a few of Morgan's men and a company of home guard stationed at Murphy. My advance guard had a slight skirmish with these and drove them from the place. Marched 6 miles from Murphy and camped.
Up to this time, since leaving Chattanooga, I had taken 95 prisoners, including 7 officers; also a few horses and mules. Found the road from Maryville to Murphy, for the most part, good. After leaving Tellico Plains the route lies through a mountainous country, but the road over the mountains is well engineered and practicable for wagons. The country is very poor, the fields poorly cultivated, and grain and forage more scarce than any locality previously visited during my entire trip. It is well watered, however, by frequent creeks and mountain streams. Frequent incursions have been made in there by rebel cavalry, and but few cattle of any kind, horses or mules, were found.
From the best information I could obtain along the route, it appeared that the rebel train was some five or six days' march ahead of me, and traveling with apprehensions of pursuit, so that it was evident it would be impossible to catch it. My horses were all jaded with hard marching, and many of them had already given out, leaving a number of the men dismounted, and from the great scarcity of horses in the country I could not supply their place. Therefore, after sending a force 10 miles farther into the country to get all possible information, I determined to halt. The reports of the expedition confirmed previous intelligence. After remaining in camp one day to rest my horses, I started back on the 11th December, and at Tellico Plains found General M. L. Smith encamped with his division of infantry and awaiting my return.
Through him received instructions from General Sherman to rest my horses as long as necessary, and then proceed to Chattanooga via Charleston. Remained in camp until the morning of the 14th, Major Smith's battalion, Fifth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, being meanwhile relieved and ordered to Athens.
Arriving at Calhoun on the 15th, had orders requiring me to remain at that place, guarding the railroad and river as a line looking toward Georgia. The detachment of Third U. S. Cavalry was relieved from duty with my brigade, and the Fifth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, Colonel Heath, temporarily attached. I at once prepared to establish a line of couriers to Loudon and Kingston, communicating with General Elliott, chief of cavalry, and the Fifth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry was assigned to the duty. With the Fourth Michigan, I opened a line of communication to Chattanooga. The Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry was sent to Columbus, on the Hiwassee, to guard the river there and the adjacent fords.
On the 22nd, the courier post at Cleveland was attacked by 60 rebel cavalry and driven out, with a loss of a few horses and arms, and 1 man wounded. The rebels retired shortly afterward, leaving 2 wounded, and the couriers resumed their post.
On the morning of the 28th, a wagon train which had arrived at Charleston the evening before under escort of convalescents, &c., of General Sheridan's command, and commanded by Colonel Laiboldt, was attacked by General Wheeler with about 1,500 rebel cavalry.* As soon as I was made aware of the attack, I mounted the small portion of my command not on duty (less than 150 men), and as soon as
*See report of Action at Calhoun, Part I, p. 641.