BRIDGEPORT, October 13, 1863-9.15. p.m.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: Your order relative to the One hundred and first Illinois Volunteers has been received. Colonel Fox of that regiment is now in command of this post and is a valuable officer. The regiment numbers only 380 men present, with a lieutenant-colonel and major for duty. Will the commanding general not allow Colonel Fox to remain in command of this post instead of going to Nashville with the regiment, which from the dispatch I infer will soon return?
O. O. HOWARD,
October 13, 1863.
Major General O. O. HOWARD,
Commanding Eleventh Corps, Army of the Cumberland:
GENERAL: In compliance with you instructions I have examined the traveled road to Battle Creek and over unfavorable ground. About 1 mile from Bridgeport commences thick and very heavy timber extending a mile across a swampy bottom intersected by a branch or bayou 40 feet wide and 6 feet deep, with 2 feet of water at present-bottom of tough clay.
I succeeded in placing the abutments of a new bridge yesterday, and the bridge will be completed on the first fair working day. The new road is also opened out through the worst part of the swamp and ready for the corduroy. The timber being heavy white oak and elm is difficult to work into a corduroy; it will be necessary to slab some of the larger trees and use the slabs as planks. The unfavorable character of the timber and the scantiness of means of transportation will necessarily make it a longer job than under more favorable circumstances. By the signs on the trees of the swamp and also on the Battle Creek bottoms, I am certain they are both subject to overflows, the water rising above the bottoms as high as 4 or 5 feet. The mosses on the trees indicate the fact, and also that the overflows are frequent. An overflow of 1 foot would render the road extremely useless.
The road as now traveled to Battle Creek passes alongside of a graded railroad track, which I examined on my return and found the grade complete and ready for the cross-ties for nearly the entire distance to Battle Creek, and I am told that the grade continues up to Jasper; that the timbers for a bridge are on the ground at Jasper. There are also some timbers, apparently for the bridge, across the bayou near Bridgeport. I am quite certain we could put down the ties ready for the iron much quicker than we can make a corduroy road. A communication by rail to Jasper, 12 miles, would save 24 miles travel of the trains, and would be certain and safe above the overflow. In case this graded road-bed be not used for a railroad, it would be better to use it for a single track of the corduroy or slab road. In order to do this the high embankment across the bottom must be cut down and somewhat impaired to make it wide enough for the purpose.
WM. G. LE DUC,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief Quartermaster.