ATHENS, TENN., September 26, 1863.
The force in our front is very large. From what I can learn from Colonel Byrd and others, it is much larger than ours.
We will fall back to-night upon Loudon.
LOUDON, September 26, 1863.
General A. E. BURNSIDE:
In obedience to your order to place the bulk of my command on the north side of the river, I have only two small regiments and a battery of Napoleon guns on the south side. There is a ford 4 miles above here, called Blain's Ford, practicable for cavalry only; Wolford crossed his command there. I mention this, should you wish to cross a force before the bridge can be completed.
WASHINGTON, D. C., September 27, 1863.
GENERAL: A dispatch* has just arrived from General Burnside which should be answered this evening. The President wishes to consult you on the question involved, and will wait here until you come to the Department.
EDWIN M. STANTON.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, Vicksburg, September 27, 1863.
Giles Smith's division marched at daylight this a.m., and are doubtless in possession of many cows. I know that nearly all their hospitals had cows. Write a note to General Giles Smith, saying your boy is sick and needs milk, and send it to him as he comes into Vicksburg, and he will surely find one in his column. I doubt not the head of his column will enter Vicksburg by 4 p.m. Should you not get one by 5 p.m., telegraph me and I will have my camp scoured and confiscate one for you. Cows in all this region have been used for beef or are in possession of the regimental hospitals.
W. T. SHERMAN,
*See Burnside to Halleck, September 27 [received 6.30 p.m.], p.904.