HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., THIRD DIV., RESERVE CORPS, Sale Creek, Tenn., October 16, 1863-2 p.m.
Major General J. J. REYNOLDS,
Chief of Staff,&c.:
GENERAL: I have sent one rifled cannon from Wilder's command, under me, and two companies of Third Tennessee Infantry to the mouth of Soddy. They are now on the way to that point. The rain is incessant, the river up, and the creek very high, but they are instructed to go there, and they will do it.
The river from a point 2 miles above Blythe's Ferry,a s far down as the mouth of Sale Creek, is well picketed by my forces; from 2 miles above Blythe's Ferry up the river as far as Kingston I have no knowledge of its being picketed at all. A part of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry is said to be near Blythe's Ferry; they do not report to me. What they are doing I do not know, except to forage over the country at will. They might be useful in patrolling the rive from Blythe's Ferry to Cotton Port.
I was ordered, on the march from Chattanooga, to obey such order as Brigadier-General Crook might give me - a copy of one of which orders and instructions is herewith sent to you, and which places one of my regiments at Blythe's Ferry, where the river is not any time fordable. I am also ordered to protect the train left here, which is large. There are over 400 troops of Colonel Wilder's command (convalescents, however), and they have to be foraged for and protected as well as my train and command. My whole command is on standing picket duty, necessarily so, to picket the roads and branches of roads as ordered by General Crook, and the fords of the river.
I am well acquainted with river from Chattanooga to Cotton Port, and know the arrangement of troops along the river to be injudicious, and if I am to be held responsible, I respectfully ask to be permitted to arrange in a manner that they might do
some-thing toward preventing the enemy from crossing the river if attempted.
Under the present arrangement I do not believe the commander of Major-General Burnside's forces now picketing the river above Cotton Port knows anything, at most not much, about the river and points of crossing above Cotton Port. I send you herewith a copy o a dispatch just received from him. I also send you a copy of a dispatch received from Colonel Atkins and Colonel McCook. I suppose they know a great deal about the river and the distance they guard along the same. Colonel McCook it 7 miles above Chattanooga with one brigade to guard one ford, and states that he patrols the river every hour, and recommends me to do so. Colonel Atkins pickets from 2 miles below Nelson's Ferry to Penny's Ford, a distance of 14 or 15 miles, and at no point can the river now be forded, and is even found difficult to ford at any time. You are already informed of, by dispatches of to-day, the number of miles I have to picket along the river, and eight roads (and branches) to guard and protect.
I again respectfully ask information as to the boundary I am to protect, and what forces are under my command, and I will protect and defend that boundary if in the range of the power of the number of men under me. I have but few troops, and do not want those few to be placed at unimportant points by order from irresponsible