War of the Rebellion: Serial 010 Page 0877 Chapter XXII. OPERATIONS OF ATHENS AND DECATUR ROAD.

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and he ordered his train of wagons to leave at once, and followed with what force he had at the town, leaving his tents and camp equipage to be captured by the enemy. I chanced to come up at the time he was leaving town. Learning on the way from a negro that a fight was in progress, I sent word to Colonel Stanley that he should be immediately re-enforced; ran back my engine to the telegraph station, and ordered out what I deemed a sufficient force, with directions to be moved by rail promptly. Two trains were on the track at Athens, with steam up, ready to leave for Huntsville; one of them was under the command of Colonel Stanley, the other had been sent up to Elk River, to bring in the supplies brought by a train of 50 wagons from Columbia. Those two trains followed my engine, but were delayed about an hour at Mooresville, 15 miles this side of Athens. My engine passed safely to Huntsville. Colonel Stanley's train also passed in safety, but the supply train, on reaching a bridge 4 miles this side of Mooresville, broke through, and the whole train became a wreck; a brakemen was killed. Armed citizens, acting in concert with the pretended cavalry, about 50 or 60 in number, had made a dash upon the guard at the bridge, killing 2 of them and wounding 4 others and compelling the rest to retreat. They then sawed the string pieces nearly in two and waited to catch the train, in which, I regret to say, they were but too successful. All of the men on the train escaped but one. I had, fortunately, ordered the guard to leave the train at Mooresville, to be ready to join the re-enforcements ordered forward to Colonel Stanley. After the train was wrecked these marauding villains set fire to it, after plundering it of what they thought they could carry off; but Captain Crittenton, with about 70 men, at Mooresville,seeing the smoke along the line of railway, marched down, fired upon the plunderers, and drove them precipitately from their booty. The wounded men were cared for, but I fear 25,000 rations are utterly destroyed.

In the mean while re-enforcements came up and joined Colonel Stanley, when the enemy commenced a retreat. The night being dark and the roads unknown, our troops did not pursue until daylight this morning. On entering Athens they learned that this band of freebooters, under a leader akin to John Morgan, had fled in the night-time, first destroying Colonel Stanley's baggage and capturing 4 wagons and about 20 men who had been sent out for forage. At last accounts our cavalry was in full pursuit; but I doubt the capture of prisoners, as I believe that most of them are to-day citizens at home superintending their cotton planting.

In consequence of this outrage I have caused to be printed the inclosed paper,* which I hope, general, you will not construe into a proclamation.

There is a most bitter feeling of disappointment everywhere that we have not been driven out long since, and scarcely a day passes without some attack upon our bridge guards, our trains, or telegraph wires. I have done my utmost to conciliate the people and to a great extent, I am told, have been successful; but the genuine rebels will not listen to reason. My plan is to post one brigade at and near Stevenson, one brigade at Huntsville, and one brigade at Athens. I hope thus to command this entire region of country and to open up, as you have requested, the cotton trade. With the new cavalry placed under my command I will patrol systematically the northern shore of the Tennessee River from near Chattanooga to Florence, so that no enemy can


*Not found.