Report of Maj. Gen Napoleon J. T. Dana, U. S. Army, commanding Districts of West Tennessee and Vicksburg
HDQRS DISTRICTS OF WEST TENNESSEE AND VICKSBURG
Vicksburg, December 4, 1864
SIR. I have the honor to transmit herewith the reports of Col. D. E. Osband, Third U. S. Colored Cavalry, commanding Cavalry forces District of Vicksburg, of the cavalry expedition sent by me from Vicksburg on the 23d ultimo, as projected in my letter to Brig. Gen. J. W. Davidson, chief of cavalry Military Division of West Mississippi, of 18th ultimo, and my letter to you of 22d ultimo.
Leaving Vicksburg at daylight on November 23, the expedition, consisting of 2,200 cavalry, eight pieces of artillery, and a pontoon train, arrived at Big Black River at 1 p.m. same day, and laid the pontoon bridge over the Big Black. On 24th the Eleventh Illinois and Second Wisconsin Cavalry, Major Dale, Second Wisconsin, commanding, crossed and proceeded scouting toward Jackson, returning and recrossing at night without meeting the enemy, although subsequent information satisfies me that some 3,000 of the enemy were in line of battle on the Jackson road to contest the advance. The bridge was taken up, started back to Vicksburg under escort, and the column moved toward Yazoo City on morning of 25th marching thirty-seven miles that day, bivouacking near Mechanicsburg; marched thirty six miles on 26th, bivouacking near Benton; struck the Big Black bridge on 27th and reached Yazoo City on 29th. The last of the troops returned to Vicksburg tonight December 4. The entire plan, as detailed by me to yourself and General Davidson, was completely carried out by Colonel Osband, completely deceiving the enemy, and the expedition was a signal success; he brings back more recruits than his entire loss in effective force, and reports the destruction of the very important long railroad bridge and trestle at the crossing of the Mississippi Central Railroad over the Big Black River, Near Canton Miss, thus cutting off the supplies and stores accumulated at Jackson, Miss from Hood's Army, and severing railroad communications between Corinth, Jackson, Meridian, and Mobile; this together with the burning of piles and sore houses full or corn and grain, and 30 miles track, wagon road bridge over Big Black Vaughn Station (railroad depot and buildings) Pickett Station (railroad depot and buildings), Goodman Station (railroad depot and buildings), 2,600 bales of C. S. cotton, 2 locomotives, 4 cars, 4 stage coaches, 20 barrels salt, $166,000 worth of stores at Vaughn Station makes it one of the heaviest blows lately dealt the rebellion, as it directly affects the efficiency of Hood's army now on the Tennessee River, dependent on this railroad and these supplies. Information just received for a deserter shows that there were at least two brigades of cavalry and one brigade of infantry closing in on Colonel Osband at Yazoo City, thus confirming his impressions of the superiority of the rebel forces.
Requesting that Colonel Osband's well-deserved mention of officers and commands may receive the attention of the major-general commanding division.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. J. T. DANA,
I cannot close this report without calling attention to Maj. J. B. Cook, Third U. S. Colored Cavalry, for some time past in command of the regiment. The intelligence, industry, and devotion to the service with the long list of gallant deeds constantly enacted by Major Cook, entitle him to consideration, while in my judgment the best interests of the service demand his rapid advancement. The charge over the railroad trestle-work and bridge by dismounted cavalry, led by Major Cook, was one of the most dashing and heroic acts of the war. As an act of simple justice, I recommend his immediate promotion to the lieutenant-colonelcy of his regiment now vacant.
N.J. T DANA.
Lieut. Col. C. T. Christensen
Asst. Adjt, Gen, Hdqrs. Mil. Div. West Miss., New Orleans, La.
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.