Camp Beauregard, December 29, 1861-9 p.m.
Major GEORGE WILLIAMSON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Columbus, Ky.:
SIR: I have information that the enemy are advancing on this post and are now 5 miles south of Mayfield. I have taken the liberty of sending a courier to Moscow, requesting the officer in command to give me support, leaving a guard at his encampment.
The information of which I am possessed runs as follows:
Courier from Major King at 7 o'clock p.m.:
Enemy's cavalry, reported 200 strong, now at Mayfield.
Enemy 5 miles this side of Mayfield. Road blockaded with wagons in rear, Cavalry supposed to be accompanied by infantry. Force not known.
I have sent forward 250 cavalry to meet the enemy, with orders to advance with caution, and if enemy is in large force to skirmish with and retard their progress. My command, you are aware, is weak, illy prepared for a battle. Re-enforcements may be necessary. Two pieces of my artillery (the two howitzer) are without ammunition. The lieutenant commanding states that he has often applied for the ammunition, but it has not been furnished. I have been somewhat disappointed in the supposed fortifications at this place. A few rifle pits, full of water, which I am having leveled down, and a lot of fallen timber, compose the defenses. Should the enemy attack us, we are in feeble condition, but the best defense of which we are capable will be made. I leave the subject of my re-enforcement with you, but would suggest my early re-enforcement. I am busy in preparation.
Your obedient servant,
J. L. ALCORN,
Knoxville, December 29, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
SIR: In accordance with your letter of instructions Mr. Ramsay, the district attorney, entered a nol. pros. in Brownlow's case. As commander of this post, in order that your future instructions might be complied with, I caused Brownlow to be remanded to prison. This measure was necessary even for his own safety and in order that the public peace might not be violated. In infer from your letter to the district attorney that Brownlow is entitled to a safe-conduct beyond our lines, and with reference to this I await your further instructions.
I have just been appointed commandant of this post, and have already discovered numberless abuses that should be corrected. Marauding bands of armed men go through the country, representing themselves to be the authorized agents of the State or Confederate Government; they "impress" into "service" horses and men; they plunder the helpless, and especially the quondam supporters of Johnson, Maynard, and Brownlow; they force men to enlist by the representation that otherwise they will be incarcerated at Tuscaloosa; they force the people to feed and care for themselves and horses without compensation. I would