OR, Series 1, Vol. 45, Part 1, Page 871

Okolona, Miss.
December 30, 1864
[General Gardner]
   I have the honor to report that on the 27th instant I left Corinth, Miss., with a force of about 350 men, by Col. W. R. Miles' order. I proceeded that day by train to within one mile of Tupelo {Mobile & Ohio RR}, where I found a railroad bridge burned by the enemy. Not being able to go farther by railroad, and the night being very dark, I waited until next morning, when I commenced a march for this place, keeping down the railroad track, and getting to this place on yesterday at 12 m. I found the railroad at Tupelo very badly torn up, the track for near half a mile turned over. From that point to Verona very little damage was done, a few culverts partially burned. From Verona to Shannon very little damage was done. At Verona a train of cars, the depot, and several Government shops were burned. A force of near 500 cavalry from Forrest's and Jackson's commands were there recruiting, but they had very few arms and but little ammunition, and, of course, did the enemy no damage. They are now, together with their horses, scattered throughout that country. Colonel Henderson, who was in command, is now endeavoring to collect them at Shannon. The road for several hundred yards was turned over, and as much burned. From Shannon to this place the railroad is very badly damaged, thirteen bridges and culverts burned; some of the bridges (and very important ones) are very severely injured. At this point ( Okolona ) the tank was burned, but otherwise no serious injury to the railroad was done. All the business portion of the town was burned, and one private dwelling. I cannot form any estimate of the length of time it will take to repair the railroad, but I consider the damage done to it very serious; and in consideration of the importance of communication with General Hood's army, which is now at Iuka, being kept open, every effort should be made to push it through as rapidly as possible, and to that end I have ordered an impressment of negroes to go to work on it at once. From this end of the road the telegraph is very badly damaged, but I have furnished the operator (Mr. Morris) with all the assistance he wished, and he assures me that the line will be opened to this place by to-morrow morning. I have furnished Colonel Miles regularly with reports of my operations and observations. From the most reliable information I can get I am satisfied that the enemy, with all his forces, after leaving Egypt, moved to Houston, and from thence in the direction of Grenada. Any important information I can get of their movements I will furnish you at once.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. C. Cole
Colonel, Commanding