has just returned from beyond Florence. He reports the rear guard of the rebels at 2 o'clock to-day to be 4 miles beyond Florence. The roads are strewn with guns, knapsacks, camp equipage, &c., and everything indicated a hurried retreat. He captured 6 stragglers, whom I have sent over to the city provost-marshal. The people living on the road say they passed houses double-quick.
Should you wish to question prisoners they can be found with Colonel Jones.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. C. ELSTON, JR.,
Aide-de-Camp and Chief of Staff.
COLUMBUS, OHIO, September 12, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON:
It many not be idle that I inform you that I have entire confidence in Major-General Wright's ability for the duty of the position he fills. His forces, both officers and men, are extremely raw, but if not interfered with I doubt not he will efficiently perform his whole duty.
COVINGTON, KY., September 12, 1862.
The skedaddle is complete; every sign of a rout. If you say so I will organize a column of 20,000 men to pursue to-night. Granger's batteries will likely be here to-morrow; if not, they can follow and overtake me. Say the word.
SEPTEMBER 13, 1862-8 p. m.
March with your own and Paine's division for Bowling Green on receipt of this order. You must reach Bowling Green in three days and a half at most, and will march directly on from there. You must march by 3 o'clock on the morning of the 15th, day after to-morrow, and earlier if possible. Leave the siege artillery and most of the cavalry with Negley.
It seems quite certain that the whole of Bragg's army is in or marching to Kentucky, and that it will be concentrated at Glasgow to-morrow, it not sooner. If, however, you have positive information that as much as two divisions of Bragg's army are near Nashville, or not moving to cross the Cumberland, you may, if you deem it advisable, leave Paine's division and bring only your own. Post Negley at the defensible works and positions and at the capitol and bridge, and direct him to have twenty day's rations at each point for its garrison. He must defend his position to the last extremity. Bring only wagons enough to carry your ammunition and four days' full rations and the cooking utensils, not exceeding five loaded wagons to each regiment, exclusive of ammunition. You may, however, at your discretion and unknown to the troops, bring 50 empty wagons to each division to cary men who give out on the march. You must, however, start with none but able-bodied men.