division ordered me to start the following morning at 6 a.m. on a second reconnaissance toward Lookout Mountain. This order, I learned, was countermanded by the major-general commanding the corps. About 8 a.m., information having arrived of the evacuation of Chattanooga by the enemy, the division was ordered forward to occupy the place, the First Brigade, Colonel Buell commanding, having the advance. The place was occupied by our troops, without severe opposition, about 11 a.m.
Early on the morning of the 10th, the First and Third Brigades were ordered to be ready to move with the "light train" and three days' rations in haversacks. About 9 a.m. my brigade was put in motion on the road leading from Chattanooga to Ringgold. After a dusty and fatiguing march, we arrived about 1 p.m. at the crossing of a branch of the West Chickamauga, about 7 1/2 miles from Chattanooga. As our advance was upon the rear of General Palmer's train, is was deemed expedient to make a halt, water our animals and permit the men to make coffee.
While the command was thus at a halt my topographical engineer, Lieutenant Willsey, in making some observations in the front, discovered 2 contrabands with empty wagons. They reported to him that they belonged to Mr. Baird, who lived near by, and that they were returning from General Bragg's camp, having been sent there by their master with provisions for the enemy. One of the negroes-and, as it happened, the least intelligent of the two-was at once taken to the general commanding the division, but he told such a confused story that the general was loth to place confidence in it, and dismissed the matter for the time being. As the owner of the teams had clearly forfeited them, I directed that they be turned over to the quartermaster and that the contrabands be taken along as teamsters. About 3 p.m. the march was resumed, and continued until we arrived at the crossing of the West Chickamauga, which is about 10 miles from Chattanooga. It was then about 4 p.m., and we went into camp for the night. Some members of my staff having more fully questioned the contrabands above referred to, reported the result to me. I immediately sent for the more intelligent of the two, and after carefully questioning and cross-questioning him I became convinced that the enemy was either in great force near by or that this negro had been bribed to enter our camp as a spy. In either case his case required a minute investigation. I took him to the general commanding, who became equally impressed with the importance of the negro's statement,and conveyed the same in substance to the general commanding the department.
I desire respectfully to call the attention of the general commanding the department to the fact that information of such vital importance to our safety was derived from a negro slave driving a team on the highway. This negro was doubtless permitted to leave the enemy's lines through the inadvertency of the latter, or perhaps he imagined that a poor; ignorant slave would be incapable of conveying correct information;but I found his statements verified in every respect. It has taught me that in these critical times we should endeavor to elicit information from every conceivable source, and that the most humble may be profitably used in the promotion of our great cause.
About 5 a.m. on the morning of the 11th instant, I was ordered to return to Rossville and make a reconnaissance on the La Fayette
44 R R-VOL XXX, PT I