JANUARY 21-22, 1863.-Reconnaissance from Murfreesborough to Auburn, Liberty, and Cainsville, Tenn.
Report of Captain Elmer Otis, Fourth U. S. Cavalry, commanding brigade.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD CAVARLY BRIGADE, DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
January 22, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report that yesterday at 12 m. I received orders to move with a strong cavalry force on the Liberty pike, in order to recapture a train. At 12.50 o'clock I was on the Liberty pike, 4 miles from Murfreesborough, with all the force that I could raise in the brigade, five companies being absent on picket. The brigade train as also absent for forage,with a strong escort. This left me with only about 350 men. With these I proceeded on the Liberty pike as rapidly as possible, arriving at Auburn, a distance of 19 miles, at 4.30. I found, from all reports, that the captured wagons had passed about 12 m. At Auburn I found 3 pickets, whom I caused to be captured, and some more proceeding on the Woodbury road. I sent a small party after them; they killed 2, captured 3, and 2 escaped. From these prisoners I learned that a force of from 600 to 800 cavalry were about 3 miles from Auburn, on the Woodbury road, mostly Basil [W.] Duke's men. This information I had was corroborated from several sources. There was also reported a brigade of cavarly at Woodbury, 10 miles from Auburn, numbers not reported. I proceeded on to Liberty, in hopes that the wagon train captured would halt there, but found it passed Liberty at 2 p. m., and, when last heard from, was 5 miles from there, on the Smithville pike, still going at a slow trot. It had become very dark some 3 or 4 miles from Liberty, so dark that a man could not be distinguished a distance of five steps and I had to feel my was very under Captain [Joseph H.] Blackburn, First [Middle] Tennessee Cavalry, captured a picket of a company stationed about 1 1/2 miles from the road, numbering 12 men; also a spy of the enemy, and some five or six noted secessionists in the employ of the enemy. These men were all turned over to the Second East Tennessee Cavalry, who were forming the rear guard, and, although I gave the strictest orders, they allowed six or seven of the most noted characters to escape. I am causing a strict investigation to be made in reference to it.
From Liberty I proceeded to within 1 1/2 miles of Statesville, arriving there at 12.30 a. m. on the 22nd, where I fed and rested, and proceeded, at 5 a. m., to Cainsville, and thence to this camp, arriving at 12.30 p. m.
Yesterday I marched 40 miles, to-day 24, making, in twenty-four hours, 64 miles.
At Liberty I drove their pickets three different times, but it was so dark that a foe could not be distinguished from a fiend, and I was therefore unable to capture them. It was so dark that I deemed it impossible to pursue farther, and, with the heavy force near our rear, I deemed it prudent to return by Statesville and Cainsville. Had I had a stronger force, I should have gone at least to Smithville, but, with my small force,it would have been hazarding the safety of the whole command.
Eighteen prisoners were sent to the provost-marshal-general. Some horses were captured, which were used to mount men with broken-down
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