December 21, 1862: Aftermath of Van Dorn’s raid

Earl Van Dorn
Earl Van Dorn


Van Dorn and Forrest’s raiders captured the supply depot at Holly Springs, and broke up the railroad between Memphis and Columbus, KY. Halleck ordered reinforcements out to support them. Meanwhile, Grant relieved Mizner of his command and sent reinforcements under Grierson to Marsh. Van Dorn was moving back northward, but the damage was done.

Official Record


Washington, December 21, 1862.

Brigadier General THOMAS A. DAVIES, Columbus, Ky.:

General Curtis and the commanding officer at cairo have been directed to re-enforce you as quickly as possible. Do everything in your power to reopen and protect the railroad. Notify General Hurlbut and the commanding officer at Memphis of the condition of affairs. What is the enemy’s force? Communicate with Admiral Porter, who will probably be able to prevent the enemy from recrossing the Tennessee.




OXFORD, MISS., December 21, 1862.

Colonel MIZNER, Waterford, Miss.:

Turn your command over to the officer next in rank with the instructions you have received.*



WATERFORD, December 21, 1862.

Major-General GRANT:

GENERAL: I marched until 6.30 p. m. yesterday, and learning that Colonel Marsh was at Waterford, 9 miles farther on, my horses, I believed, would not stand a farther journey.

I started at 2 this morning, and would have been here an hour before day but for the difficulties attending crossing the Tallahatchie Bottom in the dark.

I reached here at broad daylight, and every officer must say that I made no unnecessary delay. I make this statement in justice to myself, for I believe circumstances demand it of one who has in good faith honestly endeavored to do his duty.


Colonel Third Michigan Cavalry.

OXFORD, MISS., December 21, 1862.

Colonel J. K. MIZNER, Waterford, Miss.:

Your apparent reluctance at starting from here and the want of alacrity in copying with my orders has so shaken my confidence in you that no matter how well qualified you amy be to command such an expedition as the one you have started on, I should feel insecure with you in command. My instructions to turn over the command to the next in rank will therefore be obeyed.


HOLLY SPRINGS, December 21, 1862.

General GRANT:

Am here. Van Dorn left for north yesterday p. m. Have started messengers north and sent two companies of cavalry to hover in their rear for information. Mizner has turned over his command to Grierson. Lee is on one road, Grierson on the other. Will follow in pursuit if not ordered to the contrary.


Colonel Commanding.

OXFORD, MISS., December 21, 1862.

Colonel C. C. MARSH, Waterford, Miss.:

Try to get messenger through north to all the stations where we have troops, and direct them to fall back to Bolivar, taking with them all they can and destroying the balance.

You will have to supply your troops from the country.



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