HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, TWENTY-FIRST ARMY CORPS,
August 24, 1863. (Via Tracy City, 1 p. m., 25th.)
Brigadier General J. A. GARFIELD,
Chief of Staff:
SIR: The following information was received from Peter Marselles, quartermaster-sergeant First Louisiana Regiment Infantry; he was taken prisoner Friday, 21st, by Colonel Wilder's forces; states he left Chattanooga Friday morning. The rebels are not over 20,000 strong that is, men for duty. No supplies on hand in Chattanooga. Fortifications not finished. They have four heavy guns, two 4 and two 32 pounders. The body of the cavalry are between Sweeden's Mountain and Huntsville to pick up deserters. Saw the ration return for last month was for 40,000 men. This prisoner was sent to me by Colonel Wilder. He is quite intelligent and seems to know what he is talking about, but I own I am unable to believe this statement of there being but 20,000 men in Bragg's army for duty, the consolidated ration return for last month being 40,000. If the statements are true, the question is, what has become of the difference? He is very positive in regard to the force for duty in army. Previous to his leaving on Friday last, he says he heard officers discussing the matter. He says, moreover, that our movement took the rebels completely by surprise.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
TH. J. WOOD,
Poe's, August 24, 1863-9 a. m.
Captain J. R. MUHLEMAN,
Colonel Funkhouser found Colonel Minty at Sale Creek yesterday. The rebels that he reported as crossing the Tennessee in force were some half dozen small boat loads of rebel troops, probably not to exceed 50 or 100 men. Their object I do not know. They did not remain long. It is my impression they looked upon our movements here as a raid only, and the force sent across was a reconnaissance. I keep scouts at all the crossings, who keep me thoroughly informed of everything. I also keep the country thoroughly patrolled. We are now among our friends.
There is no longer any question as to the status of the people we are with. My headquarters is a constant ovation. The joy of the people is uncontrollable.
I think there is no doubt but that the largest portion of the enemy when we came here was at Kingston, with the intention of passing to our rear via Crossville and Sparta. Whether they now intend to, and whether if they do it will be worth giving attention to, are questions worth consideration.
I am gathering in what cattle I can find. The mills are short of water, but we manage to get about 1,200 pounds of flour per day.
W. B. HAZEN.
Postscript torn off relates to the character of prisoners sent.
J. M. P.