HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Chattanooga, September 11, 1863-10 p. m.
Commanding Twentieth Army Corps:
Your dispatch of 6 a. m. is received. It is now nearly certain that the enemy has concentrated in heavy force in the neighborhood of La Fayette, and possibly has a considerable force westward of the northern spur of Pigeon Mountain. It is not known how strong these forces are, but the weight of evidence goes to show that the bulk of the rebel army is in that region. In view of this fact, the general commanding suggests that you close up toward General Thomas to within supporting distance, and observe well out toward La Fayette. He does not, however, give a peremptory order; but leaves your course to your own discretion, if you find the facts different from what is now supposed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. A. GARFIELD,
Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.
HEADQUARTERS TWENTIETH ARMY CORPS,
At Food of Mountain, near Alpine, September 11, 1863-8 p. m.
Brigadier General J. A. GARFIELD,
Chief of Staff:
My corps concentrated here to-day. Colonel McCook is out on a reconnaissance toward Rome. His main body is at Melville, and he has ordered six companies to go to Dirt Town to intersect the road from Summerville to Rome.
Citizens report to him that Polk's corps is at Trion Factory, 5 1/2 miles northeast of Summerville on the road leading from Summerville to Ringgold. I hope to hear more fully in a few hours.
I sent Colonel Harrison early this morning to open communication with General Thomas. He met the enemy's cavalry about 6 miles from here, and drove them for 6 miles until within 9 miles of La Fayette.
A prisoner who left the army last night and the citizens on the way all say that none of our troops have reached La Fayette, but that the enemy occupies that point with infantry and cavalry. I am very much surprised to hear it and can hardly believe it, for Thomas' road is reported much better than my route. I sent a dispatch to-night via Valley Head to Thomas. All the rebel cavalry that we drove to-day retreated up the valley toward La Fayette, which is the only thing that causes me to believe that La Fayette is not in our possession.
Colonel Harrison is ordered to push through to La Fayette at all hazards. I must know that fact. If Thomas is not near me, and the road from Summerville to Ringgold is occupied by the enemy in force, my corps is in an exposed situation. I will be ready for battle at any moment, and in case I find I can attack Polk with any chance of success, I will do it.
If the information I have proves to be false, and the enemy not between Summerville and La Fayette in too strong a force, I will move my corps on Summerville tomorrow, which brings me near Rome and also La Fayette.