HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., FOURTH DIV., 23rd ARMY CORPS.
Post Oak Springs, Tenn., October 9, 1863.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the skirmishers in which my command was engaged during the latter part of the month of September last.
On the 25th ultimo, I sent a company of men, under command of Captain Humphrey, of the Forty-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on the road to Cleveland; also a company on the road to Dalton; also a company on the Chatata road, for the purpose of scouting to discover if the enemy in the vicinity of Cleveland had changed his position and to learn all the valuable information possible. About 9 a.m. Captain Humphrey reported to me that the enemy had appeared in large force on the Cleveland road, had attacked him and compelled him to fall back, and were then preparing to drive in my pickets. I immediately sent out two companies, under command of Major Dow, of One hundred and twelfth Illinois Mounted Infantry, to re-enforce the pickets, and prepared to defend myself against the threatened attack. Shortly afterward I received a dispatch from the officer commanding the scouting party on the Dalton road that the enemy were advancing in heavy force upon that road. I immediately sent the One hundred and twelfth Illinois Mounted Infantry to the ford on the river, where I had some rifle-pits dug to protect the ford. I had my battery also planted in the best position I could find, but which was overlooked by the hills on the opposite side of the river. I had scarcely compelled these arrangements before I received a dispatch from the officer commanding the scouting party on the Chatata road that the enemy were approaching upon that road. Thus I learned that he was coming upon me in heavy force from every direction beyond the river. I immediately recalled all my pickets and scouting parties beyond the river, to prevent their being cut off before they could recross the river, and sent the Eighth Michigan Cavalry, dismounted, to the bank of the river when he came in sight. I placed the First East Tennessee Regiment in a position to support the battery (Fifteenth Indiana), and awaited the appearance of the enemy.
My scouting parties had not all got across the river before the enemy made his appearance, when I opened upon him with my artillery. In a short time the enemy got some pieces (rifled guns of a heavy caliber) upon the bluffs on the opposite side of the river, which entirely overlooked my position. In the meantime, I had sent small parties up and down the river to watch the movements of the enemy upon the opposite side and prevent his flanking me, which might easily have been done, as the river was fordable in many places, both above and below my position. I fought the enemy here both with artillery and small-arms for over two hours, when, learning that he was about to flank me on both sides, I fell back on the road to Athens. The enemy soon fell upon the rear guard, composed of two companies of the Eighth Michigan Cavalry, under command of Major Edgerly, and a detachment of the One hundred and twelfth Illinois, under command of Major Dow. The rear guard resisted the enemy bravely, although often flanked and placed in positions of great danger.
Within 2 miles of Athens I met Colonel Wolford, commanding a brigade of mounted men. I chose a position here in conjunction with