In my opinion the occupation of Paris by a few companies of cavalry and infantry would do much good to the cause of the Union and strengthen the undecided citizens, amongst whom I found several whom I believe worthy of confidence when they assert themselves to be Union men.
At 3 p.m. I started from Paris, with the prisoner Van Dyk, westward, turning northward to Camp Lowe, scouted the country about 20 miles, to the farm and tan-yard of a Mr. Ray, where we stopped overnight. Mr. Ray, having been reported to me as being a strong Southern man, tried to refuse us shelter, but seeing my force, he gave way to better feelings and received us with seeming kindness. During the conversation in his parlor his family expectorated strong secession opinions. Notwithstanding, we were treated very well and furnished with all the necessaries. Mr. Ray, according to reports made to me by several individuals, had furnished the Southern Confederacy with boots and shoes manufactured by himself at his own expense, he being a very wealthy man. I inquired into the matter, and ascertained from his own negroes that on Saturday, the 29th of March, 1862, he sent off a full wagon load of said articles. (Mr. Ray used to abuse his negroes, and they consequently entertain no friendly feelings for him; therefore I would respectfully suggest not to tell him who informed me.) In the morning of April 2, 1862, I put to Mr. Ray the question frankly and plainly whether he did send off any boots or shoes to the Confederacy. He denied it. He denied even to have had any such intercourse with the rebel party. His behavior, while questioned, was such that my suspicions of his guilt advised me to bring him before my superiors to be judged, and so I did.
From there we started at about 8 a.m., directing our course to Camp Lowe, through a small place called Coynesville, situated about 10 miles west of the above-mentioned camp. This village contains about 300 inhabitants, represented as professing no Union feelings. We passed through. Nobody seemed to observe us nor to care about our presence, but one of my officers told me afterward that two or three citizens had told him that they wished for us to put up the Union flag.
The country from Paris to Camp Lowe, on our way back, as above described, is more broken, timbered, and hilly than the first described. The road is bad and not kept in repair. I crossed no swamps and but a few creeks. I would not, if I could do it otherwise, direct a transportation train by this road. In regard to operations for cavalry, I consider it a very poor terrain from Paris to Coynesville. From here to Camp Lowe I found several open places, but not prairies.
About 6 miles from Coynesville we stopped at the farm of a blacksmith named Oliver, reported as a strong Southern man, who had furnished bowie-knives and forwarded them to the Southern Confederacy Army at his own expense, and that he had expressed himself that he never would be brought to take the oath of allegiance. I asked him if such was the case, but he answered in the negative, saying that he only made a few for his sons and their friends. Our guide, being present, told him that there was no use denying it, because he had done what I charged him to be guilty of. Four sons of his being in the Confederate Army, and his family having professed openly their sympathy for the South in my presence, I thought it my duty to bring him, too, before my superiors.
I fee myself bound to aver that the whole command under my direction