The arrival and reports of Colonel Lowe's cavalry (Fifth Iowa), with Colonel Galbraith's regiment, late at night led me to believe that the enemy had encamped for the night near Shelbyville, in force between 2,000 and 3,000, with two batteries. I determined to move and attack him at daylight, should a sufficient force of infantry arrive by the trains, as I had ordered, to enable me to do so in compliance with your instructions, which required no delay in opening the road.
The telegraph operator at Tullahoma was for two or three hours of the night asleep or absent from his post. The trains in consequence could not be moved as anticipated, and I was compelled to countermand orders I had issued to Lowe's cavalry and the infantry until the arrival of the trains. The battery arrived about midnight at Normandy, the nearest point where it could be unloaded.
Colonel Lowe reported his cavalry much exhausted and without food from the operations of the day, as he had made a long march and engaged the enemy during the day. Feeling it useless to take the infantry from line of the road without a positive knowledge of the enemy's whereabouts, I directed a reconnaissance, which reported him encamped 1 mile beyond Shelbyville, on the Unionville road (a. m. of the 7th). Instantly all my available force, after leaving the proper guards and pushing General Ruger's brigade on the railroad, to lose no time in opening communications, were ordered to march on Shelbyville for the attack. We were too late. Arriving there we found that General Crook (cavalry) had been driving the enemy all the forenoon. I considered it useless to pursue with infantry. I turned over Colonel Lowe's command to General Crook, by whom Colonel Galbraith's regiment was left at Shelbyville, where they now are.
I then proceeded to comply with my instructions to open commutation, moving the infantry to Wartrace, Bell Buckle, Christiana, and Fosterville, with orders to push out a column to Stone's River and Murfreesborough until our troops should be met coming in the opposite direction, repairing the road and telegraph wherever injured. Two regiments of my command pushed up to the banks of Stone's River near the burned bridge there, arriving on the 8th instant, before a single officer or soldier had attempted to push beyond the bridge (destroyed at Stone's River) in our direction to open communications.
The reasons for the neglect of what seems a most apparent duty, I cannot conceive. General Geary had sent two regiments to guard and assist the working party at Stone's River Bridge.
On the 6th, finding Garrison's Fork Bridge destroyed, I telegraphed to Lieutenant-Colonel Hunton, First Michigan Engineers, at Elk River, to move up by rail with all materials to replace the bridge. This officer moved up as ordered with his command, early on the 7th. Two regiments from my column were left to guard and assist him. The promptness, energy, and capacity displayed by this officer and his regiment were most praiseworthy. Working day and night, he completed the bridge shortly after daylight on the 9th, pushed on with his train and worked up a mile of new track to replace that destroyed by the enemy south of Stone's River, in advance of the repairs to that bridge, which had been destroyed on the 5th, one day before the bridge at Garrison's Fork. Comment is unnecessary. All repairs having been completed, I received your dispatches of Roddey's movements, and pushed for Cowan with a force and opened the tunnel, re-establishing communication fully by rail and telegraph.