forces early in February. Smith delayed his departure from Collierville (TN) until General Sherman had already reached Meridian---as best as I recall. So my questions are:
Q: Did General Lee or any of his 4 brigades take any action in Northern Mississippi to block Sooy Smith or to recon his position prior to the Battle of Okolona?
I recall a small Confederate cavalry was sent out from Oxford as they expected the Union forces to come through that town.

Q: Did any of Lee's Brigades arrive earlier than Lee and take part in any action outside of Okolona on or the day before 22 February?
I was looking for some of my photos of the graves in the Confederate Cemetery in Okolona. I thought Wirt Adams was buried there but it seems there was a Capt. Adams. There are some Texans buried there but then again there are also men from units that were not at the February 1864 battle.

Capt Adams.JPG
 
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I'm interested in the time line of General Lee and his brigades. Forrest was moving his units to get into position to intercept Sooy Smith's forces early in February. Smith delayed his departure from Collierville (TN) until General Sherman had already reached Meridian---as best as I recall. So my questions are:
Q: Did General Lee or any of his 4 brigades take any action in Northern Mississippi to block Sooy Smith or to recon his position prior to the Battle of Okolona?
I recall a small Confederate cavalry was sent out from Oxford as they expected the Union forces to come through that town.

Q: Did any of Lee's Brigades arrive earlier than Lee and take part in any action outside of Okolona on or the day before 22 February?
I was looking for some of my photos of the graves in the Confederate Cemetery in Okolona. I thought Wirt Adams was buried there but it seems there was a Capt. Adams. There are some Texans buried there but then again there are also men from units that were not at the February 1864 battle.

View attachment 330373

Maj. General Stephen D. Lee and his 4 brigades of cavalry (3,500 troopers), fought against and opposed Sherman`s 23,500 man army from the Big Black river (Bolton, Ms.) to Meridian, Ms. from 4-14 Feb 1864. Sherman arrived to and occupied Meridian on 14 Feb 1864, tearing up the place for 20 miles in every direction, until 20 Feb 1864 when he left Meridian with his army to return to Vicksburg. On 18 Feb 1864, Maj. General Stephen D. Lee with his 4 brigades of cavalry, upon receiving orders from Lt. General Leonidas Polk, left Meridian heading north towards West Point and Okolona to reinforce and assist Forrest with his anticipated fight against Brig. General Sooy Smith. However, Lee and his 4 brigades of cavalry, comprising of Brig. General`s Samuel Wragg Ferguson, Wirt Adams, Lawrence Sullivan Ross and Col. Peter B. Starke, under Brig. General William Hicks Jackson`s supervision, arrived a few hours "too late" to get in on the fight between Forrest and Sooy Smith. By the time that they met with Forrest at Okolona, Sooy Smith had already been routed and was being chased back to Tennessee. When Lee arrived with his 4 brigades, they were then ordered by Lt. General Polk to reinforce and resupply Forrest and assist him in searching for and picking-up stragglers and the wounded left behind from the fighting in and around the vicinity of Okolona, belonging to Sooy Smith`s defeated cavalry force. Then, with-in a couple of days, Lee and his 4 cavalry brigades returned back south in an effort to catch up with Sherman`s column before they re-crossed the Pearl River, which they did on 27 Feb 1864, and fought him in and around Canton for 5 days and then pursued him from Canton until Sherman re-crossed the Big Black river on 3 Mar 1864, at which point the fighting was broken off allowing Sherman to return to Vicksburg on 4 Mar 1864 and bringing the Meridian Campaign to a close.

I have found no indication in the Official Record that S. D. Lee or his 4 brigades of cavalry took an active role in the actual fighting at West Point and Okolona on 22 Feb 1864, rather what I have found substantiates the account that I gave above. However, Lee and his 4 brigades of cavalry did "indirectly" affect the battle of Okolona with the news which reached Sooy Smith of them coming up with 3,500 cavalry troopers to join with Forrest`s 3,500 troopers, there-by forming a more formidable force. Sooy Smith received this news on 20 Feb 1864, at which time he was in a very strong defensive position at West Point, at the same time he received news that Sherman was pulling out of Meridian and heading back to Vicksburg. So this weighed heavily on Smith and feeling that he was being trapped and placed in-between Lee`s force coming up from the south and Forrest`s force pressuring from the north and west, Sooy Smith chose in haste to return to Tennessee. In doing so... he made himself vulnerable to Forrest`s forces who quickly engaged him and routed Smith then giving chase to him back to Tennessee. So even though Lee had no "direct" participation in the actual fighting in the battle of Okolona, the news of his presence forced Brig. General Sooy Smith to leave a strengthened position for a much more vulnerable one, which led to his rout at the hands of Forrest.

You have to consider that Ferguson was fighting up in northern Mississippi from July 1863 to February 1864 until being ordered south by S. D. Lee to assist in opposing Sherman`s Meridian Campaign. So you will find a number of his men who were killed in action and buried in numerous towns of northern Mississippi, to include Okolona. Ferguson`s 3 main camps were at Okolona, Prairie Mount and Pontotoc from July 1863 until February 1864. Lee, Ross and Adams also did a fair amunt of fighting in northern Mississippi during that time span.
 
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DixieRifles

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I didn't have time to review my resources, but I did check Margie Bearss' book.
Page 136 picks up on Feb. 11.

"Unfolding the dispatch, Polk discovered that 1500 infantry and 300 cavalry rode out as far as Senatobia. Colonel Robert "Black Bob" McCulloch met and drove them back as far as Hickahale Creek. 'I think this is only a feint. Their real move is to go from Collierville to Pontotoc and strick the Prairies and Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Am preparing to meet that move as best I can," wired Forrest. "

Previous para's stated that Wirt Adams was at Newton and Starke was 4 miles south. Ross was en route from Yazoo City.

So it was McCulloch who reacted to the Union diversion. Lee was mentioned in the same paragraph so I may have concluded that he was there.
 
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DixieRifles, early on 11 Feb 1864, Brig. General`s Benjamin Henry Grierson and William Sooy Smith left Memphis and Collierville respectively towards Meridian, via Pontotoc and Okolona, with the intent to join their 7,000 cavalry troopers with Sherman`s 23,500 man army to make up his entire left flank. The plan was to join forces with Sherman and move on together from Meridian to sack Selma and then march on Mobile, if the opportunity existed to do so. However, Sooy Smith and Grierson began their expedition 10 day`s late, they were supposed to begin their expedition on 1 Feb 1864 and arrive at Meridian by the 10th, but did not actually start their march until the 11th, the day after they were supposed to have arrived at Meridian. So the expedition was doomed from the start. Forrest and Chalmers was keeping Polk and Lee advised of the Federal movement under Smith and Grierson as it made its way out of Tennessee and into northern Mississippi.

Meanwhile in central Mississippi, at noon on 11 Feb 1864, Maj. General Stephen D. Lee was reported to be 5 miles south of Lake Station, near Sherman Hill, south of the southern railroad (Vicksburg & Alabama R.R.). By 3:30 pm Lee was reported 6 miles east of his previous location, being 4 miles west of Newton Station on the Hillsboro - Garlandvillle junction with the Newton road. Brig. General`s William Hicks Jackson, Wirt Adams and Col. Peter B. Starke were scouting a few miles from Lee in three different directions to guard against any possible movement of Sherman`s column turning south and marching on Mobile (still south of the southern railroad). One-half of Ferguson`s brigade (with Ferguson) was at Joseph Moore`s Plantation 3 miles south of Newton Station and 3 miles north of Garlandville. Ferguson was ordered by Polk to place out several pickets to guard all 5 approaches to Newton Station. The other half of Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade was up on the Hillsboro - Decatur road, under the temporary command of Col. John G. Ballentine and Lt. Col. William L. Maxwell, fighting Sherman`s vanguard and advance as it made its way across the Tuscalameta Swamp from Scott County to Newton County.

By late afternoon Lee met with Ferguson, Jackson, Adams and Starke at Newton Station, and convinced that Sherman was not going to turn south and march on Mobile but was evidently going to Meridian instead, at 6:30 pm Lee sent Ferguson back up on the Decatur - Meridian road to get in front of Sherman`s column once again while covering Maj. General William W. Loring`s rear (Confederate infantry division), as Ferguson gathered-up and joined together his full brigade who was spread about and performing different functions. It was also at this time that Ferguson was sent a pioneer corps with orders from Lt. General Polk to destroy the roads with pick-axes and spades, fell trees and brush across the roads and creeks and burn all of the bridges in an effort to slow Sherman`s army on a single road while they skirmished and fought along the way. By 8 pm, Adams` and Starkes` cavalry brigades moved on from Newton Station towards Decatur covering Sherman`s right flank while Lee with Jackson spent the night at Joseph Moore`s Plantation 3 miles below Newton Station and 3 miles above Garlandville. Also on 11 Feb 1864 a battalion sized task-force detached from Sherman`s main column was sent to burn and destroy the small town of Lake, Ms., headed by Capt. John S. Foster. When they arrived at Lake Station they were met with Lee`s Escort; Capt. Thomas M. Nelson and his company of Georgia Rangers, and a portion of S. W. Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade who skirmished and fought against task-force Foster for some time, just outside of town, as it was being put under the torch by Captain`s Andrew Hickenlooper and Lucius M. Rose. Brig. General Lawrence S. Ross, who was operating in Yazoo County, did not reach and join Lee and the others until 16 Feb 1864 while they were at Old Marion (near Meridian).

Below is what is written, regarding 11 Feb 1864 of the Meridian Campaign, in the OR, as is found in War of the Rebellion, Series I, volume XXXIX, Part II, page 569.

"On February 11, 1864, intelligence was received by Forrest that the Cavalry of the enemy was advancing, under Grierson from Memphis, evidently intending to effect a junction at or near Meridian. Lee and Forrest were ordered to co-operate in meeting and drive back this column, and succeeded in doing so, when Sherman, perceiving the ultimate objects of his movement were unattainable, commenced falling back, pursued and harassed to the Mississippi by Lee`s Cavalry."

Lt. General Leonidas Polk, who had been at Newton Station on the morning of the 11th, had been in direct communication with both Forrest and Chalmers in northern Mississippi watching Grierson`s and Sooy Smith`s movements south from Memphis and Collierville and Lee who was near him in central Mississippi, in front, in the rear of and beneath on the right flank of Sherman`s army, fighting and skirmishing against him, as Sherman was laying waste to the countryside from Vicksburg to Meridian. Once at Meridian, hearing of Grierson`s and Sooy Smith`s movement south from Tennessee and that he may be heading to join with Sherman at Meridian and then moving on from there to Selma, Polk ordered Lee with his 4 cavalry brigades on 18 Feb 1864 to head north from Meridian to West Point and Okolona and join with Forrest to meet Sooy Smith`s expedition head on and stop him. But Lee and his 4 cavalry brigade`s arrived too late on 22 Feb 1864 to help in the fight, as Smith had already been defeated. In the reference above; "Sherman, perceiving the ultimate objects of his movement were unattainable, commenced falling back, pursued and harassed to the Mississippi by Lee`s Cavalry." This is regarding Sherman, not Sooy Smith, after a couple of days of Lee with his 4 brigades gathering up Sooy Smith`s stragglers and wounded at and around Okolona along side Forrest, Lee with his 4 brigades turned back south to catch back up with Sherman`s army who had left Meridian and heading back to Vicksburg. Lee and his 4 brigades of cavalry successfully caught up to Sherman as he was crossing the Pearl River at Rattliff`s Ferry on 27 Feb 1864, just east of Canton and pursued him back towards Vicksburg, which is on the Mississippi river.
 
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