Franklin, Tenn., February 8, 1863.
COLONEL: I forwarded by telegraph from Nashville this morning my return from the cavalry expedition in pursuit of Wheeler's forces and its result.
As a more detailed report may be desired, for the information of the general commanding, I have the honor to submit that, on Thursday last, the 5th instant, after having been joined by General Morgan with 500 cavalry, I started with his and Minty's command, amounting in all to about 1,500 mane, taking the road through Hillsborough, and I arrived some time after dark within a few miles of the road leading from Charlotte to Williamsport. The whole day's march was through a chilling snow-storm, dover almost impassable roads.
The second day, early in the morning, I reached the Williamsport road, and felt very confident of meeting the enemy's forces. Finding he had not yet reached this point, I pushed forward int he direction of Charlotte. When in the vicinity of Bon Aqua Springs, we captured a few prisoners, who had been in the fight at Donelson. From these I learned the enemy had gotten information of our whereabouts, and had changed his direction to a more westerly route.
Wheeler's main force passed westward 7 miles of Charlotte, and, moving down the Piney, crossed at Centreville. Forrest came through Charlotte, but got alarmed and changed his direction to the same route. It was now certain that I could not intercept the enemy, and to attempt to pursue him with cavalry, in the condition ours is at present, was a hopeless undertaking; I ordered the return to our camp near Hillsborough with great reluctance. We reached it after dark last night.
Could I have reached the enemy in the condition in which hi was, I am satisfied that I could have beaten him badly and captured many prisoners. As it was, we only got about 30, among whom are Colonel Carroll and Major Rambaut, of Forrest's staff. They had ridden ahead of their command, got lost, and were some 12 miles from their chief when taken.
The enemy's advantage in getting information is very great. Couriers are stationed in every town and neighborhood, who fly ahead of us invariably as we approach. Conscript officers were scouring the country very actively, and, so far as I could learn, were getting recruits very fast. There is little resistance made against enforcing the acts. Most of the inhabitants are disloyal; what few Union men I met were afraid to proclaim it, and, therefore, worthless to us.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JEF. C. DAVIS,
A. A. G., Dept. of the Cumberland, Murfreesborough, Tenn.
Numbers 3. Reports of Colonel William W. Lowe, Fifth Iowa Cavalry, commanding Forts Henry, Heiman, and Donelson.
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Forts Henry, Heiman, and Donelson, February 3, 1863.
Enemy within 8 miles of Donelson, advancing. Cannot tell his strength.