The following excerpts are from the
personal account of Gen. Wilson.
Union Brig. Gen.
James H. Wilson had led his 13,000 Cavalry Corps of the Military Division of
the Mississippi through Alabama and on April 2nd, had
Confederates under Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and destroyed the
important manufacturing center of Selma, Alabama.
He then set out for Columbus, Georgia, with the intention of
disrupting all of the mill operations and warehouses there. Since the
bridges at West Point were of extreme importance to him to provide an
alternate crossing in the event he would run into more trouble than he could
handle in Columbus, he
dispatched Colonel Oscar H. LaGrange to West Point.
General A. J. Smith's corps, at that period, was at Eastport,
four divisions of General Wilson's cavalry were encamped on the opposite or
north bank of the Tennessee River, at Waterloo and Gravelly Springs, Alabama, and
the Fourth Corps, Major-General Stanley commanding, was stationed at Huntsville,
Alabama. This, with the ordinary garrisons of the country, composed my command.
The General-in-Chief of the Army, having given up the intention of my continuing the
campaign against the enemy in Mississippi and Alabama, received an order by
telegraph from Major-General Halleck, chief of staff, to send General A. J.
Smith's command and 5,000 of to report to
Major-General Canby, at New Orleans, for the purpose of taking part in an
expedition at that time preparing to operate against Mobile. Smith's corps
started from Eastport on the 6th of February, and Knipe's division of cavalry
left Nashville on the 12th. About the period of the departure of Smith's corps
information was received, through various sources, to the effect that part of
the shattered remnants of Hood's army, viz, Cheatham's and Lee's corps, were on
their way from Mississippi to South Carolina, moving via Selma and Montgomery,
Alabama, to re-enforce that portion of the enemy's army operating against General
Sherman. There remained in Central Mississippi, under General Taylor, but one
corps of the enemy's infantry, and about 7,000 of Forrest's cavalry, the
headquarters of the command being at Meridian, Mississippi.
Nashville bridge burned by Confederates - later rebuilt with
look-out posts and doors to withstand another assault
¹ James Pickett
Jones, Yankee Blitzkreig, http://www.uky.edu/UniversityPress/books/yankblitz.html
² Reports for
Wilson's raid to Selma 22 March - 22 April 65 plus Wilson's capture of Jefferson
Davis 10 May 65, http://www.aotc.net/selma-rep.htm
Collection #13, Federal Writer's Project, http://www.trouparchives.org/man/ms113.htm