The cavalry, which I had understood from the commanding general of the army at Manchester was to precede me, did not do so, but turned to the right at Hillsborough, taking the Winchester road. I regret it did not precede me, as, had it done so, a part of the hostile brigade that passed the night of the 1st here might have been captured, certainly routed. Later I learned from citizens that Forrest, after leaving here at 9 o'clock in the morning of the 2nd, moved toward the foot of the mountains and commenced the passage that afternoon. This information was fully confirmed subsequently by refugees from Marion County, Tennessee, and by deserters from the enemy. By citizens and deserters I was informed that none of the rebel infantry passed through this place during the retreat. Forrest had with him two pieces of artillery.
During the afternoon of the 2nd, I was ordered by General Crittenden, commanding Twenty-first Army Corps, and who had accompanied my division to this place in accordance with instructions just then received from headquarters of the army, to return that afternoon to Hillsborough. As the day was excessively warm, I might truthfully say hot, and the men were much exhausted, as well by the extremely bad condition of the road as by the excessive heat, the return march was ordered to be commenced at 6 p.m. At this hour the division moved, and encamped for the night within 3 miles of Hillsborough. Early next morning it moved to that place, where it was met by an order to return hither. As the troops were still much fatigued from the severe march of the preceding day, and had not rested sufficiently during the night, a short time was allowed them for refreshment and repose. The division then moved back to this place, arriving about the middle of the afternoon of the 3rd. During the afternoon several deserters, chiefly from Tennessee regiments, came in, and were army commenced evacuating Tullahoma actively on Tuesday night, the 30th, completing it by an early hour Wednesday morning, the 1st. I learned that Hardee's corps crossed the mountains by a road which leads up the mountain at what is called Brakefield's, or Brakefield Point, about 5 miles northeast of Dechard, and that Polk's corps crossed by a road some miles farther southwest. By what road Buckner's command crossed I could not learn.
At least a portion of the rebel cavalry followed Hardee's corps. The ascent of the mountains was commenced Thursday morning, the 2nd. A deserter from Hardee's corps told me he had seen General Hardee on the summit of the mountains at noon the 2nd. Some of the deserters were quite intelligent, far more so than I had ever before met from the rebel army. From them I sought to gain information in regard to the strength of General Bragg's army. None placed his infantry at less than 30,000, and his cavalry at 10,000, while the highest estimate of the former was 37,000 and of the latter 14,000. Taking an average of the statements, I conclude that the enemy had about 35,000 bayonets (effective) and 10,000 sabers, making a force in round numbers of 45,000 men. The deserters were not so well informed in regard to the artillery of the enemy, and consequently I have no means of arriving at an approximate estimate of the number of his guns. The deserters all agree that Buckner arrived at Tullahoma on the Monday preceding the evacuation, with a force variously estimated by them at 6,000, the lowest, to 11,000, the highest, estimate. My conclusion is that the brought with him three brigades. All the information I have obtained goes to show that the enemy retreated rapidly, in disorder, and was very apprehensive of pursuit. He obstructed the roads by which he fled across the mountains, by felling trees across them and by rolling huge rocks, &c., into