and, on the arrival of General Reynolds, I dispatched Major Jones, with four companies of the Seventeenth Indiana, and Captain [Lawson S.] Kilborn, with a detachment of pioneers, to destroy the trestle-work on the McMinnville Railroad, 4 miles from Tullahoma. Their object was fully accomplished, and they returned to camp that night. The next morning we started to get in the rear of Tullahoma, to destroy the rebel communications. We moved rapidly to Hillsborough, leaving two companies of the One hundred and twenty-third at that place, until relieved by a brigade of infantry, under General Beatty, and from thence toward Decherd; but, on arriving at Elk River, found that the incessant rains had so swollen that stream that we could neither ford nor swim it, the current being so rapid that our horses were washed down stream. There was a bridge at Pelham, 6 miles farther up. We turned our course for that place, sending Colonel Monroe, with eight companies of the One hundred and twenty-third Illinois down Elk River, to destroy, if possible, hundred the road and railroad bridges over Elk River at Estill Springs, with orders, if successful, to come down the railroad and join me at Decherd, or below. On his arrival at the railroad, he found a division of infantry guarding the bridges and a large wagon train. He immediately fell back to Hillsborough, finding it impossible to accomplish anything further, being pursued by a force of rebel cavalry, without any loss to himself, although skirmishing with and holding them in check for several miles. The next morning he moved forward, and safely joined us on the top of Cumberland Mountains.
On leaving the direct road to Decherd, and going in the direction of Pelham, we were compelled to ford streams that swam our smallest horses, and compelled us to carry our howitzers' ammunition on the men's shoulders across the streams. When near Pelham, we learned that a party of rebels were at the bridge, with the intention of destroying it on our approach. I immediately ordered the advance, under Lieutenant-Colonel Kitchell, Ninety-eighth Illinois, and about 30 scouts of the different regiments, to go forward on a run and prevent the destruction of the bridge. They dashed forward, not only saving the bridge, but taking 2 of the party prisoners, and capturing a drove of 78 mules, which were sent back to Hillsborough in charge of a company. We soon reached the South Fork of Elk River, and found the water deep enough to swim our tallest horses. The stream, though rapid, could, by crossing diagonally, be swum; and, by tearing down an old mill, we made a raft that, by being towed with our picket ropes floated our two mountain howitzers over. The crossing occupied about three hours. We immediately moved forward toward Decherd, half fording and half swimming another stream on the way. We reached the railroad at 8 o'clock in the evening, and immediately attacked the garrison of about 80 men, who, protected by a stockade and the railroad cut, made a pretty good resistance. We soon dislodged them, however, when they took a position in a deep ravine, with timber in it, completely protecting them, while our men had to approach over a bare hill to attack them, exposing themselves to sharp fire at 60 yards' range. I ordered up our howitzers, and a couple of rounds of canister silenced them and drove them out. We immediately commenced destroying the railroad track and water-tanks on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and blowing up the trestle-work on the branch road to Winchester. The railroad depot was well filled with commissary stores, which we burned. We also destroyed the telegraph instruments. A large force was by this time approaching from the north side, and, having destroyed about 300 yards of track, we left, after skirmishing