HEADQUARTERS, September 15, 1863.
Two deserters arrived this afternoon. They left Jonesborough at 10 a. m. yesterday. One is John Sise; lives at Knoxville; claims to be a Union man conscripted. He refers to Colonel John S. Williams, and Carver and Dickison. The other is Mathew A. Farwater, son of William Farwater, Knoxville; refers to Esquire Ragses. They say there are no troops at Jonesborough but Jackson's and Williams' command, gathered from along the railroad and salt-works; that no troops had arrived from Lee's army up to the time they left. The only troops they know of at Jonesborough are the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry, Sixteenth Georgia Battalion, and one Virginia regiment of cavalry, one Virginia regiment of infantry, Thomas' Legion (without the Indians), and a regiment that arrived night before last, Barr's battery of four guns, and Lowry's battery, five guns. McClung's battery is thought to be at Carter's and Zollicoffer, with a few home guards at each place. They say there are no fortifications at Jonesborough. They do not know about any fortification at Jordon's Hill. They say there are some cavalry composing the advance, but most of the troops are in and about Jonesborough, under command of General Williams; that General Williams has left a small force at Saltville. They have heard reports of Ewell's corps coming, but are certain none of it had arrived at the time they left, as they were camped on the hill in sight of the town and depot. They heard it reported that there had been a raid on the Virginia railroad at Marion Station, which detained them. I have sent out scouts and spies, and think, at least, by noon to-morrow, I will have definite and reliable information, which will test the truth of what I have given you. I give this for what it is worth. The men appear to be honest and simple in their statement. I hold them until I hear from you again.
If this account is correct, is not my contemplated movement feasible and fit to be made? Their estimate of force at Jones-borough is 4,000.
JOHN W. FOSTER,
SEPTEMBER 16, 1863.
Am just off from review, and am glad to hear the general is back. Tell him everything is well with me and to my front; to take good rest and be easy. He should be allowed absolute rest for a week.
Let me know whether he sustained any internal or other injury, as reports of ribs, arms, and eyes have all reached me through all kinds of sources. The success at Little Rock is all he could ask in that quarter, and he will be well before any new combination is called for.
W. T. SHERMAN,