laborers on that part of the work, and will soon have five large bridges finished north of Duck River, and I trust Duck River bridge will be finished by the 1st of the mont. I am now moving my working parties south of Elk River, and with the exception of one bridge will complete that work in first week of January, 1864. The bridge spoken of is 700 feet long and 72 feet high, a sub-trestle, and is a very heavy job. I will put upon it all the workmen I can. Everything appertaining to the road, its running department, &c., was destroyed. I am replacing everything, water-tanks and switches, and have also large working parties getting out wood.
So far as meat, bread, and forage is concerned, I have lived entirely off the country. I have had to haul my small rations from Nashville, the demand toward Chattanooga preventing the supply of cars to me. I have mounted four regiments of infantry from stock taken in this country. I have refitted my trains and artillery and am now in fine condition. The mounted infantry have been employed watching the Tennessee River and the country toward Eastport, and have captured in several skirmishes some 300 prisoners, including 21 officers. The work upon the railroad has been immense, and the running of mills, guarding trains, &c., have kept the command very busy and very healthy.
I have examined this railroad its entire length, and the Memphis and Chattanooga Railroad, from its junction with this, opposite Decatur, to Huntsville. The bridges on that road are entirely destroyed but can be soon replaced. If the command is to hold this country as a protection to its most southerly point, Decatur should be held by our forces. This would also give us a fine point to operate from with our cavalry and mounted infantry. The enemy now have a considerable force there fortified with one full battery, and use it as a point to cross to annoy us. Over Elk and Duck Rivers I have constructed pontoon bridges which will soon be ready for use.
I desire to call your attention to the fact that there are now two separate commands of the Sixteenth Army Corps, using the same designation. At Corinth General Stevenson commands Left Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps, and the troops there are known as the "Second Division, Sixteenth Army Corps." This is the original command of that name, both wing and division. The same designation by two commands is already causing trouble, delay, and the forwarding wrongly of papers, orders, mails, &c., The garrison at Eastport has reported to me until it was moved to Corinth. The One hundred and twenty-second Illinois Infantry, belonging to the Second Division, is very anxious to join the command, and I trust will be allowed to do so.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE,
HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Pulaski, Tennessee, December 15, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel CHARLES S. SHELDON,
Comdg. 18th Mo. Infty. Volunteers, at or near Lexington:
Proceed no farther west than Lexington without you can hear of Colonel Rowett and are satisfied that you can open communication with him. It is important that you should co-operate with Rowett