War of the Rebellion: Serial 053 Page 0396 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., N. ALA. AND N. GA.

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[CHAP. XLII.

HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., THIRD DIV., RESERVE CORPS,

Sale Creek, Tenn., October 15, 1863.

Brigadier-General REYNOLDS,

Chief of Staff, Department of the Cumberland:

GENERAL: Until the reception of your directions received yesterday, I had no order to report to headquarters daily. In the future I shall with pleasure do so.

My command is in good condition and fine spirits. The river is rising and believed to be not fordable at any point. The brigade of Colonel R. K. Byrd, of Burnside's command, pickets the river as far down as Cotton Port. Your information that the country between this point and Cotton Port is not patrolled is incorrect. Communication is daily kept up.

The Sixth Regiment is at Blythe's Ferry, one company at Doughty's Ferry, two at mouth of Sale Creek, and the remainder of my forces are guarding roads and passes to this place and the river, and protecting the train as ordered. Information was received yesterday from citizens that there were three regiments of the enemy above Hiwassee, on the south side of Tennessee River. My scouts report between 1,000 and 1,500 of the enemy on the south side of the river, composed of infantry and cavalry, between Harrison and the Hiwassee River; they occasionally, almost daily, come to the river in small squads and fire across at my men.

My force at the river all report their intrenchments as ordered complete and ready, except Cooper's, at Blythe's Ferry, which will be in a short time done, and would have been done now but for the want of tools.

There is a report from persons coming in camp that the enemy (Wheeler's forces) are endeavoring to return in this direction; whether reliable or not I do not pretend to say. The fords at the different places on Tennessee River where my forces are located are all effectually blockaded, so that the enemy cannot cross without the blockade is removed.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JAMES G. SPEARS,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., THIRD DIV., RESERVE CORPS,

Sale Creek, Tenn., October 15, 1863.

Major General J. J. REYNOLDS,

Chief of Staff, Department of the Cumberland:

GENERAL: The rain here continues to fall and the water-courses to rise. A regular courier-line exists now from this point to Chattanooga. The courier-line of Colonel Palmer is established from his quarters across Walden's Ridge and connects with the courier-line to Chattanooga at Possum Creek, 3 1/2 below this point. There is no official or reliable information here from the rebel forces under Wheeler. There is a rumor that they are attempting to return to the Tennessee River by the same route they went out; whether true or not I cannot say. There is no information from the south side of the river further than is given in the last dispatch to you.

To picket the river from Cotton Port to mouth of Soddy will embrace a distance of 29 miles and the protection of eight fords across the river, and also requires the guarding and picketing of six