HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY EXPEDITION
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY EXPEDITION,
Natchez, Miss., October 4, 1864.
SIR: have the honor to report that, pursuant to the orders of the major-general commanding, I left Vicksburg on the night of the 29th ultimo with detachments from the Second Wisconsin Volunteers, Fifth Illinois Cavalry, Eleventh Illinois Cavalry, Third U.S. Colored Cavalry, and Twenty-sixth Ohio Battery. I landed at Bruinsburg, Miss., at 4 a.m., but owing to the difficulty of landing was not able to march until 9 a.m. I was here joined by Lieutenant Earl, with 32 men, independent scouts of Major-General Canby, who voluntarily reported to me for duty. I assigned him to a position in the column immediately in rear of the advanced guard, because it was the best position for procuring information, and he could there more readily co-operate with me in carrying out the plans of the expedition. We reached Port Gibson at 4 p.m.; found there thirty of Cobb's Black River Scouts, charged them, killing 2 men and 3 horses, having 1 man killed. Took no prisoners on account of the tired state of our horses. I here arrested (as per order) 13 of the most prominent and wealthy citizens of Port Gibson.
October 1, marched at 6 a.m., reaching Rodney at 4 p.m., where I transferred to Colonel Gilchrist, commanding infantry, about 125 head of beef-cattle and 60 mules, and the prisoners in my possession. I am compelled to state the action of the two regiments of colored infantry at Rodney was not soldier-like; they plundered almost every house, taking furniture, clothing, &c. October 2, marched at 4 a.m.; reached Fayette, Miss., at 12 o'clock. The Second Wisconsin Cavalry, and the scouts under the command of Lieutenant Earl, formed the advance; the advance were fired upon from a house, whether by soldiers or citizens is not known.
A Confederate cotton agent was chased by the advance some distance and captured. Some very valuable papers were found upon him; those most important were retained by Lieutenant Earl, the others are inclosed. (*) On the arrival of the column, Lieutenant Earl's men were found plundering the house from which the shot was fired. When ordered to desist they denied the authority of any one to control their actions. Lieutenant Earl and Captain Woods (provost-marshal) had some words in reference to this matter, Lieutenant Earl grossly insulting and abusing him. Lieutenant Earl then rode up the street to where I stood, and in the most ungentlemanly and unofficer-like manner addressed me in reference to his difficulty with Captain Woods; said that he had captured a rebel mail, and upon my demanding it, refused to deliver it until he had examined it himself. Not desiring a difficulty with an officer employed by Major-General Canby, I requested him to take a road upon my flank, so that I might not have any further altercation. He said he would do so, but rejoined my column when four miles out from the village. I then ordered him to a position in the center of the column, with positive instructions not to leave that position during the remainder of the march. He immediately left the column, coming to Natchez, and reported my action to the major-general commanding. I did not receive from him one particle of information during the entire trip. I know of nothing that he did, except to plunder, take horses, and by keeping in advance of the column, enable the people to drive away their stock before the column came up. This statement I will place in the form of charges, and summon every commissioned officer in my command as witnesses, provided the major-general commanding desires it. We captured and destroyed at Fayette between 75 and 100 stand of arms. As our advance, the Third U.S. Colored Cavalry, neared Big Cole's Creek, they discovered and chased seven members of Captain Ruth's command, killing 1, mortally wounding 1, and captured 5. On the 3d of October marched at daylight, sending the Second Wisconsin Cavalry on one flank, and the Third U.S. Colored Cavalry on the other. The Second Wisconsin Cavalry found about 200 men, under command of Captain Boyd, killed 7, and had 2 men slightly wounded (see inclosed report(*) of Major Dale, commanding Second Wisconsin Cavalry). Reached Natchez at 1 p.m.
Inclosed find receipts of property captured and turned over to the proper officers.(*)
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. D. OSBAND,
Colonel, Commanding Cavalry Expedition.