Letter from the 114th Illinois.

The Disgraceful Surrender of Holly Springs Its Effect on Gen. Grant's Plans — Gallantry of Maj. Mudd's Command of the 2d Illinois Cavalry — The Retreat from Oxford — Devastation — Death of Geo. Broderick — LaGrange — The President's Proclamation — The Army Generally approve it — The Hardest Blow the Rebellion has Received — Some Facts for Sympathizers with Slavery — Arrival of a Mail in Camp — Marching Orders.

Jan. 7, 1863.

EDITORS JOURNAL: My last letter was written before the shameful surrender of Holly Springs, an event which has greatly interfered with the intentions of our division of the army, and which ought forever to remove those in chief command of the place with any connexion with the army which they have so shamefully betrayed. An immense amount of Government stores, and private stocks of goods, intended for the army and country trade, had accumulated in the public warehouses. The streets around the depot and public square were literally choked with bales of cotton, with which every street in the town could have been effectually barricaded and defended successfully by the force at command, had the effort been made; and what makes the neglect more criminal, notice was given the day before of the enemy's approach, and the commander urged to be vigilant. I have been told by reliable parties that a fashionable ball was given the night before, for the entertainment of the colonels in command, and that one of them was actually paroled in his bed! For the credit of Illinois I hope this report may be disproved. Two companies of the 2d Illinois Cavalry were encamped on the Fair Grounds, near the city. Under the lead of their gallant officers, Majors Mudd and Bush, they cut their way through the enemy's lines three times, and escaped with trifling loss. Lieut. B. F. Garrett, of company K, was severely wounded in the leg, but at last accounts was doing well.

Six rebel regiments were sent to attack Col. O'Meara's regiment at Coldwater Station, but finding these jolly sons of Erin wide awake and keen for fight, they withdrew without giving the boys a chance to fire a shot. Their next attempt was at Davis' Mills, where the railroad crosses Wolf Creek, near the Tennessee line. Here they were met by Col. Wm. H. Morgan, with about 300 fighting men, principally of the 32d Indiana. The Colonel had hastily fortified an old saw mill, about twenty yards from bridge, and had also thrown up a slight earthwork around a high mound that rises like a sugar loaf on the level bottom, about two hundred yards from the creek, on the top of which the Colonel took his position and directed the fight. The aim of our boys was so accurate that the killed were almost invariably shot through the head. Thirty-two rebels were buried by us after the fight, twenty-five prisoners taken, and a large number wounded and conveyed away.

On the 20th of December, we started from our camp on Hurricane Creek, southward bound, in high spirits. When about two miles out, we heard and command, "right about," and with our faces to the north, started to meet the enemy in the rear. Marching to the Tallahatchie, we encamped for the night inside the fortifications which the enemy had evacuated about four weeks previous. A few minutes after halting, we heard the explosion of the magazine at Holly Springs, and soon learned by the courier that all our stores had been destroyed and communication with the source of supplies cut off. It was now evident that we must either suffer for food, or subsist on the enemy. We have not suffered!

We moved from the river to Waterford, and from thence through Holly Springs to Cold Water. This march was made along the road fought over by the rebel army and that under Gen. Grant, and it presented an appearance of desolation and destruction, which cannot be expressed in words. Every foot of ground from the river to the town, twenty-five miles, and for several miles on either side of the road, had been an encampment. The citizens had all fled, every panel of fence gone, farms trodden like the streets, houses burned for fuel or revenge — all presenting such a picture as Satan might draw in mockery of human pride and pomp.

At Cold Water, your correspondent was detailed with a detachment of men to guard a large amount of ammunition and other stores, and on Christmas day the regiment left us for Davis' Mills, from whence, on the next morning, it took the cars for Jackson, Tenn. Since which we have had no intelligence of its whereabouts or condition.

From Cold Water my command was ordered to Davis' Mills, where we waited anxiously three days for a visit from Van Dorn's cavalry, but were not gratified. Here we buried one of our detachment, George Broderick, of Clear Lake. He was sick but a few days of inflamation of the brain. We buried him on a high knoll near the Tennessee line, and carved his name and regiment on a beech tree near his grave. How saddening the sight of those numerous, nameless graves along the road side, in this semi-heathen land — each one containing the dearest object of earth to some wife or mother far away!

At Davis' Mills we were brought in contact with officers, including the commander of the Post, whose admirable qualities as military commanders, and gentlemen, in the true sense of the word, enabled us to spend the time more pleasantly than we have ever before done in camp; and it was with sincere regret that we received the order to march to LaGrange, which we did on last Saturday, through such a rain storm as you never see in Illinois.

LaGrange is situated on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, 35 miles east of Memphis, and four miles west of Grand Junction, which is the crossing of the Mississippi Central and Memphis and Charleston roads. The road is now open from Memphis to Jackson, and from Grand Junction south to Holly Springs. The location of LaGrange is the most picturesque and beautiful of any place we have seen in the South. The situation is on a very high ridge, on the top of which is a level piece of table land containing three or four hundred acres, almost square, breaking suddenly into deep ravines, the sides of which are covered with pine and cedar, the dark green foliage contrasting finely with the white buildings in the village. The bon ton of the country have congregated here, and the residences display a great deal of taste and lavish outlay of money. A fine college building and most of the churches, of which there are quite a number, are used as hospitals.

The President's proclamation was received in camp this evening, in the Memphis Bulletin. It is commented upon according to the various tastes and prejudices of the men, but the general expression is "Bully for Old Abe!" It was thought by many that he would recede from his former position. The proclamation coming up to, and going a little beyond the original mark, removes all doubt on the subject, and will prove the hardest blow the rebellion has yet received.

I would that Northern Christian sympathizers with slavery could see with their own eyes what I have seen in the last month. The silent sight would be a sufficient rebuke. I will call a few names in connection with facts. Mat. Cox owns a plantation near Chulahoma, in Mississippi, 500 acres, 120 negroes. He is a bachelor. An intelligent, bright mulatto woman is his housekeeper, tailoress, etc. She has a daughter about sixteen years of age, in form and feature faultless, a fac simile of Mat. The daughter has a female child two years old, in which no one can detect the stain of African blood, and which the grandmother says is Mat's child! At Judge Clayton's, near Cold Water, there are three families of slaves numbering some ten or twelve children, aged from two to ten years, who have blue eyes, auburn hair, as perfect European features as the most accomplished nabob in the land. At Massa Kruse's, even more of the same sort. At Moody's, a little girl, ten years old, with as fair and clear a complexion as any child in Illinois, and these children held as slaves — treated as such — and raised for the market by their own fathers and grandfathers. This is the character of your chivalry, who are seeking to destroy the Government, and these specimens, the fruit of the system which has so long been a curse to humanity. May God sweep it from the earth, if it carries with it the territory which it has impoverished, dishonored, and cursed.

At length we have been made glad by the arrival of a mail. Our old letters have all come up. Your city postmaster never distributed for so eager a crowd as jammed around our doorway — a log by the fire — while we sorted out the bushels of letters and papers, giving to each his portion in due time.

But here are orders:

"You will be ready to march at a moment's warning."

So, friends, till you hear from us again — good by! Good by!!

Capt, Co. "C," 114th Illinois.