HDQRS. LEFT WING, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Pulaski, Tenn., January 29, 1864.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that General Roddey, with Patterson's and Hannon's regiments and two pieces of artillery, attacked Athens, Ala., on January 26, at 4 p. m., opening upon the town without any notice with his artillery, the shot and shell going through several houses occupied by citizens, and after two hours' fighting was repulsed and defeated by Captain Adam and 75 men of the Ninth Illinois Mounted Infantry, that being all the force then at the post.
The plan of the attack, as has since been ascertained by captured dispatches, was as follows:
Colonel Johnson and his brigade, stationed near Florence, was to move upon the Florence and Athens road and attack the town from the northwest, while General Roddey in person, with the forces above named, was to cross the Tennessee River at Brown's Ferry, 18 miles from Athens and 10 miles below Decatur, with his men dismounted.
The movement of Johnson was defeated by Colonel Miller, of the Second Division, Army of the Cumberland, who fought and checked him at Shoal Creek bridge, 35 miles west of Athens, the evening before the attack. The force at Athens whit a force from Pulaski had moved out toward Florence the day before the attack for the purpose of driving Johnson's force across the Tennessee River. General Roddey did not know of this and moved up in accordance with the plan, btu hearing of the force to the west of him and getting Colonel Johnson's dispatch that he could not support him, as he was checked by a heavy force in front, he retreated. We had no force to follow him. Captain Adam and his men displayed great coolness and judgment and fought whit attermined bravery, checking General Roddey's command and holding them some two hours, enabling us thereby to send off all stores and transportation.
The noble conduct of these troops saved all of our bridge parties, both north and south of Athes, as well as all the structures lately put up. Had the attack succeeded it would have been very detrimental to us. and have delayed the opening of the road for a long time. I think such instances of the repulse of so large a force by so few men, without fortifications or artillery, very seldom occur, and must redound to the great credit of our arms while it equally disgraces the enemy.
Our loss was about 20 killed, wounded, and missing.
The force at Mooresville under Colonel Biggs was notified of the attack at sunrise by Major Park, superintendent of repairs on railroad, who urged that officer to fall on the rear of the enemy at Brown's Ferry by a road leading direct to that place down the river. Had this been done the entire force of the enemy would have been captured.
Lieutenant-Colonel Philips heard of he contemplated attack and returned promptly, making direct for Brown's Ferry, btu his advance arrived there only just in time to see the last of the rebels over. He marched all night and day until he arrived on the ground.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE,
Major R. M. SAWYER,