halt in order to allow Colonel Long with his cavalry to pass us.
This small brigade of cavalry was instructed to move forward and make a dash into Loudon with a view to save the enemy's pontoon bridge and stores at that point. I was directed to follow Colonel Long and give him support in case he needed it. We marched to within about 3 miles of Loudon, having made that day 23 miles,
when it became dark. The roads were too bad, and the command too weary to proceed farther that night. A section of Wheeler's battery was sent forward to Colonel Long at his request.
December 3, we broke camp at 4 a..m. and marched for Loudon.
Colonel Long's cavalry was about 2 miles from town. His advance picket not nearer than 1 mile. On his approach the evening before,the enemy had opened upon him with artillery, so that he deemed it prudent not to make the dash. On entering the town, we found that the rebel General Vaughn's command, consisting of a small brigade of infantry, artillery, and a detachment of cavalry had evacuated, having destroyed from 60 to 75 cars containing supplies of commissary stores, clothing, and ammunition, 3 locomotives, and, finally, their pontoon bridge. The railroad bridge at Loudon, previously burned, had not been rebuilt, The stone piers were standing. The main channel of the Tennessee is between the Loudon shore and the first pier. We found this channel completely filled with the rubbish of locomotives, cars and their contents, which had been set on fire before being run into the river.
Notwithstanding this wholesale destruction of property, there was distributed among the inhabitants and stored in warehouses a sufficient quantity of rebel provisions to feed my command for three days; this after leaving sufficient for the rebel wounded, captured in hospital at Loudon, about 75 in number. These were a part of Longstreet's wounded from his unsuccessful assault at Knoxville on the Sunday previous.
There were two redoubts upon the heights on the west side of Loudon, one of which was located upon a position of natural strength, and made to face southward; the other was nearer the river and facing toward it. One of my batteries was located in the latter, and on the appearance of some squads of rebel cavalry upon the opposite bank, opened fire. Considerable artillery firing was allowed in accordance with instructions, in the hope that the guns might be heard by General Burnside at Knoxville, and he thus be made aware of the approach of re-enforcements.
Off against redoubts the river makes a sudden bend, forming a peninsula. The road leading to the rebel pontoon bridge passes across this peninsula, making the bridge about three-fourths of a mile from town by land and 6 by water.
One incident occurred at Loudon which made a strong impression upon my mind. Along the entire route from Parker's Gap to Loudon we were cheered by the most lively demonstrations of loyalty on the part of inhabitants. Therefore we never lacked for information as to roads, bridges, fords, location of the enemy, &c.
But here a man, who had been a major in the rebel service and resigned, came to me and without laying any claim to loyalty, stated that he had drifted with the current, but since our recent victory was satisfied that Tennessee would resume her place in the Union. He gave me information so accurate that I was able to sketch the works at Knoxville and the enemy's position. He also gave me the enemy's strength, with the names of the officers commanding at different points, all of which proved to be substantially correct.