this side of Stevenson. I destroyed a bridge 6 miles east of Stevenson myself, and on the following day or night the enemy destroyed two bridges, the one at Stevenson, the other 8 miles this side. There is a good road in dry weather from Bellefonte to Stevenson and Bridgeport. My cavalry and scouts will scour that country and will burn the Tennessee bridge, unless guarded by a heavy force. It is rumored at Bellefonte that the enemy is attempting to rebuild the bridge which I destroyed. I will learn the facts very soon.
Having no intelligence from you as to sending boats with supplies to Tuscumbia Landing and finding it impossible to feed my division from Shelbyville without the did aid of all my regimental trains, I have ordered Colonel Turchin to keep outpost and pickets at Tuscumbia and Liegton, and to post his brigade on the hither side of Town Creek Bridge. A train runs daily from this place through Decatur, Colonel Lytle's headquarters, to Jonesborough, Colonel Turchin's headquarters. Also train leaves at 6 a.m. for Bellefonte. Thus my communications are made as perfect as practicable.
I have rebuilt the telegraph line from Huntsville to Decatur, and have it in constant use by operators from my own division. I have ordered cavalry scouts from Decatur on the road to Moulton and on the road to Somerville. My scouts from Huntsville are on the short mountain road direct to Bellefonte and on the long road leading to the most southern bend leading to Blountsville and on the road leading to Somerville.
I fear the heavy rains now falling will render the streams between this place and Fayetteville impassable. I sent a courier at daylight this morning to meet the train, and in case the water was too deep to ford to have the train move to Athens, to which point I sent a locomotive with cars this morning. On the cars I sent a small detachment of engineers to explore and put in order the road leading from a point near Elk Rivere to the turnpike at Elkton, with orders to follow the turnpike to Columbia, hoping to make this my line for supplies.
I have a deputation of citizens from Athens who express strong attachment to the Government, and will raise the old flag the moment our troops enter the town. They offer assistance in rebuilding the bridges from Elk River to Columbia, a matter of great moment, if we are to occupy Northern Alabama.
I have seized and hold the railroad from Decatur to Tuscumbia in the hope of opening communication with the main body under your command, and also in the hope of obtaining supplies by way of the by way of the river, but with so small a force no amount of vigilance or activity is sufficient to protect so long a line.
Rumors are rife that Kirby Smith, at Chattanooga, is soon to cross the river and drive us back to Nashville. If the enemy retreat from Corinth I deem it a matter of the utmost moment that I should hold my present position, which commands this whole section of the country. I wish were possible to give me force enough to strike a blow at Chattanooga. It was in the hope that this might be done that I spared the Tennessee Bridge. Even if that bridge be destroyed, the enemy may cross the river at a ferry 10 miles west of Chattanooga and in the mountains concentrate a heavy force without our knowledge. I shall await your orders with anxiety.
O. M. MITCHELL,