I read your posting with great interest. My own ggg grandfather, Joel Weatherford, was in the 17th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, one of the two battalions joined into Miller's Regiment, later officially known as the 9th Mississippi Cavalry. So I have researched the unit.
The 17th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion was unusual. It was formed from three independant companies in late 1862, so it was very small. Two of the companies were raised in northern Mississippi counties (Itawamba and Monroe), and the third in Shelby County Tennessee, so the "Tenessee" unit was in fact two-thirds Mississippian. When the battalion was formed, the commander of the Tennessee company, Sanders, became major and battalion commander. At some point, then or later, Flournoy became company commander of that(Sanders)company. I have seen indication that this company was the "scout" company for the regiment in the Atlanta campaign.
Officially, the 17th Battalion Tennessee Cavalry (aka Sanders Battalion) and the like numbered 17th Battalion Mississippi Cavalry (aka Steed's Battalion)were consolidated to form a regiment known as "Miller’s Regiment Mississippi Cavalry" by an order dated December 24, 1863. Miller's Regiment was offically designated the 9th Regiment Mississippi Cavalry by an order dated December 21, 1864, although it appears to have been called the 9th before that time. Miller's Regiment was assigned to Ferguson's Brigade, which had been headquartered around the Okolona area since late summer 1863. The 17th Tennessee Battalion had been in Ferguson's Brigade since it had been formed. The 17th Mississippi Battalion had been in mid or southern Mississippi, where most of its companies were raised.
Officially, as Forest's cavarly set up in Northern Mississippi in early 1864, Ferguson's Brigade was transfered to William "Red" Jackson's Division around Jackson. The brigade left Northern Mississippi on January 28, 1864. Ferguson reached Canton on February 3rd, and the brigade was almost immediately involved in harassing Sherman's army during its march to Meridian in February 1864. Ferguson's later report relates that around February 6th he sent Miller's regiment on patrol:
“From this point that portion of Miller’s regiment in camp was sent out on a reconnaissance to Jackson, which duty was promptly and efficiently accomplished. This command did not rejoin me until Feb. 14.”
Later in the month, the brigade turned north to help Forest counter Union cavalry coming down from Tennessee. However, Forest already defeated the Federals before they could arrive. Ferguson's Brigade reached Starkville, 40 miles south of Okolona, on February 22nd. This is too late for your engagement. The brigade then headed back for the Jackson area, to harass Sherman on his return to Vicksburg.
However, unoffically, I wonder if the three companies of Sanders Battalion left northern Mississippi with the rest of the brigade in late January. There is a report dated June 23, 1864, concerning a roll of “rebel officers” at the Union POW camp at Fort Deleware to be sent from there to South Carolina, I suppose for one of the last prisoner exchanges. Included is Major E.J. Sanders, of “Sanders’ Battalion.” The list states Sanders was captured on February 19, 1864, at Aberdeen, Mississippi. This is a time when Miller's regiment was to the south around Meridian. As cited previously, Ferguson’s report noted, “that portion of Miller’s regiment in camp was sent out on a reconnaissance to Jackson,” earlier that month. It is also interesting that General Loring (an infantry division comander) mentioned the other battalion commander in the regiment, Steede, in several reports during the period, and even referenced Steede as the regimental commander (rather than Miller). Perhaps "that portion" of Miller's Regiment with Ferguson was only the 17th Mississippi (Steede's) Battalion, and Sanders’ Battalion remained in the north. I think is may also be relevant that Sander's Battalion was a "Tennesee" unit. Ferguson's Brigade had included a Tennessee regiment, Barteau's, since its formation. That regiment was transferred to Forest prior to the brigade moving south.
As I said, I found your post very interesting. Aside from the report of Sander's capture near Okolona, this is the first other reference I have heard of at least a company of his battalion still being in northern Mississippi when the regiment was supposedly in central Mississippi. Certainly Sanders' Battalion did join the regiment (it was with it in Georgia), but it may not have physically joined the regiment until a later date. My ggg grandfather was captured in April, in Western Tennessee. I have wondered whether the three companies of the battalion remained with Forest during his raid into Wesetrn Tennessee of about that time.
Of further interest, there seems to have been moves to seperate Sanders' Battalion from the regiment. In response to one of my postings on this board two or three years ago, a responder referenced a November 1864 inspection report that stated, “the organization bearing his [Miller’s] name is illegal and its continuance a manifest injury to the service." Interestingly, in another November 1864 report, Maj. General Franklin Gardner requested his cavalry in Mississippi be reinforced, and noted “I also apply for Sanders’ battalion of cavalry, which is recognized as a permanent independent battalion.”