War of the Rebellion: Serial 011 Page 0124 Chapter XXII. KY.,TENN.,N.MISS.,N.ALA.,AND SW.VA.

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HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION,

Huntsville, April 24, 1862.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

Your telegram directing me to report daily is received. My front now extends from Tuscumbia to Stevenson. The bridge destroyed by me between Stevenson and Bridgeport still intervenes between my troops and the enemy. The heavy rains and high waters have thus far prevented me from destroying the Tennessee bridge, as ordered. I have constructed the telegraph line, and am now in connection with Bellefonte. My cavalry scouts are in Stevenson. I have nothing from General Halleck or General Guell later than the 16th, though two transports, with supplies for my division, and a gunboat reached Tuscumbia on the 22d. The transports were unloaded, and left before I could communicate with them. I learn from my outposts at Tuscumbia that the enemy is concentrating troops at Iuka and at points west of that place. They burned the bridges between Tuscumbia and Iuka, and cannot, therefore, surprise me with any large force at Tuscumbia; but it is utterly impossible for me, with so small a force, to safely protect and defend so extended a line. I have now held my position for two whole weeks. For safety I have been compelled to keep all my force on the north side of the Tennessee. The deep responsibility resting upon me, added to the fact that I am compelled to be in motion day and night, is too much for my physical health. I did hope that as soon as it was known we had driven the enemy from Tuscumbia and Florence those places would be promptly occupied by a large force from the main army. I deem them of great importance, as their occupation gives us the opportunity of striking a fatal blow at the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, in the enemy's rear. But for the fact that I have sixteen engines, and cars in proportion, it would be madness to attempt to hold my position a single day.

O. M. MITCHEL,

Brigadier-General.

HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION,

Huntsville, April 24, 1862.

General D. C. BUELL:

On the night of the 22d, by carrier and telegraph, I learned from Colonel Turchin, in command at Tuscumbia, that 100,000 rations had arrived, and that the enemy was fortifying at Eastport, Bear Crek, or at least concentrating troops in that direction. I at once ordered Colonel Turchin to have our stores unloaded above Florence, on the north side of the river, in case there was any danger, but owing to an accident to the engine my dispatch did not reach him until after the departure of all the boats. I followed my messenger in person to the burnt bridge, 15 miles from Tuscumbia, and made all arrangements for moving these rations as rapidly as possible. The high water has prevented the reconstruction of the bridge, and all our teams, for safety, are on this side of the river. I have ordered teams to be hoard in the country, and on last night sent a strong force to aid in guarding the road from Decatur to the burnt bridge. I will go down myself to-day, and will not restrain my efforts to hold safely my front of operations, now extending over 120 miles.

I had hoped that a heavy force would have been sent to Tuscumbia, which I deem a point of the utmost importance to occupy, as it gives