Statement of W. J. Lawton, scout.
I left here on the 17th instant, and traveled in company with Major Stafford about 25 miles in the direction of La Fayette, Ga. I crossed the Blue Birg Gap in Pigeonn Mountain. I then crossed the Broomtown Valley road and crossed Shinbone Mountains. I then traveled directly toward Rome, leaving Dirt Town to the left. I went to within 5 miles of Rome, to a cross-road (name not recollected), at which point I gained the information I wanted, and turned to the left and went toward Calhoun.
I learned reliably that there were a part of three regiments of cavalry, numbering about 1,000 at Rome, and about 1,000 infantry, being a part of one brigade. They are gathering in all the quartermaster and commissary stores they can at Rome. Do not know positively whether they are shipping from that point or not. I learned from an intelligent-looking old man, who had just returned from a visit to his sons in Hardee's army, that General Bragg had returned to the army with 15,000 troops as re-enforcements, but that Bragg himself would not be first in command. It was understood that Longstreet would be first, Hardee second, and Bragg third in command. He told me that a part of Breckinridge's division and two or three other brigades were between Tunnel Hill and Ringgold. They have four or five batteries, and are building breast-works. He said the most of the cavalry was on their right in the direction of Cleveland. He said the largest portion of their army was back at Cassville, where they would make a stand if pressed. Nearly all of their artillery was moved to the rear, supposed to be at Cassville.
He said that his son (who is an officer) said that all the officers said that they would not make a stand this side of Cassville, because the Federals have too large an army for them to fight, only when they could have a strong position. The army is pretty well supplied with flour and meal, and have some beef, but no bacon. Soldiers are very poorly clad. He was lamenting because the army was so low-spirited and demoralized, and said they had lost all hope of ever gaining their independence. I told him I thought they were foolish, for I intended to fight as long as I could get a man to help me. He said that Vice-President Stephens had promised to bring clothing and subsistence for the army from France.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Chattanooga, December 23, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded for the information of the general commanding.
D. G. SWAIM,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Chattanooga, Tennessee, December 23, 1863.
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XV. The First Brigade, Second Division, Twelfth Army Corps, will proceed without delay to Bridgeport, Ala., the Second Brigade of the same division to Tantalon, Tennessee, The headquarters of the division will be established at Bridgeport, from which place Briga-